12 June 2007

40 Years of Loving

Today is an important day in the annals of the struggle to obtain equality in matters of love: forty years ago, to this day, the Supreme Court of the United States of America ruled that two consenting adults, who are in love with each other, have a fundamental right to marry each other, regardless of their respective race.

I've previously blogged about the struggle same-sex couples face in their struggle to achieve "marriage equality." I've written letters to my congressional representatives in support of extending this fundamental right of marriage to same-sex couples. I've even blogged about the various levels of judicial review that guide courts' decisions in determining the constitutionality (or unconstitutionality) of particular laws passed by various legislatures in our great nation. Finally, we are able to look back a mere ten years to see that little, if any, has changed in the fight to achieve marriage equality.

Today, however, a voice from the past speaks out: the lead plaintiff in Loving v. Virginia has issued a statement in support of the right of same-sex couples to enter into civil marriage contracts. I say contract because that's exactly what marriage is, as far as the government is concerned.

There are many sites that will explain the separation between church and state but what is of paramount concern is that marriage has, and should always be, a contract between two persons. In most instances, this contract is a verbal agreement administered by a government official, witnessed by at least two persons not a party to the marriage contract. But enough about history -- for now.

In her statement, Mildred Loving puts it as no other could:

I am still not a political person, but I am proud that Richard's and my name is on a court case that can help reinforce the love, the commitment, the fairness, and the family that so many people, black or white, young or old, gay or straight seek in life. I support the freedom to marry for all. That's what Loving, and loving, are all about.
A number of other sites on the Internet have picked up on the anniversary of the landmark Loving case; however, to the best of my knowledge, no major news organization has picked up on Mrs. Loving's statement in supprt of marriage equality for same-sex couples (and all couples, regardless of whom they might be). I'm fairly certain that, given the loving nature of the Lovings' relations, if Mr. Lovings were still around (he was killed by a drunk driver back in 1975), he would share in her sentiments.

[Updated 2 November 2008] I've just re-read Ms. Loving's statement and, especially considering that she recently passed away, I feel that it is important enough, and moving enough, that her entire statement should be posted and shared with as many as possible. So here goes, the entire statement by Mildred Loving on the 40th anniversary of the United States Supreme Court decision in Loving v. Virginia:
Loving for All

By Mildred Loving*

Prepared for Delivery on June 12, 2007,
The 40th Anniversary of the Loving vs. Virginia Announcement

When my late husband, Richard, and I got married in Washington, DC in 1958, it wasn’t to make a political statement or start a fight. We were in love, and we wanted to be married.

We didn’t get married in Washington because we wanted to marry there. We did it there because the government wouldn’t allow us to marry back home in Virginia where we grew up, where we met, where we fell in love, and where we wanted to be together and build our family. You see, I am a woman of color and Richard was white, and at that time people believed it was okay to keep us from marrying because of their ideas of who should marry whom.

When Richard and I came back to our home in Virginia, happily married, we had no intention of battling over the law. We made a commitment to each other in our love and lives, and now had the legal commitment, called marriage, to match. Isn’t that what marriage is?

Not long after our wedding, we were awakened in the middle of the night in our own bedroom by deputy sheriffs and actually arrested for the “crime” of marrying the wrong kind of person. Our marriage certificate was hanging on the wall above the bed. The state prosecuted Richard and me, and after we were found guilty, the judge declared: “Almighty God created the races white, black, yellow, malay and red, and he placed them on separate continents. And but for the interference with his arrangement there would be no cause for such marriages. The fact that he separated the races shows that he did not intend for the races to mix.” He sentenced us to a year in prison, but offered to suspend the sentence if we left our home in Virginia for 25 years exile.

We left, and got a lawyer. Richard and I had to fight, but still were not fighting for a cause. We were fighting for our love.

Though it turned out we had to fight, happily Richard and I didn’t have to fight alone. Thanks to groups like the ACLU and the NAACP Legal Defense & Education Fund, and so many good people around the country willing to speak up, we took our case for the freedom to marry all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court. And on June 12, 1967, the Supreme Court ruled unanimously that, “The freedom to marry has long been recognized as one of the vital personal rights essential to the orderly pursuit of happiness by free men,” a “basic civil right.”

