playing the Orson Scott Card: why I won’t go see Ender’s Game

An edited version of this piece appeared in the July 25, 2013 edition of the SF Bay Times.

As a sensitive and lonely gay kid in rural Virginia, science fiction and fantasy were my gateway to a world of endless possibilities and brighter futures. My favorite childhood friends and places included Corwin, Amber and the Courts of Chaos; Milo, Tock and the lands beyond the phantom tollbooth; Bilbo, Frodo and the realms of Middle Earth; among myriad others. To the woods behind my house, with handmade communicator and tricorder, I boldly went to seek out new life forms; in the wardrobe downstairs I desperately sought Narnia; on the carport I bravely battled garbage-can Daleks.

I escaped the pain of feeling intensely different from family and peers, and of being an outsider in the world in which I lived, by retreating into these genres and the worlds they opened up.

My passion for and exploration of science fiction and fantasy have shaped me considerably throughout my life.

That’s the context, then, in which to place Ender’s Game, a celebrated and award-winning science-fiction novel I first read nearly 30 years ago. The story of Ender Wiggins, the misunderstood and bullied kid and potential savior of all mankind, his tragic destiny and his quest for redemption, resonated quite strongly with me, as it has for many.

This fall, a movie based on the novel, starring Harrison Ford, is being released to great fanfare. I should be giddy with excitement, drooling with anticipation.

I won’t go see Ender’s Game.

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taking pride in marriage equality: San Francisco, June 2013

An edited version of this piece appeared in the July 11, 2013 edition of the SF Bay Times.

Best San Francisco Pride ever? There’s certainly a good case to be made that the answer enthusiastically is “Yes!” At a minimum, I think I can state without exaggeration that Pride in 2013, due to the momentous decisions of the U.S. Supreme Court and the Ninth Circuit that week, along with a prompt, powerful and fully supportive response to those decisions on the part of city and state officials, marked a unique and historic moment for our city, especially in regards to marriage equality.

For same-sex couples who married in California in 2008 before Prop 8 was enacted, for those legally married in other marriage equality states in the U.S., and for those marrying thereafter, Pride week marked the moment these marriages were no longer subject to a “not-recognized-by-the-federal-government” caveat, no longer just the “skim milk” marriages highlighted by Justice Ginsburg during oral arguments in Edie Windsor’s case challenging the constitutionality of DOMA.

For the estimated tens of thousands of same-sex couples where one spouse or partner is a foreign national, Pride week spelled an end to the cruel and heartbreaking choice between love and country previously forced upon them by the government.

For LGBT Californians, Pride week meant finally fully enjoying the same freedom and opportunity regarding marriage – whether to marry, whom to marry, and when to marry – already available to and often taken for granted by our siblings, friends, and colleagues.

For San Franciscans and visitors in person at City Hall and the Civic Center marriage pavilion and for millions across the globe via television and the Internet watching so many happy, loving committed couples getting married – in the only city in the state that granted licenses to and conducted marriages for same-sex couples throughout the weekend – Pride week opened a window onto a brighter tomorrow where love wins, equality triumphs, and freedom more truly rings.

And for LGBT people all across America, Pride week saw one more brick pried loose from the wall of inequality and indignity, and brought us one week closer to that wall tumbling completely into dust. It offered a ray of hope that all state marriage bans might soon be a thing of the past, albeit tempered with disappointment that the Court’s procedural punt in the Prop 8 case forestalled a sweeping decision that could have brought marriage equality to all Americans now rather than later. It demonstrated real progress for LGBT equality, however unevenly distributed it might be for now. And to many LGBT Americans and their most intimate relationships and their families, though regrettably not all, it accorded greater “dignity,” to use a word frequently repeated by Justice Kennedy in his majority opinion overturning DOMA Section 3.

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building El Dorado: a decade of love fuels my drive to achieve marriage equality

An edited version of this piece appeared in the June 13, 2013 edition of the SF Bay Times.

Next week is our anniversary. That is, one of our anniversaries.

