Tag Archives: Equality

Another way of thinking

Einstein_blackboardThe nation is suffering in soul and spirit from the colliding dark forces of hate, elitism, lawless and treasonous conduct, and the growing sentiment that we need no discipline, no standards, no law or regulations, to keep us safe; the mantra is – “it will work itself out somehow.”

At the eye of this storm, ravaging America is an unmoored man who makes a fair imitation of Emperor Nero in his chaotic latter days when his gifts as a younger man left him.

Mr. Donald Trump defies the promise of our nation to greet the future with open arms, to treat all as equals, to fulfill our promise of liberty and freedom, and to join the family of man spread across this wide earth.

We’ve seen more than once how Mr. Trump withdraws from us all, wraps his arms tightly around himself, purses his lips, lifts his chin in defiance, and pronounces, in his unique syntax  some offensive comment, about policy or personality, that some fear is becoming a “malignant normalcy.” Continue reading

Independence at risk

indepencencehallThe Fourth of July is a pageant celebrating our independence from an Imperial nation that denied us self-rule, dignity and freedom.

It’s a time of marching bands, waving flags, capped with cloud-brushing, soaring multicolored flashes of fireworks, lighting the night sky, to the sound of oohs and aahs from crowds across the nation.

It evokes the language of the declaration hammered out in a hot Philadelphia Hall, striking and revising the words of Thomas Jefferson, setting forth who we believed we were as a nation aborning.

We must reflect upon the sentiments of that grand occasion, and how we may fulfill those worthy sentiments today when our independence is at risk from within and from without, by a foreign nation state, Russia, that usurped this nation’s independence when it interfered in our elections to install the current Chief Executive.

When we declared our independence, we said we believed that we are all “created equal.” We have struggled since to perfect that sentiment, but of late, persons of color, muslims and women are hardly treated as “equal.” Continue reading

Land of the free? About our national anthem!

Flag_wavingOn Friday night, my wife Holly and I took out the Iron Horse (little Harley) and had dinner at Anthony’s in Purcellville.

A Starbuck’s friend at the next table over asked what I thought about the quarterback, Colin Kaepernick, with the San Francisco 49ers, who wouldn’t stand during the national anthem.

I said I had no problem with his protest.  And I don’t.

I think there is good cause because of our poor race relations that we promote discussion about race and equality – so that we might thereby achieve the equal rights for all Americans, male and female, and fulfill the promise of equality that has eluded this nation’s grasp since we declared our independence.

Blacks failed to become full “persons” in our much revered Constitution at the birth of our nation; they were recognized as fractional three-fifths “persons” for purposes of allocating political representation among the several states, but not allowed the vote.

Still, we have folk insisting on the “original” meaning of the constitution, what our founders “believed.”

What our founders “believed” was that it was necessary to compromise individual rights to ameliorate regional differences.

In 2011, there was some congressional embarrassment when our U.S. Congress thought to read the Constitution on the floor of the House so that we could focus on our nation’s “original” meaning.

The “reading” deleted certain “original” passages from the Constitution including the language in Article I, Section 2, that references slaves as “three fifths” persons.

Many are beside themselves that anyone would protest the Anthem?  But we should examine the context and content of the Anthem.  I have never done so, not from the perspective of being black, or having had ancestors who were slaves.  When you do, you can’t ignore that our Anthem contains these words, “No refuge could save the hireling and slave, from the terror of flight or the gloom of the grave.”

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To save a mocking bird!

mockingbirdAtticus Finch was the champion of a black man’s rights in Harper Lee’s Pulitzer prize-winning book, “To Kill a Mockingbird,” a story instructing one and all to be tolerant and have courage in the face of racial discrimination; it was later made into an academy award winning blockbuster with the renowned actor, Gregory Peck, playing the young lawyer, Atticus.

Harper Lee wrote another book about Atticus Finch, as an elder, when he’s 72, called. “Go Set a Watchman,” and the novel has been kept secret since the 1950s.

Only now is it being released.

I’m very clear, after seeing the book reviews, that I’m not ever “gonna” read the new version of the elder Atticus in “Watchman.”

In this new version, Atticus is a confessed racist who attended KKK rallies.

I know enough about that kind of unreconstructed southern segregationist – as I presume is fictionalized in Lee’s “Watchman” – that I don’t need to read it.

After all, the significance of the title, “to kill a mocking bird,” is that it means to kill innocence, and to denigrate Atticus in this successor novel is the same thing.

While Atticus may have been a conflated creation of Harper Lee’s imagination, I know that there really did exist men and women like the Atticus of “Mockingbird,” who showed courage in the face of racial intolerance.

