The Home of Steven Barnes
Author, Teacher, Screenwriter


Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Can You Feel The Love Tonight?

Why Daddy Uses A Headset...

http://freepage.twoday.net/stories/4969270/

Funny, or scary, or just interesting, depending on how you look at it.

##

This morning, I read an article about Tiger Woods, and the depth of his concentration, which one writer considered more intense than he had ever seen, with any human being, anywhere. He said that others had compared it to the focus of a zen monk.

In truth, focus is the most important factor in most people's success or lack of it. We can't cut out distractions, we don't have goals, we don't keep our word to ourselves. Focus. The ability to place your attention on the most important decisions or actions, until the task is completed or the skill acquired. Our inner demons scream at us, other flashy goals distract us, our doubts cripple us.

But...learn to master any area of your life, and you have the key to mastering the others.

##

Fifteen years ago I had a breakthrough in the way I look at story, that involved the intersection of the Hero's Journey and the Chakras. Together, they became a dynamic sphere, allowing me to glimpse a core structure of storytelling beneath many of the external aspects. It was exciting, but only the beginning. Within a couple of years, I'd started seeing how the same two axis could be and must be applied to life itself: the Hero' Journey as a path, the Chakras indicating the internal growth in response to our external efforts. And once I grasped it, it was impossible to shake off--I saw the results everywhere. The only question was how to test my discovery. One of the things that ripped my guts out was the number of smart, good people I knew who were up against the wall, totally incapable of resolving problems in one of the major areas of their lives.

I began searching for a way to relate the "Dynamic Sphere" concept to people, in as little time as possible. The "100 Day" course (or whatever I end up calling it) is my most recent attempt to bring this all together.

There are four different "bits" at the core. I'm not at all certain I can convey the lesson without all four. If I can, I will.

It is inevitable that some of the pieces overlap. And that they will NOT be universal. There are no universal exercises or spiritual practices. There are things that come pretty close, but we are all very different, and need different keys to open our hearts and minds. I'm coming as close as I've ever seen, with lessons that can be conveyed in a book. I cannot teach the "sphere" but I can give people a chance to perceive it for themselves.

1) Intermittent Fasting. The pattern of either eating every other day, 6-6, Warrior Diet or Fruit and Veg only. Designed to increase energy and increase the sense of being in control. In addition, the VERY powerful ability to, several times a week, confront our core demons. Lack of food and hunger (and fear of hunger) has probably killed more people and started more wars than anything else. The Prophet Mohammad called it "The Fast of David" and thought it the highest spiritual discipline. Because you functionally gain 20-40 hours a month, it is VERY difficult to maintain the lie that "I don't have enough time." A solid, powerful, transformative practic.

2) The Five Tibetans. I know of nothing else that takes as little time, accomplishes as much, and can be taught in a book. If you don't consider it "exercise" but rather a body-mind practice, focusing on breathing, visualization, and selective muscle tension, it can be a VERY powerful practice, showing you where you lack connection to your body. It's not complete: I can feel a little stiff after practice, and need a bit of Hatha Yoga to balance it out. But if you just use it to "check in" in the morning...it's pretty great. The average person can't come close to doing 21 of each without stopping, so there is real room for progress. And if you will notice the link between breathing and stress, you open the door to the inner world.

3) Triangle Goals. I've believed in goal setting since childhood. Noticing how few people pay more than lip service to the concept of balance, I applied it there, and found that IF you admit that you want a healthy body, a healthy soul-satisfying occupation and a healthy relationship, and accept responsibility for your efforts and results, you start becoming a different type of human being. Your B.S. has no where to hide. And while effort is still a part of human existence, the progress you make is REAL progress, not an illusion due to the fact that you're ignoring your family to work your job, or killing your body to look more "beautiful." For the first time in your life, you may actually have to own up to the way you screw yourself, and the magnitude of the internal work that remains to be done.

4) Heartbeat Meditation. I love it. Connecting with the source of love within you (metaphorically) or just turning off external stimuli by focusing on kinesthetic cues...this is a winner. No meditation is perfect, but this is a combination of power, simplicity and safety that is hard to beat. There is another interesting advantage: fear and love compete for the same place in our hearts. As you experience more love, you lose fear, opening the door to wider and deeper experience. Angry toward others? Feel that group X is inferior to group Y? That men, or whites, or gays, or Muslims are somehow evil or less than women, or blacks, or straights, or Christians?

From my point of view, it simply isn't possible to have such feelings about other, without damaging your ability to love and accept yourself most deeply. From this perspective, we aren't a planet of six billion souls. We are one spiritual force having six billion separate experiences of an illusory world. My guess is that a person who cannot connect with this exercise might have a bit of problem, say, looking into the mirror and saying "I love myself" and really feeling it. It seems that people who love themselves, who really connect with that source within, love others. If you can forgive yourself, you have the capacity to forgive others as well. The way we treat others is founded upon the way we treat ourselves, on the deepest level. And there is no cheating. No pretense possible. We either make this connection, or spend our lives convinced others are lying about theirs. We become, in a way, sociopathic, faking our emotions because that is what we think everyone else is doing.

I cannot begin to tell you how much this saddens me. It need not be. We can teach our children to love themselves, and be both strong and kind to others. And it is never too late to connect with the source of love and light within us.

#

If you try to change your life in any substantive way, you will stir up old emotional crud. You have to run the filter in your existential fish tank. That's meditation. And of all the different forms I've investigated, Heartbeat Meditation is the one I would recommend, until the student has made contact with a personal teacher, or found a path with heart.

###

Can you feel the love tonight?

I'm listening to the radio, watching television, watching the joy on the faces of gay couples who for the first time can consider themselves married. Blessings to them. A world with more love is a better world.