I’ve joked that one of the rare upsides to the lack of marriage equality is that unlike our opposite-sex counterparts, for whom the wedding anniversary is the focus for commemorating the relationship, same-sex couples can celebrate a number of mini anniversaries. For example, Jeff and I mark, to varying degrees, the dates of registering our domestic partnership, of becoming engaged, and of our commitment ceremony, among other milestones.

But next week’s anniversary is particularly special. Ten years ago, we met in person for the very first time.

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thirty speedbumps on the road to marriage equality

I had a conversation with a friend yesterday about marriage equality, and he noted how surprisingly quickly things were moving right now — three states last fall and three more this spring, with Illinois still a possibility over the next week — and wondered if I thought that meant we might see the freedom to marry recognized in half of the states within a year or two.

My answer was that while I’m certainly elated about the recent developments in Rhode Island, Delaware and Minnesota, I’m a little more cautious — one might even use the word “pessimistic,” modified by “mildly” — about predicting that we’ll see much more progress beyond them any time soon, because those states were, comparatively, the easy wins, the low-hanging fruit. Neither Rhode Island nor Delaware had laws specifically banning the freedom to marry and, in fact, both offered civil unions already; Minnesota did have a statutory ban, but a constitutional amendment was defeated there last fall.

But 30 other states have amended their constitutions to ban the freedom to marry — and some have gone even further, banning civil unions and domestic partnerships as well — and it is not a simple matter to repeal such amendments. Each state has a different process for doing so; in some, only the legislature can begin the process of amending the constitution, in others citizens may do so by ballot initiative. In nearly all cases, however, amending the constitution is neither an easy, quick, or inexpensive undertaking.

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the path to marriage equality: what a difference a year – and a president – makes

An edited version of this piece appeared in the May 16, 2013 edition of the SF Bay Times.

Last Thursday marked the one-year anniversary of a marriage equality milestone. On May 9, 2012, President Obama told the nation, “[W]hen I think about members of my own staff who are in incredibly committed … same-sex relationships, who are raising kids together, when I think about those soldiers or airmen or marines or sailors who are out there fighting on my behalf and yet … are not able to commit themselves in a marriage, … it is important for me to go ahead and affirm that I think same-sex couples should be able to get married.”

President Obama’s statement of support for the freedom to marry, the first by a sitting U.S. president and the culmination of a years-long “evolution,” made history. Even more critically, it made a difference in shaping the conversation that is difficult to overstate.

In May, 2012, just six states and the District of Columbia had recognized marriage equality for same-sex couples. Just one day before the president’s pro-equality statement, in fact, after a bitter ballot initiative campaign and by an overwhelming margin of 61 to 39 percent, North Carolina voters had amended the state’s constitution to define marriage as between one man and one woman, and to prohibit same-sex couples not only from marrying but from entering into any “legal domestic union,” including civil unions and domestic partnership.

Our opponents gloated. One more confirmation, they asserted, of their talking point that every time “the people” are allowed to vote on marriage equality, they reject it.

Then the president made his public statement of support for the right of same-sex couples to marry.

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coming out for good: winning marriage equality in Rhode Island and beyond

An edited version of this piece appeared in the May 2, 2013 edition of the SF Bay Times.

I was poised to write this week’s column as a speculation about which state would be the tenth to recognize civil marriage equality for same-sex couples, joining nine other states and the District of Columbia where the freedom to marry already is guaranteed.

Would it be Delaware, where the House passed a marriage equality bill last week, just five days after the bill’s introduction?

Maybe Rhode Island, where two critical Senate votes finally had been scheduled, three months after a similar bill passed in the House?

Or Minnesota, where a state senator seen as a key swing vote announced he would support the pending bill?

Might it even be former front runner Illinois, which seems to be floundering after an initial brisk start out of the gate, when swift Senate approval had been hailed as a Valentine’s Day gift for Illinois’s same-sex couples?

Even Nevada got into the game last week, albeit by necessity taking a much longer view; due to statutory requirements, Nevada residents won’t be able to vote to repeal the existing ban and to sanction civil marriage equality until 2016 at the earliest.

Coming off a two-month period where there had seemed relatively little activity on marriage equality legislation, I was primed to handicap the race and make my predictions for the finish.

