Thursday, July 28, 2005

Surviving an "on-the-air" attack

Last night was a very special evening because I was invited to discuss my novel with a book club who'd selected it as their July choice. The club comprised eight women--all of them teachers, educators and mothers--and one man who loves being the thorn among roses. How refreshing it was to spend nearly two hours answering questions about the writing process and 'Gabriel'. Over glasses of wine and snacks and with great enthusiasm, they discussed issues raised by the novel, namely family life and relationships, bullying, homosexuality, the Irish political situation, class prejudice and bigotry and intolerance. Their stimulating conversation made me think at one point, "This is why I wrote this novel and had it published in the United States. This is why I write."


Not so the interview I had this morning with a Rehoboth Beach shock jock, which I thought I'd share with you. First though, it requires me to fill you in on some pertinent background information.

When the hardcover of 'Gabriel' released last June, my publicist--a woman called Joan Schweighardt who first discovered my book and whom I now consider a great friend--was appointed by my publisher, and she did a stellar job finding me radio and telly spots to talk about my work. As I was to do a book tour of DC and Virginia last July, I decided to spend the weekend at our friends flat at Rehoboth Beach and do a reading at a bookstore which happened to be Lambda Rising, the gay one. Joan organized for me to do a 'phoner' with a radio station the day before my arrival in town and the talk show's producer asked her to send info about me and the book, which she duly did.

It will be clear to many of you by now that my novel deals with, among other important issues, Gabriel's sexual confusion as he enters puberty. To his horror, the protagonist finds himself attracted to other boys and, being a good Catholic child, he makes a valiant attempt to counter and expunge these feelings by dating a succession of girls, including the very wealthy, upper-middle class and Protestant, Fiona. It is also clear that my novel examines Gabriel's terror of becoming gay and his inability to tell his parents of his terror because of their rigid Catholicism and the pitiful, conservative environment in which he is growing up.

Unbeknownst to me, the host of this radio show had made a decision to skewer me. His second question was quite aggressive, but I put it down to the fact some radio personalities try to blindside a guest in order to get the listeners interested, if not highly excited. But this chap was relentless. He ignored an entire raft of issues, and kept asking inflammatory and silly questions--think Howard Stern here. For example, "Why did you make Gabriel gay?" and "I don't understand why Gabriel likes adult men." The questions and comments flummoxed me because I didn't know Gabriel liked adult men, either. You can guess the agenda; basically the questions bore no relevance to the novel's content and I was, in effect, being hi-jacked on the air. What was most despicable was that the questions had a marked anti-gay bias and seemed aimed only at expressing the host's abject bigotry and intolerance of gays, in addition to inciting the intolerance and even hatred of sections of his listenership. He was not in the least interested to examine the fear, pain and isolation the young protagonist felt, but rather wanted to extract lurid details as to why Gabriel would want to sleep with men, etc and whether I was Gabriel, etc. (I have never hidden that the book has a semi-autobiographical element--is in fact fiction rooted in experience.) As I saw immediately what was happening, I tried to steer the conversation back toward the literary, to discuss other important issues, but was consistently thwarted. Admittedly, I was a novice on the radio then, so I did my best and soldiered on without losing my temper or hanging up the phone.

A year later, the paperback's out, and I'm going to Rehoboth this weekend and Joan booked me on a radio show to coincide with my signing at Browseaboutbooks on Sunday. I could not remember the name of the host who'd tried to make a fool out of me and, after researching it, Joan was pretty sure the host wanting me on this time was not the same chappie. Early this morning I did the 'phoner', and guess what? Yes, you're absolutely right.

The first clue was his boyish voice. The next was his allusion to the fact he'd interviewed me before. My heart sank. I became instantly more alert. My first inclination was to slam down the receiver and go back to bed. And then I thought, it's people like me who, given an opportunity to do interviews such as these, can help diminish, if not actually extinguish, mindless bigotry. Of course, by now I've become a pretty seasoned veteran of radio and telly, so that aided my resolution...gave me the courage to continue with the interview, if you will.