I'd be interested in a survey of those who have strong objections to gay marriage, and see if their own relationship history is better or worse than average...I'd guess "worse" but have nothing to base that on other than a sense that anyone who has a heart filled with love has better things to do than worry about what's happening in someone else's bedroom, or what they call themselves.

55 comments:

Josh Jasper said...

I'd like a poll of those who claim to object to the CA decision it on the grounds of "judicial activism" to see how many of them would have applied that to issues like segregation and anti-miscegenation laws.

What makes "In re Marriage Cases" different from "Plessy v. Ferguson" or "Loving v Virginia"?

Lynn Gazis-Sax said...

"Judicial activism" is a bit of a strain in this case anyway, given that all three branches of the California government are on the same side at this point. (Go, California! May we beat the initiative that aims to roll this back, come November.)

Frank said...

Obama said, “I’m a Christian. And so, although I try not to have my religious beliefs dominate or determine my political views on this issue, I do believe that tradition, and my religious beliefs say that marriage is something sanctified between a man and a woman.”

McCain said " The family represents the foundation of Western Civilization and civil society and John McCain believes the institution of marriage is a union between one man and one woman. It is only this definition that sufficiently recognizes the vital and unique role played by mothers and fathers in the raising of children, and the role of the family in shaping, stabilizing, and strengthening communities and our nation."

However, he opposes a constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage.

Kukulkan said...

Josh:

Marriage began as a way to protect children. Let's start with the premise that men are more willing to contribute/participate in raising their own children than the children of other men. We can find objective evidence of this in the fact that blue-eyed men disproportionately prefer to marry blue-eyed females (such unions produce blue-eyed children). But how can men know if a child is theirs or another man's? Marriage. Any child born to a married woman is considered to be the child of the husband (still true; you run into cases every once in a while where a divorced husband doesn't want to pay child support for the offspring of the wife's adulterous affair; husband always loses unless he can identify the real father). Thus, the very purpose of marriage is to create a social institution to legitimize and protect children. Although society might be uncomfortable with the fact that a White male and a Black female (or any other combination) can produce children, it's a fact nonetheless. And if any child needs protection in today's society (actually it's getting easier), it's the child of racially diverse parents. On the other hand, two men cannot produce a child. Believe you me, gay men spend a lot of time practicing without any issue (my wife describes it as a car without brakes).

So, what is the point of gay marriage if it isn't about having children? Certainly there are gay couples who adopt children or go for some sort of sperm donation. I don't know how many though (a quick Google search provided no answers). But this puts the cart before the horse. Gay couples know that they can't have children when they couple. Again, what is the societal benefit of gay marriage? As near as I can tell, the whole point of gay marriage is so that gay couple can feel like they are "normal." In other words, gay marriage is not meant to benefit society or protect children; it's meant to make homosexuals feel good about themselves.

That being said, my biggest problem with the California Supreme Court's decision is that they refused to stay their decision until after the November election (where there will be a constitutional amendment about gay marriage). If society is willing to rewrite the rules so that marriage is no longer about protecting children but is in fact about self-image, great (society has been moving this way; e.g. no fault divorce).

Mike Ralls said...

>As near as I can tell, the whole point of gay marriage is so that gay couple can feel like they are "normal." In other words, gay marriage is not meant to benefit society <

You are assuming there is no societal benefit towards gays feeling like they are "normal."

It is usually in a society's interest to have as large a percentage of the humans in it feel that they are connected and fully integrated into that society as possible (that they are "normal" if you will).

Kukulkan said...

Mike:

Sure, there's a societal benefit for having members of society feel integrated. Of course, what is "normal" is largely based on current mores; for example it was quite normal not too long ago for middle aged men to marry 15 year old girls.

But, should it be the courts' role to determine that feeling "normal" is sufficient basis to extend marriage to homosexuals? I think that society should do this. In California, it could be done by initiative. I have no doubt that this would have happened successfully in California within the next generation. The Court, however, has basically said: "We don't care what benefits society wants to encourage through marriage." At least, that's how I interpret the Court's refusal to stay its decision until after the November elections.

Kai Jones said...

I wonder whether the main purpose of marriage originally might have been not to protect children, but assets: a man could pass his assets to his favored successor by marrying his daughter off to that person.

Marty S said...

First let me say that in no way am I anti the gay life style. I have a gay friend who retired to Florida. We keep in touch through email and when we have to Florida on vacation we have stayed the weekend with him and his partner at their house. I support all forms of gay rights accept for gay marriage. On that subject I pretty much have the same view as Kukulkan.

On another note it seems somethings don't change. I was watching my grandsons and a neighbor's son today. The three of them roughhousing. I told them to cut it out that someone was going to get hurt. The neighbor's son turned and said "we are just doing what boys do".

Dan Moran said...

Kukulkan, Marty,

So, what is the point of gay marriage if it isn't about having children?

When I start seeing hetero couples who can't have children being denied marriage licenses, I'll buy this logic. Not until.

Kukulkan said...

Dan:

So, you want California to confirm that both a man and a woman are fertile before granting a marriage license? If so, you are much more comfortable with governmental power than am I. In any event, there's a not insignificant chance that a woman and man will be able to have issue. There is no chance that man and a man (or woman and woman) will have issue. I would have thought this obvious. Moreover, many states had (and several still have) laws requiring blood tests for marriage applicants. One of the purposes of the tests was to ascertain whether the woman's health would be jeopardized by bearing children for that man. See http://www.wisegeek.com/how-can-i-get-a-marriage-license-in-the-united-states.htm

Lis Riba said...

Total tangent to this entry, but given your comments in the past over whether black characters can get laid in movies, you may be interested in these rumors about Will Smith's upcoming film Hancock

Steve Perry said...

Marriage? Let's see, one in two ends in divorce. Offhand, I'd say that a failure rate of fifty percent means something in the institution of marriage is busted. That, as it stands, it isn't delivering enough satisfaction amongst those who embrace it to keep a majority of them together. That a lot of the social taboos that used to force people to stay in loveless, empty marriages have faded -- and good riddance.

