Live marriage!

March 18th, 2009 | Uncategorized

Hey! I’m posting this from the VT statehouse. They’re holding hearings about SS marriage. Tryin’ ta do it on my iPhone.


Now it’s the next day. I had to give up trying to blog from my little phone. In fact, it was so hot, and I was so uncomfortable sitting on the floor, that I left halfway through. But my friends Cathy Resmer and Don Eggert from our local alt weekly Seven Days live blogged the hearings, as did my friend Lauren Ober from the Burlington Free Press, if you want to check out their very witty running commentaries on the proceedings.

Maybe I’m biased, but the arguments for same sex marriage were so eloquent and rational, and those against so turgid and witless, that I will be very surprised if the legislature does not do the right thing.


98 Responses to “Live marriage!”

  1. I have some photos up on flickr, but can’t figger out how ta git em on the blog.

  2. nyced says:

    By the way, this is being streamed by Vermont Public Radio at:

  3. nyced says:

    Scroll down to the “Vermont House” link

  4. hairball_of_hope says:

    Live audio feed from Vermont Public Radio of the hearing:

  5. hairball_of_hope says:

    Hey nyced, GMTA (Great Minds Think Alike)!

  6. It’s hot. They’re alternating good and evil. I mean, pro and con.

  7. Jessica Bessica says:

    And speaking of both marriage and dictionaries:

    Woot! Woot!

  8. DW says:

    Just got back from the hearing in the State House. It is so nice in this age of Cheney and subprime mortgages and global warming to have ONE IMPORTANT THING go the right way. The other side had its expected share of hateful wackos and the merely misguided but there were wonderful voices heard on our side, old people and children among them. Tonight I am very grateful to live in Vermont.

  9. Andrew B says:

    Uh-oh. Blogging via iPhone. Posting iPhone photos on flickr. Anyone want to start a pool on when Alison starts to Twitter? It can’t be long now.

  10. Montrealais says:

    Awesomesauce! Hope you have a good time. I have fond memories of testifying before the House of Commons travelling committee on SSM back in 2003. That rocked. And now the fact that I have a messy apartment is a matter of public record ^_^

  11. Ydnic says:

    Your secret decoder ring, indeed.

  12. Eva says:

    I remember going to a hearing at the Statehouse, I think it was in 1986, maybe 1985, that was for including sexual orientation as a protected status under state civil rights laws. The cramped & hot room full of awesome GLBT on one side of the room and eeevilll bible quoters on the other was instructive. However, that was back when I thought the bible quoters were nothing, really, to worry about. Now I know better (see last 8 years, plus/minus). Those Take Back Vermont signs still set my teeth on edge. Were there signs on the steps that said anything besides that?

  13. No, all the signs said “take back vermont.”

    The signs annoyed me too, but I have to say, at the same time I actually felt a little sorry for the bible folks last night.

  14. Calico says:

    “Take Back Vermont” – where did it run off to in the first place? ; )

    Shades of Ruth Dwyer…again.

  15. NLC says:

    A brief bit of Vermont history for folks who may not be familiar with the “Take Back Vermont” signs.

    This all started with the article “Taking Over Vermont” (which originally appeared in the June 1972 issue of Playboy, of all places).

    In brief, the article sketched out a plan for large numbers of progressives/back-to-the-landers/etc to move to a small state (for example Vermont) and effectively “take over” the state electorally. (This is basically the same idea that lies behind the so-called “Free State Project” of the Libertarians.)

    As might be expected, the notion met with some resistance by the state’s natives and a nascent “Take Back Vermont” movement began.

    In the late nineties and early oughties, the slogan was revived by folks who opposed various issues which they saw (or at least could claim) were being imposed by “outsiders”, such as civil unions, Act 60 (dealing with school funding), rising property taxes, etc.

    Eventually, however, as suggested above, the slogan has been primarily associated with those opposed to civil unions (and, later, same-sex marriage).

  16. Mighty Ponygirl says:

    I’d meant to listen to the hearings last night on VPR — but I forgot 🙁 I was able to listen to highlights this morning, talk about a way to get your blood pressure up after waking up!!!

    To that dipsh– who said he didn’t trust the gays not to force conscientious objectors to gay marriage to marry gay people anyway, I’d like to point out that Title IX has not yet FORCED the Catholic Church to ordain women ministers, so there is no precedent that legally allowing gay marriage would result in any sort of coercive action by the state government to force a church to do something against its doctrine. Even in Canada, where gay marriage is legal, and which does not explicitly have the the 1st Ammendment like we do here in the states, there are still churches that are allowed to say “we do not perform same-sex marriage here, please find another church” and as far as I know, there are no stormtroopers holding a gun to the minister’s head and telling him to oversee the wedding vows of two dudes.

  17. hairball_of_hope says:

    In other state SSM news, the California Supreme Court is expected to rule on Prop 8. The court also has to decide on what to do with the 18,000 SS couples who married before Prop 8 took effect.

    Today’s Wall Street Journal notes that the status of these 18,000 couples hinges on the meaning of the word “is”.

    In a blast from the Clinton past (“that depends on what your definition of ‘is’ is”), the attorney arguing against the legality of the existing 18,000 SS marriages is none other than Kenneth Starr, who famously/infamously spent beaucoup bucks of taxpayer money investigating the status of Bill Clinton’s zipper.

  18. Hey, check out this letter to the editor in this week’s New Yorker.

  19. Cecelia says:

    What stood out most, for me, prior to hearing any testimony, was how attractive the Freedom to Marry folks were compared to the “God’s Plan” folks. It was also clear which side had prepared something to say, rather than simply hoping that the Muse of discrimination and hatred would come to them as they stood at the microphone.
    But, on a note that may, actually, be relevant. Even though heterosexual re-marriage is legal, I have yet to find an instance where a Catholic church was forced to marry a couple of divorcees.
    Notwithstanding the absence of any logical reason otherwise,I believe that the Bill, if passed, will be vetoed by Gov. Douglas

  20. Kate L says:

    Speaking from out here in the belly of the beast – a late 60’s reference, children 🙂 – I must say that all these goings on back east sound very heartening to this old timer. Sounds like a nice, new generation of right-on women is on the march!

