Category Archives: Politics

election night

We’re awaiting tonight’s election results with a fair amount of interest. It’s no presidential election, but as political junkies, my wife and I tend to get pretty invested in these races, even those outside of our state.

While the polls only closed here in California just an hour ago, it looks fairly certain that M.eg Wh.itman has lost–a relief because she would have been a total disaster, and I’m tired of disastrous governance of this state. Under Schwarzenegger’s reign as governor, funding for higher education has all but disappeared, leaving my teaching career on hold. I have not taught since the fall of 2008, and I miss it so. Here’s hoping that with new leadership, we’ll have better funding for our schools.

I am also watching Prop 19 closely. It looks like it may not pass, but I wish it would. Having lived in Humboldt County where so much of the economy is wrapped up in pot, I’ve seen what the money can do. I know there are problems with this proposition, but I would love to see California make a statement and move ahead on legalizing this. Why not? It’s a plant for crying out loud. It’s far less harmful than alcohol. And to top it off, it could bring in some great revenue! I don’t use the stuff (anymore), but I know many highly functioning, responsible people who do, and it seems utterly ridiculous to me that it’s illegal.

And now I’m rambling like I just smoked a little myself. Now I just have mommy brain to blame.

So what’s going on where you are? Anything good?

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Filed under Politics

when the political becomes personal

Last night, we learned that the Senate struck down the latest jobs bill–the bill that was to keep extended unemployment benefits coming to those people who haven’t been able to find work after six months, or a year, or eighteen months of becoming unemployed.

My wife was one of those people.

As of yesterday, she lost her unemployment benefits. I have been working 20-30 hours per week, and while we have had to budget tightly, we have been able to make ends meet, care for our son, and even go out for coffee once in awhile while she has continued to look for work and collect unemployment. But those ends are about to stop meeting. We have entered panic mode.

This morning, I cancelled our cable–the last of our entertainment splurges (okay, so we’re keeping our Netflix account, and believe me, at two discs at a time, that feels pretty indulgent right now). We don’t know if we’ll have enough to pay our insanely expensive Bay Area rent this month. We probably will, but it’s going to be tight. Really tight. As in, so tight, that we have to spend the rest of our very meager savings on it, and we still don’t know if we’ll be able to afford it. We’re cutting every extra expense we can, selling one of our scrapyard-worthy cars, putting countless items up for auction on eBay, and I’m going as full time as my job will allow.

But I don’t know in the end if any of it will be enough.

The Republicans will tell you it’s our own fault, that J should have just gone out and gotten a job once she lost the first. If only just getting a job were so easy. My wife has been looking for work for eighteen months–since she learned that she would not be teaching after her first semester at a new university due to state budget cuts. She has a master’s degree. She even served in the military. She should be eminently hireable. She has been applying for every sort of job, from positions as a wine pourer to administrative assistants, tutoring and mentoring positions, grant writing positions,  teaching and test prep, and everything in between. We’ve gotten no bites. None. Not even an interview–and usually not even confirmation that her application has been received. She has been going up against hundreds of people for each job, jobs for which she is extremely overqualified, jobs for which she is perfectly qualified. Still nothing.

And then came a great twist of fate last week. J received a phone call from the university. They want her to teach in the fall. Finally, we were going to have a break. Her unemployment benefits were about to be extended, and this was going to carry us through (with my work) to the end of September, when the first of her paychecks would start coming in.  But that carrying through is not to be. We’re pretty sure she has a job–in two months (there is some fear that the loss of this jobs bill could cut her position yet again), but in the interim, there is still rent to pay, still power to keep on and mouths to keep fed, and we’re wondering how the hell that is all going to happen.

But we’re scrappy, and we’re resourceful, and somehow, we’re going to make all of this work. We don’t really have another choice.

