Justin Krebs's blog

This Week In Blackness - Election Night Edition

This momentous occasion deserves celebration, and with that is laughter. How many of us laughed out loud through the course of last night out of pure joy? Laughed as we embraced our friends?

Well, Laughing Liberally's Elon James White stayed up all night to cut a video to keep us laughing: the 12th episode of This Week in Blackness.

Katie Halper Does It Again

Jews for McCain. 'Nuf said.

Vote '08

The above note hangs on the wall of the Norristown, PA Obama office where my sister has been working. A grandkid's plea...so here's mine:

Need it be said? Go out there and vote.

Bring a child to watch you vote.
Bring a friend and double your vote.
Bring an umbrella, a book, a sound system -- make it a party, as Color of Change recommended to its list, to keep people engaged, keep them entertained and (most importantly) keep them in line.

Wear a button.
Smile at people who are wearing buttons.
Start conversations about your button.
High five strangers -- it's awesome.

If you're in NY, make your vote count more by voting for the Working Families Party line.

You've donated, you've blogged, you've swayed your friends. If you have any hours today, do more than vote -- we need you in the field or on the phone, every hour you have.

Then - join friends afterward as we watch the results.

Where Do I Go On Election Night? (.com, of course)

Election Day is almost upon us...and after that, election night.

Where will you be?

An increasing number of articles have detailed the desire to share the evening with others...suggesting that like the moon landing, a world series game, or a season finale, this is the type of moment -- profound or absurd -- you want to remember.

And in each city, like here in New York, I'm sure there are listings telling you what's going on.

So we decided to make it easier for you?

If the question is: Where Do I Go On Election Night?
The Answer is: WhereDoIGoOnElectionNight.com.

Because the evening will be better in the company of friends.

Gay Marriage and Proposition 8: A Personal Perspective

by Andrew J. Bernoff, Professor of Mathematics, Harvey Mudd College

(The following was sent to us by Greg Rae, a member of the Living Liberally leadership team, who is in California working on the No On 8 campaign to defeat the referendum against marriage equality.)

February 18th, 2004 was the happiest day of life.

On that day I married my husband, Tom, for the first time at San Francisco city hall. It was a day I never thought I would see. It was act of passion, an act of political activism, and a small step on a road toward equal rights for gay and lesbian couples, even if the marriage was eventually declared a legal nullity.

On May 15th this year the California Supreme Court affirmed that our actions in San Francisco were not only justified, but mandated by the idea of equal protection in the state constitution. Separate but equal is inherently inequitable or to quote the court:

"In view of the substance and significance of the fundamental constitutional right to form a family relationship, the California Constitution properly must be interpreted to guarantee this basic civil right to all Californians, whether gay or heterosexual, and to same-sex couples as well as to opposite-sex couples."

I married Tom for a second time on July 2nd , hoping that finally we would be viewed equally in the eyes of the state. Proposition 8 threatens to invalidate our marriage.

As a gay man, I'm tired of being treated like a second-class citizen. I have been spat on, badly beaten, and had beer bottles thrown at me. Even in Claremont, I have had eggs thrown at me from a moving car whose occupants yelled that omni-present epithet 'faggot' at me. As a gay couple, Tom and I are also tired of being treated as somehow inferior to our straight counterparts. We've spent hundreds of dollars getting legal documents such as wills and durable powers of attorney, just to try and protect ourselves and our futures. When it comes to benefits afforded to married couples, we have been discriminated against by insurance companies, academic institutions, hotels, and car rental companies, not to mention federal and state taxes. Sometimes these hurdles are low ("You are domestic partners? OK, fill out these forms in triplicate and get them notarized and we will let you . . . .") and sometimes they are impenetrable (Tom is on my HMC health insurance policy, which is taxed federally and has cost us literally thousands of dollars).

By voting "No on 8," you can help put an end to this.

Change is painful. It took nearly a century for this country to abolish slavery, and another century for the Civil Rights Act to codify equality on the basis of race. It took until 1920 for women in this country to be able to vote, and another half-century for them to gain the legal protections of Equal Rights that has heralded their progress toward equality in the workplace and the world. In retrospect discrimination on the basis of race or gender seems repugnant to most all of us; I have enormous personal conviction that eventually we will have similar societal attitudes toward gays and lesbians.

