Good morning.

By Risa Wechsler | November 5, 2008 1:59 pm

Here on the pulse of this new day
You may have the grace to look up and out
And into your sister’s eyes,
Into your brother’s face, your country
And say simply
Very simply
With hope
Good morning.

— Maya Angelou

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Words
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  • A foreigner

    Dear Americans,

    Your naivete is entertaining and ironic, especially since it stems from having a spoiled 1st world life due to USA maintaining its interests across the world with iron fist. Like pets, you seem to never grow up.

    And that’s OK. We like you that way.

    But, you do realize that the only reason people subscribe to this blog is because you write about physics?

    Just a thought. Yes, I know about that this-is-not-just-a-physics-blog disclaimer.

    Thank you!
    Not an American.

  • Matt

    Hear hear. To Risa/Maya, I mean, not the above post (I could read a million posts like that today and not lose an ounce of the long-over-due pride I feel in my country).

  • http://collateraltales.blogspot.com/ Jay

    But, you do realize that the only reason people subscribe to this blog is because you write about physics?

    If that’s so, that’s news to me. But please do try and get a bit more condescending. It will advance your cause considerably.

    ^_^J.

  • Greg

    “Here on the pulse of this new day
    You may have the grace to look up and out
    And into your sister’s eyes,
    Into your brother’s face, your country
    And say simply
    Very simply
    With hope
    Good morning. ”

    Unless your brother or sister is gay.

    Today is emotionally incredibly complex for me. I’m really really excited about Obama, but absolutely crushed that my state, one of the most progressive around, voted to write discrimination against me into the constitution. Intellectually, I believe that the new direction Obama will take us is more important than the single issue of gay marriage – if I had to, I’d trade gay marriage for an Obama presidency right now. But emotionally, California’s Prop 8 just feels like an immediate personal attack…

  • http://www.twis.org TwisMinion

    An attack on one civil right is an attack on them all… Prop 8 might as well have banned hetero marriage as well. By making marriage exclusive based on discrimination and hate, it colors all marriage in the way that belonging to a country club that excludes “coloreds” makes racists of the most open minded members…

    Prop 8 is a sad affair… Sadder still because it is very likely that the large turnout by those who have felt left out of mainstream society for so long, are the very same who may have voted for continuing to perpetuate the same on others…

    Let’s hope the California state supreme court can still shoot down this short sighted blight on my dear sweet home state’s reputation…

    justin
    this week in science

  • Luke

    It’s not really discrimination in the strict sense of the term. Everybody in California, whether gay or straight, has the right to marry one and only one person of the opposite sex. So gay people have the same rights under the CA constitution (as it has now been amended) as straight people.

  • David Katz

    The fact that Prop 8 passed in California surprised me – in a solidly Democratic state, I had thought that it would get shot down. It just strikes me as weird that a state as progressive as California might suddenly have an attack of conservatism and write discrimination into the constitution.

  • Andrew

    So gay people have the same rights under the CA constitution (as it has now been amended) as straight people.

    That’s a tired strawman argument, Luke. So if we wrote in another amendment that specified marriage as “a union between one man and one woman of the same skin color”, according to your logic, that would also not be discrimination in the strict sense of the term. Everybody in California, whether black or white, would have the right to marry one and only one person of the opposite sex and the same skin color. So black people would have the same rights under the CA constitution (as it would be amended) as white people.

    Works for you?

  • Luke

    Well, Andrew, I see that you didn’t really even attempt to debate my point about discrimination and ended your post with “Works for you?”. In other words, you’re asking me whether I would like bans on inter-racial marriage, not whether they be considered discrimination.

    Not that anybody cares, but I think that those bans were silly when they existed and I’m glad that they were declared unconstitutional by the U.S. Supreme Court back in 1967.