And sure enough, the chap's segue was very sugary:he raved about the glowing reviews of my novel and the fact it was a finalist in a number of awards. In hindsight, this was aimed at buttering and softening me up for quick consumption. The first missile launched came in the form of a statement. He couldn't understand Gabriel wanting to be gay. I said, he was sexually confused and trying to fight being gay. He ignored the response and said again that he couldn't understand Gabriel wanting to be gay.

Immediately, I knew the barren path we were headed down, so I asked him a question.
I said, "What do you not understand?" Out came the flood of bile, his allusions to homosexuality and how he didn't understand it and then he dredged up pieces of our last interview. So I nipped it in the bud and addressed his audience directly, informing them how the host had shown disdain for my book and misrepresented it during the previous interview, how it had sold well in hardcover throughout the US to merit a paperback edition coming out now, that I wanted only to discuss the full content of the book and not discuss aspects of homosexuality that were not included within its covers, and last but not least, how I wrote the book to overcome bigotry, intolerance and downright animosity of children growing up different.

For a few delicious seconds, there was only dead air and I could hear the wheels in my host's brain make the connection. Next he asked, "Exactly what do you think the book will teach adolescents?"--and he referred to the review from a columnist for a parenting magazine and tried to quote her out of context. Again, I would not allow it. I said simply that it would teach kids to take action against bullies, because they are the first to see it happen in the playground, and it would teach them tolerance and compassion for any of their peers who're growing up different and struggling with it.

A little upset, he accused me of trying to manipulate the interview, and I expected him to terminate the conversation. But, clearly mindful of my allusion to bigoted and intolerant people, he switched tack and began to discuss the novel's other pertinent issues, such as the conservative community Gabriel lived in and the state of Irish politics. So all in all, I believe the interview was effective because some people called in to ask questions, and the host's closing questions were about my new novel
and touring in general.

Something very important was reinforced within my core today. We must all take a stand against bigotry, hatred and intolerance, no matter how inconsequential that stand may seem. We must avail of every opportunity to state clearly what we believe to be right and just, to speak out against what we know in our hearts is wrong, to educate people living in ignorance or hatred. We may not succeed at first. We may not succeed ever with those determined to hate or show intolerance. Even in those cases, we can take satisfaction in knowing we did the right thing. It is always easier to poke fun and ridicule minorities and those who are different. It is harder to love than hate, yet love we must.

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Monday, July 25, 2005

Link to Los Angeles Pacifica Radio interview

I decided to try this experiment because my IMRU interview on Pacifica Radio (KPFK 90.7FM) will play in Los Angeles tonight, 7 pm PST. As it's streamed over the internet, anyone who would like to listen to it over the computer may do so by linking to their site tonight (07/25) at 10.00 pm EST:
Their url is:
Pacifica Radio IMRU

Otherwise, it'll be on their archives.

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Los Angeles Jaunt:Part Two

Forgotten in the last post was my great surprise at the plethora of oil derricks dipping and rising in the barren fields on my way into West Hollywood from the airport. It was the first time I'd passed through working oil fields and I was astonished at their location within the vicinity of people's homes.

A saunter along Santa Monica Blvd early Monday morning bespoke a chief difference between the East and West Coast mentalities. Already, the cafes were crowded with people sipping lattes and nibbling upon all sorts of healthy looking (and inviting) rolls and breads. Inspired, I popped into the cafe near my hotel and ordered a bowl of oatmeal with raisins, walnuts and clumpy brown sugar instead of Weetabix (a Brit cereal which we can buy in East coast supermarkets, albeit at an exorbitant prices) toast and marmalade--delicious.