My generation was bitterly divided over something that should have been so clear and right. The majority believed that what the judge said, that it was God’s plan to keep people apart, and that government should discriminate against people in love. But I have lived long enough now to see big changes. The older generation’s fears and prejudices have given way, and today’s young people realize that if someone loves someone they have a right to marry.

Surrounded as I am now by wonderful children and grandchildren, not a day goes by that I don’t think of Richard and our love, our right to marry, and how much it meant to me to have that freedom to marry the person precious to me, even if others thought he was the “wrong kind of person” for me to marry. I believe all Americans, no matter their race, no matter their sex, no matter their sexual orientation, should have that same freedom to marry. Government has no business imposing some people’s religious beliefs over others. Especially if it denies people’s civil rights.

I am still not a political person, but I am proud that Richard’s and my name is on a court case that can help reinforce the love, the commitment, the fairness, and the family that so many people, black or white, young or old, gay or straight seek in life. I support the freedom to marry for all. That’s what Loving, and loving, are all about.

09 June 2007

Some questions about blogging

I recently sent the following questionnaire to a group of friends and associates. How would you answer these questions? Feel free to e-mail your responses to me, or leave a comment:
  1. What do the terms blog(s), blogger(s), and blogging/to blog mean to you (it's okay if you don't know--just say so)?
  2. Do you consider blogs to be part of the press?
  3. Regardless of whether or not you think blogs to be part of the press, do you think they should be considered part of the press?
  4. Do you consider blogs to be part of the media?
  5. Regardless of whether or not you think blogs to be part of the media, do you think they should be considered part of the media?
  6. Do you think there is a difference between the press and the media? If so, what is it?
  7. Do you think anyone can create and maintain a blog or are there certain qualifications/skills one must possess in order to do so?
  8. Regardless of whether or not you think there are any such qualifications/skills one must possess in order to set up and maintain a blog, should there be certain qualifications/skills one must possess in order to blog? Why do you feel this way?
  9. If you answered in the affirmative to the last question, what qualifications/skills do you think one should possess in order to blog?
  10. Do you consider bloggers (those who write blogs) to be reporters?
  11. Regardless of whether or not you consider them to be reporters, do you think bloggers should be considered to be reporters?
  12. Do you think bloggers have any special legal standing/legal rights?
  13. Regardless of whether or not you think bloggers have any special legal standing/rights, should they have any such legal standing0/rights?
  14. Do you think there are any guidelines that bloggers should follow in their blogs?
  15. Regardless of whether or not you think there are any guidelines for bloggers, should there exist such guidelines? If so, what should they be?
  16. Do you think bloggers are under any moral and/or legal obligations in their blogs?
  17. Regardless of whether or not you think bloggers are under any moral and/or legal obligations, should they be under any moral and/or legal obligations? If so, what should they be?
  18. Do you think there is a difference between anonymous and non-anonymous bloggers/blogging?
  19. Do you think bloggers need to reveal who they are? Why?
  20. How would it affect your opinion if they don't reveal who they are (the blogger(s) remain(s) anonymous)?
  21. How much do you think a blogger should reveal about her/himself to his/her readers?
  22. Finally, may I quote your responses in my article? If so, may I use your name, part of your name, or would you prefer to remain anonymous? :-)
Keep an eye on this space to see when I complete my article, and what I've found out. It should be quite interesting, don't you think?

[Updated 13 June 2007]

Finally, some general demographic questions:
  1. About how long have you been using computers?
  2. About how long have you been using the Internet/have you been online?
  3. Do you read blogs on a regular basis? If so, approximately how many do you read?
  4. How did you come across this questionnaire?
  5. Can you give me a little background about yourself (e.g., are you a fellow blogger, a journalist, a lawyer, etc.)?
  6. What is your gender (male/female/MTF/FTM/other)?
  7. Where do you reside?
  8. In what field do you work (e.g., legal, journalism, IT, etc.)?
  9. Approximately how old are you (e.g., teens, 20s, 30s, 40s, etc.)?
  10. Are there any questions you'd like to see covered on this questionnaire?
  11. Is there anything else you'd like to add?
Thank you for taking the time out of your busy schedule to answer these questions!

[For my Gather.com friends, here's a link back to the article that may have referred you here, so you can leave your comments/ratings, etc.]

08 June 2007

Google Gears

Google (GOOG -- don't you wish you had bought their stock during their IPO?) recently announced a developer release of a new service called Google Gears.