  21. hairball_of_hope says:

    Seemingly apropos to this discussion is the Thought Of The Day at the bottom of today’s A Word A Day e-mail:

    The propagandist’s purpose is to make one set of people forget that certain other sets of people are human. -Aldous Huxley, novelist (1894-1963)

    (Now returning back to my sub-epsilon existence, alas, without soma)

  22. Bond says:

    Not to be pessimistic, but when does Legislature ever do the right thing? Hopefully, you will have more luck on the east coast than we do here in the midwest.

  23. Susan Gabriel says:

    Awesome reporting. Thanks!

  24. DeLand DeLakes says:

    @ Jessica Bessica- MARRIAGE CANNOT BE REDEFINED! Except whoop, I guess we just did. Hooray for M-W! I knew there was some reason why I always turn to their online dictionary…

    @NLC- I’d say Vermont is the bigger success story. Back in the 1970s Libertarian-tards contrived to bring 250,000 of their “don’t tax me bros” to New Hampshire to act out their own little perpetual Ayn Rand pageant. So far they’ve convinced about 600-odd families to do so. Like herding cats…

  25. acilius says:

    I’m sure someone remembers which strip it was where Clarice says to Toni that the arguments the anti-same sex marriage side offers are amazingly weak. I remember a sentence like “They think that if same sex marriage is legalized, it will, by some unspecified process, weaken heterosexual marriage.” I think of that phrase “unspecified process” every time the issue comes up.

    There are so many people and there is so much social power on the side of the belief that marriage should be restricted to heterosexual couples that by now you would expect someone to have come up with a plausible-sounding argument in defense of that position. Or at least an argument that takes more than five seconds to explode. But it doesn’t seem to have happened. For almost thirty years now I’ve been looking for an argument in favor of heterosexual-only marriage that it would take some work to refute, and I’m still looking. I’ve seen a number of interesting liberationist arguments against marriage as such, and a few thought-provoking (albeit crazy) arguments calling for the West to abandon the idea of romantic love and reinstitute arranged marriages, but in defense of the twentieth century Western norm, I have failed to find anything worth a second look. Has anyone had better luck in such a quest?

  26. DW says:

    Assuming this bill passes, which seems likely, the next question is whether the Republican Governor will sign or veto. He has said passage would make him unhappy but has not threatened veto. The bigots have promised to punish him if he signs and he needs every vote he can get to beat Howard Dean’s length in office, a goal dear to him, so no profile in courage from this guy. The best thing would be a veto proof vote in legislature, which is possible. What makes all this fun instead of nail biting is that it will happen, now or next time.
    Fifty years ago a night like last night would be as unthinkable as a black man getting elected President. Fifty years from now our great grandchildren will wonder what all the fuss was about.

  27. hairball_of_hope says:


    I hate to be picky-picky on language, especially when I am often guilty of using such unPC phrases such as “gypsy scholars” (smack me, R2A, I deserve it). But twice in recent posts you’ve used derisive terms with “-tard” appended after the root (Paul-tard, Libertarian-tard). Isn’t there something less offensive that would get the point across? Maybe Liberturdian?

  28. Therry says:

    Even as we speak, the NH house is debating the same thing. They dropped the idea of protecting the civil rights of LGBT people. There’s a reason we are to the right of Vermont. I wish I could tell you where the blog is to follow the incisive arguments of our enlightened legislators, but you can always follow the story on

  29. Therry says:

    There’s a reason we are to the right of Vermont on the MAP.

  30. Zeugma says:

    @Mighty Ponygirl: I believe the only major church in Canada that does perform same-sex marriages is the United Church — which is the largest Protestant denomination, with about 3 million adherents. Some smaller groups like the Unitarians, the Quakers, and the Metropolitan Community Church also do SS marriages. The Catholic and Anglican churches, and the other Protestant denominations, still don’t. Some renegade Anglican churches are performing blessings of SS unions, but not actually performing the marriages. This issue of same-sex blessings is causing a world-wide rift in the Anglican communion, but no-one in the Anglican church is proposing that they actually perform SS marriages, which gives the whole debate a very surreal quality in Canada.

  31. hairball_of_hope says:


    Nothing is streaming now from NH Legislature. I’ll post the links to NH House and Senate in two separate posts to get past the spamcatcher.

    NH House audio stream:

  32. hairball_of_hope says:

    Part 2…

    NH Senate audio stream:

  33. Feminista says:

    @Hairball,DeLand,and others–Why use derogatory language against our enemies,as much as we’d like to,because it stoops to their level. Sure,the phrase “Feminazi”from Rush Limbaugh upsets me,but remember that “an eye for an eye makes everyone blind.” Thanks to Syracuse Cultural Workers for that last quote.

  34. clarke in says:

    @acilius – like you, I am somewhat fascinated by the arguments against SSM and the fact that they never really seem to hold water.

    As a happily married lesbian, I have yet to see an explanation of why my marriage is different from one involving an opposite sex couple. Most arguments against that I have seen tend to focus on sex or procreation (or both), which I find odd because – frankly – you do not need to be married to do either (or both) of them.

  35. hairball_of_hope says:


    How right you are. My visceral reaction to “-tard” and the association with developmentally-disabled folks brought out the name-caller in me. Ouch.

    There’s an old Texas saying, “Never mud wrestle a pig. Pretty soon you both get covered in mud, then you can’t tell which one is the pig.”

