Saturday, May 11th, 2013

Politics in Dayton—lots of choices but little interest

Plus some comments about selected candidates

Earlier this week Dayton held its runoff elections for mayor and city commission. Lots of people were running (and even more wanted to run but failed to qualify), but hardly anyone cared enough to vote.

Mayor (pick 1)
Nan Whaley 4,965 50.3%
A.J. Wagner 2,566 26.0%
Gary Leitzell 2,338 23.7%
Commission (pick 2)
Joey Williams 6,384 36.1%
Jeff Mims 5,282 29.9%
David Greer 2,230 12.6%
David Esrati 2,087 11.8%
Joe Lutz 1,696 9.6%

Dayton’s population is about 142,000, and only 9,869 people voted in Dayton’s May 7th election. The adult population of Dayton is about 109,596 people, so only 9% of adult Daytonians cared enough to vote.

I wasn’t part of that 9%.

Shocking, I know, and this is the first time in quite a while that I haven’t voted. It’s very simple to vote. My polling place is directly across the street from where I live. But I found none of the candidates running to be compelling enough to vote for and didn’t think it really mattered who won.

However, I did vote in a way that’s almost as important as casting a ballot, by making a campaign contribution. I gave Nan Whaley $50, a drop in the big bucket of $106,502.06 Nan collected so far this year and $32,928.20 Nan collected in 2012.

Plenty of people think that the amount of money involved in politics is obscene, and I won’t argue with them. That people spend hundreds of thousands of dollars in a runoff election where fewer than 10,000 people vote is insane.

Or is it?

The candidates who pledged to spend less than $10,000 this year (incumbent mayor Gary Leitzell, perennial candidate David Esrati and community volunteer David Greer) and the candidate who couldn’t even raise $1,000 (Joe Lutz) all lost.

Leitzell and Lutz lost absolutely—they will not be on the ballot this November. (Leitzell is the first sitting mayor of Dayton in 50 years to lose before the general election.)

Greer and Esrati technically won the right to be on the November ballot, but I’ll go out on a limb here and predict that neither will win in the fall. Williams and Mims each got more votes than Whaley; Greer and Esrati each got fewer votes than Leitzell. I see absolutely nothing to make me believe that Greer and Esrati are going to do significantly better in the general election.

So the winning candidates know something about elections that the losing candidates do not—given the status quo, money matters in winning elections. Wish that it didn’t at your peril. Even President Obama, given the choice between taking the high road by refusing SuperPAC money or winning re-election, was realistic about money.

 

So why’d I give money to Nan Whaley?

A small reason was that I wanted to see the inside of Michael Ervin’s $1.6 million Oregon District house (formerly the Southern Belle bar). Clever idea to hold a fundraiser there. Good relationship building to gain Dayton mover and shaker Michael Ervin’s endorsement.

A much bigger reason was that I very much appreciate Nan’s support for amending Dayton’s non-discrimination ordinances to add sexual orientation and gender identity as protected classes. Former Dayton mayor Rhine McLin lost her seat in part for her support of this change. I’ve said before that I’m a single issue voter, and I mean it: be supportive about gay rights and gain my loyalty—be stupid about gay rights and I won’t vote for you.

Certainly there are valid reasons for people not to vote for Nan. If the amount of money in politics offends your principles, I can’t fault you. Nan’s push polling was distasteful. And I can understand why some people say she’s been on the commission long enough and that it’s time for a change.

The other choices, however, weren’t ones I could make.

A.J. Wagner, although having expressed support privately to me on gay issues, has not taken a clear public stand on his website and has shown a less than clear understanding of things such as Dayton’s domestic partnership registry.

And Gary Leitzell is someone for whom I simply would not vote, for reasons about which I’ve already written. Add to those reasons one more—at a recent event Mayor Leitzell came up to me, our conversation turned (as it is wont to do when I’m involved) to gay issues, and the mayor told me that gay people could manage without marriage, by, for example, getting health insurance through their employers based on domestic partnership. That’s just not true. My employer, a small non-profit, would like very much to offer coverage to same sex partners of employees, but we’ve simply not been able to find an insurance company that will provide such coverage to us. When Mayor Leitzell did not believe me, I pulled over our company president and CEO to explain how he’s tried, to no avail, to find same sex partner coverage.

I do have plenty of friends, gay and gay supportive, who did support the mayor’s re-election, and I don’t blame them for that. I’m a single-issue voter, but many people are not. Reasonable people can disagree. Unfortunately for my friends who supported Leitzell, they were vastly outnumbered, unable to convince 91% of Dayton voters to vote at all and unable to convince 76.3% of those who did vote to vote for Leitzell.