With change comes fear of the unknown. Most all the arguments for Proposition 8 revolve upon fear of what will be taught in schools about gay marriage and how it will affect faith-based organizations. First of all, Prop. 8 says nothing about schools or religious institutions. It amends the constitution to say "Only marriage between a man and a woman is valid or recognized in California," and most legal scholars agree that it will eliminate the right of same-sex couples to marry in California.

To those who support Proposition 8 I have some questions: Have you so little faith in your sons and daughters that my marriage will some how corrupt their view of the world? Have you so little faith in our societal protection of religious freedom that my marriage will somehow affect how you practice your faiths and beliefs? Endorsing Proposition 8 sends the message that legislating discrimination and taking people's rights away is OK. Are these the values you wish to embrace and teach to your children?

It breaks my heart that some of my students, former students and colleagues support Proposition 8. I have committed my life to your education, given you counsel and consolation, written you letters, nominated you for prizes, given money to the causes you support and helped your children in times of difficulty. If you truly respect me as an individual, can't you support our government extending me the same rights that you would any of your straight colleagues? Why are you so threatened by the fact that I love my partner and want to build a life and a future with him?

But when it comes right down to it, don't vote against Proposition 8 for me. Do it for the children of gay and lesbian couples to let them know that their families are viewed with equal rights in the eyes of the law. Do it for your gay classmates and friends, to let them know that you don't see them as second-class citizens. Do it for your children so they understand that discrimination is wrong. Do it because you want to live in a country where indeed "All men [and women] are created equal."

Wedding Liberally

Gay marriage...not just for gays anymore.

Edie and Michael weren't planning on getting married. Together almost a decade, they just hadn't seen the need. They believed that marriage, historically, had often been used to make women subservient to men. And they were uncomfortable being able to enjoy a right denied to their gay friends.

The opportunity for same sex couples to marry in Massachusetts didn't change their intentions, nor did the events in California. What did change their minds was expecting a baby. In February, they'll become parents...and as they began investigating Washington State law, they realized it would be easier raising their child if they were married. The way the state, the schools, the courts are structured expect couples that are living together with children to be husband and wife.

Washington doesn't allow civil unions for heterosexual couples (except for senior citizens), so Edie and Michael were in a bind. Fortunately, it's not a long drive to California.

Last week, they were married under California's law, before that law is threatened by the anti-family, anti-rights, anti-gay Proposition 8. Now, they return to Washington with the full rights and privileges of a family; but what about the many same-sex couples in California that might see their own lifelong vows challenged? What about the many people who are starting families together who will be denied rights and privileges if there isn't marriage equality?

Edie and Michael came to see how the state values marriage -- and until those advantages change, or until marriage is relegated to churches and the state just issues civil unions, we need to make sure everyone has the same chance that this Washington couple drove to California for.

There is a great effort to beat back Proposition 8 -- they need votes to defeat it; they need money; and they need everyone sharing stories of their loved ones for whom marriage equality isn't just a principle, but for whom it needs to be a reality.

I Voted

I voted today.

I went to the New York Board of Elections. I filed out my absentee ballot request form in person. I sat in what looked like a classroom with about 3 dozen other people at any given time. We all waited patiently. Somewhat quietly. Waiting like we were on a mission.

And we were.

It actually took over a half-hour before they called my name and handed me my ballot. By then, I was feeling a little weary from the room.

But once I filled out my ballot, and as I sealed the envelope, I couldn't repress a big smile.

Other people caught it -- they smiled too.

Then, five minutes later, I had to fight back tears.

As I exited the building onto the street, I just felt overwhelmed.

Why?

Was it a similar feeling that a friend's mother expressed to her daughter in an email yesterday?

Dear Suzan,

Today I, the great-great granddaughter of slave owners, voted for an African-American for President of the United States. When I saw his name on the voting machine, it hit me in a way I did not expect. I felt the weight of history and had to blink back tears until I got outside. No matter what the outcome, we have advanced as a people and a civilization in my lifetime and I feel privileged to have been a witness and a participant in all this.

Love,
Mom

It's not just that sense of history...it's not just that hope for advancement...it was also the people I rode down the subway with:

- a middle-aged white woman, classic New Yorker-in-a-rush, who was on her way to the airport. Her ballot never arrived, so she stopped off before flying off to make sure she voted.

- a Latino man, late 20s or early 30s, lowkey, hat pulled down low...holding his bi-racial daughter who he had brought with him...she'll be a lifelong voter.

- the elevator operator who grabbed my hand and gave it a hearty pump as I stepped onto the groundfloor, grinning at my Obama button.

Did they evoke the tears in me?