This morning, we needed to get out of the house, needed a dose of normalcy to ease our anxieties for a few moments, so we raided the “coconut cash” (a stash of ones we keep in this funky ceramic coconut) and our quarters. After gathering seven dollars, we made our way to the farmer’s market where we knew we could only get a few things. We got our salad greens from our favorite farm, and then some early girl tomatoes. We had a dollar left. Not enough for much, but we spied some big, fat, organic carrots back at our favorite farm stand. Baby Genius loves carrots. We especially love this farm’s carrots. So we asked the farmer for a dollar’s worth and handed him the last of our quarters. He gave us a handful, and when J mentioned in passing, “They’re for the baby. He loves them,” the man gave us another handful with a warm smile.  It amounted to maybe a pound and a half of carrots–nothing spectacular by any stretch of the imagination–but there was a knowing that accompanied that second handful of carrots from the farmer, a knowing and some charity.

In that moment I felt humbled–and touched.  I cried behind my sunglasses as we walked away, both because this man offered up some kindness on a hard, hard day and because I can’t believe we’re in this position. But I know we’re going to make it out of this, that we’ll survive it and come out stronger.

Oh, and the coconut cash has been renamed. It’s now the carrot cash.

Our carrots:

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Filed under job hunting, panic, Politics, unfairness, us

Happy Inauguration Day!

What a remarkable day this is in American history. J and I have been watching inauguration coverage since about 6:30 this morning simply awestruck with the enormity of it all. There’s a sense of relief that the last eight years are over and a sense of great pride that this is our country’s future, that our child will be born during the Obama administration.

I have  a weird obsession with the pomp and circumstance of events such as these. I don’t want to miss a single motorcade, procession, or trumpet flare. I’m a geek like that, I suppose, but I don’t care. I have happily sat here with tears streaming down my face all day long.

On the baby-growing front, I haven’t meant to be missing for so long. I guess I just haven’t wanted to whine on and on about how I feel. Things are fine though. The spotting stopped a couple of days ago, and things like nausea and exhaustion are increasing, making me feel much more confident, albeit icky. We are very much looking forward to our appointment Thursday morning, and we’ll be certain to post a photo.

For now, I’m back to watching the inaugural parade.

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Filed under Politics, the P word

as promised–a rally story, with pictures

img_1896On Saturday, J and I got up and drove to Sacramento in the morning to go to what was hoped to be a rather large rally on the steps of the state capitol building. I spent a good deal of my teenage years hanging out and causing trouble in downtown Sacramento, so I looked forward to sharing my old stomping grounds with J. In fact, once I skipped class and attended a Gulf War protest at the capitol. These were my early days of “activism,” my desire to be part of some cool hippie movement. I honestly had no idea what I was doing.

But now we’ve got the real thing, so J and I booked a hotel room, selected a bunch of gay musicians for the drive, made some food, and loaded up the car. We were ready to go. Arrival was simple. The hotel let us check in three hours early, which allowed us time to deposit our things and go for a little walk over to the capitol to scope things out and see if anyone was there yet. 

On our way back, we walked through this beautiful alleyway.

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We stopped for coffee and encountered all kinds of gay couples fueling themselves up for the rally. There were also wonderful leaves all over the ground and topping the outdoor tables. It was some sort of urban autumn wonderland. I am a lover of fall, and I was in heaven.

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At this point, we were closing in on 1:00, and we wanted to get down to the rally early enough to find a little slice of lawn, so we grabbed some snacks, picked up our new and improved rally signs, changed into the t-shirts I made for us (complete with a rainbow fist on the front and our wedding date on the back), and walked on down to the capitol again. By then, people were starting to gather. We set up our blanket near another lesbian couple, and rested for a bit.

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As we sat there, people were starting to gather. One woman had an altar of sorts set up amidst the steps of img_1910the capitol, and she was burning sage, drumming from time to time, and playing a didgeridoo. She started playing the thing around the outskirts of the forming crowd, and came and blew it at our backs. I can’t say that I have had that experience before. As she was wrapping things up, the crowd was starting to form. It was great watching people walk by. Kids were carrying “I love my moms” signs; parents had signs about how much they loved their gay kids. It was really touching.

