Letters for July 9, 2009

Letter of the week

No ass kissing for equality

Re “5 easy steps to marriage freedom” by Kel Munger (SN&R Feature, July 2):

I support your positive efforts, but I’m not interested in kissing anybody’s ass for permission to get married, or talking to a homophobe to attempt to change their precious hatred. Pass or fail in court, marriage should never be voted on!

Conversely, good luck. I’m too disgusted with American voters to assist. My resources are going to gay legal groups, and to Equality Maine!

Flex Colby
San Francisco

Minority groups have gay people

Re “5 easy steps to marriage freedom” by Kel Munger (SN&R Feature, July 2):

This is a fantastic article—these are all very useful insights, from some very knowledgeable, hardworking individuals.

Regarding your first point—“Reach out to other minority groups”—I think it’s important that we not think of these as “other” communities, but as overlapping communities. Every single minority community you can imagine has gay members who can advocate for equality. There are gay African-Americans, gay Latinos, gay Jews and so forth; and there are also straight allies working hard on behalf of their gay family and friends. No community is “other” than gay.

Matt Baume
via e-mail

No declaratives

Re “5 easy steps to marriage equality” by Kel Munger (SN&R Feature, July 2):

I’m a longtime satisfied reader of SN&R. However, a recent headline on the [cover] pushed one of my pet-peeve buttons. Your headline read “Why all African-Americans don’t hate gay people.”

First of all, didn’t someone in the editing process read this and feel a little hesitant about declaring that an entire race of people feel exactly the same way about any issue, let alone a controversial one like homosexuality? The moment you find one African-American who hates gay people, your statement is proved false.

I would caution against making any declarative statement about an entire race of people and using the word “all.” When writing for publication, the word “all” should be used very sparingly indeed. Based on reading the article, I would suggest that what you meant to say is “Why most (many?) African-Americans don’t hate gay people.”

Good luck in the future.

Jeff Hughson
via e-mail

Try good old politicking

Re “5 easy steps to marriage freedom” by Kel Munger (SN&R Feature, July 2):

Yes, true enough, there is a place for community organizing in seeking GLBT equality on all fronts. But this is hardly panacea “answer” to Proposition 8’s quintessentially unjust result.

Some good old politicking is going to be necessary: in the legislature (both state and federal), in the governor’s office, in that of the president, on the ballot and, yes, once again, in the courts.

Like a wise old professor once told me, all of these elements are going to have to work at once driving all cylinders of the engine to succeed. The state Legislature needs to continue to pass gay-rights bills, even in light of the current incumbent governor’s consistent vetoes. The House and Senate need to be lobbied to overturn [Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell] and [the Defense of Marriage Act], to enact [the Employment Non-Discrimination Act] and to fully fund [the] Ryan White [Comprehensive AIDS Resources Emergency Act]. The president must sign these vital bills and be willing to administratively suspend enforcement of DADT and DOMA pending legislative outcomes.

We must return to the ballot box to overturn Prop. 8, not merely through good will sought by this piece’s suggestions, but also through legislative adoption of a constitutional amendment/revision that will have the force of their imprimatur to be sustained even by bigoted courts.

And we must continue to fight against utterly wrong decisions (it took Justice Ron George 185 pages of the most tortured English since the [Justice William] Rehnquist decision in Bush v. Gore to deny the GLBT community civil equality), and those that authored them, by voting out the justices who brought this horrendous and unconstitutional bigotry to bear upon an entire suspect/protected class of human beings and citizens.

It will take all of these efforts to win this battle, as the march of history proves: three steps forward, one step back.

Alex Berg

SN&R’s for gays, socialists, tree-huggers and dopers

Re “5 easy steps to marriage freedom” and “Jesus’ queer sensibility” by Kel Munger (SN&R Feature and SN&R Sacreligious!, July 2):

You finally revealed your homosexual agenda, what we expected all along. [SN&R] is just a front for the so-called gays, the socialists, the tree-huggers and the dope fiends, but this takes the cake. How dare you say Jesus was queer! Do you know what happens to sodomites when they die? They burn in hell!

