All posts by Mark Rushing

Some Little Tidbits

Sent this message out to friends:

Well, it’s a government/public day here, with primary elections and all… Thought I’d mention a few things.

The first one I mention because people shouldn’t twist the truth to further their own ends.

The second one I mention because I think it’s really excellent when people can move beyond what they think and feel about things – what they hold true. So often when we hold something _tightly_ true, it means that we’re worried it might not be after all – and this makes us unsettled – even angry. I think that the truth of things lives regardless, anyway.

The third one I mention, just cuz it’s good to see even the stodgey get a wiggle in their butts sometimes… 😉

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The Seattle Monorail Project might be coming up for vote yet again – I don’t know how many times they’re going to make us approve it – even though it was a close call. The project’s already even bought a lot of the land it needed to, to put in the stations.

According to a Seattle Times article today a state appeals court is allowing the “recall” initiative to go through. However, the Monorail Project is appealing to the state Supreme Court.

Strangely, it’s not really a recall, from what I can gather – but an initiative to disallow the public agencies from forcing land owners to give up little rights-of-way for it.

I can’t find the text of I-83 anywhere – even on the I-83 website.

The monorail project that passed has terms for a recall – I don’t know why they’re just not using it, instead of focusing on public rights-of-way.

Maybe it has something to do with Martin Selig, a gigantic Seattle developer, providing over 90% of the funding for the “recall”…

Interestingly, they hired out-of-towners to come in and collect the signatures needed to validate I-83. They said they did this without any local volunteers because everyone here “has jobs”…. ??

Honestly, I don’t know what’s best. The monorail might be very ugly in some places.

But I think that if we don’t want it, we should vote on an actual recall, rather than voting on something that sets a precident for undermining Washington’s Growth Management Act – which I can see might be a good thing for big developers…. 😉

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I was talking with my always wonderful to talk with lawyer Lindsay the other day about many things, including the recent opinion by Judge Richard D. Hicks regarding same-sex marriage. The opinion talked about gays being a “protected” class – which irritated me.

As usual, I was taken on a very interesting journey through legal thinking, which is still so strangely like philosophy, yet utterly different – I think because _there has to be an answer_. 😉

He pointed me to the text of the actual opion, which I’ve attached to this message, if you’re interested. It’s the most wonderfully thought-out approach to the subject I’ve read.

And, in reading it – I had a little epiphany. Thanks, in part, to Oregon and insurance companies. 😉

I guess our state Constitution is taken largely from Oregon’s – we’re very, very similar. And yes, Anthony, I find that difficult to admit. 😉

A “suspect class” of people – from what I can gather – is a group of people where laws or views upon them seem to be applying in different ways, depending upon the circumstance you’re looking at. For example, Oregon did this:

…Oregon’s practice of denying insurance benefits to unmarried same-sex couples while at the same time allowing benefits to married opposite-sex couples. The state insurance agency argued that the basis for the distinction was whether a couple was married or not and did not turn on their sexual orientation. The court found this facially neutral explanation insufficient to support the discrimination because same-sex couples could not marry and cure the distinction whereas opposite sex couples could marry and gain the benefits. In reaching this result the Oregon court found that same-sex couples constituted a suspect class for the purposes of constitutional discrimination analysis.

It’s really a very well-written – and not such a hard read – I think he went to lengths to make it accessible to the “lay”… 😉

Interestingly, this judge deals a lot with family and child issues in his court. All the notions of what constitues a family – all the wild and various things that have come across his doorstep over the years – he is a uniquely qualified person to look at this issue.

We, the community, need to come to know ourselves. We need to have the fortitude to see who we are and accept ourselves as we are. If we look at ourselves, and at our neighbors, what do we see that counts as a “family”?

For at least two generations we have understood “family” as something more than a man mating with a woman to have a child. A single parent is a family. Grandparents raising grandchildren without the help of the parents is a family. Adults giving foster children a home are a family. Same sex couples who adopt children are a family. Opposite sex couples who adopt children are a family. Single parents with children who marry each other bring into being a new family. A childless couple, same sex or opposite sex, can be a family. And older child raising his or her siblings is a family. There are other examples.

…Although encouraging more family stability is a compelling state interest these statues do not further that interest and are not narrowly tailored to do so. They do not even bear a rational relationship to that interest. It is more likely that they weaken family stability when we consider what a family is.