It's without risking cliche to conclude Californians--if not Californians, then certainly "Angelinos"--appear to be extremely health orientated; the overwhelmingly vast majority of women walking the streets had the proportions and fashion tastes of their European counterparts (admittedly WeHo as it is known is highly sophisticated) and the gyms--certainly the ones on Santa Monica Blvd--were vibrantly inviting and open 24 hours and people were actually using them after eleven at night. Another observation, one made after my second day, was that everyone seemed to be writing--not novels or memoirs, but rather the great American film script. It was amusing and very energizing (certainly energizing enough to make me resolve to resume my unfinished third novel on my return to the East coast) to sit at a table outside a cafe and hear a cluster of people talking unabashedly about script writing. Some even held group meetings at tables peppered over the sidewalks where they sipped iced coffees and critiqued one another's work. On one occasion, during lunch in a wonderful Spanish restaurant that served the most delicious seafood salad, a thirtyish something chap was having his work critiqued by someone of importance in the industry; I surmised that the scriptwriter must be a "somebody" by the gist of what he was advising about studio protocol in general, but soon was left in no doubt after the fellow took leave of his neophyte and was but ten yards down the street when said neophyte's boyfriend (who'd been sitting languidly at a nearby table with their sausage dog, Benedict) charged over and the two conversed excitedly about his good fortune to have someone so important spend time discussing his 'thriller-in-progress.'

Monday afternoon, I took a taxi from my hotel to the Adelphia Cable TV Studio where I taped Connie Martinson Talks Books which will air in Los Angeles on August 15th and in other cities, including Manhattan, shortly after that. Admittedly, given Connie's importance in book show circles, I was nervous and anxious not to make any gaffes, though she soon put me at ease. As I was waiting in the green room, I watched a prior author--forget about the glamor of being an author on tour; it's actually a conveyor belt at TV studios and radio stations--on the telly sharing an anecdote about how she was waiting in another NYC Green Room' for a national morning show anchor to interview her and how she was informed at the last minute by the producer that the national morning show anchor and she were wearing the same color of frocks. The incident was amusing and the popping of Xanix was alluded to, though I also could not help wonder why some women of intelligence obsess about another woman wearing the same shade of dress on the telly.

Thereafter, I was scheduled to speed off to do a live radio interview, one that was to be hugely important as the host's listenership was perfect for my novel, but the damned thing got cancelled. Maybe the Supreme Being was conspiring to make me suffer because I had been so unsympathetic to the prior author's Xanex predicament. It turned out the host's problem was familial and serious and I understood the reason for the cancellation of course, but still a part of me--a dark, selfish part hidden deep within my core--rebuked (if not actually cursed) the Supreme Being for a brief time most resoundingly. But in the end generosity and understanding prevailed and I do hope all worked out satisfactorily for the show's host.

It was not until the following morning, while on my way to Inglewood to do an interview on an overwhelmingly religious station with a huge audience --yes indeed, a religious show because one must not turn down the Supreme Being's largesse when it's offered, must one?--that I realized the cab driver, whom I'd used because he seemed friendly and honest, was in fact ripping me off...again most resoundingly. I'd been assured by my publicist that the Inglewood radio station was much closer to my hotel than the Adelphia Cable TV station of the previous day. Yet, I noticed the meter was running terrifyingly fast and, moreover, when the journey ended, the amount was but three dollars short of the previous days fare. I questioned this and the cabby--an Armenian whose family I felt I already knew very well--fell rock silent; but he recovered with some indecipherable utterance and then asked me much more lucidly to be sure to call his cell and have him cart me back to the hotel, no doubt because he figured I was suspicious by now.

Upon inquiry at the reception desk, it turned out my hostess, Ms. Bobby Howe, was having Cadillac and car dealership woes and would arrive an hour late, though I became not in the slightest bit unhinged as I has no immediate commitments. As I waited in the small, wood paneled waiting room I scrutinized a bunch of pamphlets containing information about the multitude of religious shows aired, as well as copious flyers with photos of backlit clouds and leafless trees in relief heralding bible study groups meetings, and one 70s looking one featuring the profile of a platinum-haired young woman and her heavily sideburned hubby.