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Every once in awhile, someone would stop to photograph us, and occasionally, we would get up to photograph someone. It was that sort of day. Everyone wanted to document every moment of the event. People were cheerful, festive, and I think as mesmerized as we were by the huge crowd of people like us.

As we waited for the speakers to start, J encouraged me to get up and go for a walk. I encountered all kinds of people:

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img_1936No one can accuse us of being a drab community, now can they?

Soon it was time for the speakers to begin, and the crowd had grown quite huge. We picked up our blanket and joined the throngs. We were relatively close to the podium, but with everyone’s signs, it was difficult to see.

As the speakers started, there were many people milling about offering stickers for Day without a Gay and the like as well as white knots, black wristbands, flyers with coupons for drink specials at the after parties at the gay clubs downtown. It was almost festive with hints of both awe that we were all amongst our tribe and sadness that this is what it took to bring us together.

Gloria Allred was the first speaker. She was great and led us in some call and response thanking the Supreme Court. She was encouraging about the upcoming court battle and was generally good to listen to. Unfortunately, although we were close to the stage, we couldn’t see more than the occasional speck of anyone speaking because of the ever-changing sea of signs in front of us.

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Honestly, all of the speakers were good, but the highlight of the day was hearing Margaret Cho talk. Before she showed up, the Dykes on Bikes had been circling the block on which the capitol sits, and it turns out she was just as enamored of them as we were. Here’s her talk and her song if you’re interested (I know, this post is embarrassingly multi-media):

The speakers kept coming, and we kept standing and yelling, and shaking our signs. Occasionally, I had to step away to get a sense for the size of the crowd, and to take photos. This one attempts to show just how big it was from the street:

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 By the time the speakers were finished, we had been standing in one place for a few hours, and we were ready to move. Luckily, it was time to march. The march took place around the State Capitol Park. img_1983We were toward the front of the group. Each time we rounded a corner and caught a glimpse of the crowd behind us, it was breathtaking. Unfortunately, none of the photos really does it justice, but we wound around the entire Capitol Park–all 5000 of us.

There were all kinds of law enforcement, following us in squad cars, lining the interior of the park on horses and bikes. Others were simply standing there. Many of us thanked them as we passed. It was somehow reassuring to have them there. We knew they were there to protect us just as much as they were there to enforce the law.

Upon returning to the start point, J and I stopped and watched everyone filter back in to the West Side of the Capitol building.

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Drivers were honking for us, and the crowd was electric. Dance music was playing over the huge speakers as we came back in, and people started dancing on the steps of the Capitol. J joined them.

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The energy was wonderful. People danced and cheered. Didgeridoo lady started drumming (she was multi-talented).

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And soon the MC called it all to a close, inviting all of us to come down to gay town and buy her shots of tequila.

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We were tuckered out, but energized. We said goodbye to the Capitol, grabbed our signs, and headed back to our hotel. As we sat in the lobby enjoying a beer (yes, I did have a beer, the bad TTCer that I am), several different gay folk walked by giving us thumbs up or cheering. It seemed the whole of downtown Sacramento had turned into gay town with people driving by waving rainbow flags from their cars.

It was a remarkable time, and I am forgetting to include so much here, but there is really only so much I can say. It is not a day I will soon forget, and sadly, there will have to be more days like these in the months and years to come. We are glad to be a part of history, glad to have joined our tribe to celebrate and mourn and stand in solidarity fighting for our marriage rights.

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 If you made it this far, and you haven’t yet seen enough photos, there are more to be seen on my Flickr account to the left. It was really a beautiful event to photograph.

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Filed under marriage, Politics, rallies

end of day cranky thoughts

I’m so tired from a very long day at school, a somewhat demeaning meeting with the faculty member who observed me (she told me I could work for one of the full-timers as a grader since I don’t have classes next semester), and just utter exhaustion from the infighting and the stress associated with the Prop 8 shit. I am not feeling like my nice, polite, articulate self, so I present to you three important matters for today’s post:

Matter One: If you’d like someone toward whom you can direct your anger over those missing civil rights, take a gander at this asshat: Jim Quinn. Could this man be any more disgusting?