…The clear intent of the Legislature to limit government approved contracts of marriage to opposite sex couples is in direct conflict with the constitutional intent to not allow a privilege to one class of the community that is not allowed to the entire community. To the extent RCW 26.04.010 and RCW 26.04.020 effect this they are contrary to the state Constitution.

…When the government is involved, one part of the community can not be given a privilege that is not given to other members of the community unless the government can demonstrate how that discrimination furthers the benefit of the entire community.

When we divide the community into classes and categories the division must at least bear some rational relation to a legitimate government purpose. If this division is based on ‘suspect’ lines, such as immutable characteristics that a person can’t change such as race, sex, age and so on, or, involves a fundamental right, such as marriage or to bear children, then the discriminatory division is looked at closely and must be narrowly tailored to advance the particular government interest.

For the government this is not a moral issue. It is a legal issue. Though these issues are often the same, they are also quite different. The conscience of the community is not the same as the morality of any particular class. Conscience is what we feel together as one community. Conscience makes us one people. What fails strict scrutiny here is a government approved civil contract for one class of the community not given to another class of the community. What can reconcile our differences is the feeling that with these differences we are still one people. This is the democracy of conscience. (footnote to Jacob Needleman, The American Soul).

I dunno – read it over – I thought it was great.

I don’t feel so stupid about being part of a class that is “suspect”… 😉

Lindsay says it just means that it “raises the bar” to a higher level – where you have to really go out of your way to say that someone shouldn’t have that right.

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And finally, check out our federal governement’s Federal Citizen Information Center – you know, the people in Pueblo Colorado…

On the right side they quote the infamous gay iconic Sister Sledge song, “We are family, I got all my sisters with me”…

Almost as good as all the high school football teams around the country, and fans all singing, Queen’s “We Are the Champions” – go Freddy! 😉

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A Dream of You

I’ve rarely dreamed about you, at least that I can remember. But I have thought about you a lot, and felt a lot.

Last night I had a dream about you.

I was at your father’s house. But it was not your father’s house – it was lighter, strewn about with the clutter of many things, and smaller. The focus was a couch. You and I were seated on the couch next to each other, my father was there also – he sat on the other side of you, and your father was seated next to me. So, on your right, was me. On your left, my father. On my left, you. On my right, your father.

Our fathers would switch places sometimes.

You were balding, ugly and angry that you were there, wanting to leave. But I still felt something for you, and wondered why you remained. You yelled at me about it for a while. Your father looked at me with some kind of empathy – like he understood, and was apologising to me, and saying, this you must accept – it is he- but he said nothing other than with his eyes and his stance.

My father sat there like a tree growing deep into earth, which made me feel secure. But he also said nothing.

Then this small group of people came over who were friends of yours. They dressed themselves up, the girls had their hair cut nicely, they all wore clothes as if they were going out to a nightclub party night – they talked about television shows and spoke about people who weren’t there in petty ways. When they looked at each other they saw nothing, but had some kind of rappor that kept their energy/talking level high. Their laughs seemed nervous.

You were leaving with them to go to a restaurant. And then you all left as a group, and you accused me of something as you left, without saying it.

I looked at your father, very sad, and he just looked back, and I knew he understood.

There was another guy there – I’m not really sure where he came from. But he surprised me from behind, and I turned around to look at him, and his hair looked like it had just been chopped closely to his head, and he was dressed unusually, having the look of intensity and honesty. He smiled at me. And I remembered something that ran like a deep, hot chill to the core of what I am.

When I left, I looked back at the house, and all the lights were off – darkness. But I saw movement through the window.

The air was crisp, alive. And the tall trees shuddered in the wind, all at once.

A Message to My Friends

Random FountainToday as I was driving home, I stopped at a light near a building. The building’s side nearest the road has a little park in which a giant round area exists which contains random shoots of water that spray in a great steady stream high into the air. It’s impossible to predict when a given shoot of water will erupt – and the little park makes no distinction between the safe cement and the uncertain eruptions of water, other than the giant round circle on the ground, which is completely flat and flush with the normal pavement.

Two boys were running about in it today – one much taller than the other – in his early to mid teens, and the other boy just nearing his teens. Their shirts were fairly well drenched from the play. They would walk out into the circle, waiting – then dodge and run as eruptions occurred, laughing and yelling. They were of the same mind in this – pure enjoyment of the uncertainty, of the exhilirating feel of sudden cold water, and of the novelty.

