Video: “8 – The Mormon Proposition”, LDS, And Anti-Gay Teachings

This is one highly touted documentary film that will make many sit up and pay attention. 

The Mormons made a choice.  As usual it was the wrong choice.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints plays a starring role in a new Sundance Film Festival documentary about the 2008 ballot initiative that successfully banned gay marriage in California.

Miami-area filmmaker Reed Cowan’s “8: The Mormon Proposition,” premieres Sunday at the Park City festival.

The film contends the LDS Church built on decades of anti-gay teachings to justify its political activism and tried to hide its role as the driving force behind the coalition of conservatives that helped pass Proposition 8. The proposition reversed an earlier court ruling legalizing gay marriage.

 

Ted Olson Provides Conservative Reasoning For Gay Marriage In America

Here is another example of where common ground can be found between polar opposites.

Ted Olson, a very unlikely ally on any issue that most liberals care about, has taken up the cause of gay marriage in America.  He is a most unusual advocate for this matter, which makes his work and effort all the more worth reading.  After all he is a rock-ribbed conservative who thinks that it is not illogical to think Jack and Sam should be able to wed, or Jenny and Sharon to be united in marriage.  Together with David Boies, Olson is attempting to persuade a federal court to invalidate California’s Proposition 8—the voter-approved measure that overturned California’s constitutional right to marry a person of the same sex. 

Many of my fellow conservatives have an almost knee-jerk hostility toward gay marriage. This does not make sense, because same-sex unions promote the values conservatives prize. Marriage is one of the basic building blocks of our neighborhoods and our nation. At its best, it is a stable bond between two individuals who work to create a loving household and a social and economic partnership. We encourage couples to marry because the commitments they make to one another provide benefits not only to themselves but also to their families and communities. Marriage requires thinking beyond one’s own needs. It transforms two individuals into a union based on shared aspirations, and in doing so establishes a formal investment in the well-being of society. The fact that individuals who happen to be gay want to share in this vital social institution is evidence that conservative ideals enjoy widespread acceptance. Conservatives should celebrate this, rather than lament it. 

Legalizing same-sex marriage would also be a recognition of basic American principles, and would represent the culmination of our nation’s commitment to equal rights. It is, some have said, the last major civil-rights milestone yet to be surpassed in our two-century struggle to attain the goals we set for this nation at its formation.

This bedrock American principle of equality is central to the political and legal convictions of Republicans, Democrats, liberals, and conservatives alike. The dream that became America began with the revolutionary concept expressed in the Declaration of Independence in words that are among the most noble and elegant ever written: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”

Sadly, our nation has taken a long time to live up to the promise of equality. In 1857, the Supreme Court held that an African-American could not be a citizen. During the ensuing Civil War, Abraham Lincoln eloquently reminded the nation of its found-ing principle: “our fathers brought forth on this continent, a new nation, conceived in liberty and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.”

At the end of the Civil War, to make the elusive promise of equality a reality, the 14th Amendment to the Constitution added the command that “no State É shall deprive any person of life, liberty or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person É the equal protection of the laws.”

Subsequent laws and court decisions have made clear that equality under the law extends to persons of all races, religions, and places of origin. What better way to make this national aspiration complete than to apply the same protection to men and women who differ from others only on the basis of their sexual orientation? I cannot think of a single reason—and have not heard one since I undertook this venture—for continued discrimination against decent, hardworking members of our society on that basis.

Mark Neumann VERY Wrong About Wanting California-Style Referenda Idea For Wisconsin

Hard to tell if Mark Neumann is serious when he states that he wants California-style referenda for Wisconsin, or if he is trying to find an angle to use in the upcoming governors race against his opponents.  Either way the issue of ballot initiatives allowing the public to have this opportunity to impact policy more directly is fraught with all sorts of pitfalls.  If Neumann had followed over the decades the situation that has developed in California as a result of their ballot measures, he would know Wisconsin should play no part in that idea.

To make it more clear for Mark Neumann I sum it up this way.  The publicly driven voter initiatives have done more harm in California over the years to the political and budgetary process than anything else that state has encountered.   Because of the number of ballot measures they have passed there is no wiggle room for their state legislature to hardly create a budget since it now requires a 2/3rds vote for passage.  So if one wants to cut the budget, or include a needed new tax it takes something short of a miracle to make the process work. 

Simply put, Mr. Neumann, that is absurd.  Direct democracy in this fashion is not a sound idea.   Wealthy individuals and special interest groups will have more say about the political process with these ballot measures and the political volume of the state will only increase.  That is not a recipe Wisconsin needs or wants.

I think the voters elect representatives to make the hard calls.  I do not think that the public-at-large, often with very limited abilities and insight, should have a series of voter initiatives to decide upon.  That is no way to make the tough calls that are often needed to right the ship of state, and keep it afloat.

But don’t take my word for it Mr. Neumann, read what chief justice of the California Supreme Court has to say on the matter.

In a rare public rebuke of state government and policies delivered by a sitting judge, the chief justice of the California Supreme Court scathingly criticized the state’s reliance on the referendum process, arguing that it has “rendered our state government dysfunctional.”