  36. EmRenLife says:

    I wish you in Vermont well on this. We’re not doing so well in California at the moment. I spent a lot of time actively working against Prop 8 and I’m sorely frustrated at my state government.

    I keep hoping the feds will pass a civil rights law that will make all of this unnecessary. Preferably in my lifetime, and I’m not getting any younger. 😉

  37. Maggie Jochild says:

    Hairball, as a sixth generation Texan (to be entirely accurate, a Texican as well as a Texian), I always heard the saying as “Never mud rassle a pig, you’ll just get covered in muck and the pig enjoys it.”

    I personally support fighting for civil unions for everybody, whatever the gender composition of their partnership. Leave marriage as a ‘sacred’ concept to religion and get the state the hell out of defining it except as a contract.

  38. Kate L says:

    I was just here at my computer keyboard feeling alone, very alone, and left out of all the progressive hubbub and bruhaha in New England, when THIS news flash out of Topkea, Kansas, caught my attention! Do you believe in miracles? Yes! As Vermont goes, so goes the nation!

  39. Nina says:

    Don’t give up

    Canada has legalized gay marriage in 2003 – no churches have been forced to marry people they don’t want – and the ones that wanted to do so, could

    funny tho that these churches don’t try to stop straight atheists from getting married

  40. Maggie Jochild says:

    Wow, Kate L, GREAT news from Kansas.

    Another piece of really good news today is that Gov. Bill Richardson (one of my choices for President, despite various clear failings) signed a bill outlawing the death penalty in New Mexico. I’m hoping it’s contagious and spreads to Texas. Hope hope hoping.

  41. Nele says:

    Mhm. As a German, I have some serious issues with the abbreviation “SS marriage”…

  42. ksbel6 says:

    JFYI…it was Ghandi that said “an eye for an eye makes the whole world blind.”

    I also don’t see churches finding out whether or not the couple they are marrying has a snowball’s chance of making it “forever”. That is the part that pisses me off the most. “I need to marry him for health insurance” is as legitimate as “We are so right for each other.” I want the opportunity to marry for health insurance 😉

  43. acilius says:

    @Maggie: I supported Richardson for president too, and I’m hope hope hoping with you.

    @Nele: Obwohl ich Amerikaner bin, so eine Phrase stoert mir auch!

    @Feminista: Excellent point, thank you for raising it.

    @clarke in “Most arguments against that I have seen tend to focus on sex or procreation (or both), which I find odd because – frankly – you do not need to be married to do either (or both) of them.” Exactly!

    And vice versa as well. I first became aware of the political question of same-sex marriage in 1980. I was in fifth grade and we were supposed to conduct debates in class about issues of the day. I was assigned to the group opposing this proposition: “The Equal Rights Amendment should be passed.” Researching for my part in the debate, I found an argument that the plain wording of the proposed amendment (”Equality of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of sex”) would grant men the right to marry other men and women the right to marry other women. This was in the context of an article opposing the amendment.

    At first I was excited to find this claim. Up to that point all that I had been able to find were dry legal arguments that would never capture the attention of my classmates. Here at last was a point that would grab the imaginations of everyone in the room and hold them for as long as I needed.

    But as I thought it over, I realized that there was an obvious question that would stump me if anyone asked it. Why shouldn’t same sex couples be free to marry? The only argument in the article was that same sex couples couldn’t reproduce. My immediate response to that was to think of my grandmother. When my grandfather died, she was in her fifties, most assuredly past childbearing. Yet she remarried, and no one thought to object. If sterility isn’t a problem when elderly couples want to form heterosexual marriages, why does it suddenly become a problem when same sexers want to marry?

  44. […] couple of weeks, I (Acilius) have posted some comments on two sites I read daily.  At “Dykes to Watch Out For,”  I quoted the opening of the “Periodicals Note” about Chronicles magazine […]

  45. hairball_of_hope says:


    Whenever I hear folks talking about how same sex marriage will somehow weaken the “institution” of marriage, I ask about the tabloid romances of the day (and these days, tawdry TV shows such as “The Bachelor”). Oh, those unions are somehow more valuable and sacred than two people who genuinely love and care for each other, and who happen to have the same anatomy?

    What’s the come-on line when you meet someone, if what you’re really interested is health insurance? No more signs of the Zodiac… “What’s your sign? Oh, you’re a Pisces? I just love Pisces!”… “What’s your insurance? Oh, you have Aetna? I just love Aetna! What’s your deductible?”

    Interestingly, while you might want to marry for the health insurance, I don’t see any of the anti-marriage folks railing against hets who do that. Nor do I hear them lashing out at elderly folks who cohabitate without benefit of marriage… it’s understood they will do that to maximize their Social Security benefits.


    Not sure if I heard the Texas pig quote directly in Texas or if it’s something I picked up over the years from the late, great Molly Ivins.

    Unfortunately, the New Mexico ban on executions does not apply retroactively to the two inmates currently on Death Row. If everyone involved in crafting/approving the NM legislation was so concerned about the imperfection of the existing system, why leave state-performed executions in place at all?

    @Kate L

    What is the likelihood that the full Senate will pass the amendment, and do you think your new governor will sign it into law?

  46. Calico says:

    I think the VT bill just passed! : D

  47. Andrew B says:

    @Deland: thank you for reading and responding to my nerdy comment on Frank Baum and monetary policy in the last thread.

    @Feminista: I don’t see any need to prove I’m smarter and more decent than Ron Paul and his followers.

    @everyone: People who are concerned about unkind language need to start with themselves. Some mockery and hard-edged rhetoric can be appropriate. I also can’t argue about the troubling associations of “-tard”. But please make sure that your “visceral responses” are directed at those who are doing real damage, not a good-willed person who used a term that lots of people use.

