StreetLegalPlay by Kyle Thomas Smith

Must-Watch: Keith Olbermann on Proposition 8

Posted in Uncategorized by streetlegalplay on November 11, 2008

Shell sent this to me. It’s Keith Olbermann addressing the passage of Proposition 8 in California. His segment is utterly heartrending – and he’s not even gay!

Anyone who voted Yes on 8 should be ashamed of themselves. Truly a low water mark in a time that presages so much hope.

In case you have trouble playing the video, here is the Full Text:

FULL TEXT of Keith Olbermann on MSNBC – Monday, November 10, 2008

As promised, a Special Comment on the passage, last week, of Proposition Eight in California, which rescinded the right of same-sex couples to marry, and tilted the balance on this issue, from coast to coast.

Some parameters, as preface. This isn’t about yelling, and this isn’t about politics, and this isn’t really just about Prop-8. And I don’t have a personal investment in this: I’m not gay, I had to strain to think of one member of even my very extended family who is, I have no personal stories of close friends or colleagues fighting the prejudice that still pervades their lives.

And yet to me this vote is horrible. Horrible. Because this isn’t about yelling, and this isn’t about politics.

This is about the… human heart, and if that sounds corny, so be it.

If you voted for this Proposition or support those who did or the sentiment they expressed, I have some questions, because, truly, I do not… understand. Why does this matter to you? What is it to you? In a time of impermanence and fly-by-night relationships, these people over here want the same chance at permanence and happiness that is your option. They don’t want to deny you yours. They don’t want to take anything away from you. They want what you want — a chance to be a little less alone in the world.

Only now you are saying to them — no. You can’t have it on these terms. Maybe something similar. If they behave. If they don’t cause too much trouble. You’ll even give them all the same legal rights — even as you’re taking away the legal right, which they already had. A world around them, still anchored in love and marriage, and you are saying, no, you can’t marry. What if somebody passed a law that said you couldn’t marry?

I keep hearing this term “re-defining” marriage.

If this country hadn’t re-defined marriage, black people still couldn’t marry white people. Sixteen states had laws on the books which made that illegal… in 1967. 1967.

The parents of the President-Elect of the United States couldn’t have married in nearly one third of the states of the country their son grew up to lead. But it’s worse than that. If this country had not “re-defined” marriage, some black people still couldn’t marry…black people. It is one of the most overlooked and cruelest parts of our sad story of slavery. Marriages were not legally recognized, if the people were slaves. Since slaves were property, they could not legally be husband and wife, or mother and child. Their marriage vows were different: not “Until Death, Do You Part,” but “Until Death or Distance, Do You Part.” Marriages among slaves were not legally recognized.

You know, just like marriages today in California are not legally recognized, if the people are… gay.

And uncountable in our history are the number of men and women, forced by society into marrying the opposite sex, in sham marriages, or marriages of convenience, or just marriages of not knowing — centuries of men and women who have lived their lives in shame and unhappiness, and who have, through a lie to themselves or others, broken countless other lives, of spouses and children… All because we said a man couldn’t marry another man, or a woman couldn’t marry another woman. The sanctity of marriage. How many marriages like that have there been and how on earth do they increase the “sanctity” of marriage rather than render the term, meaningless?

What is this, to you? Nobody is asking you to embrace their expression of love. But don’t you, as human beings, have to embrace… that love? The world is barren enough.

It is stacked against love, and against hope, and against those very few and precious emotions that enable us to go forward. Your marriage only stands a 50-50 chance of lasting, no matter how much you feel and how hard you work.

And here are people overjoyed at the prospect of just that chance, and that work, just for the hope of having that feeling. With so much hate in the world, with so much meaningless division, and people pitted against people for no good reason, this is what your religion tells you to do? With your experience of life and this world and all its sadnesses, this is what your conscience tells you to do?