About David Esrati

One friend who supported the mayor’s re-election, however, is not really of the mindset that reasonable people can disagree. That friend is David Esrati. What made me realize David’s mindset, and also made me decide I couldn’t vote for him this time, was a Facebook post in which he told his friends that if any of us had Nan Whaley signs in our yards, we should go ahead and defriend him.

I didn’t have a Whaley sign (I don’t have a yard), but I wondered what David would think if he knew I gave Nan money. Would he defriend me? Not that it would really matter—I’ve been defriended before.

Back in 2010 when David was running for Congress, I wrote “An endorsement, of sorts, of David Esrati for Congress,” in which I said, “David Esrati may be crazy, he may be annoying, [and] he may be unelectable.”

How Esrati conducted himself during this campaign confirms that all these things are still true. He’s still unelectable—his coming in fourth out of five in this week’s election shows that. He’s still annoying—for example, see his blog post “Disrespectful, stupid (and my mother dresses me funny).” And he’s still crazy—that old saying about doing the same thing over and over again but expecting different results certainly applies here.

However, something else I said in that 2010 endorsement of sorts is also still true—“Esrati makes his opponents more accountable” and “he offers something” to Daytonians. The Dayton Daily News report on this week’s election says that “Leitzell claimed he’d be more powerful as a private citizen than as mayor.” I think something similar is true about Esrati as well.

To explain that, let me mention two emails David sent me last month.

One was to ask me if I was going to update my 2010 endorsement of him. I delayed answering that one because I didn’t want to write something negative before the election, although I was already starting to think about writing something (which has become this post you’re now reading).

The other email was to let me know that the DDN was compiling a list of the Top 50 Thinkers in the Miami Valley and asking if I would recommend him for that. I did not hesitate to write that recommendation. I pointed out that many Dayton Daily News articles originate from posts on Esrati.com—that’s so true that David’s April Fools post this year, “Esrati.com to shut down, Esrati to work for Dayton Daily News,” actually fooled some people.

In my email to Ron Rollins, I also wrote:

Whether or not people like David Esrati or his ideas, there’s no denying that David Esrati is worth paying attention to, that he puts out ideas for moving our community forward, that he encourages participation in thinking about those ideas, and that therefore he is a Top Thinker in the Miami Valley.

Although David Esrati’s not clever about getting elected, as election after election shows, he is rather clever about using running for office as a way to get people to hear and discuss what he says. If you, like so many people, decline to vote for Esrati, I understand—you might not want to throw away a vote. But if you’re one of Esrati’s few vocal supporters, I can respect that as well. Given the overall apathy in Dayton, a political blogger and community activist who cares about Dayton is someone to value (even if he is annoying, crazy and unelectable).

Thursday, June 7th, 2012

Gary Leitzell on LGBT equality

The Dayton City Paper, in a piece entitled “A Step Towards Equality,” features some comments by Dayton Mayor Gary Leitzell on the city’s recent passage of a domestic partnership registry, and having read the mayor’s comments, I find myself compelled to comment.

Before I say anything about what the mayor had to say, first let me say that I do appreciate his support and that of the other city commissioners on passing the domestic partnership registry. Given that polls continue to show rising public support for marriage equality, given that our president has finally evolved to the point that he is able to say publicly that he supports marriage equality, given that even in Dayton the first candidate to announce for the 2013 mayoral election says he supports marriage equality, it really would have been something for anyone on Dayton’s city commission to oppose the creation of a completely voluntary registry which no public or private body is obligated to recognize. Yes, it’s great that queers (and unmarried heterosexuals too) can now get a piece of paper from the City of Dayton recognizing their relationship, but hospitals in Dayton, for example, still are not bound by law to recognize visitation rights because of these papers. A 5-0 vote in favor of a domestic partnership registry is a step (a baby step) towards equality, but in 2012 it is not ground breaking.

Now let’s take a look at what Mayor Leitzell has to say in the DCP:

Mayor Leitzell says, firstly, “I have always supported equal rights.” Oh, really, Mr. Mayor? Then why did you, when you were running for mayor in 2008, tell me that you “have a problem with changing the legal definition of a traditional word like marriage”? I wasn’t even asking you about marriage but rather about Dayton’s non-discrimination ordinances and you, a man who we now should believe has always supported equal rights, felt compelled to say that marriage wasn’t something whose definition you’d want to change to provide equality to queers.