The nation needs such vision now, a standard, an uplifting idea, to focus the scattered energy of our people, by which we may measure how and whether we are moving forward.

The nation is hurting but there have been southern winds of reform that are significant and encouraging because they represent change.

Aristotle taught that “spoken words” are symbols of “affections in the soul.”

There are of course many other means of expression that are symbols revelatory of the soul.

We live in a symbol system in the South of flags, place names, statues, and more that are inherent in the regional culture that reflect grave disaffection in a collective soul and perpetuate the wrongly learned values of rebellion, intolerance, segregation, slavery and hate.

This ante-bellum “arrangement” may well suit those in an enduring “rebellion” but not those who are the objects of intolerance. Continue reading

Yes, Virginia, Marriage is a Fundamental Right

wedding-ringsSpecial op-ed by David Weintraub published in the Purcellville Gazette, August 2 2014.

On November 7, 2006, Virginia voters were presented with the choice to add an amendment to our state constitution. This amendment would not only prohibit civil marriage between two people of the same sex – which had already been banned legislatively several times over – but would also ban any other “union, partnership, or other legal status to which is assigned the rights, benefits, obligations, qualities, or effects of marriage,” or which “intends to approximate the design, qualities, significance, or effects of marriage.” This expansive language gave Virginia the dubious honor of having adopted the most extreme so-called “marriage amendment” in the nation.

In a decision announced Monday, The Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals found that prohibition unconstitutional, joining an unbroken series of rulings affirming marriage as a fundamental right that cannot be denied because of gender.

At the time of the amendment’s passage (it was approved by 57 percent of voters), I was told jubilantly by a local supporter that it would “protect” his model of marriage in Virginia “for at least a decade.” This prediction has turned out to be remarkably accurate. In the past decade, we have witnessed a shift in opinion like no other toward support of the right for loving gay and lesbian couples to marry. At the same time, courts have come to the long overdue conclusion that the U.S. Constitution really does mean what it says about the rights guaranteed to ALL Americans.

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Benefit concert for People of Faith for Equality in Virginia

Genuine religious freedom is on the move in Virginia. This concert benefits some of that work.

gay_mens_chorus

Support People of Faith for Equality in VA!
Friday May 9th, 2014
Doors Open, Tapas, Bar – 6:30pm
Concert Begins – 7:30pm

This is the third annual Gay Men’s Chorus of DC concert in Sterling, VA. This is a night to celebrate the inherent worth and dignity of all people with music for the sake of joy!

Order your tickets now. [Note: the POFEV website is temporarily down; you can also contact them via facebook.]

Tickets purchased on the night of the event may be standing room only.

The Gay Men’s Chorus of Washington, DC, is one of the Washington area’s most acclaimed musical groups. GMCW won WAMMIES for Best Choral Recording in 2013 and 2014 from the Washington Area Music Association. Their Potomac Fever/Rock Creek Singer CD recording TOGETHER AGAIN won this year. ALEXANDER’S HOUSE CD won in 2013. You can hear and see some of their amazing performances on the GMCW website.

Please join us for this joyous and inspiring evening of music to hear one of the D.C. area’s most acclaimed singing groups!

Child care will be available at the event. Donations are welcome!

We hope to see you May 9th in Sterling!

Brought to you by: Beth Chaverim Reform Congregation, Loudoun Out Loud, St. Gabriel’s Episcopal Church, St. James United Church of Christ, Sha’re Shalom Synagogue, Unitarian Universalist Church of Loudoun, Unity of Loudoun, and the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Sterling.

Religious freedom is for everybody

idologo400A funny thing happened when those who find marriage equality so upsetting started loudly complaining about alleged violations of their religious freedom: People whose religious freedom actually is being violated stepped forward.

As reported here last month, the first ever Witness for Love held in Loudoun County drew a number of local clergy, who testified to being barred from performing the rites of marriage for same gender couples in accordance with their faith. Many people don’t realize that Virginia law includes a provision that makes it unlawful for an officiant to perform a marriage ceremony unless the couple has a legal marriage license. This provision does exactly what it sounds like it would do: It erases the supposed distinction between ‘civil’ and ‘religious’ marriage by restricting religious marriage celebration to what is permitted by civil law.

While no clergy or denomination ever has, nor ever will, be required to perform the rites of a same-gender marriage, an interracial marriage, an interfaith marriage, a marriage involving a divorced person, or any other marriage that fails to meet their particular religious criteria, those clergy and denominations that actively seek to celebrate the marriages of same gender couples in their communities are instead required to treat those couples as if they are unworthy of such celebration. That requirement (unlike the make-believe scenarios of anti-gay activists) is a very real and grievous violation of religious conscience. It unmistakably, to use the current language of the anti-gay crowd, “violates their sincerely held religious belief” in the equal dignity and humanity of their LGBT parishioners. Today, one of those denominations finally filed a lawsuit seeking the restoration of First Amendment rights to its clergy.

