We’ve moved… or rather, moved up!

Posted in politics on June 9, 2009 by mightyfag

J.A.K. and I have moved our political rants to the new OpenSalon site. You can keep up with our political perspectives by clicking through to our respective sites.

J.A.K.’s OpenSalon Site

MightyFag’s OpenSalon Site


More Stimuli

Posted in politics on February 9, 2009 by countryjim13

CVN MCCONNELLRepublican legislators on Capital Hill are still whinning, still lying.  The latest whopper came today from Senate minority leader Mitch McConnell. Speaking in the Senate Chamber McConnell repeated his earlier assertion is that when we look at history,

“…we know for sure that the big spending programs of the New Deal did not work. In 1940, unemployment was still 15%. And, it’s widely agreed among economists, that what got us out of the doldrums that we were in during the Depression was the beginning of World War II.” (1)

First of all, when we look at history there is very little that we can say we know for sure.  Historians argue virtually everything from the widest of generalities to the most minute of details.  Indeed, scholars frequently look at the exact same set of data and manage to extrapolate completely different theories, interpretations, and policy implications from the data in question.  So at the outset, I would warn anyone who may read this to be wary of anyone who claims to know anything for sure, without a doubt.  I am about to tell you what I know for sure based on my reading of history and you probably should believe me either.

The reality is that while we do know that the New Deal and its spending programs did end the Great Depression, evidence that big spending in general did is so overwhelming that we actually might be able to say that we know for sure big spending ended the Great Depression.  Right off the bat, McConnell is not only stating absolutes that he can’t back up, but he is twisting the truth into lies in hopes that most Americans will never know the difference.  PROVE HIM WRONG!

We can go further in criticism of this statement than simply refuting absolutes.  We can easily call into questions the things he claims to know for sure and expose them as statements that, while containing grains of historical fact. are meant to mislead and create false truths to be fed to the masses who are not so well versed in the details of the nations economic history.  First McConnell states that, “In 1940, unemployment was still 15%.”  While it is true that in 1940 unemployment was around 15%, what McConnell fails to qualify his statement with is the fact that the unemployment rate had fallen some 13% as a result of the New Deal.  In 1933 when the First New Deal was implimented, the unemployment rate was at 25%.  Because of the jobs created by New Deal spending, between 1933 and 1937 unemployment fell to as low as 12%, then moved up a bit to around 15% prior to the U.S. entrance into WWII. (2)  In addition, not only did the New Deal help to drastically reduce the unemployement rate during the Great Depression, but it also helped increase GDP consistently between 1933 and 1937.  During that time period, the heart of New Deal spending, GDP increased by over $250 billion from around $600 billion to over $850 billion by 1937,gdp20-401

 Senator McConnell’s attempt, by citing an unemployment number almost twice the current rate, to paint a picture in which the New Deal failed to solve the nation’s unemployment problem and stimulate the economy melts away like sugar in water upon even the most casual exploration of historical records.  McConnell’s statement and intention regarding unemployment and the New Deal is shown as a half truth at best, and at worst one that is meant to deliberately mislead the American people in an attempt to dissuade them from supporting President Obama and his political party.  McConnell, the leader of the Republican Party in the Senate, is playing politics with our nation, with our economy, with our future prosperity.  He is despicable and should be exposed for the obstructionist that he is.  He should be promptly voted from office at the earliest opportunity.

The next and final portion of this statement that must be addressed is his assertion that the majority of economists agree that was WWII that got us out of the Great Depression.  The implication being made is that it was not the big spending programs of the New Deal that got us out of the Great Depression and that therefore history shows us that big spending, such as that currently being proposed by Congressional Democrats and President Obama, is proven to be ineffective at pulling our economy out of dire economic straits.  Again, if we actually take only casual glance at historical records we can see this assertion for the misleading statement that it is.