In a speech Saturday before the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in Cambridge, Mass., the chief justice, Ronald M. George, denounced the widespread use of the referendum process to change state laws and constitutions. And he derided California as out of control, with voters deciding on everything from how parts of the state budget are spent to how farm animals are managed.

The state is unusual, he said, because it prohibits its Legislature from amending or repealing many types of laws without voter approval, essentially hamstringing that body — and the executive branch.

Justice George’s remarks come at a time of severe budget crisis in California stemming from a variety of factors, including mandates from ballot initiatives. Several groups on the left and the right are clamoring for changes to the state’s Constitution, including reining in of the direct democracy that has defined much of how the state operates.

This week, hundreds of people will convene in Sacramento for a conference on constitutional reform. A spokesman for Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger declined to comment on the justice’s speech.

Justice George said that perhaps the “most consequential” impact of the referendum process is that it limits “how elected officials may raise and spend revenue.” He added, “California’s lawmakers, and the state itself, have been placed in a fiscal straitjacket by a steep two-thirds-vote requirement — imposed at the ballot box — for raising taxes.”

He added: “Much of this constitutional and statutory structure has been brought about not by legislative fact-gathering and deliberation, but rather by the approval of voter initiative measures, often funded by special interests. These interests are allowed under the law to pay a bounty to signature-gatherers for each signer. Frequent amendments — coupled with the implicit threat of more in the future — have rendered our state government dysfunctional, at least in times of severe economic decline.”

Governor Schwarzenegger Signs Bill To Recognize Gay Marriages From Other States

The action by California Governor Schwarzenegger recognizing gay marriages performed in other states is courageous and morally correct.  It is through these small steps, one at a time, bit by bit, that we chip away at the outdated and small-minded notions that have existed for far too long. 

Schwarzenegger signed the bill, SB-54 by Senator Mark Leno (D), on Sunday, his office said. Leno’s bill requires California to recognize marriages performed in other states where same-sex marriages are legal.

Supporters and people opposed to gay marriage have been in court battles for years, with voters in the state approving Proposition 8 in last year’s election. Proposition 8 was a ballot proposition that defines marriage to be between a man and a woman.

“Following the passage of Proposition 8, there has been some uncertainty as to how California should treat same-sex couples that married out-of-state while same-sex marriage was legal in California,” the governor wrote in a letter following the signing. “Consistent with the California Supreme Court’s decision that upheld the validity of those in-state marriages entered into prior to the passage of Proposition 8, Senate Bill 54 clarifies that California must also recognize as married couples that legally married in another state during the same period of time in which same-sex marriage was legal in California,” he continued.

In short, the bill requires the state to recognize any same-sex marriage performed in another state while same-sex marriage was also legal in California. Further, it requires the state to recognize same-sex couples married in other states even though same-sex marriages remain illegal in California. While they will not be recognized as “married,” those couples will receive the same benefits as married couples.

Conservatives Angry At Governor Schwarzenegger

To those who disagree with the Governor of California I have one word for them.  Tough.  To hear right-wingers talk about the effects of honoring Harvey Milk is just plain laughable.

Harvey Milk is an icon for those in the nation who support social progress and equality.  As such the news today from California was applauded by many from coast to coast.

California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger has signed a bill commemorating Harvey Milk, the first openly gay politician elected to public office in the state, a spokesman for the governor said Monday.

Under the measure, the governor each year would proclaim May 22 — Milk’s birthday — as a day of significance across the state.

Milk was a “unique” historical figure who led a civil rights movement and then was “assassinated in his public office for being who he was,” State Sen. Mark Leno, a Democrat, told CNN last month.

However, Randy Thomasson, the president of SaveCalifornia.com, said the bill was vague and could allow for a number of things at schools, including gay pride parades or “mock gay weddings.”

“Harvey Milk was a terrible role model for children,” said Thomasson, whose organization opposed the bill.

“The reality is Harvey Milk is a hero to so many people and a great role model,” said Geoff Kors, executive director of Equality California, the group that backed the bill introduced by Leno.

“It’s very appropriate that the state he worked in and passed the first gay rights bill in the country should honor him.”

He said the bill marks the first time any state has officially honored an openly gay person.

President Barack Obama posthumously honored Milk with a Presidential Medal of Freedom this year, and Sean Penn portrayed him in this year’s film “Milk,” for which he received an Oscar for best actor.

California Voter Initiatives Bad Idea, Makes “State Government Dysfunctional”

On May 19th I wrote the following line about California.

“The publicly driven voter initiatives have done more harm over the years to the political and budgetary process than anything else the state has encountered.”

As one who likes to watch how policy is created, and the effect that flows from such decisions, the challenges that California faces is continually fascinating.  I have been highly critical of the never-ending, and at time mind-numbing referendums placed on their ballots, but fail to find others who speak out in the forceful way I think is needed to address some of the problems that result from voter initiatives.  Today however I was pleased to read this in my newspaper.

In a rare public rebuke of state government and policies delivered by a sitting judge, the chief justice of the California Supreme Court scathingly criticized the state’s reliance on the referendum process, arguing that it has “rendered our state government dysfunctional.”