    What that California Supreme Court did this year, however, is something altogether different. It essentially decided to redefine the definition of marriage as something different from that which has been in existence for centuries. What’s truly outrageous is Justin’s post #7 above. The people of CA voted in a referendum in 2000 to ban gay marriage. After the decision of the state supreme court this year, they have now amended the state consitution to once again ban gay marriage. Justin would now like the state supreme court to rule that that is not a legitimate constitutional amendment. He appears to believe that gay marriage is more important than democracy itself. Fortunately, according to legal scholars quoted in the LA Times today, the state supreme court is highly unlikely to rule against this vote.

    For all of you gay marriage advocates, there is a good piece of news from yesterday’s election result. The 2000 referendum showed that 60% of the voters were against gay marriage, while this year the vote was margin was only 52 to 48. Instead of trying to sneak same-sex marriage through the courts, it’s time to get involved in political activity. Make an effort to try to convince the people of California that marriage should be redefined from what has been traditionally understood. Then work towards having another referendum eight years from now.

  • William W.

    It essentially decided to redefine the definition of marriage as something different from that which has been in existence for centuries.

    Really? What university did you get your history degree from? Your sociology degree? Your anthropology degree? Marriage has meant different things at different points in history. For example, marriage no longer means that a man owns his wife. It no longer means he owns his wife’s property. It no longer means that a woman is expected to give up her career and only bear children. There are a host of other discriminatory traditions based on race, age, income and other factors that we have eliminated from our definition of marriage. It is not outrageous to demand that gender be eliminated, as well.

    To say

    So gay people have the same rights under the CA constitution (as it has now been amended) as straight people

    is to take away something that gay people want (to be able to marry the person they love ) and insists they should be satisfied with something they don’t want(the ability to marry someone with different genitals). More than that, it insists on gay people being fundamentally different, such that we have to make seperate laws to keep them in check; that’s second-class citizenry.

    Perhaps most offensive of all, to me, the anti-gay marriage arguments insists that what marriage is really about — love, and a stable family — has nothing to do with what marriage is. Such arguments insist that marriage is instead about penis-in-vagina sex.

  • Melissa

    You are more cautious than me, I’ve found today more ‘Feeling Good’ by Nina Simone-themed. Today has been the best day ever for dreaming.

  • kletter

    Want a physics-oriented reason to celebrate? Try reading Chris Mooney’s The Republican War on Science

    For some reason, some just don’t like science. They like technology quite a bit, in fact they often display techno-fetishism, but something about the questioning nature of science – it must be that it undermines authority, which threatens the integrity of the state… or something. Technology, once safely patented and controlled, doesn’t need to be understood to sell, so it is safe – unless it is disruptive to existing markets, in which case it must be suppressed. For example: we all have cell phones, but there are no electric cars. That’s not because of any technological limitation, as science can demonstrate.

    Government bodies that base their policy on science research (or are supposed to) include the FDA, the EPA, the DOE, NOAA and NWS, NASA, USGS, etc. Hopefully, now they’ll be run by people who all agree on the basic scientific approach. Politicization of science… that’s an ugly business, and maybe now we’ll see less of it, so yes, go celebrate.

    Michelle Obama talks a lot about education, which is hopeful… this is really the best way to undermine mindless political machines: educate the base. “Now, the Earth really is about 4 billion years old, and no, you don’t have to be an atheist to study science.” That means supporting schools all across the country, from rural regions to suburbia to inner cities. That’s real investment in the future, the kind that will always pay off.

    P.S. Marcus Garvey turned out to be wrong, didn’t he?

  • Gwen

    Luke, until the latter half of the last century, to most Americans the “traditional” definition of marriage did not allow marriages between races. I believe Andrew’s argument was valid. There really is no difference between the oppression sanctified into CA’s constitution yesterday and that which you “gladly” agree was appropriately declared unconstitutional in the latter half of the 20th century.