Matter Two: If you need a forum for your anger, a place and time to stand with others like you, Join the Impact this weekend. Find a rally in a city near you here. J and I will be rallying in our nearest city on Saturday. Where will you be? (And for fuck’s sake, don’t tell me you’ll be boycotting California wine. It’s the best this country has to offer, and we need it in times like these!)

Matter Three: J ordered our sperm today. We have a new donor (since we used the last vial of the old one). I’m so glad to be on to this cycle already.

Tomorrow, J and I are meeting up with my mom to shop for xmas gifts. It will be a nice reprieve from all of this hoopla. My greatest hope is that we find a perfect reading lamp. I can’t abide reading student papers in permanent mood lighting any longer.

I hope I’m not so grumpy tomorrow.

 

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Filed under Marriage Equality Resources, Politics, Ramblings, sperm

on california boycotts

I have had a couple of comments here urging me to boycott California products and services or urging me to buy products in Massachusetts instead of my home state. And while I respect those who are making such suggestions and the fact that they want to make a difference, these are, unfortunately, highly problematic suggestions for a few reasons:

1. I live in California. To purchase products and services in other states is virtually impossible. Am I to send my car to Massachusetts to have it smogged? Am I to fly to Connecticut for my next haircut? Should I take a train to Canada to shop for groceries? I’m sorry folks, but those of us living in California need to buy local products for many reasons, one of those being simple practicality. It is not practical–or even rational–for me to boycott products in my hometown and state. 

2. Considering how much travelling and shipping I would have to do, buying goods and services outside of my state would be incredibly ecologically irresponsible. I am not willing to increase my carbon footprint for the very minimal statement my purchase would make.

3. If I were to boycott local goods and services from my state, I would be hurting my already ailing local and state economy. Our state is in a major budget crisis. As Californians, our schools are in trouble; our hospitals, fire departments, and all social services department are hurting. Our businesses are hurting. We as individuals are hurting. When people stop buying our goods and services, no statement is made about same-sex marriage. Instead, we citizens are just made to suffer more.

4. Many business owners in California are gay or gay friendly. I am proud to support these businesses and others should be too. Many of these business owners gave a significant amount of money to the No on 8 campaign, and many of these people continue to fight for our rights. Our hairstylist talked numerous people into voting No on 8. She’s not gay, but she does support us. Some of my favorite bars, restaurants, and wineries are owned or operated by gay people. I’m not about to punish them for something they fought against. No way.

5. Nearly fifty percent of Californians voted no on Prop 8. There are others who support our cause who did not vote for one reason or another. I am not willing to harm those of us who were against this initiative to make a statement, and I would urge others to avoid hurting them as well. When boycotting California goods and services, how are you to know what the business-owner’s politics or sexual orientation may be? This is just too risky.

6. Such a boycott is misdirected. Boycotting goods and services in California won’t do a thing to help our cause. It will harm individuals; it will harm our state social services, but how are businesses to know that you’re boycotting them because you support same-sex marriage? It’s just not a reasonable response.

There is other talk about boycotts. Boycotting businesses owned and operated by the LDS church may help a bit more than trying to punish 52% of Californians the way they did; working to repeal the LDS church’s tax-exempt status (see the link under Activism on the right) may be even more effective. John Aravosis over at Americablog is suggesting we boycott tourism in Utah, but this too may hurt those many families who may have had nothing to do with this.

All of this is problematic. I guess I’m not much of a punitive activist because I don’t see it working to make change. The major funding behind Yes on 8 came from the LDS church, but there were church members who quietly opposed this, even wards who opposed what the church was asking them to do. So do we hurt everyone who is LDS because we are angry and hurt?