Whatever it might have been once-upon-a-time, marriage has changed. Not every heterosexual couple who gets together wants children, nor do they all have the ability to produce them. So a sixty-year-old post-menopausal woman whose husband dies can't get remarried because she can no longer bear children, is that the deal? I know thirty-year-olds who have chosen voluntary sterilization who want to be married, but not having children -- so since the "purpose" of marriage is to protect children, then they can't?

Piffle. Tosh. The purpose of marriage was all about property when it first came to be, and there are legions of absent fathers for whom the fetter of marriage never was enough to keep them around.

If gay people want to get married, let them. They have the right to be as happy -- or miserable -- as everybody else. If you can explain why or how this is going to destroy America, why, go right ahead.

People who don't want to see gay marriage are, in my experience, coming at the question from a religious viewpoint, and while I wouldn't deny anybody the right to believe or not in the god of his or her choice, if God didn't want there to be homosexuals, why'd He make so many of them? That 8-10% failure rate seems a little high for an omnipotent God, don't you think?

Them homos been around for a long time -- you see them mentioned in the Bible, and the reasons for stoning them back them are no more valid than they are today. Willful ignorance is a killer.

I have trouble believing anybody who is straight is suddenly going to turn queer because they see a gay couple picking out their china pattern.

Holy crap, Martha, Look at that! I feel myself going fruity! I need a leather jock strap! Hide the Crisco!

If God is going to send all the fairy folk to hell, why not let God tend to that and don't worry your pointy little narrow-minded head, hey?

Nancy Lebovitz said...

Steve, thanks for the reminder about heartbeat meditation. That's 15 minutes/day, isn't it?

Kulkulkan,

Do we actually know how marriage began? Even if we do know, it's plausible that we can think about ways of improving a very old institution.

Gay people don't just want to get married so that they can feel normal-- there are a number of advantages to being married (hospital visitation, custody, others that I don't have in mind) that are either costly and inconvenient or impossible to set up for non-married couples.

What's so awful about letting people feel normal?

In a modern society, marriage is a way of acknowledging that many pairs of people have their lives very much involved with each other, and that the legal structure of marriage makes that involvement easier.

You really can't take care of children while neglecting adults, and if marriage makes life better for gay couples who are raising children, then gay marriage is good for children.

While I can't see problems with gay marriage, I'll also point out that the highest estimate I've seen for homosexuality is 10%. Assume that not all homosexuals and lesbians want to marry or are still looking, and that's maybe 7% of the population doing something that's not even a temptation for the rest. I really can't imagine that this will bend society out of shape. It's certainly a smaller change than removing the legal barriers to divorce.

Dan's point was that if we really believed that marriage was only about raising one's biological children, then there wouldn't be marriage for infertile couples. He wasn't recommending it as a policy.

Anonymous said...

Dan: Actually I agree with you. My real position is that most of the benefits we grant to married heterosexual couples shouldn't be granted until there is issue. But I think there's a snowball's chance in hell of that happening. If it did happen and all that being married meant was that the couple was declaring their love for each other than gay marriage would be as acceptable to me as heterosexual marriage.

Kukulkan said...

Nancy:

Do we know the origins of marriage? No, marriage predates reliable written records. But legitimization and protection of children is a prime origin theory and clearly became a central purpose of marriage . For example, marriages could and can be annulled (i.e., never happened) if the marriage was never consummated. Likewise, being infertile was grounds for divorce. Bastards endured significant social stigma. Traditions such as these strongly indicate that children were a central - and potentially the central - purpose of marriage.

"it's plausible that we can think about ways of improving a very old institution."

I absolutely agree. Although I have misgivings about no-fault divorce, I believe that since this change was handled by elected legislators, that it was the will of society. I have no problem with legislators passing laws to make gay marriage illegal. Nor do I have a problem with Californians passing an initiative to make gay marriage legal by statute or by constitutional amendment. However, in both of these cases it is the people - or their elected representatives - who make the change. Not the courts.

"there are a number of advantages to being married (hospital visitation, custody, others that I don't have in mind) that are either costly and inconvenient or impossible to set up for non-married couples."

Actually, not true in California. civil unions allow for virtually all of the same rights for same sex partners as marriage allows. Ironically, it was the existence of civil unions which formed the basis for the California Supreme Court's decision to rule a constitutional right to gay marriage. Basically, the Court said we can't treat gays equally but separately.


Steve:

"Whatever it might have been once-upon-a-time, marriage has changed."

No argument from me. Marriage has changed. But it is not the role of the courts to state that because social mores have changed that laws based upon different mores must be adapted to incompatible mores.

Dan Moran said...

My real position is that most of the benefits we grant to married heterosexual couples shouldn't be granted until there is issue.

Marty, I think? Yeah, I broadly agree with that. I fail to see where the state has any business blessing the private relationships between two people -- I do see it has an interest in helping provide for the next generation.

But as long as infertile, post-menopausal (see Steve Perry for a thorough answer on this one) ... heterosexual men and women can marry, gays should be allowed to. And since there's no chance ever that hetero couples who want to marry will be prevented, be they 90 years old, there's no reason to deny it to gays.

Lynn Gazis-Sax said...

But the California legislature did pass a law permitting same-sex marriage, twice. It went to the courts because Schwarzenegger vetoed both laws, saying that he felt the courts should decide. Now that the CA Supreme Court has decided, Schwarzenegger's on board, and is opposing the initiative that would bar same-sex marriage again.

Josh Jasper said...

Kukulkan:


Marriage began as a way to protect children.


Go take a look a the LA Times photo gallery of the weddings, See how many of those couples had kids? Same sex couples DO raise kids. If you're going to tell me they're somehow deficient, we can have that argument. No, they can't reproduce with each other. If that's your standard, it's foolish.