A silhouette appeared on the glass front door around ten-ish and it seemed to swing open automatically. Five-foot-three, Bobby had coppery hair, was clad in pink, and administered an embrace that not even my mother has ever given me (We Irish are not big huggers, unfortunately). Bobby and I became friends immediately, even more so when she told me about her out-of-wedlock pregnancy years ago and a related fact she was a recovering Catholic. Throughout the course of half-an-hour, Bobby brought out every important aspect of the novel and my background--including Gabriel's conflict about his sexuality--and the result was one of the most sincere, one of the most valuable interviews I've ever had. She finished by having me read an excerpt, a piece about Gabriel's mother that I stumbled over about halfway through, but she would not edit it and assured me this would make our interview all the more sincere, all the more meaningful to her listeners. What she did edit out was a mistake I made out of ignorance when I gave the price of the paperback--apparently that is advertising and not allowed on shows like hers.


Of course, after the taping, I booked another taxi and discovered the fare was twelve dollars less. Full of zeal--I'd shared my story with Bobby and she was adamant I had to take action against the cab driver (she'd actually called him something a tad stronger)--I went to the hotel general manager because the malfeasant's company has a hub there. He was greatly concerned and has promised to investigate, even have this particular cabby banned from operating there if necessary, in addition to investigating the past practices of the company's cabby staff in general. It turns out they've had other complaints. It was one of those rare occasions where it actually helped to say I was also a NYC lawyer (implication being, I'm aggressive) as well as a visiting author.

Feeling appropriately vindicated, I booked another cab that Tuesday evening and was taken to my evening taping at Pacifica Radio for a very fair sum, the route taking me past the famous Hollywood pavement one sees often on the telly, the one littered with pink granite stars, as well as past the famous Chinese and Kodak theaters which have hosted and host the Oscars respectively. During the ride, my driver shared that there's a lot of cheating of customers going on among LA cabbies, from the downright mundane such as taking the longest route to a destination to the furtive use of an electronic device--presumably using infra-red technology--that causes the meter to turn faster as the car moves forward.

One final observation was the general vulgarity of the area around these infamous Hollywood shrines, so crammed were both sides of the Boulevard with camera outlets, fast food restaurants, T-shirt kiosks, loud tourists, etc. But then again, Hollywood life appears synthetic if not actually vulgar in the main, so perhaps it's fitting that the home of its hallowed shrines is but one cacophonous reflecting pool thereof.

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Thursday, July 21, 2005

Los Angeles jaunt: Part One

Catching a 10.15 am flight from Philly on American West (whom I shall never fly again out of principle because they are extremely cheap and do not allow one to ply oneself with their booze for free and charge $5.00 for ear phones), I found myself one seat in front of an orthodox Jewish family with four young, vocal children on their way to Santa Barbara.

Seeing them caused me to remember the time a few years ago when Larry and I dropped my parents off at Newark airport for their return flight home after a visit. Like me, my mother is a nervous passenger and, in the line in front of her at the check-in desk, were four Hasidic Jews. In Northern Ireland, there are no Hasidic Jews and, to people who have never seen them before, they can be very scary. My mother scrutinized them while affecting nonchalance to us as the line moved slowly forward. I know her every gesture and she wasn't listening to a word of my conversation, responding 'yes' to every question I asked her, and her face was glowing and had developed a sheen. Just as we were about to check in the bags, she chaffed at the bit, turned to my father and said, "James, I am not getting on a plane to London with these Arabs. It'll be the end of us."
It didn't matter one iota when I argued they were Jewish and prayed as much if not more than she did, and my twice-uttered insult that she was a bigot was ignored. To her, they were scruffy and dangerous-looking and she did not want to fly with them. In the end, I dragged the bags to the counter while my father calmed her down before the speechless check-in clerk.