Or was it the sense that we might actually take this country forward, out of the hands of a gang that has screwed it up and screwed us up...that we might restore some of the lost beauty and glory of our country.

Sappy? Silly? Perhaps. But I tell everyone now: vote -- not only because you should, because your country needs you to, but because you might feel overwhelmed with emotion when you do, and it's a beautiful feeling.

The Candidates Have Done Their Job - Time To Do Ours

They've given two years of sleepless nights,
criss-crossing the country, devoid of privacy,
scrutinized, slandered, savaged & slammed.

They've had to watch every word,
spend endless hours in swing states
& make every effort to appeal to "undecideds."

And they do all this to inherit a crashing economy,
housing crisis, unending war in Iraq,
broken national reputation & dysfunctional government
that's been looted by cronies & crooks.

Why exactly do they want this job?

Because there's greatness in America,
& it's time to make our country better again.

The candidates have done their job
...now it's time to do ours.

Vote early, vote often, volunteer your time
& come lift a delightful drink to democracy
at your local progressive social club.

DRINKING LIBERALLY
Find - or start - a chapter near you.

Hollywood Does Better

A few weeks ago, a celebrity-studded video hit YouTube asking people to vote.

In the comments on Open Left, I ridiculed it. The spirit was their, but I was distinctly unimpressed.

I thought it was kind of lame, and gave suggestions on how it could be better:
- more humor
- more examples of issues these celebs care about
- more absurdity.

I'm happy to report that Steven Spielberg, Harrison Ford, Julia Roberts, Forest Whittaker, Tom Cruise and others have listened to my advice!

It's a little long...but it's much more fun to watch:

Help Us Build Progressive Strength in New York

This open letter to the Netroots from Netroots New Yorkers is posted by other signatories on The Albany Project and Daily Gotham

Democrats are on the ascent, nationally and in states like ours, where the decades-old Republican stranglehold on Albany may finally be broken in less than one week.

If the Democrats are victorious, then the real battle will begin: how do we hold them accountable to progressive values against the enormous pressure they will face to play it safe?

It's going to be a big challenge, so we'll cut to chase: we need your help. New York needs your help. The single biggest thing we can do right now to boost progressive power in the Empire State is to strengthen our very own progressive third party - the Working Families Party.

As you may well know, they've led many of the big battles over the last ten years, from raising the minimum wage to putting paid family leave on the map, to fighting for affordable healthcare for all, public transportation, and most recently taking on Mayor Bloomberg's extremely undemocratic plan to extend term limits without a public vote

The term limits fight deserves a close look. The WFP, with the help of bloggers and parts of the city's labor movement, was able to turn what would have been an overnight power grab into a very real - and only narrowly lost – fight. They did it by quickly assembling a grassroots coalition, online and in the streets, to put pressure on a City Council that had expected none.

The term limits battle is another reminder that voter anger is not enough – winning means having progressive institutions with the resources to respond when push comes to shove.

The fights of the future will be no different. The more strength the WFP has, the better our chances are of keeping Democrats from drifting rightward in 2009.

To do it, we need to get every progressive we can reach to vote for Barack Obama - and the Democratic candidates for Congress and the state legislature - on the Working Families ballot line.

That's where you come in. Thousands of Netroots activists in New York already vote on the Working Families line, but need a reminder. Many thousands more would find their happy home on "Row E" - if we let them know (repeatedly) about the opportunity.

They've set up a great website to do just that: Vote Change Like You Mean It.

Our task is to make sure enough people read what's there. Tell your friends, family, all your fellow New York progressives. Blog, Twitter – whatever your thing is, do it.

It's simple. Working Families votes not only let us "vote our progressive values," they carry an important implicit threat. The WFP and its allies online and off have a track record defeating incumbent Democrats through primary challenges when those Democrats let us down.

The more Working Families votes there are this November, the greater that threat becomes, and the more likely we are to win the big votes for affordable housing, campaign finance reform, a fair budget, and everything else next January and beyond.

On November 4th we have a chance not just to kick Republicans out of the White House and Albany, but to start making Democrats better from day one.

We hope you'll join us. Go to: www.workingfamilies.org/Obama -- tell your friends, fellow activists, and every New Yorker you know. The more votes, the more progressive power.

To contact the WFP about helping directly, email Dan Levitan at dlevitan@workingfamiliesparty.org

Sincerely,

Phil Anderson and Robert Harding, The Albany Project

Michael Bouldin, Daily Gotham

Justin Krebs, Political Organizer

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