Again, what is the societal benefit of gay marriage?

The same social benefit of letting infertile couples or couples who don't intend to have children get married.

Regardless, in CA, the State Supreme Court disagrees, and the Full Faith And Credit Clause establish that CA marriages have to be recognized in the rest of the country. No delay.

As near as I can tell, the whole point of gay marriage is so that gay couple can feel like they are "normal."

No, it's the benefits, rights, and protections. Same sex couples have been getting married for ages in ceremonies.

You're uneducated on the issue. I suggest you check with actual same sex couples an ask them that question.

Josh Jasper said...

An no one answered my question - why is judicial activism acceptable in one case, and not on the other?

Steve Perry said...

Josh --

Because the "will of the people" is sometimes racist, sexist, willfully ignorant (read: "stupid") and somebody with a heart, brain, and courage needs to step up and deal with it.

State and federal legislatures sometimes reflect their electors, sometimes not, and big social change doesn't always bring out the best in them.

And "Judicial activism" has always been with us in one form or another. It's acceptable when they do the right thing, not when they don't.

Who decides what is right? People who work from the basis that all (people) are created equal, and deserve equal treatment under the law. Not those who would maintain that any citizen is or should be relegated to second-class status.

Marty S said...

Dan: Yes its Marty and to bring out an old saw "Two wrongs don't make a right." IMO The government should give incentives, particularly financial incentives to that which is beneficial to the country.Giving the benefits we do to couples who don't have children is not beneficial to the country. Extending it to gays spends more money that is needed elsewhere, like helping the poor children of our country.

Josh: My answer is simple. Judicial activism is "NEVER" justified. The job of the judiciary is to make sure the rules are followed not to make the rules.

This topic has actually indirectly wandered onto what for me is a central issue of the campaign. It has always been accepted that having more children is good for the group and makes it stronger. No children or too few children and the group dies. But the world has become over crowded. Worldwide resources are being strained. The world as a whole would be better off with fewer children. China has its one child per couple rule. The U.S. democratic equivalent would be to remove all marriage tax breaks and instead of giving credits to families with children, tax couples extra for each child. If you are a globalist, this would be your position, but if you put your own country first and believe more children will help maintain it, then you would continue to encourage children with incentives.
So the real question for me is are you a globalist.

Josh Jasper said...

Marty: Josh: My answer is simple. Judicial activism is "NEVER" justified. The job of the judiciary is to make sure the rules are followed not to make the rules.

Have the guts to come out and say it then, you think Loving v Virginia and Brown v. Board of Education were not decisions that should have been made by the courts, and only state legislation should have been allowed to decide whether schools could be racially segregated, and marriage should have been restricted based on race.

That's exactly the logic that follows. Don't duck. Face it head on.

So the real question for me is are you a globalist.

Most certainly not. Draconian policies on encouraging people to have, or not to have children are dangerous. We can slow the birth rate by raising the amount of publicly funded education. College educated people tend to have have fewer children. If that's not enough, we can encourage family planning through free contraception, which is also strongly correlated to decrease the birth rate.

You're the statistician, so I encourage you to look into what the easiest to enact, cheapest, most effective, and least repressive solution is.

I'd bet it'll be providing free contraception and fertility education, but please, look into groups that collect data on this subject and make up your own mind. There's the UN population council, the Guttmacher Institute, Planned Parenthood, the US Census Bureau, and others.

Same sex marrige, however, has a negligible impact on population growth or shrinkage, but despite that, same sex couples have children, from artificial insemination. previous marriages, or adoptions. The number of same sex couples with kids is increasing, not decreasing. This is precisely because of legal protections afforded to them.

Preventing same sex couples with kids from having these rights has an impact in the quality of lives of those children.

Josh Jasper said...

Also, Kukulkan, my question was not about should marriage, by your personal definition include same sex couples (or presumably those who can't reproduce). It was about a judiciary overriding civil laws in James v. Board Of Ed and Loving v. Virginia, and in CA recently.

You seem to be saying that judicial activism is OK for groups you like, and not for those you don't really think deserve it because of fertility.

If that's your position, you need to be honest about it, not to explain why you don't think same sex couples deserve marriage rights. That's a separate question, and one I didn't ask.

suzanne said...

steve perry___

I love you!
your response to the ridiculous
"marriage is for children
making and protecting"
not for gays
is wonderful

I was trying to get my indignation
over the crap about exclusively
letero marriage
so I could write a rfeasonable response
and then I found you already had

anyone who willingly
wants to get mnarried and agrees to
it with another willing person
ought to be able to marry

there's nothing sacred
about the institution
other than what the individuals involved
put into it

and as the stats indicate
people aren;t very willing to work through
the bad/hard/difficult/taxing
parts when they arrive
easier to cut and run

for me
after two marriages
and one 10 year living together
the institution
holds no further glamor

Steven Barnes said...

I love this discussion. My take is that pair-bonding works because human children need protection. Societies formalize this for their own protection. But human beings can aspire to far more than their biological needs: love and fulfillment is just a jump up Maslow's Hierarchy. Gays want to feel that their love is as deep and lasting, their partners as precious and irreplacable as those of straights. Too many arguments against gay marriage seem to me at the core religious arguments, arguing backwards from being told "it's a sin" as a child.

Marty S said...

Josh: You are interpreting my aversion to judicial activism based on your own biases. The constitution overrides state's right to legislate. If a state law is unconstitutional then overthrowing the state law is not judicial activism, its enforcing the rules. Judicial activism is clearly twisting the intent of a statue or finding rights clearly not included or intended to be included in the statue. I have not studied the fourteenth amendment or the cases you site to know whether they qualify as judicial activism, but while I certainly favor the results of those two decisions. If they are not justified then the problem should have been solved by a proper expansion of the fourteenth amendment to cover them.

