Wednesday, November 19th, 2003
Since the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court finally issued its ruling yesterday (that gay and lesbian citizens of Massachusetts have a right to marry whom they choose), I've been rather surprised by two things. The first is the excitement in the gay community over online polls about the public's opinion on the issue. The second is the news media's short memory.

Starting shortly after the ruling was issued yesterday and continuing on throughout today, people have been coming into the Dayton 1 chat room on gay.com to urge us to vote in polls about gay marriage on web sites of papers around the country. People popped into Dayton 1 to tell us about local polls by papers in Pittsburgh and Seattle and elsewhere and national polls by CNN and USA Today. Today the Dayton Daily News had a poll and I got at least three e-mails from people urging me to go vote in it.

It's just a shame that so many people are putting so much effort into such a waste of time. These polls don't mean anything, and even if they did, they shouldn't.

First, the software used by DDN doesn't prevent multiple votes. I voted "yes" three times and in that short period there were twenty-five "no" votes cast. Somehow I don't think there happened to be twenty-five people voting no at the same time I was voting yes. More than one person, sure, but more than one person voting multiple times. When the DDN closes the poll, the only thing the poll will tell us is whether it's left wing or right wing fanatics that care more about voting in the poll.

Second, even if the poll were an accurate and scientific representation of public opinion, it doesn't matter. The rights of minorities shouldn't be subject to the whim of the majority. That's why we have federal and state constitutions, to protect inalienable rights that shouldn't be subject to revocation by the majority.

That brings me to the other things that bothered me. I read in more than one media account of the Massachusetts ruling that it was unprecedented and unique. Well, it's not. The supreme courts of both Hawaii and Alaska ruled that denying their states' gay and lesbian citizens the right to marry was unconstitutional -- Hawaii's court did so ten years ago, in 1993. The fine people of both Hawaii and Alaska then amended their state constitutions, both in 1998, to be sure that a minority was not protected from the will of the majority.

So what's the best use of the time and energy of queer people and our allies? To run around and urge each other to vote in a thousand little online polls? No.

Instead we need to give each other a little civics lesson, we need to give that civics lesson to our friends and family, and all of us and all of our friends and our relatives have to write our state and federal representatives and senators and give them the civics lesson. And that lesson is that Americans have constitutions for a reason, to protect the rights of Americans. If we start amending our constitutions to deny rights to certain Americans, what's to stop us the next time from stripping another group of its rights.

We might also want to remind our elected officials that allowing gay people the right to marry does not harm anyone's religious freedoms. Right now any church, mosque or synagogue can refuse to marry a heterosexual couple on whatever grounds it chooses, whether it's that the groom is of the wrong religious faith or that the bride is divorced. That won't change when it comes to gay weddings. If your church thinks gay people are going to hell, fine -- don't do gay weddings. There are plenty of churches that will welcome gay couples.

If my little rant motivated you, get busy and write some letters. Here are the links to find the addresses of your Ohio state senator, your Ohio General Assembly member, U.S. Representative, and U.S. Senators. After you write some letters, if you want to go vote in some polls, have fun, but you might find writing some letters to the editor more productive.
Friday, November 21st, 2003
Today was the end of the quarter, and as has become custom, Dr. Pruett treated us COM101 TA's to lunch at his country club again. A fine way to celebrate not having to listen to speeches for a while!

Yay for no more classes until January!
Saturday, November 22nd, 2003
The street light outside my house was stolen shortly after I moved in, just the light, not the post and all. My neighbor asked me if I'd taken it (if you've met my neighbor or heard about her, that won't seem quite so strange). I hadn't. I'd much rather have a street light outside instead of hidden away somewhere. Well today, five years later, they replaced it. Looks nice, doesn't it? And it's so bright at night.
Monday, November 24th, 2003
Did I mention that I joined the new Dayton Gay Men's Chorus? We started practicing eight weeks ago (practices are Mondays from 7:30pm to 9:00pm at Eternal Joy MCC). I just decided to join for fun -- I've never had voice lessons and can't read music (well I knew how to read treble clef since I played violin when I was a kid, but I'm singing baritone and can't read bass clef). And it has been fun.

Some of the guys go out after practice for drinks and something to eat. They went to Fricker's a few weeks ago (I didn't go, still being deep in school work) and said they felt uncomfortable being the only gay guys in a straight crowd. (Derek and I went to Fricker's in December, and yes, it's a fairly heterosexual place, but that doesn't bother us.) Two weeks ago I did go with the guys, to Cold Beer and Cheeseburgers, another fairly straight sports bar/restaurant (albeit one that is gay-owned, or so I've heard -- do the straight boys there know that or care?). We were seated directly under the big screen TV so we had a good view of Monday Night Football, not that we watched. I outted us by asking for Zima (they don't have it so I settled for Skyy Blue).

So this week the guys definitely didn't want to go to another straight sports bar. One of them suggested Spaghetti Warehouse downtown, a very gay friendly place. When we got there, about 9:45pm, we found that they close at 10. What to do? Well, we went around the corner to Bimini Bill's, you guessed it, another sports bar. The funny thing about this place is that except for deli sandwiches all the items on its food menu are seafood, and its web site confirms that they want to be known for their seafood. I did order the cajun shrimp, pictured to the right, and it wasn't bad, but when I think of seafood in Dayton, I think of Jay's. Still we had a good time at Bimini Bill's, ignoring the two big screen TVs showing college basketball and Monday night football and instead watching the college boys and listening to mostly bad straight karaoke. BTW, Bimini Bill's does have Zima.

And in case you're curious, the first performance of the Dayton Gay Men's Chorus will be this Wednesday night, the 26th, at the DLGC's Thanksgiving dinner at 6:30pm at Shiloh Church located at North Main at Philadelphia.
 
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david@davidlauri.com