And if Mayor Leitzell has “always supported equal rights” for queers, we might expect to find his name on the website of the Mayors for the Freedom to Marry. Take a moment and go to that website. You’ll see the names of the mayors of Canton, Cincinnati, Cleveland, Cleveland Heights, Columbus, East Cleveland, Lakewood, Lima, Stow, and Youngstown, Ohio, but you will not see the mayor of Dayton, Ohio listed. This is not an oversight, either, because I know that friends of mine have contacted Mayor Leitzell to ask him to add his name to this site of mayors who truly do support full equality for LGBT people.

However with Gary Leitzell it gets better. In the DCP article the mayor says secondly, “If the majority of people in North Carolina want to place extreme limitations on their citizens then it is their right to do so.” In other words, Gary Leitzell does not in fact believe in equal rights for queers. He believes that the rights of queers should be subject to the will of the majority. If the majority of voters in a jurisdiction decide that queers should not have the right to marry, then Gary Leitzell is fine with that.

Gee, thanks, Mr. Mayor. Frankly, the support that you claim to have always shown for my equality isn’t worth much.

Thursday, August 5th, 2010

What Mayor Leitzell should read in Judge Walker’s decision

Given that everyone and her sister is reporting and analyzing (an analysis I particularly like is “Analyzing the Prop 8 Win: A Few Large Points” by Brian Devine) and slicing and dissecting and giving her two cents’ worth on yesterday’s decision by U.S. District Court Judge Vaughn Walker overturning Calfifornia’s Proposition 8, there’s really not much need for me to join the crowd.

However, given my own run-in with Dayton’s current mayor on this issue, I can’t restrain myself from pointing to a part of Judge Walker’s decision with which Mayor Leitzell should acquaint himself.

You may recall that shortly after Mr. Leitzell announced his candidacy for mayor of Dayton I e-mailed him to ask his position on Dayton’s non-discrimination ordinance, and, unbidden, he felt compelled to comment on same-sex marriage, saying:

I do have a problem with changing the legal definition of a traditional word like marriage to line the pockets of lawyers though. It would mean that we could legally change the meaning of any word to suit our purpose. That could lead us on a very dangerous course.

Here’s the thing, Mr. Leitzell: tradition isn’t reason enough to deny people their rights. As Judge Walker points out on page 124 of his decision:

Tradition alone, however, cannot form a rational basis for a law. Williams v Illinois, 399 US 235, 239 (1970). The “ancient lineage” of a classification does not make it rational. Heller, 509 US at 327. Rather, the state must have an interest apart from the fact of the tradition itself.

The people defending Proposition 8 were given every opportunity to explain why the state should deny queers the right to marry—in other words to explain, as Mr. Leitzell phrased it, the “very dangerous course” on which allowing queers to marry would put our society—and they failed to do so.

Indeed, as Judge Walker points out, they couldn’t even prove that “the legal definition of a traditional word like marriage” in our society hadn’t changed (also on page 124):

[T]he evidence shows that the tradition of gender restrictions arose when spouses were legally required to adhere to specific gender roles. See FF 26-27. California has eliminated all legally-mandated gender roles except the requirement that a marriage consist of one man and one woman. FF 32.

Of course a mayor’s views on same sex marriage are unimportant, given that marriage isn’t a city issue, which is why I never asked Mr. Leitzell for his thoughts on marriage. Nonetheless, given just what his views are, Mr. Leitzell should just be glad that he doesn’t hold an office (such as that of the President of the United States) in which his views on marriage would matter and he would have to be able to cogently defend them. (President Obama, who has expressed opposition both to Proposition 8 and to same sex marriage, is not so lucky.)

Thursday, June 3rd, 2010

Mayor Leitzell’s Pride Month proclamation
(Click above image to embiggen)

If you’ve been a regular reader of my blog, you probably know that I was not a fan of Gary Leitzell during his campaign to become mayor of Dayton. This stemmed in part from his interjecting a concern “with changing the legal definition of a traditional word like marriage” into his response to my asking him where he stood on the addition of sexual orientation as a protected class to Dayton’s non-discrimination ordinance. It also stemmed in part from what I perceived to be his hypocrisy on the issue of traditional marriage given the non-traditional state of his own marriage. And it also stemmed in part from Leitzell’s seeming inability or unwillingness to say clearly and simply that he would oppose any attempts to remove sexual orientation from Dayton’s non-discrimination ordinance.