Josh: you also missed the point of my example of encouraging or discouraging the reproduction rate in this country. I was not proposing that we discourage reproduction or that we do it with draconian policies. I was using an extreme example to indicate that a decision maker determined to make decisions with global view would make various decisions differently than a person focused on the best interests the U.S.

Kukulkan said...

Josh:

"No, it's the benefits, rights, and protections. Same sex couples have been getting married for ages in ceremonies.

You're uneducated on the issue."

Steve takes pride in the fact that discussions on this board are polite. Please keep that in mind. I also suggest you look at Cal. Family Code Sections 297 and 297.5. Pursuant to these statutes gays in a registered domestic partnership have precisely all of the same rights as married couples.

"Go take a look a the LA Times photo gallery of the weddings, See how many of those couples had kids? Same sex couples DO raise kids."

I acknowledged this in one of my earlier posts. I also pointed out that I could find no evidence about the numbers of couples who raise children. Do you? Should courts change society's mores without any evidence of the need for a change?

Marty:

"The U.S. democratic equivalent would be to remove all marriage tax breaks and instead of giving credits to families with children, tax couples extra for each child."

Check out census figures on the Unites States' population growth. If it weren't for immigration, the United States would have essentially zero population growth.

Ethiopian Infidel said...

My take on the origins of marriage are that the institution began as a means of establishing women as property. This is explicitly obvious in Africa, India and the classic Western World (ex: the Zulu custom of Lobola: the father literally sells the bride to the husband for cattle!), retains vestiges both symbolic (the bride's "given away" at weddings)and brutally physical (the widespread condonement of domestic violence) in developed societies. As such, I see nothing sacred in marriage per se. Further, I see no evidence that partners bound in marriage are more effective child rearers that those cohabiting minus contract. I also find zero evidence that suggests gays make inferior parents compared to heterosexuals. In short, I find zero reason to oppose gay marriage apart from homophobic bigotry.

As to judicial activism: far as I can tell, the issue appears to be a canard used by conservative activists to attack distasteful policies by attempting to undermine their constitutional legitimacy. The American political system provides multiple venues trough which activists can enact their favored policies, one of which is indeed judicial fiat. Since judges are either directly elected or appointed by elected officials, such decrees are democratic in that they embody the agenda of an obviously influential portion of the electorate.

Marty S said...

This has nothing to do with the current subject, but McCain has finally done something to make me want to vote for him. He has proposed a federally backed program to build nuclear power plants. Now if only he was smart enough to adopt Obama's windfall oil tax as a way to pay for the nuclear power program or if Obama were smart enough to adopt McCain's proposal and link it to the windfall profits tax.

Ethiopian Infidel said...

Marty s,

While I still favor Obama, I'm heartened by McCain's advocacy of nuclear power. The Democrats have long been plagued by their embrace of technophobic policies whose enactment would prevent environmental catastrophe by ultimately reducing economic activity to the substance level. As McCain appears to understand, the solution to the Oil Crisis and Global Warming isn't sustained negative growth, but the development of new technologies that recast economic dynamics and provide opportunities for growth with substantially reduced environmental damage.

Nancy Lebovitz said...

Steve, you say "Gays want to feel that their love is as deep and lasting, their partners as precious and irreplacable as those of straights."

They probably feel that already-- what they want is for the importance of their relationships to be acknowledged as being as important as straight relationships.

I think the folks who resent gay marriage are too miserly with their respect, but they do have part of a legitimate point. Gay marriage really is pressure for a lot of people to change attitudes they rather keep.

Ethiopian Infidel, wives hitting husbands is also not taken seriously in this culture. Afaik, it's taken much less seriously than husbands hitting wives. These days (and it's taken work to get this far) a woman whose husband hits her will be strongly advised to leave. There isn't nearly as strong a consensus that getting hit by his wife should be a deal-breaker for a husband. (This is a side issue. I agree with your points about gay marriage.)

Here's a probably relevent book: A General Theory of Love. It starts with observing that human babies are the only ones which die from isolation. Other animals take damage from it, but only humans are as severely affected.

The book gets into the ways love stabilizes body systems-- it's not a coincidence that people have trouble sleeping and eating after a breakup.

Josh Jasper said...

Kukulkan:

Steve takes pride in the fact that discussions on this board are polite. Please keep that in mind. I also suggest you look at Cal. Family Code Sect ions 297 and 297.5. Pursuant to these statutes gays in a registered domestic partnership have precisely all of the same rights as married couples.

I could have said you were biased, that was the other option. And you're still not in possession of all the facts, and acting as if you were. You're reciting right wing talking points.

Full marriage rights means that couples who're married in other jurisdictions can move the CA, and that CA couples can move elsewhere and keep those rights. And there's a whole host of federal tax benefits that CA domestic partnerships don't grant.

Those are not the same rights. These are my dearest friends you're talking about as if they were petulant children trying to break something because their feelings are being hurt.

Steve made the main mistake you did, though more politely - he said that Gays want to feel that their love is as deep and lasting, their partners as precious and irreplacable as those of straights

That's not the only thing. Rights are incredibly important. Framing it as feelings makes it easy to dismiss.

Josh Jasper said...

Marty: Josh: You are interpreting my aversion to judicial activism based on your own biases. The constitution overrides state's right to legislate. If a state law is unconstitutional then overthrowing the state law is not judicial activism, its enforcing the rules.

This was exactly what the court did in CA. The CA Supreme Court decided that a law prohibiting same sex marriage violated the constitution.

If you want to oppose activism in this case, you're going to need to make a study of exactly where in the CA state constitution a line was crossed. The judge who made the decision is pretty well educated on the issue.

Marty S said...