    I will agree with you, though, that the next step is to continue to illuminate society and plan to rescind this in a future election. The bad news is CA requires only a 50% threshold to pass oppression, but the flip side good news is it takes only 50% to toss it back in the dung-heap of history. We need only flip 2% of the electorate on the west coast, our brethren in FL have to flip almost 25% before they can try again

  • http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/cosmicvariance/risa/ Risa

    Greg — my sister is. She and I still shared a hopeful good morning today. But I completely agree with your sentiment. I am incredibly disappointed in my state, and it does make the results of the day bittersweet. Let’s just hope that it turns around soon.

  • http://verywide.net/ Moody834

    Re comment #7: “Prop 8 is a sad affair… Sadder still because it is very likely that the large turnout by those who have felt left out of mainstream society for so long, are the very same who may have voted for continuing to perpetuate the same on others…”

    Who, perchance, are you referring to when you say “those who have felt left out of mainstream society”? Am I to guess? It seems disingenuous to say-without-saying, like you left a back door for yourself to fill in the blank later.

    Check this, from the LA Times:

    “But preliminary data showed that Democrats and independents were tending to vote against Proposition 8, while Republicans were in favor of the measure.

    “The proposition was trailing among white voters, but was ahead among black voters. Latino voters were closely divided.

    “People who said they attended religious services weekly were overwhelmingly voting for the measure, while those who said that they occasionally or never went to religious services were voting no.

    “Voters older than 65 voted mostly for the proposition, while those in the 18-29 range voted against it.”

    Here’s what I saw. Protests on corners, Pro 8, were majority white. Against 8, predominantly white. In my house, which is a black household, three adults voted against Prop 8. Our neighbors—gay and black and a couple—doubtless voted against 8. But who had the Pro 8 signs in their windows? The late twenties, white, religious, hetero, Republican couple.

    I am utterly ashamed of these Pro 8 people, and disappointed that Californians gave this hateful, un-American prop a thumbs-up. For me, it almost spoiled my good feelings after Obama’s victory. And this is not even to discuss Prop 11, which will give Republicans a much better position to protect their interests in California.

  • Andrew

    What that California Supreme Court did this year, however, is something altogether different. It essentially decided to redefine the definition of marriage as something different from that which has been in existence for centuries.

    This is a semantics argument. The Supreme Court redefined precisely nothing about whatever it is you think is the definition of marriage, because the tradition of marriage is not codified in law. What’s codified is a set of legal protections, a particular type of contract, that happens to be called by the same name as a traditional ceremony. The Supreme Court ruled that those protections should apply equally to same-sex couples, and to make sure that these protections don’t deviate from those afforded to heterosexual couples (that’s what “separate but equal” usually results in), they are to apply to same-sex couples under the same name.

    Again, the tradition and ceremony of marriage, as much as it has changed on its own without any help from any judges (see someone else’s post above with a brief course on history), were not even mentioned in the court’s ruling.

    By the way, why are you so comfortable with the fact that it were the courts that repealed the “silly” (interesting choice of word, by the way – I’d use words like “tragic” or “disgusting”) ban on interracial marriage? It sounds that by your logic, you would like the people to finally decide on their own that that’s what they want.

  • http://quantummechanicsdemystified.blogspot.com/ David McMahon

    Part of the role the judiciary serves is making sure laws conform with the constitution. People can’t vote in an unconstitutional law. We live in a republic and not a strict democracy. So yes, the supreme court can overturn a law passed by voters if it violates the constitution. This is a good thing, otherwise in some crazy mob mentality the people can vote in any wild ass law they feel like voting in at the moment. Allowing the judiciary to overrule that or overrule unconstitutional acts by congress or the President is part of our checks and balances system. Remember, the Germans voted Hitler into office. So popular vote is not always the best measure of something.

  • http://www.pieter-kok.staff.shef.ac.uk Pieter Kok

    I have a question about prop 8: Does this mean that a civil partnership between two gays does not entail the same rights as a marriage between two heteros? I’m thinking for example of visiting rights in hospitals, where I heard there are differences between the two.