Name withheld by request
via e-mail

Graffiti doesn’t equal gang membership

Re “Tagged and bagged” by Anthony Pignataro (SN&R Frontlines, July 2):

I used to skateboard with this kid. He is no gang member. He is a pretty good kid, really; apparently just likes to do graffiti. He does not deserve prison for this.

Kody Pickern

Jesus’ Orwellian sensibility

Re “Jesus’ queer sensibility” by Kel Munger (SN&R Sacreligious!, July 2):

How many circle-squarings have to occur before it stops being socially impolite to openly mock an establishment which trumpets the infallibility and divine genesis of its core dogmas with one hand and rewrites said dogmas any time a previously prohibited group of humans begins to assert political clout with the other? The day atheists unify their voting strength will be the day the pope will decree that it is entirely viable to deny the Holy Spirit and still be a Christian in good standing.

Three cheers to your hypocrisy, gentlemen; way to play the Squealer in our Animal Farm.

Michael Gabriel

Revamp the family-court system …

Re “Family-law makeover” by Ted Cox (SN&R Frontlines, June 25):

As one who had a relationship with a natural child summarily terminated by a judge followed by three years of being unconstitutionally restrained from seeing or even speaking to my own child, I know of what Mr. [Michael] Newdow speaks. These things happened because California “family” law presumes all fathers to be evil perpetrators. “Family” judges have no training which might allow them to recognize that a mother making alarming allegations is actually experiencing a psychotic break.

Three decades worth of Republican governors have packed the California judiciary with criminal prosecutors who know little of private dispute resolution. Their experience is only in targeting and demonizing an accused. They see psychology as a form of liberalism and mediation as weakness. Is it any surprise the courts criminalize family discord and wage an unholy war on fathers?

The legal profession does not serve society well by applying an adversary model developed to try murder cases to child custody. The judiciary serves it even less well by requiring parents to bear the high cost of dysfunctional adversary litigation and by forcing the majority who can not afford it to proceed on their own. The entire family-court system needs to be dismantled and rebuilt from the ground up.

Laurance S. Smith

… and while you’re at it, fix the prisons, too

Re “Cut prison spending” (SN&R Editorial, May 28):

I have read about many of the cuts and reforms that have been proposed, but no one is looking at long-term reforms. The prisons are crumbling; they have an antiquated data system and no computers; they can’t even communicate with another prison through an intranet system. They continue to complete the intake and placement of prisoners through paper files that take months to sort through. Prisoners and families sit in limbo for months on end waiting for news of where and when their family member is going to be placed. When you call for info, the prison workers are curt and rude and refuse to give any information to the families.

This doesn’t even begin to address the basic needs of the prisoners. They are bunked to triple the capacity (or greater) of the prison. They are supposed to be given clean clothes once a week, which is bad enough, but most of the time they are waiting two or three weeks for clean clothes, including their underwear. The bathrooms are cesspools for germs and disease and, if this isn’t bad enough, the prison guards withhold the prisoners’ mail because they can. They let it sit just outside of the unit so that the prisoners can see it, but they refuse to deliver it.

Let’s start looking at reforms from the top down instead of from the bottom up as usual. The waste at the administrative levels needs to be looked at, and wardens need to be held accountable for the spending and the actions of the people they [supervise]. Waste is rampant—there are [sometimes] 15 prison guards standing around chatting with each other while visitors are standing outside in lines, in the rain and cold weather, waiting to check in to see their family member. Office buildings are sitting empty while the state pays rent for supposed departments, and it goes on and on.

Yes, we need to tighten our belts in these tough budget times, but the governor and all of the top dogs continue to live their lives in the clouds. Not once have I heard Governor [Arnold] Schwarzenegger say that he would be willing to take a pay cut or limit his spending. Maybe he should begin as the model of what he wants and other will follow suit.

Susan Vergilio
Apple Valley


In “5 easy steps to marriage freedom” by Kel Munger (SN&R Feature, July 2), Anthony Woods served two tours of duty in Iraq rather than three. We apologize for the error. This has been corrected on the Web site.