Watch the Prop 8 Trial – Dustin Lance Black’s Play About the Prop 8 Hearing

If you missed Saturday night’s live performance of “8,” Dustin Lance Black’s play based on the transcripts of the Proposition 8 trial, it is now available. Celebrities like Brad Pitt, George Clooney, Jane Lynch, and Martin Sheen brought to life the trial’s powerful arguments for equality, the ineptitude of those who oppose same-sex marriage, and the emotional impact on the plaintiffs’ families. Given the fact that Prop 8′s proponents fought so hard to prevent public distribution of the videos of the courts proceedings, this reading is a must-watch and must-share glimpse into what actually transpired:


Prop 8 – Ruled Unconstitutional….Again……….

So once again………Proposition 8 from California (which rescinded Marriage Equality) was found to be unconstitutional. A federal district court had previously thrown out the ban on constitutional grounds and yesterday, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that California’s Proposition 8, was unconstitutional as well……

What is Prop 8?:

  • A ballot initiative that Eliminates Rights of Same-Sex Couples to Marry – A State of California Constitutional Amendment (called California Marriage Protection Act) was a ballot proposition (voted on by citizens) that passed in the November 2008 elections.

What the court ruling said:

  • Should the lower court judge have recused himself simply because he happens to be gay and may wish to marry his partner, as marriage equality opponents contended: NO.
  • Do the proponents (supporters) of Proposition 8 have the legal right, known as standing, to defend it in court: YES.
  • Is Proposition 8 constitutional: NO.

What the court said:

  • In a 2 to 1 ruling, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals has affirmed Judge Walker’s decision declaring that Proposition 8 violates the Due Process and Equal Protection Clauses of the Constitution.

From the majority opinion:

  • Proposition 8 serves no purpose, and has no effect, other than to lessen the status and dignity of gays and lesbians in California, and to officially reclassify their relationships and families as inferior to those of opposite-sex couples.
  • The People may not employ the initiative power to single out a disfavored group for unequal treatment and strip them, without a legitimate justification, of a right as important as the right to marry.
  • That designation [of marriage] is important because ‘marriage’ is the name that society gives to the relationship that matters most between two adults. A rose by any other name may smell as sweet, but to the couple desiring to enter into a committed lifelong relationship, a marriage by the name of ‘registered domestic partnership’ does not.
    (emphasis mine)

What this means – 2 things:

  • The ruling is unique and narrow to the state of California which limits the possibilty of the Supreme Court hearing the case, yet it remains a possibility. A broader decision would have certainly drawn Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) attention but there is a chance that the justices may pass on it as it is limited to issues within the state of California.
  • By not ruling on the case, the SCOTUS avoids having to rule on other state based cases such as Alabama’s Marriage Amendment. The bigger, national fight is put off until tomorrow but the people of Alabama suffer but Proposition 8 is likely dead in California…….

Next week – Why elections matter and what does the 2012 election means for the Supreme Court….

Payroll Tax Credit Debate

Since Obama is talking about the payroll tax credit – here is a post from a previous blog:

What Would I do With $40 – Well, $53.64….

Mon Dec 26, 2011 at 01:01 AM EST

by buffaloerik

I’ve had a fairly up and down last few years – I lost my job almost 3 years ago but I went back to grad school and met a wonderful girl and got hitched last October. I am a bit rough around the edges for most Southerners as I grew up in Buffalo N.Y. and lived 9 years in Philly whereas my wife was raised in Florida and her father is a Baptist preacher in Mississippi – I guess that opposites attract?? The one common theme that we and our families share is the notion of giving back and providing for others – some do it through church, some through family, and some through good words, deeds, and actions……

So this “battle” about the payroll tax has been going on for thepast few weeks and the question came up – what would you do with the extra $40 per week – it seems like a small amount and of course the Fox News crowd shifted positions and claimed that we were making a mistake by giving this money away when it should go into he Social Security coffers (further proof that Dems want to depletee the system and are lying when they claim that SS benefits will be around by the time I’m ready to retire) – but at the same time, 100% of that money will be spent my the folks that recieve the “tax break” to just pay basic bills, etc to keep themselves and thier families afloat…..and therefore supporting local businesses, paying mortgages (you are welcome banks), and putting cash back into communities….

Honestly, even given the loss of income for 3 years, I am OK – my wife has a wonderful job and I collected unemployment while searching for a job. Unemployment expired and I headed back to school and took out some student loans to help out financially with bill, tuition, books, etc…(can’t imagine why any sane person would want to cut funding for student loans – aside from Republicans).