    I’m not German and I can’t read German, but “SS marriage” has been bothering me, too. Since the Nazi SS was originally supposed to be “racially pure”, the issue of marriage was not irrelevant. Not that I expect anyone to stop using the abbreviation for “same sex” just because it bothers me.

  48. hairball_of_hope says:


    Thanks for the Cliff Notes history of “Take Back Vermont”, I didn’t know about the origins in the 1972 Playboy article. It seems just a wee bit ironic that an article in the preeminent “women as sex objects” rag of its time may have spawned ground-breaking civil rights victories for LGBT.

    @Andrew B

    “I don’t see any need to prove I’m smarter and more decent than Ron Paul and his followers.”

    And better looking, at least according to Cecilia’s observations.

    I read a little German, strictly technical German, but I definitely don’t speak it (it comes out with a Yiddish inflection that proclaims, “Jude! Jude!”). In any event, the erudite and fluent Acilius wrote that although he is American, the phrase bothers him too.

    And it bothers me too, so I will drop the abbreviation for same sex.

    Nerdling that I am, even SSM bothers me, because the little voices in my brain start saying to me, “Are we talking about solid-state materials on the DTWOF blog?” followed by “Oh, same sex marriage, you dope!”

  49. Alex K says:

    @Nele / Andrew B — “SS marriage”. And then off to the Lebensborn. Hmmm. Can we agree to reclaim “SS”, at least in this context? We’ve done it with other convenient signifiers, such as “queer”.

    @Andrew B — The parable of THE WIZARD OF OZ, at least for me, has long been one of mistrust, of rejection and denial, of the foreign (always part of the cultural stew in the United States, but accentuated perhaps a century ago). Don’t go travelling, don’t hold your arms open to the new and different, forget adventure, forget even love — everything you could want is right there in your own back yard, and there’s no place like home. Hugh Prestwood’s “Dorothy”, covered by Judy Collins (clunkily) on HARD TIMES FOR LOVERS, made the difference in how I view THE WIZARD OF OZ: Dorothy was a fool to leave / she had it made / she could have stayed / she was afraid. Not that the monetarist subtext isn’t also there…

  50. Kate L says:

    The new governor probably would sign, assuming Governor Sebelius is already confirmed by the US Senate and the new governor is in office by then. My doubts are in the bill passing the state House of Representatives. And, before then, the veto of a restrictive abortion bill may turn out to be the final act of Governor Sebelius before she heads off to Washington to join the Obama administration.

  51. Duncan says:

    In addition to the examples others have given (like churches being forced or not to marry divorced persons), I’d point out that churches don’t have to marry *any* heterosexual couples that don’t fit their doctrines. My brother is, like me, an atheist, but my Catholic sister-in-law wanted a church wedding in addition to the civil marriage they already had. (Civil marriage doesn’t mean you aren’t ‘living in sin’ if that concerns you.) The church was under no obligation whatsoever to wed them until they’d jumped through the requisite hoops, like agreeing to raise any children they had as Catholics. So there isn’t any likelihood that any church would be forced to wed same-sex couples.

    I have, however, encountered gay people who thought that the government *should* force churches to marry them, and expressed contempt for the First Amendment and the separation of church and state when those little matters were pointed out. There will be gay people who will talk in those terms, and they should be scorned along with the antigay bigots. But I think they said that mainly because they were too ignorant to realize that you don’t need a church wedding to be legally married. That’s hardly a rare form of ignorance, either: Barack Obama, for example, talks about marriage as a “sacred union” reserved for heterosexuals — but there is nothing sacred about a civil marriage. An atheist man and an atheist woman can get a marriage license without trouble. Quite a few advocates of same-sex marriage are similarly confused, at least in their rhetoric. I was creeped out when I read that some couples getting married in San Francisco asked the city clerks who married them to bless their unions. That also violates the separation of church and state. If a city clerk was good enough for them, any random stranger could have done it. And the irony is that while it’s not legally binding, an exchange of vows with or without a clergyperson presiding — a wedding — between people of the same sex is perfectly legal in the US and can’t be blocked by all the antigay laws in the world. That pesky First Amendment again.

    From what I’ve heard, ksbel6, many churches *do* require couples they are going to marry to undergo extended counseling in hopes of ensuring that the union will last. Whether it works, I don’t know, but I think you’re making unfounded assumptions here.

    I see an irony too in those advocates of same-sex marriage who counter the claim that same-sex marriage will weaken the institution of marriage by arguing that heterosexuals have already weakened it with divorce, etc. The trouble with that is, if marriage is so corrupted, why do gays want it? I see no reason to suppose that we’ll do any better by it — if no worse — than heterosexuals have. (And are gay Christians willing to forgo divorce, in accordance with Jesus’ explicit teaching?)

    I’m less and less persuaded by the arguments of the advocates of legalizing same-sex civil marriage, because they really aren’t that good. (A discussion I mostly agree with is Nancy Polikoff’s book “Beyond (Straight and Gay) Marriage”.) Their opponents aren’t likely to answer their arguments well, because they share the belief that marriage is the ideal form of union between two people; the same-sex marriage movement bought the positions of the religious right on marriage in the 80s, except that they wanted gays to be included. I agree with Polikoff that we need to validate all families, not just married ones. The marriage movement is too reactionary for me to support it.