In my case, the family was not Hasidic and they were all goodlooking, though curiously only the little girls were burdened with being dressed in painfully old-fashioned clothing. The wife was in her early thirties, English and highly educated judging by her rounded vowels, and I found myself taking many furtive glances at her while I debated myself back and forth as to whether she was wearing the de rigueur wig. (I occupy my mind on minutiae during flights, as well as scrutinize the flight attendants faces for any evidence of surprise or fear during bouts of turbulence and their attendant aircraft lurches, or upon the outbreak of unexpected creakings from within the plane's walls and bowels. My reasoning is, if it's unusual, their faces will register it.) In the end I concluded she was bewigged, because she kept scratching at the hairline on her nape during the flight and I was sure it couldn't be nits, my deduction being spot-on because she put on the little cap thingie which orthodox women wear during our stopover in Phoenix. What was truly remarkable about this family was that they were accompanied by a blonde-tressed Swedish or Danish au pair who had a small tattoo on her back and was dressed as liberally as they were conservatively. Indeed, it was clear her Scandinavian liberalism had already infected the family because their son was sporting a tattoo--admittedly only a transfer--on his forearm and Tati (their word for Daddy) who was clad in a black suit and hat, had obviously allowed it.

The flight would have been perfect had it not been for an outbreak of turbulence (judged excessive at the time of its occurrence, but filed in my mind under 'mild' once my butt was safely on the ground) halfway through the flight coupled with the alternate sighs and muffled squeaks that the aircraft's lurches elicited from one vastly more sensitive passenger--a macho, hirsute gentleman whom one wouldn't annoy if one encountered on a city street--across the aisle from me.

My first aerial view of Los Angeles was highly favorable and I was struck both by the contrast between Philadelphia's landscape of lush, green fields and woods and Los Angeles' crinkled mountains and the sprawling vastness of its grid. More than the distance and five hour duration of the flight, this remarkable contrast in topography viewed from the tiny porthole window of an aircraft was an apt reminder of just how vast is the territory of the United States.

Being practical, I had taken only a small backpack and I was out of the airport in five minutes. Though I had never been to LA before, within minutes I found myself ensconced in a Super Shuttle Taxi on my way to the hotel in West Hollywood...or so I thought. Thirty minutes later, after two complete revolutions of the entire airport's terminals in some mad hunt to fill the van with more victims, I had had enough, objected, and the other passengers chorused their agreement. What should have taken 40 minutes took one-and-a-half hours and I was dropped off last--as punishment for raising said objection, naturally. (Tomorrow, I shall relate further taxi service woes still raw in my mind.)

Anxious to taste West Hollywood, I showered quickly and hit the Santa Monica Blvd where I dropped in on A Different Light, the bookstore where I was to read the following night and went to supper at Hamburger Mary's. I'm a sucker for a good old fashioned hamburgers and this place goes right to the top of my list because it was cooked as requested, loaded with lots of interesting toppings, and accompanied by a huge organic salad (no iceberg or Romaine lettuce here) which worked wonders at extinguishing any guilt.

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Friday, July 15, 2005

Taking the Greyhound

This week has been absolutely hectic and it had nothing to do with the Orange Order. Next week will be equally hectic, and King Billy and his white charger are not involved either.

I went off to Boston to do some book promotion that involved taking the Greyhound bus for the first time ever, and I can now state unequivocally that the ride is nothing at all like they depict in the movies. Nothing! I remember watching countless American 'buddy' movies as a kid--they were my second most favorite movie genres, anything with Judy Garland being unbeatable (much to my Daddy's and brothers' chagrin)--and how romantic it all seemed to board one of those gleaming American buses and ride off without a care in the world and start a new life in a spanking new city, etc.