One way that I have also managed to keep paying bills and everyday expenses is that I run a vinatge clothing store on Ebay . Selling stuff on Ebay puts me at the Post Office (can’t imagine whay any sane person would want to get rid of the Post Office – aside from Republicans) which is right down the street from an embattled homeless shelter (details here –…). Needless to say, I have seen the effects of the homeless situation in Atlanta on a daily basis over the past 3 years just driving by the shelter everyday….

On Thursday morning my wife and I were getting ready to leave town to visit relatives in Florida and I decided to clear out the fridge and cabinets as we woudl be gone for a while and I did not feel the need to toss away good food. I set out for thr Post Office to mail out some last minute Ebay sales and swung by the shelter to drop of the food. Of course I always get hung up talking with the folks there and handed out a pack of cigarettes with the food and left to meet up with my wife so we could hit the road for Florida. On the way home, only about 2 miles, I switched on Rush Limbaugh and lo’ and behold there was the screed that the payrol tax cut issue was not important and $40 dollars means nothing, blah, blah, blah……

I decided that I would see what I could do with $40 – I stopped at McDonalds, ordered 50 cheeseburgers and told the manager what I was doing. He threw in 50 orders of fries and I had myself 50 meals to distribute at the shelter (it’s amazing what you can get if you just ask….). I took the 50 burgerrs and fries (I am not claiming that this is a good or healthy meal by any stretch BTW) and headed back  to see my friends at the shelter. When I pulled up they knew exactly why I was there. One guy held out an umbrells and had his crew form a line by the side of my car and maintained order while I handed out the food. Everyone was in good spirits and thanked me for the offerings – some asked why I was doing it or stated that I must be rich, but in the end I think that they just enjoyed a bit or normalcy for a few minutes (just a cheeseburger and fries – something we all take for granted). The food went pretty quickly and soon I had just a few empty bags that one gentlkeman gladly disposed of for me. I stuck around for a few more minutes and handed out 4-5 more packs of smokes and wished them a nice day.

I wont pretend that it really helped or made a difference but who knows. I just know that most of the folks appreciated someone taking the time to stop and show that they cared. To me, it was $53.64, maybe to them it meant more? maybe it meant nothing? Either way, I am happy with what I did with my payroll taxcut money.

The Real Co$t of War – Iraq v. Libya

Tonight, President Obama will deliver his third State of the Union address. He will lay out a sweeping vision of what’s at stake for the middle class and two visions for the economy. Entangled in his speech will surely be references to the debt ceiling debate and the budget. The President has requested to have the debt limit (how much we as a country can borrow) raised to 1.2 trillion. The Republican held House has already voted “no” to this request on their first day back in session from the holiday break, so we come back to the discussion of how do we decrease spending and balance the budget so we don’t need to raise the debt limit a trillion dollars at a time?

This got me to thinking – how can we cut government expenses to balance the budget if we are unwilling to have honest discussions? Do politicians really believe that teachers unions or janitors are the reason that we are all in a hole financially? or do they just say that to pander to constituents that need someone to blame?

Let’s look at some facts:

  • The war in Iraq cost upwards of $120 Billion per year
  • The total cost stands at over $806 Billion today (predicted to be over $1 Trillion once all is said and done, but “only” $50-60 Billion by the Bush administration?)

Don’t believe me? Check the War Cost Calculator – 


Although most of the troops are out of Iraq, that does not mean that we are still not paying for operations in country! 

OK – now let’s take a look at the chart below – what stands out to you?

Essentially, both conflicts produced the same outcomes – 1 dead dictator – it’s just that the path that we took in Iraq cost the U.S. about $805 Billion more than the path that was taken in Libya – could we have used that money to diminish our debt? and could the budget be balanced without this huge expenditure? You betcha! Is anyone really willing to have that conversation – Nope!

But let’s now take a look at what that eventual $1 Trillion price tag (some are actually predicting the total cost of the Iraq War will exceed $3 Trillion) for the war could have could have bought us……

  • $1 trillion could pave the entire U.S. interstate highway system with gold, 23.5-karat gold leaf
  • It could buy every person on the planet an iPod
  • It could give every high school student in the United States a free college education
  • It could pay off every American’s credit card
  • It could buy a Buick for every senior citizen still driving in the United States
  • It could buy 16.6 million Habitat for Humanity houses, enough for 43 million Americans
  • America could double the 663,000 cops on the beat for 32 years

For more ideas – Look Here!

Hopefully in the future, policy makers and politicians will consider the Real Co$t of War before we jump headlong into and endless military engagement. But don’t forget, the $806 Billion price tag does not include what we have spent in Afghanistan – that is a different discussion post all together folks!

****** Update ******

Obama just noted in his SOTU address that we as a nation should “take the money we are no longer spending at war, use half of it to pay down our debt and use the rest to do some nation building right here at home”……..great mids think alike huh?