  52. ksbel6 says:

    @Duncan: Sorry, but you are wrong about who churches will marry. There are those that require counseling, some even require at least a year to be sure the decision is well thought out. But if a heterosexual couple wants to get married, there are plenty of churches that will do it right when the couple walks through the door. The counseling hasn’t worked anyway. Counseling or not, about 1/2 of marriages end in divorce. And, even if the church does require the counseling, a heterosexual pair of friends could still decide to get married for the health insurance, and go through the year and get married. That was my point. They don’t have to be in love, they don’t have to be intending to have a family, they just have to want to get married. That is why it is not fair.
    And whether or not an institution is flawed does not really effect ones desire to participate. Capitalism is most certainly not perfect, yet here I am participating in that institution because I’m hoping to invent a get rich quick device that no one can live without and make billions.
    On a happy note, it is the first day of spring and the crocuses are up and making everything colorful 🙂

  53. jen in California says:

    I have an issue with the position that we shouldn’t fight for same-sex marriage because we are (or should strive to be) beyond marriage. I’m not arguing in favor of marriage, I’m arguing in favor of fighting for rights.

    I feel that the current capitalist, monogamist, religion-oriented and gender-conforming marriage template is limiting. But I’m going to fight to the death to make sure we all get the opportunity. Because when the conservative anti-gay groups are arguing, their arguments are not based on my idea of “limiting” us to monogamy. Their arguments are that we are second-class and unworthy.

    What if the 60’s african-american civil rights people had said “Lunch counters? Who cares about diners? Diners are low-class and crowded, I’ve never wanted to eat there. I don’t care if they are integrated. Buses? Who cares?”. There were arguably loftier goals to work towards, like focusing only on voting rights. But the issue was one of how African-Americans were treated as second-class citizens, in everything. They refused to accept it.

    We have to fight the whole notion of inferiority. Whether we want marriage or not, even if we think marriage is stupid, we can’t let prejudice stand. Because that would be accepting the basic premise that love between us is “unworthy” and not real.

    That’s my 2 cents. (Please CA Supreme Court, don’t let me down!). But then again, I come to everything from a legal rights standpoint. That’s just my POV.

  54. Kate L says:

    All this marriage talk flashes me back to 2005. It was a simpler, more innocent time in America… no, wait, it wasn’t. That was the year the forces of reaction got an anti-gay marriage amendment embedded in our state constitution by way of a vote in which 16% of the eligible voters cast ballots. It turns out that in my home town here in Kansas, I was the campaigner against the anti-gay marriage amendment who knocked on the most doors, asking for a “NO” vote. My friends back east were afraid that I’d be killed by irate homophobes during the campaign, but there was only one time and one door where I thought that the young woman I was campaigning with and I were in real physical danger. And the anti-gay marriage amendment almost went down to defeat here in Smallsville (not its real name, btw): 51% YES to 49% NO. The only place where the NO forces did better was Douglas County, home of the University of Kansas, where the NO forces carried the day, 60% NO to 40% YES. But we all know how cosmopolitan and with it Douglas County, Kansas, is. My point (and I do have one, to quote Ellen) is that I found that it did not matter if people had thought about gay marriage before, or even if they knew anybody who was openly gay. Most people did NOT want to see an entire group of people barred from having the right to enact legal contracts between themselves. It was the libertarian argument against the anti-gay marriage amendment that resonated with people.

  55. bean says:

    a comprehensive federal civil rights bill that included the right to marry along with rights to equal housing and employment opportunity and making it illegal to fire someone or discriminate on the basis of identity or couple status would be nice.

    i don’t really understand why “benefits” are attached to state sanctioned coupledom. seems inherently unfair to me.

    i don’t personally care about having the “right” to marry; whether i wanted to marry a boy or a girl or anyone else, i would never bother to get it rubber stamped by a state i know actually wants me dead. (i want it dead too, so i guess we’re even on that score.) as for religious approval, well, some will, some won’t, personally i probably wouldn’t have any facilitating my public romantic love vows. i still don’t get the city hall part.

  56. Michal says:

    @Nele – as a Jewish Israeli, I had the same thought exactly.
    I obviously didn’t think it meant anything at all, just an innocent abbreviation, but still – it bothers the eye a little when trying to read the rest of the post..

    @Alex K – sorry, can’t get past it.

    Again, for the record – obviously I realize the only connection whatsoever is associative and comes from my own experience.

  57. acilius says:

    @Andrew B: Sorry, didn’t mean to be confusing! I started off with “Ich auch!” (“Me too!”) then thought, hmm, that sounds like I’m saying I’m German too. So I added the rest. Sorry I forgot to put a translation with it.

    @h_o_h: “the erudite and fluent Acilius”- Aw, shucks. I’m blushing!

  58. Ginjoint says:

    Jen in CA: Word.

  59. Ellen Orleans says:

    I don’t have anything against the existence gay marriage, just marriage in general. Like the gays in the military issue, doesn’t excite me, doesn’t entice me to go out there and work for that change.

    The lunch counter comparison doesn’t click for me either. You see, to get the special rights that married people get, you have to marry. And then you lose those rights if you divorce. So what percentage of queers would benefit from marriage at any given time? Thirty percent of us? I’d rather go for a “designated beneficiary” model. We all need that.

  60. Liza says:

    Gays in the Miltary? Hell no. Ban the Military.

    Gay Marriage? Hell no. Ban marriage.

  61. --MC says:

    NB, Alison’s review is not in today’s NYT Book Review, although they do review the Barthelme book.

  62. Feminista says:

    How about SGM,same gender marriage,so the issue doesn’t get confused with Social Security?

  63. ksbel6 says:

    @Ginjoint: The puppy mill dog had a stroke and died this morning. We are incredibly sad. He was only with us for about a year, but he was certainly part of the family.