Throughout my maiden voyage, I was obliged to share a seat with a most friendly chap who had the worst case of halitosis I have ever come across in my life. It was dead NAF. (That's Brit for "nasty as fuck.") Throughout the journey I recalled a recent ad on the telly where a young girl sitting on an aeroplane slips a breath freshener melting thingie inside her neighbor's mouth while he's asleep so she can begin to enjoy her flight again. Unfortunately the only thing I had were some sugar-free mints and he refused my offer; so I was forced to keep turning away from him when he spoke and reply to his inquiries as if I were addressing someone else in the aisle.

One charming occurrence, for about twenty minutes, was how two children--a girl and Hispanic boy of about five or six--befriended each other about midway through the trip. They began to read to one other and then ask each other personal questions--very charming, until it dawned on me and a few other passengers that this conversation might tenaciously endure for the remainder of the journey. And so the trenchant blather did, their high-pitched remonstrations when one or other did not answer a question satisfactorily becoming as fatiguing as people being unnecessarily loud on cell phones--of which we had two such creatures in attendance. The most obnoxious by far was a middle-aged, ghastly thin woman who called people ad nauseum and was most anxious to share innumerable times with the entire bus a belief that her cell battery was dangerously low, that she was someone of consequence in props or set design and didn't like the new hire one single bit and had her caller heard anything about this woman's background, and that she was going to change in the South Station lavatories into a black skirt before meeting her friends at some restaurant.

Because I am leaving on Sunday morning for Los Angeles on Sunday to do some radio and TV for my novel's promotion, I will not be blogging much, if at all, until next Thursday. While there, I will also be doing a reading in West Hollywood at A Different Light, 8853 Santa Monica Blvd on Monday, July 18 at 7:30 pm (for the benefit of my 'Angelinos'? readers) and then on Wednesday, July 20th at 7.30 at Barnes and Noble in Walnut Street, Philadelphia (for the benefit of my Philly readers).


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Tuesday, July 12, 2005

Orangemen's Day--a brief history

July 12th is a huge day in Northern Ireland and, seeing as I'm from there, I thought I'd explain it.

It all goes back to 1690. Yes that's right--1690! Tomorrow, July 12th 1690 becomes very much alive to some people in that part of the world. On that day, the Catholic King James (by the way, he was English and not at all fond of the Irish; in fact despised us) had crossed over to Ireland and the Protestants were decidedly unhappy because he was Catholic and they could not accept his rule. For months in the City of Londonderry (Derry to Catholics) the Protestants had been under siege by the King James' troops--the ancient city walls are three feet thick--and they were being starved into submission, were in fact eating their horses, cats and even rats.

On July 12th 1690--this was the day on the old Julian Calendar--the Protestant King William of Orange (a member of the same House that reigns in the Netherlands today, and who'd arrived in Ireland to assist the Protestants) crossed the River Boyne--a very famous river in Ireland--and a battle commenced between him and King James. King James lost the battle, though the siege of Derry and the Protestants liberation did not end for a further four weeks. (That day of liberation is celebrated separately in August by the Protestant Apprentice Boys and it's another day where the threat of violence lurks.)

From that ancient July 12th date till the present day, the Protestant majority--who formed the Orange Order throughout the Northern Irish province to honor King William --have celebrated the win by marching in the streets. Moreover, the Orange Order became synonymous with Protestant rule in Northern Ireland (and with overt discrimination against the Catholic minority) and all Prime Minsters up until the last one have been fervent members of the Order.

Even today, notwithstanding there is a sort of peace in Northern Ireland, there are many members of the Orange Order who insist it is their right to march through Catholic areas on July 12th. They refuse to change their march route and claim it is an ancient custom, a Protestant birthright, though nowadays the British government is much more impartial and has ordered the Police Service not to allow them to march in Catholic areas. (This, of course, disgruntles many police officers who are members of the Orange Order, but they must obey.) Official policy is that the Orangemen are entitled to celebrate their day but are not entitled to antagonize Catholics and, as a result, the police form a barrier between any Catholic areas on the official parade route and the marchers. Sometimes violence does ensue as either side shout insults at one another.