  • http://www.math.brown.edu/~lubinj Jonathan Lubin

    Pieter, I don’t believe you heard right on that. Hospital visitation is one of the most important issues, and among the forms of civil union available here in the States, California’s is generally regarded to be right up at the top.

  • mike

    17 comments to get to a Hitler comparison. Seems a little slow for a political debate.

    Luke is right, technically. The law currently grants everyone the right to marry an adult, consenting member of the opposite sex who is not immediate family. It gives that right to everyone. It does not give us the right to marry whoever we may love. The debate is about changing this law. People on both sides of this issue feel very strongly about it, so we ought to deal with it logically instead of emotionally (I know, easier said than done). But that is the real debate, so why don’t we debate that instead of trying to fit a square peg into a round hole? It’s not that it would be hard to argue that the definition needs to be changed.

    Oh, and ridiculous ads attacking people and accusing them of feeling that they might not have probably do more harm than good.

  • u

    Glory Obama

  • http://countiblis.blogspot.com Count Iblis

    This is a civil rights issue. The lesson from history is that democracy alone is not enough to get rid of the repressive laws. It requires people who are repressed to violate these unjust laws.

    In this case, civil servants who feel it is unjust to refuse marriage licences to gay couples should issue these licences anyway.

    Compare this with Abortion. Abortion would never have been legalized if the law that banned it was not violated on a massive scale.

    What happens is that people who have a stake in the issue are a minority, while the majority who do not have a stake in it oppose it because it is a taboo issue. If the minority confronts the majority by fighting for their rights, then the majority will back off because they won’t be prepared to fight for a an issue that is irrelevant to their lives.

  • http://www.pieter-kok.staff.shef.ac.uk Pieter Kok

    Jonathan, thanks for that. This brings up my next point: if civil partnerships are still allowed in CA, and they offer the same rights and protections as traditional marriage, then I do not see what the fight is about.

    To let you know where I stand: I am very much in favour of “gay marriage”, but I just want to know exactly what the practical consequences of this amendment are in terms of people’s rights and freedoms.

  • Andrew

    If civil partnerships are still allowed in CA, and they offer the same rights and protections as traditional marriage…

    They are quite different actually. For example, marriage has no co-habitation requirement, whereas domestic partnerships do. Which means that you have to be living at the same address *before* you enter the partnership.

    Persons under 18 cannot enter a domestic partnership. They can marry with a court order.

    The putative spouse doctrine doesn’t apply to domestic partnerships.

    A marriage certificate can be designated “confidential” to prevent it from being released to the public. No such process exists for domestic partnerships.

    Domestic partnerships also discriminate against heterosexuals: different-sex couple cannot enter a domestic partnership unless they are older than 62.

    Finally, and perhaps most importantly, studies have shown that employers do not treat domestic partnerships the same as marriages when it comes to awarding benefits. For example, my company allows an open time window every year to change your medical benefits; then, during the year, you can only change benefits if a “significant event” occurs in your life, such as marriage or divorce. “Domestic partnerships”, according to my company, aren’t considered significant events (I inquired specifically), so even though I can sign up a domestic partner for benefits, I have to wait until the special time window, which only occurs once a year. There’s also some funny business with how taxes are dealt with: I think that because domestic partnerships aren’t recognized federally, the benefits to the partner are taxed as additional income. Although that’s just the fact that there’s no federal recognition of same-sex anything, not a difference between domestic partnerships and marriage.

    There’s also an issue of how courts will now resolve disputes when it comes to spousal benefits. For example, in the case Koebke v. Bernardo Heights Country Club, Brigit Koebke argued that her same-sex registered domestic partner was eligible for free games of golf afforded to “spouses” of members of the country club. The California Supreme Court agreed with her – that was *before* Prop. 8 was passed. Now, chances are, the court will disagree, because the new amendment establishes the definition of marriage as specifically distinct from domestic partnership, and if the country club argues that “spouse” is defined as a “party in marriage”, then benefits don’t have to apply.