I’m inclined to say that we need to work this from a positive perspective. What can we do to change people’s hearts? I know, for one, that we could use more exposure. So many people think of gay folks and images from pride parades flood their brains. They think about drag queens and people in leather, and while I don’t have any sort of problem with drag or leather, I do think that these images are unusual and even scary to people who don’t know any gay people. Perhaps if they saw that the majority of us are relatively normal people, they would begin to shift. I know that when Gavin Newsome began issuing marriage licenses in San Francisco in 2004, people were so surprised to see the gay couples on TV. I heard people say, “They’re so normal!” “Wow, they have kids like we do!” and so many other comments that led me to believe these people just don’t have regular exposure to queer folk.

One action J and I have taken is to be publicly out–with our students, with our community. We’ve never been particularly closeted, but there have been so many times when we have wanted to hold hands in public but haven’t. Now we do. We have both taught so many classes, avoiding any mention of a pronoun in reference to our partners; no more. J actually brought our wedding album to share with her students on Thursday just to give them a face to place on this initiative. My students on Wednesday, after I came out to them Monday, offered their condolensces and expressed their disappointment in fellow Californians. Visibility is important, and it’s something we never had through the No on 8 campaign.

There are so many more actions we can take. Please, feel free to share any positive actions you have taken or positive actions you would suggest taking to help work toward same-sex marriage and adoption rights throughout our country.

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Filed under marriage, Marriage Equality Resources, Politics

insult, meet injury

So much for that trifecta. Not only does it still appear that 8 is passing, but I’m also decidedly not pregnant.

I started spotting yesterday, tested this morning, and my period has definitely arrived. Nice.

As for Prop 8, it still hasn’t been called. The No on Prop 8 website states that the race is still too close to call, that the “Yes” side is about 400,000 votes ahead. They state that there are also between three and four million absentee and provisional ballots that have yet to be counted. They have no idea what the demographics of those voters might be. I don’t know. The realist in me tells me to brace for the worst. I don’t know what will happen to our marriage. I just don’t know.

I’m saddened, too, by the hate-filled initiatives that were passed in other states: Both Florida and Arizona passed amendments to define marriage as between a man and a woman, and Arkansas has banned adoption and foster parenting by anyone but married people (they obviously don’t allow same-sex marriage).

Our nation made great strides last night toward racial equality, but we still have so very far to go.

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Filed under marriage, negatives, Politics

coming out (updated)

I came out to my class tonight. I have never in my eight years of teaching come out to a whole class of students, but tonight it had to happen.

I gave them half of the class session to talk about the election. We took a straw poll for the presidency (Obama won with over 70% of the vote), and then we began discussing California’s propositions. One of my students who is in the military, grew up in the South, and is decidedly right wing, began asking me questions about Prop 8. “Don’t they get the same rights with domestic partnership? What’s the big deal? Why can’t they be happy with that?” I had all the right answers to give him, and so did other members of the class, but he kept pushing. And pushing, and pushing.

And I did it. I told them, “You know, I have never come out to a class until this very moment, but I cannot stand here trying to explain this proposition pretending not to have a stake in this. My partner of ten years and I were married this summer…” I told a very brief summary of our story, and I choked up. I didn’t burst into tears (that would have been embarrassing), but I did show my emotion about this. It was a strange moment. Many of them sat there smiling at me. The right winger shut up and crossed his arms over his chest. I told them I simply couldn’t participate in the debate objectively and asked them to continue the conversation amongst each other. They did, and I sat back taking it in.

We moved on to discuss other ballot measures, and I kept looking around the classroom wondering how their opinions of me had changed. For some of them, I imagine their opinions are no different. For the right-winger, I think he already knew and was trying to get me to out myself. And the others, well, I just can’t worry about that.

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Edited to add this:

One of His Moms asked me how I felt about this, and I have to say, I feel good. I have never exactly hidden who I am from my students, but I’ve never announced to a class that my partner is female. I’m glad to know that even if they didn’t before, they know a gay person now. This class has a lot of respect for me, and for some of them, I may very well be the first gay person they have known. Knowing and respecting a person, and then finding out they’re gay can go along way toward building acceptance.