The statement all by itself is true, just as is the statement made regarding the unemployment rate in 1940.  However, the implication being made by McConnell is easily shown as false.  Economists do largely agree that while the New Deal went far in alleviating the suffering of the Great Depression by creating jobs for the millions who were out of work and hungry, it did not end the depression.  The New Deal was not a perfect package that solved the problem no questions asked.  McConnell is misleading because while correctly stating that it was WWII that ended the Great Depression, he stops there leaving us with implication that New Deal big spending failed.

What McConnell leaves out is an explanation of how WWII brought us out of the Great Depression.  Did the war cause so much consumer confidence that banks started lending and consumers starting spending?  People began investing again becuase the war brought them such a sense of security, safety, and confidence?  No.  This is not what happened.  The reason that WWII brought us out of the Great Depression is because the U.S. government, in order to wage war against Germany and Japan on a global scale, had to pump more money into many different segments of the economy than was ever done through the New Deal.  That’s right, it was BIG GOVERNMENT SPENDING that ended the Great Depression.  The U.S. government spent some $341 billion on its involvement in WWII. (3)  The equivalent in todays terms, taking inflation over 60 years into account, is $3.5 trillion dollars. (4)  Compre this to the $32 billion that was spent on the New Deal, the equivalent today of around $500 billion. (5)  So what our government is proposing to spend today could be said to be roughly about what was spent during the New Deal, a bit more, when adjusted for 60 years of inflation.  That didn’t work, but not because the stimulus does not come in the form of tax cuts, as McConnell and his Republican Party would have us believe.  Rather it didn’t work because it wasn’t enough spending.  It took seven times the amount of spending that took place in the New Deal to pull the U.S. out of the Great Depression.  When viewed from this perspective, we can safely predict that the current stimulus plan may fail because it does not spend enough.

bombsTrue, the money spent during WWII was not spent on roads, bridges, unemployment benefits, or food stamps.  It wasn’t grants to the National Endowment for the Arts, grants for scientific research and development in green energy or aid to sorely underfunded and grossly over-mandated school districts.  It wasn’t spending on these things that ended the Great Depression.  However, the stimulus provide by WWII that did bring that economic crisis to a close also did not come in the form of massive tax cuts as the Republican Party and its leaders would have us have us believe we should impliment to solve the current crisis.  It was MASSIVE spending on bombs, textiles for uniforms, paychecks, planes, ships, bullets, rubber, oil, food, and everything else that goes into supplying and equiping a military for a global conflict.  In fact, it was spending more than three times more than what congress is currently proposing be spent to stimulate the economy.

The exposure of this misleading and false interpretation of history begs the question of whether massive spending similar, if perhaps not quite so generous, to that seen during WWII could bring us out of our current and deep recession.  Republicans have tried to make the claim that the stimulus proposes to spend too much money by comparing it to The New Deal and showing that this bill proposes to spend even more.  But when we look at history objectively, we can see that during the Great Depression and the New Deal, even more spending was exactly what was needed.  While the big spending of the New Deal didn’t solve the problem, it turns out that this is because the spending wasn’t big enough.  It was not until even more massive spending, equivalent to some $3.5 trillion today, was undertaken to prepare for and fight WWII that enough stimulus was provided to the economy to jolt it out of the depression.

Once again, Republicans are lying to the public in order to create fear.  Only now the great menace is not the terrorists, but the Democratic Party and big government spending.  The boogeyman big spending will further damage the economy and Americans will suffer.  Unless we put massive business tax cuts in place we are all doomed!  Don’t buy into their fear mongering.  Don’t take their lies at face value.  Look at the history, look at the numbers yourself and it becomes clear that big spending ended the Great Depression and big spending can pull us out of our current recession.

Ken Starr Files to Nullify Gay Marriages

Posted in civil rights, just sayin', politics with tags , , , on February 5, 2009 by mightyfag

Ken Starr – that’s right, the prosecutor for Bill Clinton’s impeachment – is heading up a legal filing to have the gay marriages performed LEGALLY in the state of California prior to the passage of Proposition 8, invalidated and divorced. So not only is this insipid man heading up the legal defense in support of Proposition 8 before the Supreme Court, he is now trying to nullify that which was LEGALLY performed. Talk about adding insult to injury.