Many Catholics think it quite funny to watch the Orangemen strutting--accompanied by fife and drum bands--with black umbrellas, bowler hats and orange sashes identifying their lodge behind huge banners of King William on a white charger. Of note, no Protestant women are allowed to become members of these Orange Order lodges. It's a male only club even in 2005. Women may help raise funds and serve tea and sandwiches to their fathers, husbands, uncles and sons, but they may not aspire to membership.

Aside from the chauvenism (which many of the women don't object to, I might add,) I believe the entire "celebration" is archaic and utterly ridiculous. It's time to move on and let 1690 die forever. It's time for the Orangemen to accept they share part of an island with Catholics who have as much right to rule as they do. But then any of them reading my post would say, "He's a Catholic and a Fenian, so what does he know about anything?; let's march through their territory and humiliate them in the name of King Billy. God Save the Queen."

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Friday, July 08, 2005

Outrage

I join my London friends--all of whom are safe, I'm delighted to say--in expressing deep outrage at the cowardly attacks on a great city and its inhabitants. As I watched the events unfold on the telly and saw the names Aldgate and King's Cross--tube stations I'd used sometimes when I lived there--I felt a great affinity for the Brits and applaud their stoicism.

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Sunday, July 03, 2005

The Spanish Enlightenment

Ever since the issue of whether the word 'marriage' should be extended to include gay people who want their relationships recognized by the state, I had not been one to obsess about whether those relationships should be called 'marriages' or 'civil unions.' I couldn't understand the obsession of some who insisted it be called 'marriage' and nothing but 'marriage' would be acceptable. I admit now I was ignorant. I was ignorant because I understood neither the facts nor the law. Even lawyers like me can be ignorant....sometimes!!

The cogent reason why many gay people want the relationship to be called 'marriage' is that calling it anything else would automatically relegate it to an inferior status in society. For example, I understand that upon marriage as currently defined, 1,138 federal laws offering protections, rights and duties come into being automatically (as well as over 100 state laws) and that, moreover, these protections, rights and duties are NOT automatic upon registering a civil union with the state, whether that union is a homosexual or heterosexual one. Indeed, foes of gay people having the right to enjoy legalized relationships argue that there is no need for us to seek marriage, that we enjoy the same privileges as husbands and wives (such as transfer of property and health benefits, etc.) upon one of the marriage partner's demise. However, this is a devious lie. These foes conveniently obfuscate the legal reality that the privileges and rights are NOT granted automatically upon the union's coming into existence and gay (and straight, it must also be remembered) people are forced to pay additional death taxes on the transfer of the property and expend large sums of money to assert their rights. And another insidious lie that our foes try to spread in relation to the marriage debate is that gay people are anti-family. Let me state categorically this is untrue. We love our families. We love family life. We are an integral part of our families. Therefore, stop spreading lies and falsehoods, and stop trying to incite hatred.

I am thus delighted that the Spanish parliament--despite vociferous opposition by a group of conservatives called the Family Forum, a group aided greatly by the Catholic Church whose power is on the wan there--by a majority of 187 to 147, decided to extend the institution of marriage to its gay citizenry. They did so by annexing one sentence to the legal definition of marriage under Spanish law.
"Marriage will have the same requirements and results when the two people entering into the contract are of the same sex or of different sexes."

Spain is truly an enlightened land in this issue. So too is Belgium and Holland, and soon so will Canada. Even jolly old England that spawed 'The Margaret' (or should I state "cultivated" since her parents were Finchley greengrocers--"get you fruit and veg' here, best London fruit and veg' here") is giving legal recognition to gay relationships. This is not a question of gays acquiring rights to which they're not entitled, or of gays receiving preferential treatment. Seventy percent (70%) of the Spanish population favored giving the right to marry on equal terms to gay people. To the Spanish populace, it is a question of justice and equality under the law. And I believe justice is like a slow moving river. Whether foes of gay people like it or not, the right to marry and achieve equality under the law will come to the shores of these United States.

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