I did hear from the above mentioned student today. He wrote to apologize for upsetting me. He then wrote the following:

I do not think that anyone should have their pursuit of happiness be corrupted just because someone else may not believe it to be right for their own life.  I feel it doesn’t even have an effect on them, so why protest?

Whether my story did that, or he was already leaning this way, I don’t know, but his message meant a lot.

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Filed under coming out, Politics

think of the children

The election is just around the corner–it’s so soon, and it’s horribly depressing to see that some people still haven’t made up their minds about who they’ll vote for, or worse yet, that people are planning to vote for a POW and a small town beauty queen because the veep choice is someone with whom they’d not only like to have a beer, but a one-night stand as well. Yes, people, that’s what we need: someone who is a heartbeat away from the presidency who you’d like to screw. Fuckability is not a presidential qualification, and neither is being a former prisoner of war.

All of that aside, there are some factors that many people aren’t considering regarding this election, but in particular there is one huge factor: SCOTUS. Three of the four more liberal judges on the Supreme Court are aging. One is in his eighties, two are in their seventies. It is very likely that the next president of the United States will be appointing more than one Supreme Court justice. This could change the fabric of our nation for decades to come, and in some really scary ways. If, for example, John McSame and Caribou Barbie* are elected, they are determined to appoint justices who will overturn Roe vs. Wade. Add to this decisions about executive privilege and even basic civil liberties, and you can see just how bad this could get. This is just the tip of the iceberg. If, in the next election, the Republican ticket gets through, one of the most important components of our system of checks and balances would be shot to hell. The United States would be a very different country indeed.

Of course, there are other serious considerations when it comes to the Republican nominees, one of which is wars: John McSame is determined to bomb Iran. He has said multiple times, “There will be more wars.” He seems to be driven by this desire to be a wartime president, to bomb the hell out of any number of nations who aren’t benefitting his corporate backers. War means more strain on our economy, more danger to our own safety, more destruction of America’s status in the rest of the world. Another concern, especially for anyone who is even remotely middle class is that these people are interested in making the rich richer. They plan to keep tax cuts for the rich while letting the rest of us pick up the slack. Again, these are just two drops in the proverbial bucket of problems with these candidates. This is not just an election about issues or character; this election is a contest between two very divergent worldviews: one for whom America and her citizens are the central priority and another–ruled by corporate greed–for whom the almighty dollar is God.

This is the most important election of my lifetime, of our children’s lifetimes, of generations to come. It isn’t just about personality or likability or the issues; it’s about the future of our nation. As a community of bloggers who want children or who have children and who want to keep them protected, it is up to us to help create a world where they are safe to be children of gay and lesbian parents and of single-parents-by- choice. So if you’re still trying to decide, and the speeches and debates and ads aren’t helping you make up your mind, think of our children. They will thank you one day.

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*I can’t take credit for this: It’s a name given to her by Stephanie Miller. If you haven’t listened to her radio show, you must.

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Filed under Politics

Let’s get political…

We had our first phonecall today from one of the hatemongers trying to pass a constitutional ammendment to make same-sex marriage permanently illegal in California. Fortunately for all parties involved, we did not answer the phone. However, we were still subjected to this person’s venom through an answering machine message. She dared to say that this Consitutional Ammendment won’t discriminate against anyone. Bullshit.

The description of the initiative as it will appear on the voter information guides is as follows:

ELIMINATES RIGHT OF SAME-SEX COUPLES TO MARRY. INITIATIVE CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENT. Changes the California Constitution to eliminate the right of same-sex couples to marry in California. Provides that only marriage between a man and a woman is valid or recognized in California. Fiscal Impact: Over next few years, potential revenue loss, mainly sales taxes, totaling in the several tens of millions of dollars, to state and local governments. In the long run, likely little fiscal impact on state and local governments.

If there are any California readers out there, please, please, please vote NO on Proposition 8. If you know any Californians, urge them to protect our marriage rights by voting No on 8.

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Filed under marriage, Politics