The Courage Campaign – an organizing group for progressives – is leading a political action to contact the Supreme Court of California called “please don’t divorce us” that puts a real face on the issue of gay marriage.

“Fidelity”: Don’t Divorce… from Courage Campaign on Vimeo.

It has become perfectly clear that the case against gay marriage in California isn’t about protecting the fundamental instution of marriage, or any of the lies that the pro prop-8 campaigns spread. The fight against gay marriage in my opinion, is a clear case to marginalize gay and lesbian citizens, obliterate any chances that they can enjoy the same rights and protections as straight citizens, and to legally categorize them as second-class citizens. Personal judgments, discrimination and religiously-supported bigotry are the motivating factors behind this and we need to organize and solidify our counter-attack. We need to speak to minorities and those who have a cultural bias against gays and lesbians and help them to understand that this is an issue of fundamental rights, and not about sex or morals. Those of us who are gay and lesbian need to come out to our friends, coworkers and family and put a face on this issue – so they will see that their voting behaviors directly affect people all around them. And finally, we need to make a concerted effort to take political power away from these mega-churches and remove their ability to meddle in politics and still maintain their tax-exept statuses.

The gloves are off, and I’m swinging back!

GOP: Scrambling for an Identity

Posted in just sayin', politics with tags , , , on January 29, 2009 by mightyfag

What will become of the Republican Party? In the wake of the monumental election of the nation’s first African-American president, a democratic House of Representatives and a democratic Senate, the Republican Party is left dazed and desperately scrambling for an identity. The mandate from the people is to move away from conservative politics and embrace progressive values to repair the damage that was done in the last 30 years by administration after administration of Republican presidents.

The GOP, largely thanks to the Reagan/Bush legacy and their cronies, are left with the biggest P.R. problem since Watergate. How do they bring people back to their party? How to they define themselves and their values when the last 30 years have proven that their approach doesn’t work? Three different approaches are emerging in the face of this identity crisis.

Hold Fast!

The first, held by most of the old timers, is to dig deep into the trenches of conservatism and continue to hold the line of “less government is good and leave business to run itself”. These folks think that the best response to a country that’s leaning left is to lean further right.

For example, in President Obama’s first major piece of legislation (the economic stimulus package, or “Supplemental Appropriations for Fiscal Year Ending 2009”) the minority Republican portion of the House of Representatives, led by John Boehner voted completely in opposition to the package. That’s right… ZERO (0) votes in favor of the resolution. President Obama reached out, trying to get Republican support for the bill even though he didn’t need it, in an effort to have bipartisan support for the recover of our nation’s economy. They didn’t budge, and voted in a block – classic Republican voting strategy. The measure passed thanks to the Democratic majority in the House even though some Democratic Representatives voted against the measure.

From the Washington Post Article: Republicans continued to press to have more of their proposals included. Rep. Eric Cantor (Va.), the House minority whip tasked with rounding up the opposition, said the vote delivered a message to Obama: “Tell Speaker Pelosi to begin to work with us.”

How very truly ironic. When the Republicans were in the majority they never worked with the Democrats. They just steam-rolled whatever they wanted and went ahead with their agenda of corporatocracy. This technique of holding fast to the Bush/Reagan platform is not going to garner any public support in the near future. It simply paints the Republican Party as a party of negative attitudes in a sea of hope.

We’re Young and Cool Too!

The second approach the neocons are taking is to ride the wave of Obama’s well-sown hope and rejuvination by presenting young and vibrant minority candidates that are part of the Republican Party. It’s the “we’re cool and we aren’t just white guys” approach that clearly demonstrates a complete lack of understanding around why Obama was so well received by the American populace.

Sarah Palin

Sarah Palin

This whole current started with the nomination of Sarah Palin as the Vice Presidential candidate under John McCain. Most people responded with a “what?” to her nomination, but Republicans everywhere were thrilled with her. She was deeply conservative, a woman and young – CLEARLY a competitor for Obama, right? Wrong.