  64. Hannah says:

    ksbel6: I am so sorry about the loss of the puppy! The whole puppy mill thing is a tragedy and a crime. I am glad this one had a safe loving home for a year with you. That was a blessed thing you did!

    acillus: got your reply on the past blog entry – there is one more reply for you if you are willing to backtrack to see it. I am deeply moved!

    as for the raging marriage issues, All I can say is I am pulling for this. Every change, every step is one closer step to an over all change. Of course, if you really want to rock the change and the world, get rid of the heterosexual binary gender paradigm. There is a big revolution for you, and frankly, the marriage issue is a tiny subset of that over all paradigm. But if you think same sex marriage rattles them, try touching the gender paragigm – whoo, do things get interesting then. That however covers our trans and GID brothers and sisters who deal with really weird loopholes legally in marriage that the same sex marriage doesn’t even begin to cover!

  65. Hannah says:

    Also, regarding the Wizard of Oz – fascinating analysis of the book btw! – here is my favorite take on the Wizard of Oz; a song called “Dumb Dumb Dorathy”. The idea is that at some point Dorothy realizes that home is not the place that she used to remember it to be and sees things a little different. (Brenda is the member of a music band called “Three Wyrd Sisters” and they can be tracked through CD Baby dot com or by googling them.) Here are the lyrics –

    Dumb Dumb Dorothy
    By Brenda Sutton
    © 2000

    I’ve clicked my heels so many times. I was a fool to grieve
    For Flatland and the monochromes I now desire to leave
    I want my eyes to match my gown, to float the bubble tram
    And be where I know simply who I am

    Summon all the Gods of Air and let the wild wind howl
    I’ll pitch my porch to the gray-green sky and ply the witch’s trowel
    Put Kansas to my backside, and bid a swift farewell
    To the dust and the hogs and the prairie corn sage smell

    I want to go where nothing’s as it seems
    I want to sing and fight and laugh and dream
    I want my answers to be “Just because
    That’s the way in the merry old land of OZ.”

    Watch the windmill wheel and pitch and whistle up my ride
    I’m looking for that rainbow bridge I danced to the Emerald side
    I’d battle back to Wizard Town past fields of poppied snow
    Through a sky of flying monkeys for the colors that I know

    So suck me up the funnel, and send me back to OZ
    Set me on that Yellow Path to the land of Neverwas.
    Give me my sweet man of straw and let my lion roar
    ‘Til my heart beats like it’s never beat before

    I want to go where nothing’s as it seems
    I want to sing and fight and laugh and dream
    I want my answers to be “Just because
    That’s the way in the merry old land of OZ
    That’s the way in the very old land of OZ.”

    Kansas is all right, yet it is not my only home
    I may visit now and then, but will always roam
    How ya gonna keep me down on the farm, after all I’ve seen?
    Please let OZ be real and Kansas be the dream

    So hand me down my ruby shoes. Oh, Glenda hear my cry!
    I know I begged for sepia tone but now I don’t know why
    I’ve learned the grass IS greener on the far side of the moon
    Oh, if I have my way I’ll be up to green real soon…
    If I have my way I’ll be covered in green real soon..

  66. sparks says:

    Jen in CA: Yes, yes, and yes.

  67. Hannah says:

    Oh, in the “Dumb Dumb Dorothy” song, the line about the “grass IS greener on the far side of the moon” comes from this concept that if you put the Wizard of Oz in the player, turn down the sound, and then right after the MGM Lion roars, start Pink Floyed’s “Dark Side of the Moon” then SUPPOSEDLY the music can serve as a soundtrack that actually fits the action of the movie and matches it with meaning. Has anybody else ever heard of this, or actually tried it? I haven’t tried it – and I suspect I will have to be on the other side of my Graduate degree before I have time to, *sigh*

  68. Hannah says:

    Typo…Floyd, not Floyed. Sorry. Just down loaded my study guide from my art history teacher and nearly passed out. Way too many slides!!!

  69. Ginjoint says:

    Oh, Ksbel, I gasped when I read your post. I am so, so sorry. But I am very glad that he was with you for the biggest part of his life, so he knew love, and gentleness, and patience, and comfort. You did an awesome thing. He will truly rest in peace.


  70. hairball_of_hope says:


    There are no words…

    Just tears. Disbelief. You hear a familiar noise and think, “Oh, it’s the dog…” and then realize that no it’s not, he’s not here anymore. There’s that moment when you think that if you go to sleep and wake up, you’ll discover it was only a bad dream. And then you wake up to the new reality. Alone.

    The puppy mill dog was well-loved, and loved you in equal measure.

    My heart goes out to you and yours in these raw aching days.

  71. ksbel6 says:

    Thank you all so much for your kind words. Somehow this is harder than losing all the other pets we’ve lost. I think it is because we had worked so hard to make him “normal.” Not that he ever fully got there, but he made HUGE strides. And we knew when we took him that he could have major internal issues. Being in a cage they just don’t build any strength (cardiovascular or otherwise). When I walk up the back porch toward the door I just get overwhelmed. That is where he would greet us, and then act like he wanted to come in, but not come in until we had properly begged him. He is getting a small funeral today, maybe that will help the closure process.

  72. acilius says:

    ksbel6: I’m with you too. We live with two dogs. Our beagle was born in a puppy mill and had a difficult first year of life; my girlfriend’s service dog has always been well-cared-for, and is the world’s most generous creature. I can’t imagine life without either of those guys.

  73. --MC says:

    Ksbel6: I am sorry about your loss. One year surely was not long enough. Remember all the good times.

    Hannah: I tried synching up “Dark Side Of The Moon” with “Wizard of Oz”, but it seems like I was a bong hit short of making it really work well.
    I bought a VHS copy of the film when VHS films still roamed the earth, and at the end of the tape there was a little information about the “Jitterbug” sequence that was cut from the film. The song and dance seem to be standard in high school productions of the “Wizard” now.

  74. Ellen Orleans says:

    Ksbel – I hope you do have some closure after the funeral, but also know that grieving takes time and this country (U.S.) tends to rush the grieving process.

    Abruptly changing topics, have you all seen this? I found it hilarious! Go Portia!