I remembered a dear friend’s children whom I had begun to know. The oldest was two. I remembered the shape of what she knew, and could perceive, and the grand journey of her explorations. I would allow myself to enter into her sphere, allowing to dissolve all the many periphery things we grow accustomed to, and take for granted – and I would listen to her, and speak with her. It truly is incredible all the things you can learn, from anyone, when you truly allow yourself to listen, and when you truly listen to what you say. And in this time before Rules or Law, before right and wrong, before knowing the greater challenges of existence, before we are handed our eyes upon the world, in large part by the people who raise us – all possibilities exist.

A couple days ago I received a mail from Ian, commenting on the technical nature of a letter I sent to my friends – how it reminded him of Star Trek or Battlestar Galactica. Then I remembered something I had forgotten, yet have almost always known.

The people whom I have called friends, and who have allowed me to call them so, are not easily grouped together. It has historically been a very rare thing for any of my friends to get along well with each other. Each is so vastly different. It leaves me wondering, what is it that somehow draws us together?

Upon entering each person’s sphere, it is so simple to see the amazing circumstances that have led them to become the being they are – when each of you listen, and each of you come forth with honesty and trust. And what can possibly be more incredible?

Yet why is something like this so rare? What is it that causes these individual spheres to so often react badly with one another, when the beauty in each is so apparent?

I told Ian about a party I once had where I had invited many of my friends. I’ve learned this is not always a wise thing. They clustered into similar groupings, and the interactions between the members of the groups were not always good – yet there was a good deal of curiosity, which often led to some humorous events – and a couple disturbing ones.

I realize now that even in high school and college I “moved between worlds”, and these “worlds” rarely overlapped. Yet somehow I remained the same. Somehow, I fit into each, yet was simultaneously completely apart.

And I have to ask myself, have I worn masks as I travelled, altering my image to conform to any sphere encountered? Have I lied to people, to friends, about who or what I am, so that I might be accepted. Have I sacrificed parts of myself to gain the love or understanding of you, or another?

But I can’t imagine I have. I know that interacting with some of you can be challenging, and others of you it’s just pure comfort. So I wonder, is it the dynamic between us, or is it simply each other? I imagine it’s both.

So I think of this little girl, so distant in her awareness, yet the same, and I can see myself. I speak with you, about many one things or anothers, and we always find ourselves silent, somehow, in the end. Understanding, and feeling – knowing. But silent, in the end. In each of our spheres.

And I cannot help be wonder, this place, where all things come to, for each of us, eventually – how is it that my friends cannot find this with each other?

On the surfaces, we all make decisions. Decisions that will empower us, isolate us, confuse us, protect us, hide us, exhault us, liberate us – decisions that perpetuate us.

Louise Gluck in her poem Midsummer says:

You were not intended
to be unique. You were
my embodiment, all diversity

not what you think you see
searching the bright sky over the field,
your incidental souls
fixed like telescopes on some
enlargement of yourselves —

Why would I make you if I meant
to limit myself
to the ascendant sign,
the star, the fire, the fury?

Which makes me remember, I know that each you are very strong people. And in some ways, very weak. Just like me. I think that humility is certainly a characteristic that each of you has in abundance – though I wonder still, why the problems getting along. Challenging, yes, each of you. And perceptive.

I wonder if judgemental erodes humility, or clouds perception?

If so, I have to thank you very much for being less judgemental with me!

Heh. Maybe I’m being challenging right now. But I’m isolated away out here in Kent just now, and there’s nobody around to say this to, as might normally ramble on about. But, for me, it’s a nice alternative to coding for a while… 🙂

Cya soon…

Federally-Sanctioned Love

I’m just drained on this topic. There is a vote on a two-sentence Constitutional Amendment coming before Congress this week. It is Senate Joint Resolution 40:

This is how these two little sentences read:

`Marriage in the United States shall consist only of the union of a man and a woman. Neither this Constitution, nor the constitution of any State, shall be construed to require that marriage or the legal incidents thereof be conferred upon any union other than the union of a man and a woman.’.

Here is a letter I sent out to my friends regarding this absurdity:

Hi – please forgive me for the political message – this isn’t something
I normally involve myself in directly.

Apparently, the constitutional amendment that would bar marriage between
people of the same sex is coming to a vote very soon.

This is a very strange thing to me – thinking that our constitution
would be used for such a silly, yet horribly mean-spirited thing.

If you’re interested, there’s a site you can go to and submit a letter
before Wednesday’s vote.