Sarah Palin proved to have the eloquence of George W. Bush combined with the looks of Tina Fey and the agenda of Charlton Heston. Her public gaffes were legendary and she only succeeded in showing the world just how old John McCain really was, and just how clueless about politics and economics she was.

Ms. Palin continues to make a public fool out of herself by criticizing the media for prodding into her family and personal life (after she paraded out her children and family as a political tool), and for mocking her on shows like Saturday Night Live (free speech, darlin’ – we still have it in this country, and satire is the oldest form of it). She doesn’t seem to understand that the more she stands in the spotlight, the more people are going to notice her flaws.

Her latest endeavors include SarahPAC – a political action committee dedicated to: “building America’s future, supporting fresh ideas and candidates who share our vision for reform and innovation.” (Source)

Bobby Jindal

Bobby Jindal

Then there’s Bobby Jindal, the governor from Louisiana. Hey, he’s young, he’s of Indian descent (dot, not feather) and he’s Roman-Catholic, AND REPUBLICAN! Perfect, right? (Notice how being a Catholic isn’t a big deal because his other minority statuses make him a perfect match for their quasi-racist perspectives on this whole thing.)

There’s talk of him being slated to run on the 2012 presidential ticket, and that his youth and charisma will make him a shining star. The problem is that his politics are more of the same. That, coupled with the exorcism he helped with on his friend Susan, makes him a bit of a questionable candidate. An exorcism? What? Read for yourself.

These candidates and others are being touted as the great hope for the Republican party who mistakenly look at Obama’s victory as being one of race. Obama didn’t win because he’s African American. He didn’t win because he is a minority. He won because he presented a campaign of hope in dark times, he is incredibly well spoken, a constitutional scholar and thus understands the way our country SHOULD work, and he was a non-insider running for office to get in there and scrap away all of the awful damage done by George W. Bush. But the Republicans are blind to this fact because they see no fault with what W. did.

More of the Same

The Third Option the Republican Party has been taking is, sadly, more of the same. A negative, smear campaign to erode away the popularity of the president and his party. The previous propaganda-spreading devices of conservative talk radio and conservative television opinion shows are now being used to foster distrust and attempt to paint this administration in a negative light.

Rush Limbaugh

Rush Limbaugh

Enter good old Rush Limbaugh. This oxycontin-chugging talking hole has done plenty in his career to discredit himself and present himself as nothing more than a “shock-jock” who spouts hate and sows distrust in our country. His gaffes included accusing Michael J. Fox of faking his Parkinson’s Disease and the latest is stating publicly on the radio that he “hopes Obama fails” at what he is doing. He has never had the country’s best interests in mind, just his own. He takes advantage of those who don’t have access to good sources of information and fills their heads with talking points handed down directly from the Republican Party and passes them off as if they are facts. This man, simply put, should be taken off the air and forgotten forever.

Matt Drudge

Matt Drudge

Then there’s Matt Drudge of the Drudge Report. Claiming everything from Global Warming being a hoax, to the Obama Stimulus Package giving money to illegals, to misquoting information as if it were “facts” about the federal funding to prevent STD transmission in the latest stimulus package.

News flash, having a big website that LOOKS like a newspaper, doesnt’ mean you’re actually toting news or facts. It just means you are using CSS styles obnoxiously. Check out a simple search on crooksandliars.com on Matt Drudge and see the extent of his misinformation campaign for yourself.

My Advice

So where does the Republican Party go from here? Well, I’m not an advocate for a one-party system, no matter what party is in control. I think there needs to be balance and debate to hone the best legislature out there. I like the problem that the Republican Party is facing is one of religion versus politics, and that a separation of the two will greatly assist them in recovering some validity in the eyes of the public.