  75. ksbel6 says:

    @Ellen O: Awesome! That helped make me smile today 🙂

  76. hairball_of_hope says:


    A few months after losing my beloved feline under similar sudden circumstances, I reread Joan Didion’s “The Year of Magical Thinking” and it seemed to help.

    I don’t know which was worse for me, the loss or the suddenness, without any inkling or warning signs. I remembered a line from one of Paul Monette’s poems… “But you can’t be dead, there’s chicken in the refrigerator from Tuesday…” That somehow the ordinariness of life could be summoned to disprove death is indeed magical thinking.


  77. Kate L says:


    My sympathies. A year ago last November, Ben the Cat ran away. That’s what I tell myself. He snuck out the back door one night, and I think he picked one fight too many on the hill behind my house. I told myself I’d see him in the morning, but I never saw him again. The cat was the pet of my harrier hound, and she took it hard. I’ve never seen a dog cry before.

  78. Hannah says:

    MC: Your choice of words was amusing there – from what all my friends said it REQUIRES a bong hit or 2 or 3 to pull it off and that’s not a part of my life. So I may be SOL on this experience!LOL!

    ksbel6,I continue to keep you in my thoughts and prayers. What was the puppy’s name? we all keep calling it “the puppy” and I know it (he? she?) had a name! That name should be honored!

  79. Therry says:

    Hey hey hey! The VT Senate passed the same-sex marriage bill! The reported anti arguments were particularly lame, but the star of the proceedings was Jim Campbell, a het Catholic Democrat who introduced the measure. The next step is the House, where the arguments will be up to the standard of the usual arguments pro and con, I’m sure. But stay tuned to the blogs and watch as it all goes forward, both in VT and NH.

    The story about the same sex marriage bill in VT can be read here:

    And I am sorry about the puppy, ksbel6,I really am.

  80. ksbel6 says:

    The dog’s name was Peppa. He was a schnauzer and had that salt and pepper coloring, but we thought we were very clever and called him Salt ‘n Peppa (like the rappers) until it got shortened. I had posted here about him several times with updates when he would pass some hurdle, such as making and holding eye contact (that took several weeks). My daughter and I were thinking back to the first day we brought him home. He wouldn’t walk in grass…he would just hold really still when he was placed in it because he had never felt it before. Thanks again for all the sweet thoughts.

  81. Andrew B says:

    @ksbel6, I’m sorry about Peppa. At least somebody took good care of him for a year, which is a year more than a lot of those dogs get.

    Generally, I hope I didn’t sound sullen when I said that I didn’t expect anybody to stop using “SS” for “same sex” just because it has unpleasent associations for me. I really don’t expect it. Chevrolet uses those initials to refer to their sportier models, and they paint them on the cars. I cringe every time I see one. Other things make me cringe in a similar way, e.g. confederate flags. I see them a lot, even in New England. I wouldn’t have commented on it except that Nele did, and I wanted to add that she wasn’t the only one and you didn’t have to be German for it to bother you. (Acilius had already said that, but I didn’t know it at the time.)

    @Alex K, we can’t reclaim “SS” the way queers (and gays, dykes, and members of ethnic/racial groups) have reclaimed the words that were used to insult them. The latter is an expression of pride and endurance by those who have been victimized. Nobody can take any kind of pride in the SS. The only people who could in some sense reclaim the expression would have been the SS’s victims, and the point is that they did not endure. I’m sorry to be so gloomy in what is mostly a happy thread, but I feel like this needs to be stated.

  82. visitor says:

    Oh what a tiresome subject. Right wing Xstian fundamentalists use gay marriage as a tool to whip up ignorant crackers in Alabama about gay people in Vermont getting married, solely for fundraising purposes, since those gays are not about to move to Alabama. Likewise, gay people in Vermont and NYC use gay marriage as way to whip up people into indignation about a right few gay people really truly desire, again primarily as a fundraising message.

    Certainly, based on reading DTWOF, The Advocate, etc, most gays, especially though gay men, really do care more about cruising, cruise ships, fashion and fucking than about getting hitched and having a picket fence etc etc etc.

    Just my humble opinion.

    And I think to mention dying dogs and “the SS” in the same paragraph is extremely offensive.

  83. Ian says:

    @ksbel6: I’m so sorry for your loss. I remember you posting here and telling us when he first arrived chez ksbel and I’ve enjoyed hearing about his progress as he gradually grew to trust you and start to enjoy life. At least you have the comfort of knowing he had at the very least a year of love in your hands. It’s nowhere near long enough, but at least he escaped the puppy mill and got to have some of the good life. I love Schnauzers as well. Sending love n’ hugs to you through the ether.

  84. Alex K says:

    @Andrew B: Thanks. Your points are well taken. I understand them and agree with them. Reclamation is inherently different from my approach, which would be: Use “SS marriage” and ignore any echoes.

    It’s a flaw in me, I suppose, that I don’t respond strongly to those two letters. You and I likely share many cultural underpinnings, much experiential background. But “SS” has connotations for you that are only denotations for me, and to become aware of a blind spot of this sort is a bit disheartening. It makes me seem, to myself, so…coarse-fibred.

    When I think about this apparent failure to appreciate something so vivid to others, I feel rather the way I did — VERY trivial, but not intended as trivialising, anecdote coming up — in biology class when tongue-curling was explained as a genetically determined ability. All around me on proud display were curled, coiled, and French-waved tongues… not mine, though, which retreated in flat and flabby shame behind my teeth, pretending not to care. Lord only knows why it mattered. Nobody’s since then filed any complaints, that’s for sure.

    Nor can I smell freesias, nor whistle on two fingers. But I’m not bad at throwing overhand.

