I’m sick of the so-called "gay marriage" topic

First and most important, let us consider who has made it a topic: the people opposed to it. The people putting it on ballots, platforms, and advertising are people hoping to use it as a wedge issue to divide progressives. The rest of us have generally preferred to focus on things of much greater importance, like this disastrous mess of a war in Iraq. Naturally these types of topics aren’t as much fun for those people, since the politicians they’ve bought are for the most part the ones who got us into this mess in the first place.

Next we have a terminology problem. First, “gay” leaves out a lot of the people affected–lesbians, bis, trans, whatevers, and all the other kinds of non-traditional families. Second, “marriage” is missing the point: it’s not about a lacy veil and a march down the aisle of a flower-bedecked church, it’s about basic fairness in all manner of tax, inheritance, insurance, medical decision-making and hospital visitation rights, child custody laws, and so on.

Herewith my proposal.

Recognize that there are two separate issues: marriage and civil union.

Marriage is a religious institution with moral standing. Allow religious organizations the freedom to define for themselves what marriage is and who is eligible to participate. Allow people the freedom to choose for themselves whether to participate in religious organizations, to choose to join them or not, and to choose which other organizations’ marriages they will respect and honor. Marriage confers only those privileges and responsibilities defined by the organization. The means to dissolve or annul marriages or to disallow dissolution or annulment is also assigned to the marriage-granting institution to define and regulate. Marriage has no legal standing.

Civil union is a legal institution with legal standing. Allow the states and nation to define what civil union is and let a reading of the Constitution make clear that all are equally eligible to participate. Civil union confers legal and financial privileges and responsibilities and binds its members as legally and financially responsible for each other. The means to dissolve or annul civil unions or to disallow dissolution or annulment is also assigned to the state to define and regulate. Civil union has no moral standing.

Legal dependency is just that: legal dependency. My legal dependents are my natural-born or legally adopted children and anyone else for whom I take legal responsibility.

Keep church and state separate. Keep marriage and civil union separate.

If you want both marriage and civil union, get both. If you want one but not the other, get one.

I am free to persuade my church to marry me to my female partner, and if I succeed, we shall be married in the eyes of my church and our fellow congregants. If you don’t go to my church or respect my church, you are free to consider me unmarried. You don’t have to send me a wedding present or say congratulations, and you don’t have to send me a sympathy card if someday I am bereaved. If we have sexual relations, you are free to consider them adulterous, scandalous, promiscuous, fornicatory, and all other manner of immoral; I shall not.

However, if my partner and I have joined in civil union, whether or not we have been married, and I get in a car wreck, and you work at the hospital treating me, you must respect my partner’s input as you would any legal spouse’s. If you employ me, you must offer my partner and our dependents–be they our naturally-born or legally-adopted children, or our senile parents[-in-law], or our disabled siblings, or even the refugees on whom we have taken pity and for whom we have taken legal responsibility–same insurance benefits you offer to any legal partners and dependents. If you have rental property, you must consider our lease application on its merits. If you are a tax collector, you must offer us the same dizzying array of loopholes, gotchas, deductions, and messy choices as all the straight couples get–you must ding us or discount us the same as any other civilly-united couple filing jointly or separately.

I’m sick of this topic and wouldn’t mind never having to debate or write on it again. For those who want more, here’s some interesting reading from reasonable people: http://www.beyondmarriage.org/.

It’s always the easy stuff that gets you

It’s a truism that when you’re writing, it’ll always be the bonehead easy stuff you get wrong. Anything tricky, after all, you’ll look up and confirm. The stuff you think you’ve always known will be where you make your errors, and of course you never bother checking the stuff you know.

Turns out I know bupkes about Superman. I think I’ve seen part of a movie and a few partial episodes of the TV show, and I thought I’d read a few of the comic books, but then I realized those were Spiderman… in fact, I think the TV episodes I saw were Spiderman, too, so maybe my Superman knowledge is worse than pathetic.

My boss is a Superman expert, and he set me straight on my astonishingly dense series of errors from last night:

  • George Reeves was the first; Christopher Reeve (no S) was the second
  • They’re not related
  • Superman actually started in animated films in the 40s
  • …oh hell, let’s hear it from the expert, shall we?

As Dr. Potter writes,

The first time Superman appeared in the movies was in a series of excellent animated features by the Fleischer Studios in the early 1940’s. To this day, these animated films are considered classics by professionals in the field.

The first person to play Superman in the movies was Kirk Alyn, who played the character in two serials (as they were called in those days) in the 1940’s. Unfortunately, these were rather cheesy films, low budget and to make matters worse, whenever Superman had to fly, they reverted to animation! So, for example, Kirk would run behind a rock and an animated Superman would take off into the sky. This didn’t fool anyone at the time, not even little kids.

George Reeves first donned the cape in a movie called “Superman and the Mole Men”. Due the success of this film, they decided to create a TV series called “Adventures of Superman” starring George as the Man of Steel. This TV show aired from 1952 to 1958. In the movie as well as the TV show, for the first time, they actually had a real person (George, of course) up on wires and appearing to fly. No animation! Of course, the special effects were extremely crude by today’s standards. Indeed, recently Warner Brothers (who now owns DC Comics, who in turn own the rights to Superman) has issued the first 4 seasons of “Adventures of Superman” on DVD and thanks to the digital remastering, it is very easy to *see* the wires holding George up! It was this version of Superman that I grew up with as a little boy. And of course, the story goes that Reeves committed suicide because he was so depressed over being typecast as Superman and couldn’t find any other work as an actor.

Then, as you know, Christopher Reeve became the Man of Tomorrow in 1978 in a very high budget, much publicized, and extremely successful movie. Chris appeared as Superman in 4 movies, the third of which was pretty disappointing and the fourth of which was so bad that we would all like to forget it ever happened!

And now, finally after all these years, “Superman Returns” with Brandon Routh.

So there you have it: I know bupkes about Superman. I do know a good song when I hear one, though, and I think you should hear it, too.