Now we finally have some clear evidence of Mayor Leitzell’s views on sexual orientation’s being a protected class included in Dayton’s non-discrimination ordinance; that evidence comes from the mayor’s having issued a proclamation declaring June 2010 to be Pride Month in the City of Dayton.

God, talk about difficult. The man couldn’t just say back in December 2008 that he supported Dayton’s non-discrimination ordinance’s inclusion of sexual orientation and gender identity as protected classes and would oppose any attempts to remove those classes? He had to raise the issue of marriage knowing full well that marriage isn’t a local issue and knowing moreover that his own marriage wouldn’t satisfy those clamoring for allegedly traditional marriage?

I’m glad this is finally settled. Thank you, Mayor Leitzell, for continuing your predecessor’s tradition of proclaiming June as Pride Month and for clearly stating that you are “committed toward ensuring that all of [Dayton’s] citzenry is protected from the harm of discrimination,” including discrimination on the basis of gender identity and sexual orientation.

Friday, October 23rd, 2009
Stop trying to understand Gary Leitzell

On Esrati.com Dayton mayoral candidate Gary Leitzell explains exactly what was drivel in the Martin Gottlieb column about which David Esrati twat and about which I wrote yesterday. What was drivel was that Gottlieb was trying to make sense of answers Leitzell gave him, a mistake that I myself have made.

You see, Mr. Leitzell thinks that we Dayton voters should “[s]top trying to get into [his] head people.” He says that if we “don’t understand [him] now, [we] never will.”

No, we’re not supposed to understand the politicians for whom we cast ballots. We’re simply to make choices without making any sense of what they say. Apparently what they say doesn’t matter.

And if Mr. Leitzell truly believes that, he’s right about one thing. I will never understand him.

Thursday, October 22nd, 2009
Drivel? Or relevant information for voters?

Yesterday, on Twitter.com and on Facebook, candidate for Dayton City Commission David Esrati twat, "[Dayton Daily News editorial writer] Martin Gottlieb writes drivel about Gary Leitzell in todays DDN- go comment on his lameness," posting a link to Gottlieb’s 10/21/09 column about Dayton mayoral candidate Gary Leitzell, “Leitzell cites Reagan, Thatcher; what’s it mean”.

I don’t get what it is in Gottlieb’s column that Esrati finds to be “drivel.” Is it Gottlieb’s contention that “asking people whom they admire in public office often yields a lot”? No, surely that can’t be it.

Ronald ReaganMargaret Thatcher
Independent icons?

Perhaps it’s Gottlieb’s premise, that something about a candidate who “is all about the independent label” and who says “that people shouldn’t read too much into the fact that he has the Republican endorsement” yet “really admire[s]” Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher doesn’t make sense. Taken independently, perhaps Gottlieb is reading too much into whom Leitzell most admires politically, but add in Leitzell’s Republican Party textbook reply to me in December 2008, that “changing the legal definition of a traditional word like marriage […] could lead us on a very dangerous course,” and Leitzell really does sound less independent and more Republican.

Now what Esrati finds to be drivel in Gottlieb’s column surely can’t be Gottlieb’s interpretation of Leitzell’s admiration of Reagan and Thatcher, “that he mentioned two people he sees as having come into bad situations and made them better.” Leitzell’s and Esrati’s campaigns are all about Dayton’s current mayor and city commission’s having let Dayton develop a bad (to put it mildly) situation, one that requires new blood in the persons of Leitzell and Esrati to make better.

No, instead what Gottlieb said that Esrati might see as drivel is that seasoned politicians wouldn’t be seen “naming two icons of the conservative Republicans when he’s seeking election in an overwhelmingly Democratic city.” Esrati may see that as drivel, but I don’t. No, I think that a novice politician might be excused at the outset of his campaign for making the stupid mistake of raising the issue of equal marriage rights, not a local issue, when asked his position on a city’s non-discrimination ordinance (although, if that novice politician himself does not have a traditional marriage, he might have thought twice before speaking). But almost a year later, a month before the election, is a continued overt association with Republican values and icons the best strategy for an independent to get elected in a heavily Democratic town? I’d say, probably not, and I’d also say it might be fair to assume that a politician who makes such missteps during his campaign could also show similar deficits in judgment in office.

One last thing—something I find incredibly ironic is that I hadn’t even been aware of Gottlieb’s article until Esrati pointed it out. Now that he’s done so, all the people who’ve been googling “Gary Leitzell” and ending up on my blog know about the article too.

