Standing up for Our Constitution

Among the marriage rights rallies held on November 15, was the rally here in San Jose. It was heartening to see two thousand citizens—including the couples pictured here—stand up for equal rights and the integrity of our state constitution.

A straight couple stands up for marriage equality.A straight couple stands up for marriage equality.

Honorary Homo

I was terribly nervous the night before election day. I had volunteered to work all day for the No-on-8 campaign. The training had been rather intimidating, and I was afraid that I might misrepresent the campaign. I might get sassy with some evangelical. Being straight and perhaps naive about what prejudice I might encounter, I worried that I might lose my temper.

As it turned out, I had a good time, though the work involved a lot of standing around.

I fondly recall the moment when a man passed by with his daughter. I humbly offered them a “No on 8” card. The little girl took the card and pointed to it, looked up to her dad and said “Obama!”

Now I’m not a the biggest Obama fan, but that was a sweet thing to behold.

The Bear Republic
Republic? Well, not exactly.

I also enjoy the memory of the “mature” lady who shook her index finger at me scoldingly. That wasn’t the only finger that was shaken at me that day. Every finger was a little birdie of liberation. It all felt great.

Then there was the older lady who stopped her car to inform me that my hand was blocking the “8” on my rally placard. Oops!

Late in the day, an equally elderly man stopped his car to cite the Bible and inform me that homosexuality is an “abomination”. I was a little fatigued, so I casually asked whether it was too much to let them decide whether they ought to “abominate” or not. Mainly I was just looking for an excuse to hear myself say “abominate”.

Then I heard the word “Obama-Nation” echo through my head like some demonic forbidden thought. Thankfully I was not the first white boy to think of it.

And all the horns honking and hands waving: I don’t remember ever being so popular with the ladies!

I think my favorite memory is of hearing the word “faggot” screamed from a passing car.

It’s not that such an experience entitles me to claim to know what it’s like to be gay. It’s more about this: when the civil liberties of one of my fellow citizens is systematically attacked, I might as well be the target, because when that person is threatened, we’re all threatened.

Marriage Against the Mob

Don’t let the mob insert discrimination
into the California state constitution!

Vote No on Prop 8

California is a republic! Not an anarchistic mobocracy!
Let’s defend our constitution!

I attended a No on Prop 8 “visibility” activity at San Jose’s Diridon Station this morning, and was very disappointed in the turnout: three people, including me, and I’m not even gay!

I am, however, a California patriot, and I’m afraid I’m about to see the constitution of my state stained by the graffiti of special interest groups.

In a democracy, people get the government they deserve.

—Adlai Stevenson

Who’s Behind Prop 8 (other than the Mormons)

It’s no secret that Mormons are a tremendous force behind funding for the Yes on 8 Campaign. According to Mormons for Proposition 8, 46% of contributions to the campaign (about $10 million) have come from Mormons. But there are other major players.

Of the ten principal contributors to the Prop 8 campaign, two are based in California. Clearly, this battle is not seen as mere California politics by many Americans. There are significant forces who are doing their best to push Prop 8 through, to see to it that government continues to evolve into a Church-of-State. Californians will have to overcome these powers of bigotry and big government to continue the progress of this land of liberty and equal opportunity; this state that has been said to be “America, only moreso.”

Vote No on Proposition 8!

The principal (non-Mormon) contributors to the the Church-of-State Campaign:

  1. National Organization for Marriage, Princeton, NJ: $1441k
  2. Knights of Columbus, New Haven, CT: $1150k
  3. Fieldstead and Co., Irvine, CA: $1095k
  4. Edgar and Elsa Prince Foundation, Holland, MI: $650k
  5. Former state senator Robert Hurtt & Container Supply Co., Inc, Garden Grove, CA: $527k
  6. American Family Association, Inc., Tupelo, MS: $500k
  7. Focus on the Family, Colorado Springs, CO: $467k
  8. John Templeton Foundation, Bryn Mawr, PA: $450k
  9. Concerned Women for America, Washington, DC: $409k

Some notes on these principal contributors:

The National Organization for Marriage signs its checks as a resident of Santa Ana, CA, but that is only a branch. The headquarters is in New Jersey.

The Knights of Columbus is “the world’s foremost Catholic fraternal benefit society.”

Fieldstead & Company of Irvine, CA has been called the “Paymaster to the political right” by the Orange County Register.

The Edgar and Elsa Prince Foundation is funded with money from Prince Automotive. Edgar Prince co-founded the Family Research Council with neoconservative Gary Bauer. The current head of the foundation, Edgar and Elsa’s son Erik, is also the founder and owner of Blackwater USA.

Two separate contributors from reportedly from Garden Grove, CA, Robert Hurtt & Container Supply Co., Inc, appear to be one and the same: the former state senator from Garden Grove is a perennial contributor to conservative causes, and a big fan of James Dobson.

“The American Family Association exists to motivate and equip citizens to change the culture to reflect Biblical truth and traditional family values.”