Josh: I gave my opinion on judicial activism as a practice. I didn't give an opinion on any particular case, because in general I don't have the information to make a personal decision as to whether any particular decision constitutes judicial activism. Having said that, your last post states the case against this decision in particular and gay marriage in general.very well. As you stated, while domestic partnership laws grant many rights to gay couples they don't grant federal tax benefits to these partnerships. They also don't need to be recognized across state lines. Since, the issue affects the federal government and other states it clearly should be decided at the federal level and based upon the U.S. constitution not the state constitution. Thus I am inclined toward considering this a case of judicial activism because the judge probably should have referred the case to the federal courts.

Lynn Gazis-Sax said...

"Since, the issue affects the federal government and other states it clearly should be decided at the federal level and based upon the U.S. constitution not the state constitution."

Clearly? How so? There's no precedent for saying the decision must be made that way; in fact, the precedent is the opposite. Marriage is mostly governed by the states in our system, and only bubbles up to the federal level rarely. Perez v. Sharp was decided nearly 20 years before Loving v. Virginia.

(On the other hand, the application of the Full Faith and Credit clause to these marriages isn't going to be a slam dunk, and they may still wind up not so portable and lacking in federal benefits for a while. They'll allow more rights and benefits in that regard than domestic partnerships, since they can automatically be ported to Massachusetts without special legislation, and since some other states - currently apparently including New York - will recognize them. But many states, in the near future, won't recognize other states' same-sex marriages for many purposes.)

Marty S said...

Lynn: Using one case of judicial activism, Perez v. Sharp, to justify other cases seems kind of a incestuous to me. My view is that Perez v. Sharp should have been decided in federal court as was Loving v. Virginia. Then maybe there would have been no need for Loving v. Virginia, as the whole issue would have been resolved 20 years earlier. This might have saved a lot of couples grief for those 20 years.

Lynn Gazis-Sax said...

"Then maybe there would have been no need for Loving v. Virginia, as the whole issue would have been resolved 20 years earlier."

I'd be surprised. Nationally, only 4% of Americans approved of interracial marriage in 1958, ten years after Perez v. Sharp. In theory, courts can still hold a law unconstitutional over that large a majority, but in practice, they generally don't make their changes that far ahead of social attitudes. (http://www.gallup.com/poll/28417/Most-Americans-Approve-Interracial-Marriages.aspx) (Of course, even in 1968, most Americans disapproved of interracial marriage, but by that point Gallup reports 20% approval, there were probably more people who disapproved but weren't prepared to continue to outlaw it, and multiple state bans had dropped. So there was a trend in shifting attitudes that the court rode.) I think, given the chance to rule on interracial marriage, any federal court in 1948 would have tried really hard to find some reason not to take the case at all. Just as the Supreme Court rejected two attempts to take birth control laws to it, starting in 1943, first on grounds that the plaintiff lacked standing and then on grounds that the case wasn't ripe, before it finally accepted Griswold v. Connecticut in 1965.

Josh Jasper said...

Marty : As you stated, while domestic partnership laws grant many rights to gay couples they don't grant federal tax benefits to these partnerships. They also don't need to be recognized across state lines. Since, the issue affects the federal government and other states it clearly should be decided at the federal level and based upon the U.S. constitution not the state constitution.

Marty, without getting past a state Supreme Court, it won't be taken to the US Supreme Court. It'll just die as an issue. It has before.


My original point wasn't "do you support judicial activism, yes or no", it's why are most people who're talking about the CA decision crying about judicial activism not taking the same stance against Loving.

It makes no sense to have opposing views of what's essentially the same decision, one by a state court, and one by a federal court. State supreme courts are empowered by the state constitution to make these decisions. It' *not* overriding the constitution when they do that. They're doing exactly what they should.

I'd love for you to have looked a mixed race couple in the eye while Perez v Sharp was decided, and have told them that no, they had no right to take that to the state supreme court.

In case anyone is interested, here's a link to the case

Marty is trying to say that state supreme courts have no right to decide who gets married. He's totally wrong, of course. State courts can and have been doing that for ages. It's part of the US constitution, and part of state constitutions.

If it's the wrong way to do things, we need to amend the Us constitution to fix it.

Thanks for the data on the percentage of the US disapproving of interracial marriage, Lynn. That really drives the case home that Loving and Perez were decisions that overruled a majority, but anti-same sex marriage groups won't condemn them.

Marty S said...

Perhaps, the supreme might have refused to rule on Perez v. Sharp, or maybe they even would have made the wrong ruling, but that doesn't mean any judge or small panel of judges have the right to make up any rules they like for everybody else. With respect to the recent gay marriage ruling for instance they have ignored the DOMA act passed by congress in 1996 and signed by Bill Clinton. Ignoring the general will of the majority of the country to force ones own beliefs is IMO the judicial equivalent of blowing up an abortion clinic because you believe abortion is a sin against god.

Steve Perry said...

"Ignoring the general will of the majority of the country to force ones own beliefs is IMO the judicial equivalent of blowing up an abortion clinic because you believe abortion is a sin against god."

So, since the majority is always right, does that mean Bush's insistence in continuing this idiotic war that most Americans oppose, a man with an overall job approval rate down in the root cellar, is equivalent to blowing up abortion clinics?

Bad simile, badly presented.

Equating protecting somebody's rights to be happy with blowing up buildings is a reach even for you Marty.

Kukulkan said...

Josh:

"I could have said you were biased, that was the other option."

Where have I ever said that I am giased against gay marriage? I was answering your question: "What makes "In re Marriage Cases" different from "Plessy v. Ferguson" or "Loving v Virginia"?" You assume I'm against gay marriage. Read my posts, I have no problem with gay marriage so long as it is effectuated by the will of society. I stated my biggest problem with the Court's decision was its refusal to stay its decision until after the November elections (which would allow the people of California to express their feelings on the issue). I've never said that the Court decided the issue incorrectly. If society decides that gay marriage is ok, then fine. I want gays to be happy productive members of society. If getting married makes gays happier and more productive, then I want them to marry. That is my opinion -- which is different than explaining why "In re Marriages" is different than Plessy and Loving. Do you understand the difference?