Thursday, September 9th, 2009

Oy vey @ “Gary Leitzell Jew?” — a search term I discovered recently in my site’s log. Not a question I’d ever have thought would be asked. I don’t know if he is, but why should it matter? Isn’t it more important to know whether he’s a hypocrite?

People also keep searching to find out whether Rhine McLin is gay, a search phrase and question about which I’ve written previously.

Monday, August 24th, 2009
Seems to me that anyone who talks about “traditional marriage” ought not to have an untraditional one himself.
Monday, December 29th, 2008

Okay, one last post about this and then I’ll try to stop being so obsessive about it. Apparently Mrs. Leitzell’s last name isn’t Leitzell but rather a different hyphenated name. How do I know this? Not from being too cyberstalkerish, I think, but rather from reading this post on Gary Leitzell’s This Old Crack House blog, in which he posts a photo of his house complete with its parcel ID number as well as a link to the County Auditor’s page, where one can find all sorts of information about properties in Montgomery County, which I took as practically begging people to look up info on his property — I could post a direct link to the property and even a photo of it (not the photo from Mr. Leitzell’s site but one from the county website because I’m pretty sure county photos are public domain [United States government creations are]), but I’ll be (somewhat) nice and leave this as a homework exercise for you.

At any rate, the property in question is not titled to Mr. Leitzell but to a woman with a hyphenated last name. Could this woman be his wife? Could Mr. Leitzell, advocate of the traditional legal definition of marriage, have such an untraditional marriage that not only is he a stay-at-home father but also his wife did not take his surname?

Now let me be clear — I don’t think there’s anything wrong with women keeping their own names when they marry — my own sister’s last name is different from my brother-in-law’s, and I certainly would keep my own last name if I ever get married. I also don’t see anything wrong with stay-at-home fathers or home schooling kids — my own nephew is a student of the very same Internet public charter school (again, not overly cyberstalkerish but gleaned from a post on one of his own blogs) that Mr. Leitzell chose for his daughter.

However, what drives me crazy is someone telling me on the one hand that changing the legal definition of marriage to extend equal rights to same sex couples will set our nation on "a very dangerous course" and on the other hand himself adopting a non-traditional lifestyle. Mr. Leitzell, let me introduce you to Mr. Ratta, who I’m sure can tell you a thing or two about the dangerous course of letting your wife not take your last name upon marriage.



One really last thing: Same sex marriage is not a mayoral issue, unless you’re Gavin Newsom. I didn’t ask Gary Leitzell about same sex marriage. I asked him his position on the addition to Dayton’s non-discrimination ordinance of sexual orientation as a protected class, and he volunteered his position on the definition of marriage. I also asked him if he’d be opposed to any attempt to take sexual orientation out of Dayton’s ordinance if he were mayor. I got no answer to that. Would Gary Leitzell pander to the same Christianists to whom our former Mayor Turner, who I will admit did some good things for the city, pandered?

Update 8/24/2009: I was right — Gary Leitzell’s “traditional marriage” is so untraditional that Mrs. Leitzell’s double-barrelled surname doesn’t even include “Leitzell” as one of its barrells.

Sunday, December 28th, 2008

Reading Frank Rich's commentary today on President-Elect Obama's inaugural invocation invitation of Rick Warren as well as some of the blogospheric commentary on Frank Rich's commentary reminded me what it was Warren had actually said in his BeliefNet interview:

The issue to me, I'm not opposed to that [rights granted to gays by domestic partnership laws] as much as I'm opposed to redefinition of a 5,000 year definition of marriage. I'm opposed to having a brother and sister being together and calling that marriage. I'm opposed to an older guy marrying a child and calling that marriage. I'm opposed to one guy having multiple wives and calling that marriage.

Sound somewhat familiar? It should, and it did to me because Warren's concern about the redefinition of marriage is shared by Gary Leitzell, about whom I wrote yesterday. Leitzell, you'll recall, is worried about the "dangerous course" our country will be headed down if we "chang[e] the legal definition of a traditional word like marriage." Ding! Now I know what Leitzell was worried about. He's worried, as is Warren, that if we let the queers marry then next we'll let brothers marry sisters and men marry children.

Just like has happened in the Netherlands, Belgium, Spain, Canada, and Massachusetts and probably will happen soon in Connecticut and would have happened in California were it not for Proposition 8.

Oh, wait... it hasn't happened yet, has it? Is there a push in these jurisdictions to legalize marriage between siblings? Maybe I'm just unaware.