First, they need to ditch the radical evangelican Christian platform. The evangelican agenda is one of intrusion into personal lives and a legislation of morality – these go against classical “Goldwater Republican” values that uphold privacy as paramount. This will eliminate the abortion issue, gay rights issues and issues around any religious or spiritual practice. Allow the evangelicals to evaluate their own values and form their own party apart from the Republican party – eject them right out of the GOP.

Next, go back to a classical “stay out of my personal life” platform – one where small businesses can start up with minimal government intrusion, where personal freedoms (like freedom of speech, freedom of religion and freedom of the press) are guaranteed, and where certain things that are currently viewed as priviledges are instead embraced as rights (education, health, a living wage, etc.) This will allow them to pick up some of the progressive leaning Republicans who went Democratic.

Finally, they need to cut themselves away from the corporate apron strings. Their blatant and transparent actions that cowtow to corporate interests are making them lose traction in the greater populace. Stand for FAIR trade and FAIR business practices, instead of laissez-faire business that merely leads to economic bubbles that burst into depressions (like our current economic situation.) Stand up for the working class and support the middle class and you’ll regain some followers.

Gay Prime Minister

Posted in politics, society and culture on January 28, 2009 by countryjim13

gay-pm2It seems that the gay rights movement will have a victory!  Iceland is set to appoint the first openly gay Prime Minister.  Iceland’s government recently failed as a result of the global economic crisis and Johanna Sigurdardottir, the social affairs minister is set to appointed as interim Prime Minister as early as tomorrow.  Once appointed, she will serve as Prime Minister until elections are held this Spring to elect a new government. (1)

For the first time, an openly gay person will be at the head of a nation’s government.  How much, if at all this will affect the gay rights movement in the United States or anywhere else in the world is not known of course.  This may be something of a small victory.  But it is a victory nonetheless and one that should celebrated.

Are the stimulus package and the Democratic government selling us short to a weak, failed, minorty party?

Posted in economics, just sayin', politics on January 27, 2009 by countryjim13

demvictory08When a large majority of American voters cast their ballots this past November, they overwhelming spoke out against both Republican foreign and domestic economic policy.  The argument can be made that the economic crisis pushed President Obama to overwhelming victory because of the Bush failures and McCain’s lack of knowledge and insight related to the current economic meltdown.  While Bush was hiding out in the White House and while McCain was telling us that the American economy was still going strong, Obama and democrats were preparing to actually solve the problem.  The American voters saw how Republican, conservative economic policy had helped drive our economy into this hole, and we overwhelming voted for a change in such philosophy and policy.  So why, now, is the bill that is supposed to help solve this problem being allowed to be watered down in order to appease Republican politicians?  Why are the President and Congressional Democrats more interested in amassing votes and doing what is “politically expedient” than in doing what will work to fix our economy?

Bush issued massive tax cuts, mostly to the wealthy of America, and it did nothing but hurt our economy in the end by leaving nothing in government coffers amidst massive war spending and corporate deregulation.  Now in spite of the fact that tax cuts, which are relatively ineffective at stimulating an economy and encouraging spending, make up a full 1/3 of the stimulus bill as it currently stands, Republicans are still not satisfied (most likely because those tax cuts are for normal Americans who are not rich).  So now we are seeing all over the news Republicans up in arms and threatening to vote against the package because they say it spends too much money and does not include enough tax cuts!

Did Republicans miss the fact that they lost the election?  Not just the presidential election mind you, but also elections in the House and the Senate.  YOU LOST!  THEY LOST!  The American people spoke in favor the Democratic solution and yet we are being subjected to a watering down of that solution because our supposedly liberal politicians insist on being bipartisan and appeasing what is now nothing more than a small, pesky, outdated minority party.  What is bipartisan is not what we need right now.  What we need is what will work and massive tax cuts have been proven over and over again to provide very little economic stimulus in such dire times as these.  At best such tax cuts do nothing more than slightly increase spending during times when the economy is already strong and the consumers confidence is already high.  At the very least, the Democratic government needs to put together a package that is mostly comprised of infrastructure spending, aid to the unemployed, and alternative energy investment in order to truly stimulate the economy from the bottom up, create millions of jobs, and create a transformed, new green economy that currently does not exist, but needs to exist. 