    Finally, beside the heaps of legal trouble, there’s also an issue of how people are treated. This is a cultural issue, but it is affected by the terms used. A study out of New Jersey found that found that “people in civil unions were not treated the same way as married couples by government agencies, employers and others. One of the big issues is that people do not understand what civil unions are and how they differ from marriage.” That’s what the “separate but equal” concept is about — even if you “say” you are awarding two groups the same rights, as long as you keep the *implementation* of those rights distinctly separate, equality doesn’t come.

  • http://www.pieter-kok.staff.shef.ac.uk Pieter Kok

    Thanks for the information, Andrew. Thank cleared up a lot.

  • Count Iblis

    Its time for all of Gods children to back him and say no to this sin. Or we will all be burning in hell

    Assuming that you are right, are you saying that God’s argument against Gay marriage is: “Do as I say or you’ll burn in hell”?

    Surely we should all fight such a genocidal God!

  • William W.

    Its time for all of Gods children to back him and say no to this sin.

    My god is too busy with beer and wenches to care who I sleep with or fall in love with. Praise Thor!

    Give me one good reason that your gods preferences should be legally valued over mine. If it passes the Lemon test, I’ll convert.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lemon_test#Lemon_test

  • Elliot

    Count…not worth the trouble…

    e.

  • Gwen

    Andrew, even when you have a valid marriage, many people and agencies still don’t know what to do with, and often feel justified discriminating against, a gay couple. Ultimately, the solution needs to come at a federal level. Until then, even lawfully wed gay couples will still have to walk around with a raft of legal papers wherever they go to defend their rights. To make sure I can make decisions for my wife if she ends up unconscious in the hospital while we’re visiting Disneyworld, I would have to carry my marriage certificate, a notarized copy of the court order for name and gender change, and a signed power of attorney just in case some numbskull refuses to acknowledge it anyway or claimed that FL wouldn’t consider as valid my west coast marriage. All that because, even though we’re the same people we were before, there’s no longer a penis involved. Beh…

  • http://www.twis.org Justin Jackson

    Hey Moody… your right, i should say by saying…

    Who was threatened most by prop 8?
    According to The Field Poll, a California polling company operating since 1947, majorities in favor of banning civil rights…
    Conservatives and Mccain supporters were the largest group… ever vigilant in the war on terror ensuring that al queda no longer hates us for our freedom… by surrendering said freedom…

    Those without a higher education went 2/3’s for the ban vs. the 2/3’s with a higher education that opposed it… maybe this is why liberals tend to have a pro education agenda?

    People over the age of 65 and African Americans also went for the ban in larger numbers than did not… Maybe it’s a longing for simpler times that sparked this

    Until 1967, white and black could not a wedded oreo marriage make in 16 states…
    This of course means that had the current president elects parents lived in one of those states… among other firsts, he would likely be our first bastard president… although we could debate that semantically in regards to what exactly constitutes a bastard president…

    I do not doubt that the vast majority of people who voted for the ban consider themselves tolerant of homosexuality, simply not in the case of marriage…

    And it is here that the problem with tolerance is made most clear.
    That it is at our will… by tolerance we mean that we allow something only as we see fit to.
    When that thing we are allowing – only as we see fit – is the civil rights of another member of our society? We are oppressors operating under the slave owner mentality that we are just in doing so. That it is our right to oppress.

    If I seem overly pointed in directing this towards the African American community it is because I am horrified that the connection to past civil rights abuses is so effortlessly ignored in the present by a community that knows so intimately the pain that a majority sanctioned injustice can inflict. That there are old white republicans that harbor such discrimination is not news to me, but it was hoped by me that they were a dieing breed. That they have found the replacements, have passed the torch of bigotry to those they discriminated against for so long, leaves me dumbfounded.

    Basic civil rights in America are not privileges to be revoked or limited at the public whim.

    There can be no legitimate law written that removes these rights from the fabric of our society and those that try – put themselves in very poor company.

    -justin

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