And wait, men marrying children? Didn't that actually used to be legal? Wasn't it as recently as 2006 that a Nebraska man drove his 14-year-old knocked up girlfriend to Kansas in order to marry her because at that time Kansas had no minimum marriage age? So do tell me about traditional marriage, Mr. Warren and Mr. Leitzell. Seems that traditional marriage legally sanctioned what most people today would call illegal pedophilia. Let's return to traditional marriage?!

And one guy having multiple wives? Perhaps this isn't a danger Leitzell's worried about but Warren, a Christian pastor, specifically cited it as a danger that altering the "5,000 year definition of marriage" might lead to. Um, hello, pastor? Does that 5,000 years cover any of the polygamous marriages in the Old Testament of the Christian Bible?! Brilliant. Simply brilliant.

And that's probably Obama's master plan. Letting people like Warren and Leitzell talk about the dangers to American society presented by the gays getting married helps most Americans to realize how ludicrous that is.

Saturday, December 27th, 2008
A copy of a photograph of Gary Leitzell with his lovely wife and daughter was originally posted here, but he asked me to remove it.*
Traditionally no husband would be a stay at home father. So much for changing the traditional definition of marriage, huh?

I read in today's Dayton Daily News of Gary Leitzell's mayoral candidacy, so I e-mailed him to ask where he stood on last year's addition of sexual orientation as a protected class in Dayton's non-discrimination ordinances. He very quickly replied, saying that he has "no problems with equal rights for gays" but adding, unasked, that he does "have a problem with changing the legal definition of a traditional word like marriage."*

Funny, how equal rights for gays so obviously, even to a straight man, relates to marriage.

Funny, also, how people don't understand what marriage traditionally meant. Traditionally marriage meant a man was master of his wife or wives. He'd acquired her (or them) from her (or their) father(s) and legally couldn't even rape her (them) for how could a man rape what was basically his own property. Women had no rights in marriage traditionally.

You don't hear too many people advocating a return to truly traditional marriage, do you?

No, most people have grown comfortable with the idea that marriage is a relationship between two equal partners. And if the definition of marriage has changed to that, and don't tell me it hasn't, then what's so wrong with those two equal partners both being men or both being women?



*Update: Gary Leitzell e-mailed me to ask me to remove the photograph of him with his lovely wife and daughter, so I've done so, though you can still see it (at least for now) on his mayoral campaign blog or on his personal blog.

He was also dismayed that I had asked him "a question anonymously" and then posted his answer, taking it out of context.

Well first, I did not ask him a question anonymously. I used my real name and used my davidlauri.com e-mail address, not some made up AOL or Yahoo screen name totally unconnected to any real person. And second, he's a candidate for mayor; that he should be surprised that people discuss his positions on issues is itself surprising. And no, he did not specify that his answer was "off the record," though if he had done so, that'd be pretty interesting, wouldn't it? A candidate for mayor who didn't care to take public stands on issues?

So let's look at the rest of his reply:

I do have a problem with changing the legal definition of a traditional word like marriage to line the pockets of lawyers though. It would mean that we could legally change the meaning of any word to suit our purpose. That could lead us on a very dangerous course.

I suppose that could mean he doesn't mind changing the legal definition of marriage if it wouldn't line the pockets of lawyers to do so.

Or it could mean that he thinks that despite our having changed the legal definition of marriage in the past to preclude polygamy or to make divorce possible or to change a wife's rights that to change it by extending it to same sex couples would mean that we'd start changing the definition of other words too — perhaps we'll end up dangerously redefining legally "blue" to mean "red" or "expenses" to mean "income."

Why he'd think that, I've no idea. Seems to me that marriage has had a relatively straightforward (no pun intended) legal evolution and extending it to same sex couples doesn't mean we're going to be redefining everything.

And I think it seems that way to the justices on the Supreme Courts of several states (Hawaii: Baehr v. Lewin, 1993; Vermont: Baker v. Vermont, 1999; Massachusetts: Goodridge v. Department of Public Health, 2003; California: In re Marriage Cases, 2008; Connecticut: Kerrigan and Mock v. Connecticut Department of Public Health, 2008 [update 04/03/2009: and Iowa: Varnum v. Brien, 2009]) and a foreign country too (Canada: Reference re Same-Sex Marriage, 2004) as well as to the legislatures of some foreign countries (the Netherlands, Belgium, Spain, Canada). But what do they know?

 
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