Thursday, October 30, 2008

Stay Tuned!

I'm having a crazy day today, but just to give a little heads-up to regular readers, I'm prepping a fun little video barrage for this evening complete with drugs, Tina Fey, Baseball, strange campaign gaffes and um... did I mention videos about drugs and weird other scary stuff like that?

I know, I know... this post is a tease, and while I was typing it I totally could have just fed you at least one of the videos I'm vaguely describing, but if you wait, they'll all come in one glorious post sometime later tonight. I swear. Like, really.

Until then, here's a picture of me celebrating the Phillies' win in the World Series! YEAH PHILLIES!!!!!! Kim doesn't look too scared by my craziness, right? Ok, if so it's kinda understandable. I was um... a little excited. Just a bit. Ok, no really, I was out of my mind with excitement.

Last time the Phillies won a world series I was... what? Oh, that's right not quite 6mo old!

Politics Is Local: Questions about CT Question #1

Connecticut has recently become the latest state thrust into the gay marriage spotlight, when the CT Supreme Court ruled that laws setting out marriage for straight folks and civil unions for gay folks were an example of a "separate but equal" approach to the law. This ruling and judgment on their part, strikes me as eminently logical, clear-cut, and very admirable. I know the marriage question can be difficult for some people, even very tolerant people, but there are common sense aspects to this whole debate, and the analogy to "separate but equal" is, in my eyes, one of the clearest available.

The result of this decision? A new push to introduce ballot initiatives into law in CT via Question #1 which is not a ballot initiative itself. Question #1 is a once-in-twenty years chance for CT voters to say yes or no on the idea of the state holding a convention to review and revise the CT constitution. This question is not legislative, and was last on the ballot in 1986 when voters decided no such convention was necessary.

The predominance of opinion seems to hold that the supporters of Question #1 and a convention want to use this forum to enact ballot initiatives into law, whereby they will almost certainly then move swiftly to introduce an anti-gay marriage initiative onto the next possible ballot.

Now, Ballot initiatives are not a new thing, and here in America they have made some of the biggest splashes out in Califorina, where famous initiatives include:
  • Proposition 187, which was designed to deny illegal immigrants social services, health care, and public education (passed with 58.8% of the vote in 1994, and was subsequently overturned by a federal court).
  • Proposition 215, also known as the Compassionate Use Act which passed in 1996 with 55.6% of the vote. The proposition allows patients with a valid doctor's recommendation, and the patient's designated Primary Caregivers, to possess and cultivate marijuana for personal medical use, and has since been expanded to protect a growing system of collective and cooperative distribution.
While these two examples may seem to show how ballot initiatives can swing support to causes both socially liberal and conservative, the most widespread use of ballot initiative in recent memory has been as a tool to fight against the institutionalization of gay marriage. As I mention in the introduction, CT now finds itself in the middle of the marriage battle. Hence, one of the biggest supporters of voting "Yes" on Question #1, is the Catholic church.

Advocates claim that ballot initiatives will help the people participate more directly in CT's government, and that they will help fight corruption and lack of action on issues close to CT voters' hearts. Opponents, including the Attorney General (aka the highest ranking lawyer in the state) of CT, believe ballot initiatives would give special interests and lobbyists a new tool, and would not benefit the people.

So, what to do? Is it a good or bad idea to let the people of our lovely nutmeggy state gain the wonderful new ability to petition for and then exercise a new right to basically legislate via popular vote?

I would strongly encourage people to vote "no." While I like the idea of ballot initiatives in theory, I don't necessarily see them as a huge positive in practice. I also am someone whose personal beliefs are pretty far left, so I feel like rules legislated by popular opinion (it is suggested that along with anti-gay marriage initiatives, we would likely also see mandatory sentencing or "three strikes and your out" initiatives introduced on ballots right away) are likely to be at least a significant distance further to the right than where I sit.

Bottom line here, as I see it, is that the people pushing for Question #1 to get yes votes are not being forthcoming about their motives, and I find that reason enough to give it a thumbs-down.

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