The Templeton Foundation is noted for its Templeton Prize, which “honors a living person who has made an exceptional contribution to affirming life’s spiritual dimension.” The founder, John Templeton, was interested in answers to questions such as “How large is God? How are finite beings related to the infinite? What was God’s purpose in creating the universe?” He was also interested in the question “what is the best way to live?” His answer appears to be that the best way to live is for government to dictate to citizens how they must live.

Concerned Women for America is dedicated to bringing “Biblical principles into all levels of public policy.”

Prop 8: Making Government into God

The upcoming election will give Californians an opportunity to declare that we are dedicated to the core American principle of non-intervention of government in personal and spiritual affairs. My fellow Californians, let us not place spiritual vows in the domain of the state. This is not China or Soviet Russia. Strike down Proposition 8.

California Smoking Ban Takes Effect

CHICO, CALIFORNIA. Millions of Californians finished off their last packs on Wednesday, on the eve of the day that the new statewide smoking ban is scheduled to take effect. As a consumer panic hit cigarette retailers throughout the state, the second-hand smoke rising from San Diego to Happy Camp could be seen from satellite.
click to view full size photo

California Takes the Moral High Ground

Bravo, California! This calls for a party. You can bet that I, my wife, and our kids will celebrate this one.

This moment gives comfort in the face of all the terrible news we’ve been buffeted with of late.

Though I don’t look to the state for moral guidance, I am relieved when the state withdraws its bumbling paws from the personal lives of citizens. For that reason, this is an unquestionable victory for humanity, which is always an uncommon event that we must strive to appreciate.

I’ve become so accustomed to feeling ashamed to be an American since 2003 that the taste of this news is made that much more sweet. It’s a great day to be a Californian.

Reactionaries will doubtless see this as “judicial activism”. I guess that makes it a fight between the judge and the mob. The mob may fight back, and the mob may win, but this is a great day nonetheless.

What is California?

California Districts

An enumeration of the elements of California might proceed as follows:

  1. The San Andreas Fault
  2. The California Current
  3. The Sierra Nevada
  4. The Central Valley
  5. Redwood Forests

The San Andreas Fault

The Pacific and North American Plates, two of the world’s largest, collide from the Gulf of California to Shelter Cove, just south of Cape Mendocino, California. This collision, roughly delineated by the San Andreas Fault, is what put the place we call California on the map.

The California Current

California is probably best known for its climate, a phenomenon which owes no small sum to the fact that California is a collision between continental and oceanic plates, with two particular circumstances:

  1. The collision has a north-south orientation, with cool ocean currents flowing from the north.
  2. The collision occurs across a broad spectrum of tropical, subtropical, and temperate latitudes, from 23 to 40 degrees north.

All this adds up to a mild, sunny climate. Add to that an occasional quake to keep everybody on their toes, and you have the California of the Padres.

The Sierra Nevada

Another California was born in 1848, not of sunshine and mild weather, but of greed. That rebirth was initiated and sustained by four gifts of the Sierra Nevada:

  1. gold
  2. water
  3. soil
  4. beauty and recreation

The massive Sierra Nevada traps large volumes of atmospheric moisture, leaving the lands to the east dry. It being a large mountain block, much of that moisture is stored as snow and ice, meaning that the moisture is released when it is needed most, during the warm, dry springs and summers. As that moisture is released, it carries with it the sediments that become the soils of the great Central Valley.

As lady luck would have it, a smattering of that sediment is gold. It was the glitter of gold in Sierra streams that set the tone for the future of California and America, just as that glitter brought the world to California before her greatest riches were discovered. Beyond the extravagance of gold and the practical benefit of water and soil, we must not forget the beauty and recreational value of Lake Tahoe, Yosemite, the High Sierra, and the Giant Sequoia (more on that to come).

The Central Valley

Without Sierra Nevada sediments, much of the Central Valley might be known today as the Central Sea, like the Sea of Cortes (the Gulf of California) to the south, but the Sierra Nevada does not entirely account for the Central land form of California, be it land or sea, and there are other mountains that feed the Central Valley. The Sacramento River is proof of that. The Sacramento River is fed by the southern end of the Cascade Range on east, and the Trinity Mountains and other ranges on the west.

Redwood Forests

“From the redwood forests to the Gulf Stream waters, this land was made for you and me.” — Woodie Guthrie

Another natural resource that plays a central role in the California myth is the California redwood tree, which lives along the western slopes of the Sierra Nevada and the Pacific Coast, from Big Sur the far southern Oregon.

Where is California?

Having taken all these elements of California into account, a natural eastern boundary of California can be seen to proceed along the following features:

  1. The east coast of Baja California.
  2. The Colorado River.
  3. The crest of the Chocolate Mountains (just east of the San Andreas Fault).
  4. The crest of the Little San Bernardino Mountains.
  5. The crest of the San Bernardino Mountains.
  6. The crest of the San Gabriel Mountains.
  7. The crest of the Tehachapi Mountains.
  8. The eastern edge of the Sierra Nevada.
  9. The eastern edge of the Cascade Range. The boundary continues northward here to include the watershed of the Sacramento Valley.
  10. The crest of the Siskiyou Mountains.
  11. The northern boundary of the Smith River watershed. This is the approximate northern boundary of the region called “the Redwood Empire”.