I think perhaps Democrats have no courage.  I don’t know how else to put it.  During the Bush Administration, weakdemsparticularly when he had Republican majorities in the House and Senate to back him up, the debate over compromise between the two parties was consistently framed in terms of Democrats, as the minority party and the party not in the White House, being willing to give in to Republican philosophy and policy demands.  Somehow, in spite of the fact that the tables have technically turned and Democrats now hold large majorities throughout the government, the nature of this debate has not shifted.  Democrats are still acting like they are a minority party who must bow to the will of the Republicans in order get anything accomplished.  This is not the case.  Democrats do not need Republican votes and playing politics by watering down this legislation to virtual ineffectiveness in order to be bipartisan and share any potential blame is playing games with our country’s future.  Compromise is not synonymous with Democrats giving in, it does not mean Democrats creating a stimulus bill that looks like it was written by Republicans.  It is time for Republicans to compromise, to give in.  That is what the American people demanded when we fired the Republican Party and swept Democrats to huge victories and majorities in the last two elections.  Democrats need to shut out the whining and complaining of the failed Republican Party, vote to pass the package without them, and move towards fixing what has been broken, mostly by Republican administrations, over the last few decades.

And so what does stimulate the economy the most?  Infrastructure spending has already been mentioned.  The graph below shows that the three types of spending that provide the most stimulus and create the most additional spending are increases in food stamps, the extention of unemployment benefits, and infrastructure spending.  Let’s look at these briefly, how they stimulate the economy, and how these three areas have been watered down in the current package in order to make room for massive tax cuts that will do little to stimulate our dying economic system.


We can see from the graph above that for every $1 spent on food stamps and additional $1.73 in spending is generated, an additional $1.64 in spending is generated for every $1 in extended unemployment benefits, and for every $1 spent on infrastructure an additional $1.59 in spending is generated.  On the other hand for every dollar in tax cuts you have anywhere from only $.30 to around $1 in additional spending generated. 

If this is the case, why does the current stimulus bill look the way it does?  Right now infrastructure spending souplineaccounts for only $90 billion out of $825 billion, only 10% of the bill.  Only $43 billion is slotted for extending unemployment benefits and only $20 billion is set aside for increased spending on food stamps.  All in all, the three most effective economic stimulators account for only a measly 18.5% of the current stimulus package while tax cuts account for a full third, 33.33% of the package! (1)  Are we supposed to expect this package to truly stimulate our economy and create jobs? 

Briefly, we must also ask if the size of the stimulus package in general is really enough to jolt our economy back to life.  This question is all the more important in the face of Republican pressure to further slash the bill’s spending provisions in favor of more tax cuts.  Our annual Gross Domestic Product (GDP) for 2007 was roughtly $14 trillion. (2)  That is $14,000 trillion.  To give you an idea of how much money that really is, if you make $50,000 per year it will take you 16.5 million years to earn $14 tillion.  With a stimulus package of $825 billion (only 66% of which is actually spending) the stimulus package amounts to only 5.8% of our total annual GDP.  Can we really expect that such small change, relatively speaking, is actually going to stimulate the economy?  Perhaps it will, but in light of the massive amounts of money generated on average by our economy each year, I think the question is an important one that should be addressed with all seriousness by those in our government who are working to solve this problem rather than simply using it as an excuse to provide the wealthy with more tax relief.

If we are trying to “get the most bang for our buck” it seems clear that tax cuts are not the direction in which our government needs to be looking.  This does not necessarily mean that there should not be any tax cuts included in the package, but this information does force us to question whether the current package already leans too far in the direction of tax cuts and sells America short when it comes to truly effective means of spending and economic stimulation.  If this is the case, then we must ask whether or not our government is doing the right thing by heeding the cries of a party that has done nothing but fail us both politically and economically for most of the last decade and beyond.