Gears is a browser extension (mini-programs that extend the functionality of one's web browser), which allows one to access web-based applications off-line (which may sound like a paradox). While this is a developer release (which means it's in the very early testing stages), Google Gears has the potential for becoming a very useful and routine tool for people who use mobile computers to access the Internet when an Internet connection isn't available (Ms. Berger provides a great web-site that explains, in pretty simple English, a lot of common computer jargon).

For instance, one of the uses of Google Gears is to enable one to read off-line up to 2,000 entries that have been set up in Google Reader, even if one isn't able to get on-line. This is because the entries will be stored locally, on one's own computer.

This service will also benefit those individuals who still use dial-up to access the Internet, as they will be able to download the latest entries in their Google Reader accounts, go off-line, and read them at their leisure.

What most interests me about this new service, however, is that Google has released this as an open-source project. As an advocate of open source myself, I applaud them for doing so. Of course, the bread-and-butter of Google's revenue (search) is a very, very closed-source company secret. I'd love to see Google go open-source with many more of their secondary (and tertiary) applications.

While it would be nice for them to open-source their proprietary, closed-source search engine methodology (one can dream, can one not?), I do understand that this is, essentially, their primary asset. Additionally, unlike Microsoft, I don't see Google as being in danger of many of the risks that most other closed-source software faces, given the hundreds or thousands of programmers that they have devoted to fine-tuning their search engine algorithms.

[Updated 13 June 2007]PC Magazine online wrote about a recent review of Google Gears by eWeek.

03 June 2007

Jumping Back Onto the Political Bandwagon

Not too long ago, I had blogged about being out of the political landscape for far too long. To recap, this realization came to me when I discovered that Bill Schmidt -- someone I consider to be a good friend -- had lost his bid for re-election to the City of Peekskill's Common Council. As it turns out, Bill recently announced that he'll be running for Mayor of Peekskill. I've since offered to help him on his campaign, in ways that will probably become clearer to me as the campaign gets off the ground.

Over the past few months, I can now admit that Bill confided in me that he was interested in seeking office again although, at the time, he wasn't certain which position he would seek. The conversations that I've had with him energized me, and as I've alluded to in other posts, I believe that these conversations and the cursory involvement I've had in launching his campaign have helped to bring me out of an indescribable depression (although I've attempted to describe it on numerous occasions in the past; just check out my blog posts under "mental health" for a sampling).

This will be, really, the first foray back into politics that I'll be attempting since my automobile accident in 2002, and I'm looking forward to it. Bill's opponent for Mayor, Peekskill City Councilwoman Mary F. Foster, is an interesting person, to say the least. She (and/or her cohorts) have already attacked Bill in some slightly underhanded ways: for example, she might have some problems with being truthful, and there are a number of other instances of web chatter (here, here, and here, for example) indicative of Ms. Foster's antics and power-hungry machinations. Another example of her issues with the truth can be found with her page hosted by her party's web site, wherein she states that she is a partner of the Big Four accounting firm, "Deloitte & Touche"; however, on her city council web page, she states that she retired from Deloitte in January 2007. So which is it?

Not to mention, I have it on very good authority that Ms. Foster recently was heard telling others that there was too much "camaraderie" on the city council. Heaven forbid! As one blogger (who happened to come across my blog by chance, and whose blog has impressed me with its intelligent and well-written posts) has so eloquently put it, polarization between political parties is a fairly recent phenomena and we must stick to the guidelines set forth by the high political powers of such phenomena, and banish such cozy feelings among political opponents. Why, such camaraderie could actually lead to something being accomplished! As an example, just take a look at the polarization rampant in Congress nowadays. Surely, we must stick to that political model and admonish against any such camaraderie going forward.

I'll definitely have to be on my toes for this race. It should prove interesting. At the very least, it will give me something to do with much of the free time that I tend have -- free time which is not beneficial to recovering from depression. I know that a great many people will take interest in this race. In fact, some have already done so.

I've missed being involved in politics. I know that I have a lot of catching up to do. But for the time being, I think I'm going to just focus on this one race and see how I do with that. Bill is a dear friend, and I want to help him out however possible. And since this is really my first foray back into politics in quite some time, I want to start small, and build upon what hopefully will be a great success. And if you happen to be registered to vote in the City of Peekskill, please vote for my friend Bill and the rest of the "GO Peekskill" Team!

So that's it. I'm back in politics. First, Bill. Next, who knows? Look out, world!