"These are my dearest friends you're talking about as if they were petulant children trying to break something because their feelings are being hurt."

Umm, whatever gave you the idea I thought gays were acting like petulant children? They want to feel "normal" is what I said. There is nothing wrong or childish about wanting to be normal.

You seem to read many things that I don't write.

Josh Jasper said...

Where have I ever said that I am giased against gay marriage? I was answering your question: "What makes "In re Marriage Cases" different from "Plessy v. Ferguson" or "Loving v Virginia"?" You assume I'm against gay marriage. Read my posts, I have no problem with gay marriage so long as it is effectuated by the will of society.

So my question was, does interracial marriage get a pass by being made to happen by judges, but same sex marriage does not not get a pass?

Was Loving v Virginia decided wrongly? It's a simple question.

Josh Jasper said...

Marty:

Ignoring the general will of the majority of the country to force ones own beliefs is IMO the judicial equivalent of blowing up an abortion clinic because you believe abortion is a sin against god.

Great, so Loving v Virginia was the moral equivalent of murder?

With respect to the recent gay marriage ruling for instance they have ignored the DOMA act passed by congress in 1996 and signed by Bill Clinton.

DOMA didn't stop states from passing laws or having judges decide to allow same sex couples to marry. It was designed to prevent people in one state from moving to another and bringing those rights with them.

It's also unconstitutional. It will require either being overturned, or someone to contest it, and bring it to the US Supreme Court. It's exactly why Bush and the Republicans tried to amend the US constitution to include it. They failed, in case you missed it.

Also, on a personal note, he abortion clinic bombing was incredibly insulting. Some of the people who helped make this happen are dear friends of mine, and have been since the birth of their seven year old daughter.

Do you even know what your comments say about them?

Nancy Lebovitz said...

http://bangornews.com/news/t/news.aspx?articleid=165972&zoneid=500

An anti-gay rights, marriage, and adoption initiative failed in Maine because there wasn't public support for it.

Marty S said...

Josh: I'm confused about the insult. I implied that bombing abortion clinics was a horrible thing to do. Unless your friends did bomb an abortion clinic I don't see how I insulted them. If they ran an abortion clinic, I never criticized abortion clinics I merely said there are crazies who see them as evil use that to justify their actions.

I was merely expressing the fact that historically a lot of bad things have been done in the name of good, by labeling that with which they don't agree as evil.

Kukulkan said...

Josh:

I don't know how I can be much clearer. I have not said that the Cal. Sup. Ct. had no right to make the decision or that it reached the wrong result. I think that the Court should have stayed its ruling until after the Nov. election. If the people are unable to pass a constitutional amendment to prohibit gay marriage then the the Court's decision would be implemented. I have not objected to the Court's decision as judicial activision.

Nancy Lebovitz said...

Kulkulan, you say:

I have not said that the Cal. Sup. Ct. had no right to make the decision or that it reached the wrong result.

But you've also said:

Again, what is the societal benefit of gay marriage? As near as I can tell, the whole point of gay marriage is so that gay couple can feel like they are "normal." In other words, gay marriage is not meant to benefit society or protect children; it's meant to make homosexuals feel good about themselves.

That looks to me as though you think gay marriage is a bad, or at least useless thing. As far as I can tell, you come to that conclusion by assuming that gay people aren't part of society, and therefore their interests need not be considered.

Josh Jasper said...

Kukulkan :
I don't know how I can be much clearer. I have not said that the Cal. Sup. Ct. had no right to make the decision or that it reached the wrong result. I think that the Court should have stayed its ruling until after the Nov. election.


Why? The Perez v. Sharp case didn't require a halt after it was decided for people against mixed race marriages?

And you never said you were OK with the decision, just that the lack of a halt before November was your "biggest problem". Based on your language, there were others.

Josh Jasper said...

Marty: I'm confused about the insult. I implied that bombing abortion clinics was a horrible thing to do. Unless your friends did bomb an abortion clinic I don't see how I insulted them.

Either you're playing a game here, or you're simply not getting the analogy you made. You said that

"Ignoring the general will of the majority of the country to force ones own beliefs is IMO the judicial equivalent of blowing up an abortion clinic because you believe abortion is a sin against god."

The analogy you used was pretty clear. You drew lines of equivalence between supporters of the recent marriage decision and supporters of abortion clinic bombings.

You compared my friend's marriages to the aftermath of an abortion clinic bombing.

It's nice that Steve keeps things here polite in language. But I feel you really crossed a line there. Without using foul language, you said about the foulest thing I've read here. That you don't get it doesn't make it any less horrible a thing to say.

Steve Perry said...

The Duck Test:

"If a bird looks like a duck, swims like a duck and quacks like a duck, then it probably is a duck."

If it looks like a bigot, walks like a bigot, talks like a bigot, then ...

Marty S said...

Josh: You definitely read something into my comment that wasn't there. I did not draw an analogy specifically between the gay marriage decision and blowing up an abortion clinic, I drew analogy about any act of judicial activism and blowing up a clinic. I would be against a conservative judge making a ruling against abortion clinics even if I agreed with the result, because I don't see making the rules as part of their job.
To use another analogy I see any judicial activism as equivalent to a president going to war without congressional approval. Perhaps you prefer that one.

Kukulkan said...

Nancy:

"That looks to me as though you think gay marriage is a bad, or at least useless thing. As far as I can tell, you come to that conclusion by assuming that gay people aren't part of society, and therefore their interests need not be considered."