With your knowledge that life, with endless vigor, seems to tilt the playing field on which we all live, in favor of unhappiness and hate… this is what your heart tells you to do? You want to sanctify marriage? You want to honor your God and the universal love you believe he represents? Then Spread happiness — this tiny, symbolic, semantical grain of happiness — share it with all those who seek it. Quote me anything from your religious leader or book of choice telling you to stand against this. And then tell me how you can believe both that statement and another statement, another one which reads only “do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”

You are asked now, by your country, and perhaps by your creator, to stand on one side or another. You are asked now to stand, not on a question of politics, not on a question of religion, not on a question of gay or straight. You are asked now to stand, on a question of…love. All you need do is stand, and let the tiny ember of love meet its own fate. You don’t have to help it, you don’t have it applaud it, you don’t have to fight for it. Just don’t put it out. Just don’t extinguish it. Because while it may at first look like that love is between two people you don’t know and you don’t understand and maybe you don’t even want to know…It is, in fact, the ember of your love, for your fellow **person…

Just because this is the only world we have. And the other guy counts, too.

This is the second time in ten days I find myself concluding by turning to, of all things, the closing plea for mercy by Clarence Darrow in a murder trial.

But what he said, fits what is really at the heart of this:

“I was reading last night of the aspiration of the old Persian poet, Omar-Khayyam,” he told the judge.

“It appealed to me as the highest that I can vision. I wish it was in my heart, and I wish it was in the hearts of all:

“So I be written in the Book of Love;

“I do not care about that Book above.

“Erase my name, or write it as you will,

“So I be written in the Book of Love.”

Good night, and good luck.

The First Family

Posted in Politics by streetlegalplay on November 5, 2008


My wonderful friend and former boss, Aurie Pennick, President of the Field Foundation, sent me this picture with the email caption, “It Just Looks Right.” Her message contained another pithy aphorism, “As It Should Be.”

It is indeed a remarkable image and a welcome and long overdue moment in our history.

To follow up on my last blog post regarding Proposition 8: after Aurie sent me this, I emailed her back, thanking her and saying that I look forward to the day that a gay president will be in this picture with his or her spouse and children.

Many people lost hope that they’d ever see a first family like the one above. Likewise, this picture should give hope to those of us who oppose Proposition 8 and long to see gay spouses and their family in the highest, elected office.

Proposition 8 Passed: Bummer Bigotry on Obama’s Big Day

Posted in Uncategorized by streetlegalplay on November 5, 2008


So, amid my bliss over Obama’s election, I read the news a few minutes ago that California voters passed Proposition 8 banning same-sex marriage. Can’t I ever just get an all-around Good News Day????

Says Frank Schubert, co-manager of the Yes on 8 campaign: “People believe in the institution of marriage. It’s one institution that crosses ethnic divides, that crosses partisan divides…People have stood up because they care about marriage and they care a great deal.”

Nice try at making marriage sound like an inclusive, ecumenical institution – “crosses ethnic divides…crosses partisan divides” – but it doesn’t cross divides in sexual orientation, does it? I guess it’s not supposed to. People on our side of the divide are dirty and deviant, aren’t we?

Oh, and “crosses ethnic divides”: clever, au courant way of inviting minorities to come on board and hate us as much as you and your kind once hated them.

Naturally, the Schubert camp will invoke the Bible, which condones all manner of bigotry.

Oh, yes, the Yes voters “care about marriage…they care a great deal”: and that’s why their divorce rates are over 50%.

Why is the (supposedly) straight majority so bent on claiming marriage as their own? How does commitment within homosexual relationships detract from commitment within heterosexual relationships? Why are some willing to go so far as to “concede” the right to civil unions to us (like we should even have to ask) but not marriage, as though we have no purchase on the sanctified term? John Edwards was one. Look how much respect he showed for the very institution that he said he would refuse to extend to gays – and he was cheating the whole time he was taking this moral high-ground, while his wife was battling cancer.

Meanwhile as Proposition 8 revved up in California, Arkansas voters approved a ban on unmarried couples from serving as adoptive or foster parents. Supporters did not hide that gays and lesbians were their chief target.

So, even with the hope that an Obama tomorrow brings, it does not herald an end to inequities.