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“not getting married today”

On Sunday, Jeff and I took our tuxedos out of the closet and out of their dry cleaning bags, to let them air out.

You see, we had planned to marry each other tonight. But our marriage won’t take place today.

We had planned to marry each other last Thursday. But our marriage didn’t take place last week.

In fact, we had planned to marry each other last year. But our marriage never took place in 2009.

Why didn’t we marry today, or last Thursday, or last year? It wasn’t a case of nerves, second thoughts, or “cold feet,” nor was it bad weather. It wasn’t that we couldn’t get the place we wanted, or that the officiant failed to show up. It wasn’t that we didn’t really want to. We wanted to… we want to… intensely.

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an engaging story

I’ve been remiss in updating the blog this year; rather than full-form old-style blog posts, most of my writing these days takes the form of microblogging via Twitter and/or Facebook. However, Jeff and I both have been publishing occasional posts on a new shared site, “happy together,” accessible at both and, so you’re covered whichever one of us comes first when you think of us as a couple.

On our shared site, currently we’re chronicling our plans for our wedding this coming September 26. Yes, for those of you who haven’t already heard elsewhere, we’re engaged. To the semantics: yes, thanks to the odious Proposition 8 and DOMA, our union won’t actually be legally considered a civil marriage in California, with any of the state or federal rights and obligations afforded to opposite-sex couples. But as far as we’re concerned, it’s still a wedding. And, in fact, we already are registered in California as domestic partners, which gives us the same rights and obligations as does marriage here — though only at the state level, since the federal government won’t honor the legal agreement into which our state allows us to enter, which causes all sorts of real and potential issues and headaches when traveling out of state or when filing income taxes. But anyway, back to the positive…

On Friday, February 13, Jeff and I went into San Francisco to the same state office not where you apply for a marriage license, but where you apply for a business license, in order to register as domestic partners. The next day we drove down to San Simeon, Monterey and Carmel for the weekend, and over a romantic Valentine’s Day dinner in Carmel, we each proposed to the other. Happily, we both said “yes.”

So, our wedding and luncheon reception will be held Saturday, September 26, 2009, on the terrace and in the adjoining Terrace Room at the historic Cliff House in San Francisco, with its dramatic location overlooking the Pacific Ocean and Seal Rock.

For more information and for future updates about the wedding, please visit happy together or subscribe to its RSS feed (

two panoramas from today

This afternoon we had brunch at the Park Chalet on the Great Highway, and then walked across the road to Ocean Beach to take some photos, from some of which I created the following 360-degree panorama:

Afterwards, we drove to the Legion of Honor Museum where we caught the 4:00 organ concert and then strolled around until the museum closed. Afterwards, we took some additional photos on the grounds, from which I created the following panorama:

yet another opinion from Andrew Sullivan I could do without

Andrew Sullivan today wrote that California’s Prop. 8 “should stand, and the court should decline to reverse it. We lost. They won in a fair fight. No whining.”

First of all, “we” lost? Sullivan doesn’t live or vote in California. He didn’t contribute may not have contributed (ed.: as Jeff S. comments, the donor database doesn’t appear to be complete, so I can’t assume that Sullivan didn’t donate) a penny to defeat Prop. 8 (at least as of the most recent information in the donor database, from November 6 . He already has taken advantage of his right to legally marry his own same-sex partner in Massachusetts and his rights weren’t taken away by popular vote. How exactly is he part of “we”, and just why should we care what he thinks about this?

Second, by what stretch of the imagination was this a “fair fight”? Frankly, yes, I’d have preferred if Prop. 8 had been defeated at the ballot box, for once and for all. The elected representatives of the people, after all, approved same-sex marriage twice, but the governor vetoed it, saying that the Supreme Court should be the ones to decide.

And when it did go to the people, it won –and even so, just barely– by saturating the air waves with hateful lies and misrepresentations that would never be acceptable if used of any other minority, through appeals to irrational fears and bigotry, and with millions of dollars and person-hours of volunteer time essentially mandated by the Mormon church of its membership, much of that money and time coming from people who don’t even live in the state. And it won through the absurdity of a constitution that can be so easily amended, but not so easily revised. That’s hardly “fair.”

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