I've stated at least twice that feeling "normal" has societal benefits. I've also acknowledged that gays raise children, but that I do not know any numbers. If a societally significant number of children are being raised by gay parents, then allowing the parents to marry provides a societal benefit. But, not knowing the numbers of children being raised by gay parents, I can't say this is of societal benefit. I've asked if anyone here has any information on this point, and all I hear is the sound of silence. You are assuming that there are societally significant numbers of children being raised by gays. But for all that is holy, my point is that the courts should stay away from determining what benefits society. The Cal. Supreme Court decided what society should allow and refused to allow the people an opportunity to amend the constitution. My problem is not with gay marriage.

Josh:

"And you never said you were OK with the decision, just that the lack of a halt before November was your "biggest problem". Based on your language, there were others."

Certainly I have other problems with the Court's decision. Have you read the opinion? Talk about diarrhea of the word processor. Also, since I think there are societally valid reasons to limit marriage to unions between a man and a woman, I think that the Court's rationale is flawed. I don't think that the rationale is absurd, I just think that the Court's position is not strong enough to hold that limiting marriage to those between a man and woman is unconstitutional. My objection here, however, isn't very strong. Certainly society has been moving away from the traditional meaning of marriage. But this gets me back to my main problem -- which I have identified ad nauseum.

Is there any evidence that a constitutional amendment was in the works when Perez was decided? If not, your comment is inapplicable to the current situation. Here, the Cal. Supreme Court was asked to stay implementation until after the November elections to see if the constitution is amended. Can you imagine the chaos if the constitution is amended to limit marriages to unions between men and women? What if the constitutional amendment is found to apply retroactively? What do you do with the marriages that have already taken place (sorry, you got to be married for 5 months, but that's it for you)? How do you console the people who were too young to marry while the law allowed for gay marriages?

Nancy Lebovitz said...

"That looks to me as though you think gay marriage is a bad, or at least useless thing. As far as I can tell, you come to that conclusion by assuming that gay people aren't part of society, and therefore their interests need not be considered."

I've stated at least twice that feeling "normal" has societal benefits. I've also acknowledged that gays raise children, but that I do not know any numbers. If a societally significant number of children are being raised by gay parents, then allowing the parents to marry provides a societal benefit. But, not knowing the numbers of children being raised by gay parents, I can't say this is of societal benefit. I've asked if anyone here has any information on this point, and all I hear is the sound of silence. You are assuming that there are societally significant numbers of children being raised by gays. But for all that is holy, my point is that the courts should stay away from determining what benefits society. The Cal. Supreme Court decided what society should allow and refused to allow the people an opportunity to amend the constitution. My problem is not with gay marriage.


I'm beginning to think I simply don't understand how your mind works. It seemed to me that you were arguing that the only important reason for marriage as an institution was children. (Possibly biological rather than adopted-- I'm not sure.)

And that seemed like such an arbitrary choice that I assumed you were using it as an excuse to be against gay marriage.

And on the other hand, you don't seem to understand me, either. I don't think children are the only important purpose for marriage, so it doesn't matter to me if no gay couples are raising children.

And if you believe the courts shouldn't care about societal benefit, then why did you bring societal benefit up in a discussion of whether gay marriage should be legalized?

Marty S said...

Nancy: I agree that you don't understand how kukulkan and my mind work. Let me try to state my position in such a way that you can see my thinking. The great science fiction writer Robert Heinlein coined the term TANSTAAFL, which stands for "There Ain't No Such Thing As A Free Lunch". That is the premise that I approach all decisions with. No matter how good some of the consequences of decision is there are negative results as well. In the case of gay marriage I personally consider the federal benefits gays would acquire like reduced taxes and more social security benefits to be a negative consequence of allowing gay marriages. I look at it this way because if you reduce the governments available income by giving gay couples this benefit then there are only three possible results. The government reduces other spending, most likely of more benefit then giving the money to the gay couples. The government raises taxes on other people to make up the difference or we grow a bigger deficit. Now if the only other choice were to give gay couples none of the rights of married couples I would say the benefits outweigh the above. However, if we have the alternative of defining a status of domestic partnership which gives gays all benefits of a married couple except the federal financial ones, then I favor that option over regular marriage. If you can give me a good reason why gay couples getting these financial benefits outweighs the disadvantages, I'm willing to listen.

Kukulkan said...

Nancy:

I think that people here have been confusing my personal opinions with society's views (or more accurately, how I have described society's views). I also think that people have been confusing my personal views on gay marriage with my views on the proper roles of the various branches of government.

Marriage is a social construct. In other words, marriage means what society wants it to mean. Human societies across the planet independently developed multiple variations of marriage. In my opinion (and that of many others) one of the driving forces for the creation of marriage in pre-historic times was for the creation and protection of children. This is what marriage meant in the past. Marriage has not, however, been a stable, immutable institution throughout history or across societies. Any society needs to ensure its own survival and children are the single most important factor for the survival of a society. Thus, every society has a vital interest in the creation and protection of children. Our society (like many others) historically has used marriage laws to influence the creation and protection of children . Since society has a vital interest in its survival, there is a valid societal interest in promoting the creation and protection of children. Since gay couples cannot creat children, society has every right to deny marriage to gay couples. However, since marriage means whatever society wants it to mean, society can change what social goals marriage is meant to accomplish. It does not have to be all about children. In fact, marriage in the United States has clearly become less about the children in the last century (e.g., no-fault divorce).

My personal views are as follows: The Court usurped the power of the Legislature. Just because Gov. Schwarzenegger vetoed the Legislature's gay marriage bills does not give the Court additional powers. Given the fact that the Legislature passed the bills, it clearly was only a matter of time before gay marriage became a reality in California through legislative action. Gay people are people; they want to love, work, contribute to society and have children. Children raised in stable households with two parents (actually, the studies I've seen focused on mother/father relationships) have significant advantages over children raised by a single parent. I want children to be raised in stable two parent households. I want society to discourage (not prohibit) unmarried couples from having and rearing children.

Time for bed.