Today, Republican politicians are urging each other to vote against the stimulus package if it is not watered down further, if Obama and Congressional Democrats do not weaken the package even more by ejecting spending and adding even more tax cuts that will benefit the wealthy more than those who truly need the help.  I call on Democrats to take Republicans at their word.  Let them vote against the package.  Who cares!  Their votes are NOT needed to pass the bill.  I would go even further and encourage our Democratic leadership to change the package to include fewer tax cuts and more infrastructure spending, more spending to help those who have lost their jobs, more spending to create a green, clean economy for the future.  Let Republicans take a backseat, let them push themselves further into fringes of American political philosophy and policy where they belong.  Then, finally, the rest of us can get busy doing the important work that needs to be done to fix this nation’s economy.

Voices From History: Desegregation Activists Speak Out in Favor of Gay Marriage, Part I

Posted in just sayin', politics, society and culture with tags , on January 21, 2009 by countryjim13

As chairman of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) John Lewis was a leader of the civil rights movment to end segregation.  Since 1987 he has been  the United States House Representative for the 5th Congressional District in Georgia.  Below is a copy of an article written by Lewis and published by the Boston Globe on October 25, 2003.  In this article, Representative Lewis expresses support for same-sex marriage and equates laws banning same-sex marriage to the segregation laws he fought so hard to reverse. 


At a crossroads on gay unions

By John Lewis 10/25/03

From time to time, America comes to a crossroads. With confusion and controversy, it’s hard to spot that moment. We need cool heads, warm hearts, and America’s core principles to cleanse away the distractions.

We are now at such a crossroads over same-sex couples’ freedom to marry. It is time to say forthrightly that the government’s exclusion of our gay and lesbian brothers and sisters from civil marriage officially degrades them and their families. It denies them the basic human right to marry the person they love. It denies them numerous legal protections for their families.

This discrimination is wrong. We cannot keep turning our backs on gay and lesbian Americans. I have fought too hard and too long against discrimination based on race and color not to stand up against discrimination based on sexual orientation. I’ve heard the reasons for opposing civil marriage for same-sex couples. Cut through the distractions, and they stink of the same fear, hatred, and intolerance I have known in racism and in bigotry.

Some say let’s choose another route and give gay folks some legal rights but call it something other than marriage. We have been down that road before in this country. Separate is not equal. The rights to liberty and happiness belong to each of us and on the same terms, without regard to either skin color or sexual orientation.

Some say they are uncomfortable with the thought of gays and lesbians marrying. But our rights as Americans do not depend on the approval of others. Our rights depend on us being Americans.

Sometimes it takes courts to remind us of these basic principles. In 1948, when I was 8 years old, 30 states had bans on interracial marriage, courts had upheld the bans many times, and 90 percent of the public disapproved of those marriages, saying they were against the definition of marriage, against God’s law. But that year, the California Supreme Court became the first court in America to strike down such a ban. Thank goodness some court finally had the courage to say that equal means equal, and others rightly followed, including the US Supreme Court 19 years later.

Some stand on the ground of religion, either demonizing gay people or suggesting that civil marriage is beyond the Constitution. But religious rites and civil rights are two separate entities. What’s at stake here is legal marriage, not the freedom of every religion to decide on its own religious views and ceremonies.

I remember the words of John Kennedy when his presidential candidacy was challenged because of his faith: “I believe in an America that is officially neither Catholic, Protestant, nor Jewish — where no public official either requests or accepts instructions on public policy from the pope, the National Council of Churches, or any other ecclesiastical source — where no religious body seeks to impose its will directly or indirectly upon the general populace or the public acts of its officials — and where religious liberty is so indivisible that an act against one church is treated as an act against all.”

Those words ring particularly true today. We hurt our fellow citizens and our community when we deny gay people civil marriage and its protections and responsibilities. Rather than divide and discriminate, let us come together and create one nation. We are all one people. We all live in the American house. We are all the American family. Let us recognize that the gay people living in our house share the same hopes, troubles, and dreams. It’s time we treated them as equals, as family (source).