  85. hairball_of_hope says:

    New topic from an old thread:

    Who says there is no higher power? Exactly one month ago, neo-Luddite Gov. Bobby Jindal of Louisiana denounced “something called volcano monitoring” as a waste of taxpayer money in his rebuttal of Pres. Obama’s speech to Congress.

    As if on cue, Mt. Redoubt in Alaska, home state of the glam-Luddite Gov. Sarah Palin, erupted, spewing ash skyward and shutting down all air traffic in/around Anchorage AK. I haven’t seen any comments in the press from Palin bashing Jindal, but I’m sure there are a few speechwriters cowering under their desks at the moment. If only those desks were located closer to Mt. Redoubt. 😉

  86. hairball_of_hope says:

    @Alex K

    Your reaction to SS reminded me of some lines from a Kurt Vonnegut novel, “Mother Night”. Random House helpfully has excerpts, with the passage I remembered from the first chapter, on its website:

  87. Kerry Tankard says:

    I haven’t looked in here for a while, so I was really pleased to see you blogging about this.

    I’m from New Zealand, where we passed the “Civil Union Bill” back in 2004, which allows a civil service, complete with legal coupledom certification.

    There’s still a legal argument going for legislation to ssm, but for now, de facto het couples and all flavours of GLBTI have been doing CU’s, as an alternative to the sexist and homophobic marriage ceremonies that our British-constitutioned country has always run.

    Sympathetic churches here are marrying same-sex couples, and ‘lesbian wedding of the month’ photo’s were up on FB all summer.
    I wish you well in Vermont, and that your state provides a precedent for the rest of the USA.

    Oh, and Alison – I belatedly reviewed your new compilation of DTWOF, it should be in our campus paper in the issue coming out next monday , scroll down to books & enjoy.

  88. acilius says:

    ksbel6: What a touching story about Peppa.

    alex k: Don’t worry, if that’s a flaw in you it’s a very minor one.

    h_o_h: Even when I heard Kenneth the page, er, Bobby Jindal, giving his speech I wondered why “volcano monitoring” was supposed to sound silly. It sounds pretty urgent to me, and I don’t live near any active volcanoes. The federal government must really be cut to the bone if their most laughable spending is on volcanoes.

  89. Alex K says:

    @H_o_H: I remember reading that! Yes, I can see how I’d be partly superimposable upon Arnold Marx… I’d like to be careful to include the “partly”, though, because unlike Arnold I have the relevant names and dates mentally on file.

    The collar insignia, the special typewriter key: Yes. Those do cause an unpleasant frisson. The double S in “frisson”, no.

    Perception as largely context-determined rather than synaesthetic? This blog has me musing about things I’ve skipped across for years and years.

  90. judybusy says:

    ksbel6: I will add my condolences for your loss. It sounds as if Peppa brought you much joy, but too little time. Take care, and be sure to tell many Peppa stories and look at pictures of your little guy. Twenty+ years on, and I still have a pic of my childhood dog on a shelf….

  91. ksbel6 says:

    I totally forgot I had ever posted under “ksbel”…I had to add the 6 when I started my gmail account and now it is just as natural as typing anything else.

    About the volcano watching: didn’t the governor of Washington (state) say something about the “federal government wasting money by watching tropical storms” as a payback to the Louisana governor’s statements? He is an idiot. In his response to Obama’s speech a few weeks ago he gave a short anecdote about how poorly Katrina was handled. Like Obamam was in charge then?!! Just about every other sentence made me want to throw a shoe at him.

  92. hairball_of_hope says:

    I have a great idea for a carnival game… Shoe Toss.

    Three tosses for a $1, hit the picture three times and win a prize, a portion of the proceeds go to charity.

    You can select from an assortment of pictures as targets (Bush, Cheney, Limbaugh, Idi Amin, Robert Mugabe, Stalin, Hitler, etc.), or bring your own (your boss, your ex, your noisy upstairs neighbor, etc.).

    Of course, we’d have to make it palatable for the right-wingers among us (can’t forget about Cynthia!), so there would be a selection of photos of liberal and progressive folks too.

    And then there are the shoes… everything from Birkenstocks to Imelda Marcos’ high heels.

    I can see the DTWOF gang having fun with this.

  93. Kate L says:

    I had a dream about my 54-pound Harrier Hound. She was up on the roof of a building in some downtown area, looking confused, and I had to go rescue her. When I got up to her on the roof, I looked around, and there was no way off! I’ve heard about rooms with no exits before, but roofs???

    I just came from a barber shop – first time in a long time. I told the barber what I wanted, and it came out perfectly! I look just like Rachel Maddow’s (older) sister, now! 🙂

  94. Feminista says:

    Hooray for the Vermont Senate! So goes Vermont,so goes…the rest of New England.Check today’s Democracy Now! headlines for further details.

  95. Kate L says:

    Voters in Gainesville, Florida, tonight rejected an attempt to repeal LGBT protection in their city’s human rights ordnance.

  96. ksbel6 says:

    Our city council recently voted to include LGBT rights in the housing ordinance so that folks buying and renting houses can’t be discriminated against. I forgot to mention it, sorry!!

  97. Susan says:

    Alison, did you catch the photo of you and Holly at the public hearings? It’s photo 13 of 25 in the Free Press’ “same sex marriage public forum” photo gallery–a little hard to find now on the site, but you can browse all the photo galleries with the “more staff photos” link under the “explore photo galleries” box in the left nav bar. Of course, tonight the Free Press headline is about Douglas’ news conference in which he announced he plans to veto the marriage bill. Argh.

  98. shy grrl says:

    I hope a non sequitor is okay…

    Alison, I just want to thank you because I love your work and it’s meant so much to me and our community. Today I saw a cute dyke wearing a t-shirt she had stenciled herself that said, Snatch the Power. She said it was from something Lois was wearing in one of your strips. Anyone else remember that?