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Demise of Same-Sex Weddings Disheartens Businesses

Saturday, November 08, 2008

By Jesse McKinley
The New York Times

SAN FRANCISCO — A week before Election Day, Christopher Burnett’s floral shop filled an order for one of the many same-sex weddings he has worked in the last five months: eight corsages, a dozen boutonnieres and two bouquets for the two brides, each with three dozen roses.

Now, Mr. Burnett said, since Tuesday’s voter approval of Proposition 8, which amended the state’s Constitution to recognize only marriages between men and women, that type of business is gone.

“I have done a gay wedding every week,” he said. “And so it’s very disheartening, because other business is very slow.”

Even as opponents of the measure officially conceded defeat on Thursday, California business owners — particularly those in the marriage business — were trying to determine how many wedding cakes would now go unsold and how many tuxedos unrented.

Arturo Cobos, a manager at Kard Zone in the city’s traditionally gay Castro neighborhood, said he had done “big sales” of same-sex wedding cards and other trinkets since marriages began in June, but had recently stopped stocking new goods.

“We were afraid that they would pass Proposition 8,” Mr. Cobos said, “and that’s exactly what happened.”

In Palm Springs, another gay-friendly city, Mayor Steve Pougnet said he had performed 115 same-sex weddings since June, when such ceremonies began, some ofwhich had as many as 180 guests. By contrast, this week the city has canceled eight planned ceremonies.

“That’s a huge economic impact, which is gone in these difficult economic times,” said Mr. Pougnet, who is openly gay and married his partner in September....(Click for remainder).


Former Defense Official: Obama Keeping Gates The "Dumbest Thing I've Ever Heard"

By Seth Colter Walls
The Huffington Post

Defense Secretary Robert Gates is often mentioned as a potential Bush 43 holdover in the new Obama administration. According to most reports, Gates is not only popular among the service branches, but also with Democrats, who have appreciated the secretary's moderate instincts during his time at the helm following Donald Rumsfeld.

But not everyone is sold on the idea. One former high-ranking defense official now advising Obama told the Huffington Post that keeping Gates around is "the dumbest thing I've ever heard." The former official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said he has told the Obama transition team as much.

"Most people don't realize that you can't just keep Gates," the former official said. "You've gotta keep some part of his team. We're not going to keep Gates and then appoint a new deputy, a whole new staff." The official, who spoke from personal experience within the bureaucracy, said that as an administrator, "you need your own people. And a lot of those people [under Gates] were neoconservative architects of the [Iraq] war."

The official cited in particular Defense Department undersecretary for policy Eric Edelman as a key assistant to Gates who should not remain in an Obama administration. Edelman, a former aide to Vice President Dick Cheney from 2001 to 2003, courted controversy last year when he criticized Sen. Hillary Clinton's position on the Iraq war for "reinforc[ing] enemy propaganda."

Recently-retired Army officer Bob Mackey said that the concern over Gates's staff had some merit, but might not be too difficult for the Obama transition team to address, should they decide to keep Gates in his post. "It all depends what level [of assistants] we're talking about," Mackey said, agreeing with the former defense official that Gates's "undersecretaries and assistant undersecretaries, you'd need to replace those people."...(Click for remainder).


Minnesota Senate Race: Typo Fix Gives Franken 100 More Votes

By Associated Press and KARE 11

The vote gap between Senate candidates Norm Coleman and Al Franken fluctuated throughout the day Thursday, with Franken closing to within 236 votes by Thursday evening.

The fluctuations are normal, said a spokesman at the Secretary of State's office, as county's double check their work and report minor changes.

A typo in Pine County got fixed Thursday, giving Al Franken 100 more votes and tightening Minnesota's unresolved Senate race even tighter.

Republican Sen. Norm Coleman's lead over Democrat Al Franken stood at 236 votes Thursday night.

With nearly 2.9 million ballots cast, the difference between the top two candidates is about one one-hundredth of a percentage point.