In a speech Saturday before the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in Cambridge, Mass., the chief justice, Ronald M. George, denounced the widespread use of the referendum process to change state laws and constitutions. And he derided California as out of control, with voters deciding on everything from how parts of the state budget are spent to how farm animals are managed.

The state is unusual, he said, because it prohibits its Legislature from amending or repealing many types of laws without voter approval, essentially hamstringing that body — and the executive branch.

Justice George’s remarks come at a time of severe budget crisis in California stemming from a variety of factors, including mandates from ballot initiatives. Several groups on the left and the right are clamoring for changes to the state’s Constitution, including reining in of the direct democracy that has defined much of how the state operates.

This week, hundreds of people will convene in Sacramento for a conference on constitutional reform. A spokesman for Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger declined to comment on the justice’s speech.

Justice George said that perhaps the “most consequential” impact of the referendum process is that it limits “how elected officials may raise and spend revenue.” He added, “California’s lawmakers, and the state itself, have been placed in a fiscal straitjacket by a steep two-thirds-vote requirement — imposed at the ballot box — for raising taxes.”

He added: “Much of this constitutional and statutory structure has been brought about not by legislative fact-gathering and deliberation, but rather by the approval of voter initiative measures, often funded by special interests. These interests are allowed under the law to pay a bounty to signature-gatherers for each signer. Frequent amendments — coupled with the implicit threat of more in the future — have rendered our state government dysfunctional, at least in times of severe economic decline.”

Republican Candidate For Governor May Have Never Voted…EVER!

Put this story on the ‘there is no way in hell I could have made this up’ pile.  I am shaking my head as I type this.  There are days I wonder if I have stepped into an alter-universe.

Meg Whitman, the conservative billionaire businesswoman now running for governor in California has lived a number of  places in her 53 years.  But no one has a record of her ever voting for anything on Election Day.  Please take a moment to read this and then ask yourself if you would have the guts to ask your fellow citizens for their vote when you were too stinking lazy and apathetic to cast one yourself?

The review covered six states and a dozen counties, including towns and counties in Massachusetts, New York, Ohio, New Jersey, Rhode Island and California where public records indicated that Whitman lived, worked or attended college.

Mark Petracca, a UC Irvine political science professor, said Whitman’s voting record is nothing anyone would brag about – unless you’re one of her opponents.

The Bee found that the two candidates battling Whitman for the Republican gubernatorial nomination – Insurance Commissioner Steve Poizner and ex-congressman and state Sen. Tom Campbell – regularly participated in local, state and federal elections for decades.

“It’s a dereliction of our first duty as American citizens,” Petracca said. “We’re talking about someone who has practically not voted her entire adulthood.

“This is embarrassing.”

Whitman, now 53, turned 18 and voting age in Suffolk County, N.Y., in 1974. Officials say they have no record of her registering or voting there.

She lived in Cincinnati, Ohio, from 1979 to 1981 after completing a master’s degree in business administration at Harvard.

Neither Ohio state elections officials nor Hamilton County Board of Elections officials found a record of Whitman registering or voting there.

For much of the 1980s, she lived in San Francisco as a management consultant at an investment firm, Bain & Co.

The San Francisco County elections office no longer retains records prior to 1992, but said that had she been registered and voting, her registration information would have been transferred to the current system. They have no record of her registration.

Similarly, Los Angeles County has no record that she registered or voted between 1989 and 1992, when she worked for Walt Disney Corp. as a senior executive.

Whitman and her husband, Griffith Harsh, a neurologist, lived in Brookline, Mass., a suburb just outside Boston, for several years in the 1990s. She worked for Stride-Rite, FTD and Hasbro until 1997.

“We had her as a resident for a while, and she was captured by the census, but she was never registered and she never voted,” said Patrick Ard, town clerk in Brookline.

Whitman returned to the Bay Area in 1998, when she was hired to be eBay’s first chief executive officer and take the company public.

She told delegates at the convention that she had “been a registered ‘decline-to-state’ voter since 1998.” The Bee was unable to find any public record of that registration.

The first registration record The Bee found, in San Mateo County, was dated Sept. 12, 2002.

At that time, she told San Mateo elections officials that she had been registered in San Francisco County, a county official said, after reviewing electronic records.

Yet San Francisco County officials, whose database records active registrations as far back as 1992, said they had no record of voter registration for Whitman at either of her two San Francisco addresses during the period.

No Statewide Official In California Will Defend Prop 8 In Federal Court

How does one even try and defend the indefensible anyway?

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger has declined to defend the constitutionality of Proposition 8, telling a San Francisco judge that the legality of the anti-gay marriage measure is for the courts to decide.

The governor’s decision to remain neutral in a federal challenge to Proposition 8 means no statewide official will be defending the measure in federal court.

Proposition 8 resurrected a ban on same-sex marriage, receiving 52% of the vote in the November election. The California Supreme Court ruled 6-1 last month that the measure did not violate the state constitution.

Supporters of the measure said Wednesday they were disappointed but not surprised by the governor’s stance.