This is what I wrote:

The Constitution of the United States was conceived to lay a framework
for freedom – for all people. To alter it, introducing prejudice, is an
unconscionable and debilitating act. Do not allow that erosive process
to begin.

It’s at http://www.moveon.org/unitednotdivided

Again, I apologize for the political email – and one of these vote
thingies – but it means a lot to me, and to many others. Yeah, yeah, I’m
not even really seeing anyone right now, I know… but still, if I do
ever hook up right with someone, I’d sure like to be able to be married.

And also, it _really_ irritates me that people who profess love can, at
the same time, go out of their way to squelch love. Double-talk and
duplicity are a pet peeve for me that runs very deep.

AND, more than anything, America was founded in large part to find
freedom from religious tyrrany. Spirituality and religion is a wonderful
thing – and I believe everyone would benefit, especially all of us
collectively, from focusing more upon the spritual. But sprituality IS
NOT TO BE IMPOSED.

Thanks for listening….
Mark

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With all the troubles men experience when they start to love another man – it’s so stupid to try making it even moreso. Isn’t it that we need more love? Particularly between men?

Graffiti in Space – Kilroy Was Here

Kilroy was hereWhen I was a very young child, I remember getting in trouble once when I took an ice pick and carved my name into the steering wheel of a new van my parents had just purchased. It wasn’t an easy task – especially the rounded letters, like an ‘a’. But I persevered, and was successful.

When I think back to it, I’m not really certain why I did it. The van was quite a new addition to our family – it was large, and well, just nifty. And it was ours now. I was never prone to carving my name on things, or doing any of those “i am here” things. Perhaps I just needed to claim the loved machine – to somehow link us together by inscribing my name on it, like tattooing the name of your loved one on your flesh.

As we begin venturing further into space, not only through our large governmental missions and even the occational well-funded private sector endeavor, we must not forget what has lifted us to such pursuits – what has propelled us beyond the gravitational forces that bind us here together in state.

And that is our imaginations. The wanderings and longings within the poetry of the mind and heart that cause us to dream beyond what we encounter in our daily lives – the uncertain yet powerful forces within that compel us to invision and move toward better landscapes, unexplored territories and limitless possibilities.

The Cassini Probe, its bizarre path through our solar system, and its arrival at one of our most exotic local planets, represents to many the continued and measurable manifestation of our collective dreams and curiosities that extends beyond our incidental lives, moving out into the far greater vastness of all possibilities – the unknown – where what we hold as true may be challenged, and what we feel must be impossible, is instead discovered to be utterly commonplace.

For millennia, all humanity has known and lived beneath the sun and moon and stars. And when we did not know, we imagined and invented. How is it that we have lifted ourselves up from the earth, travelling through a still and lifeless void, to touch down upon and set foot upon that great, silvery globe of the evening light – that icon of the mystic power in the unknown?

The race to the moon was much more than political maneouverings. Just as the understanding and ability to unleash the energies of the atom were much more than desperate races to achieve dominance. In our selfish undertakings, compelled out of necessity or control, sometimes we stumble upon things that are so much larger, or reveal such immense depths beyond our current understanding, that we become transformed, both individually and collectively, in ways we cannot predict or even hope to control.

It is an irony, don’t you think, that we creatures who affix such importance to order and control continually seek out that which oftentimes shatters this order at its very foundations, and sends us reeling out of control. Is this simply the love of roller coasters? Or is it more like a plant, growing toward the sun, bending and twining itself around and through the obstacles along its path to achieve closeness to the source – though the source is millions of miles away?

The Cassini probe contains a small disk within it, contained in a small aluminum box, mounted on a pedestal. This disk contains the written signatures of over 600,000 people on earth. These people have etched their name onto this craft which now circles around our great ringed planet. I couldn’t really say why these people want their names etched into this machine we’ve hurled out into the universe, but I think that I may well understand.

Giovanni CassiniGiovanni Cassini looked out to Saturn about 300 years ago and discovered a gap within the rings. He also discovered a few moons. But Giovanni never could bring himself to believe that Earth was not the center of the universe, rejecting the maddening Copernican model that said the Earth revolved around the sun.

Nor could he bring himself to believe Newton’s theories of universal gravitation, in which all objects in the universe exhibit gravitational forces upon each other.

But that’s ok. I still think he would be quite thrilled, and more than a little overwhelmed, to learn that his name is on the exploritory vessel we’ve sent to visit, and fly amongst his rings and moons.