In Pine County, an election official accidentally entered 24 votes for Franken on Tuesday night instead of the 124 he actually received. The mistake was caught on Thursday and the numbers changed, said Jim Gelbmann from the Secretary of State's office.

KARE 11 News has also learned Ramsey County found 55 absentee ballots which arrived on time to be counted on election day, but which were not. Those results have now been included in the new totals.

In northeastern Minnesota, the town of Buhl's ballots had been cast but not counted in statewide totals. It turns out election officials there counted the votes but never called them in.

St. Louis County Director of Elections Paul Tynjala said officials tried to call Buhl for the results, but everyone had already gone home. He calls the incident a "goof-up" in which someone thought someone else had already called in the votes....(Click for remainder).


Obama Wins. And So Does Fear, Hate and Prop 8

By John Ridley
The Huffington Post

The cheers, the tears, the jubilation over the election of our 44th president. All of it deserved. But some of it overshadowed by the harsh, white light of reality that burned in the west. As Americans -- many of whom have never even had a black man for a boss -- elected a person of color president, a narrow but sharp margin of Californians stole the rights of her citizens. By supporting bailot proposition number 8 they refused gays the right to marry.

Two other gay marriage bans, in Florida and Arizona, also passed. But the egregiousness of Prop 8 is compounded by the fact California had previously allowed for same sex marriages. Rights were not merely denied, they were removed. Citizens stripped of previously granted privileges. "Privileges" which should be protected under the Constitution to begin with.

In the new age of Barack Obama there is perhaps no greater lingering vestige of systemic bigotry than the barring of same sex marriages. The hypocrisy and false piety of the deniers aside, the relationships of gays have no effect on heteros. Especially all the heteros who've done such a marvelous job of debasing marriage on their own all these many years. Politicians on the left and right love to expatiate on the need to defend "traditional" marriage. Usually just prior to engaging in some extra-marital affair with a paramour or boy toy or just an old fashioned hooker. And fine. Have at it. I'm no moralist. Do as you please as long as you balance the budget. But until politicos take a true stand in defense of marriage by proposing an anti-adultry amendment to the Constitution, stop demonizing gays and lesbians when the one debasing your marriage is the individual in the mirror....(Click for remainder).


Historic for Some, Same Old Shit for the Rest of Us

By Harvey Fierstein
The Huffington Post

While we dance in the streets and pat ourselves on the back for being a nation great enough to reach beyond racial divides to elect our first African-American president let us not forget that we remain a nation still proudly practicing prejudice.

I have heard this day described as one of transcendence where Americans came together to prove that we are, above all, a nation of fairness. World witnesses wrote that we rose above ideology, politics and bigotry to achieve a great moment for America. Meanwhile, on this same Election Day, we great Americans passed laws as heinous as any Jim Crow legislation. We great Americans reached out and willfully put our name to language that denies an entire minority group their equal rights.

Of course I am referring to the states of Florida, Arizona and California passing legislation to specifically deny gay people from entering into the contract of marriage. Actually, that's not true. We can still get married, just not to each other. Yes my friends, Florida and California have now made it legal for gay men and lesbians to marry as long as we don't marry our partners. How much sense does that make?

Now, before you rise up on your high horse to holler, "We're not against Civil Unions, just Gay Marriage", let me once again explain that THE SUPREME COURT HAS STATED THAT SEPARATE BUT EQUAL IS NOT EQUAL. And even if it were, civil unions are simply not equal to marriage.

Let me give you a simple example that anyone can follow. John and Jim are registered as domestic partners and so, just like a married couple; Jim is covered by John's employee health care. That's really nice. BUT... since the IRS does not recognize civil unions or domestic partnership Jim has to pay income tax on the value of this coverage. So, unlike a married couple, John and Jim are penalized hundreds of dollars for not being married. That's not fair. That's not in the spirit of the civil union legislation. And that's just the tip of the iceberg of the inequality being offered. ...(Click for remainder).



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