In what is believed to the first-ever challenge by a national Christian denomination of a state’s marriage laws, the UCC filed the lawsuit Monday morning, April 28, in U.S. District Court in Charlotte, N.C.

Under Amendment One, which passed in late 2012, it is a crime in the State of North Carolina for clergy to officiate a marriage ceremony without determining whether the couple involved has a valid marriage license. United Church of Christ ministers interested in conducting a religious marriage ceremony for same-gender couples could face up to 120 days of jail and/or probation and community service if found guilty, since North Carolina marriage laws define and regulate marriage as being between only a man and a woman. As lead plaintiff in this lawsuit against the State, the United Church of Christ asserts that these laws are unconstitutional and violate clergy’s First Amendment rights.

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Virginia gets a Valentine

U.S. District Judge Arenda L. Wright Allen begins her opinion striking down the Marshall-Newman amendment by quoting Mildred Loving:

We made a commitment to each other in our love and lives, and now had the legal commitment, called marriage, to match. Isn’t that what marriage is? . . . I have lived long enough now to see big changes. The older generation’s fears and prejudices have given way, and today’s young people realize that if someone loves someone they have a right to marry. Surrounded as I am now by wonderful children and grandchildren, not a day goes by that I don’t think of Richard and our love, our right to marry, and how much it meant to me to have that freedom to marry the person precious to me, even if others thought he was the “wrong kind of person” for me to marry. I believe all Americans, no matter their race, no matter their sex, no matter their sexual orientation, should have that same freedom to marry. Government has no business imposing some people’s religious beliefs over others. . . . I support the freedom to marry for all. That’s what Loving, and loving, are all about.”

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The story behind “children do best with a mom and a dad”

bostic-raineyThose wailing over one of the consequences of the recent election, the change in Virginia’s position on the Marshall-Newman amendment, would have us believe that there would be no one else defending it in court. But of course that wasn’t true. District court Judge Arenda Wright Allen’s order for the oral arguments in Bostic v. Rainey that took place Tuesday shows that the time allotted to defenders of the amendment was double the time allotted to the plaintiffs seeking to overturn it. In addition, attorneys for proponents of the amendment were provided by the Alliance Defending Freedom (formerly Alliance Defense Fund), a well-funded legal “ministry” that claims to win nearly 80% of its court cases. The problem faced by amendment proponents was not a lack of competent legal counsel. The problem was the lack of a constitutionally permissible justification for walling off a class of people from the fundamental right of marriage, based only on their orientation.

An argument from religion, or tradition, or one based on moral disapproval of gay people, or a wish to discourage gay people from existing, simply won’t survive scrutiny; those days are over. What the proponents of such bans have to show is that there is an important state interest that justifies treating people who want to marry a partner of the same sex differently from people who want to marry a partner of a different sex. And the argument they’ve settled on is the idea that “children do better with a mom and a dad.” You can see the talking point prominently displayed on the signs of protesters outside the courthouse; it was also expected to do the heavy lifting inside. As VFF’s Victoria Cobb put it, the proponent’s attorneys argued that “the government’s interest in marriage is in the upbringing of children by a mother and a father.”

The obvious problem with this argument is that the social science research and the professional medical and child welfare associations say that it’s not true: Children raised by two parents of the same sex actually do as well, or better in some cases, than children raised by two opposite sex parents.

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Here Come the Social Issues

Question: Does Victoria Cobb have dementia, or does she just believe that other Virginians do?

In an email she sent us this week, with the actual subject line “Here Come the Social Issues,” the Virginia Family (not yours) Foundation president tells us that, because there is now a Democratic majority* in the state senate, “Senator Democrats [sic] will elevate their abortion and sex agenda** to their top priority,” and “there is little doubt that ‘social issues’ will dominate their agenda in the coming days.”

I will pause here so that anyone who has been living in Virginia for the last decade or two can finish laughing.

There certainly has been quite a bit of forgetfulness lately on the part of individuals who have made an “abortion and sex agenda” their top priority, hasn’t there? And Victoria’s forgetfulness about her own organization’s mission has just shot to the top of the hit parade, as further down in the very same email she mentions the 2011 TRAP*** law that she and her allies in the General Assembly engineered by adding anti-abortion provisions to an unrelated law. And you might think that Victoria would want to present the means by which this law was passed as a legitimate process driven by evidence and debate. You would be wrong.

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