November 20, 2008

My $0.02 on Marriage, Gay and Straight.

Thought I'd chime in with my views on gay marriage. In short, I'm all for it. But in order to elaborate, I must draw a sharp distinction between the religious and civil aspects of a marriage.

A marriage ceremony performed in a church or by a representative of a church should thus be considered a religious ceremony. In that sense, a church has the right to approve or forbid same-sex marriage between members of their flock based on that church's particular dogma. Under the Separation of Church and State, Congress cannot pass any laws - nor can any proposition be voted upon - to grant or deny any rights or restrictions on a religious ceremony, nor is any religious union between two people legally binding in the secular world.

One isn't granted any civil protections or legal rights from a Baptism, Confirmation, Bris, Bar or Bat Mitvah, so why should (church) marriage be any different? The granting of any such entitlements on the basis of a religious ceremony - joint filing of tax returns, property/inheritance rights, medical insurance or any of the thousands of earthly benefits traditionally connected with marriage - is constitutionally indefensible.

On the other hand...

A marriage ceremony performed by a Justice of the Peace, Notary Public, Ship Captain, or any such layperson with the power vested in them by a civil authority, is a legally binding civil union and as such - be they M/F, M/M, or F/F - ought to be entitled to all the same legal rights, privileges and protections historically reserved for M/F couples. It is up to lawmakers (not the voting public, incidentally) to decide how these issues are to be legislated.

Couples with religious beliefs would then have two ceremonies, one in which their immortal souls are united in the eyes of God, and another where their mortal bodies are united in the eyes of civil institutions.

People opposed to same-sex (civil) marriage need to remove their religious dogmas from the equation. Traditional family values are not being threatened. The gays are not coming to bust up your marriage. To suggest otherwise is to suggest that the only reason that your husband married you instead of his fishing buddy is either fear of the wrath of God or the limit of the law.

What A Way To Run A Railroad

So last night and this morning only one escalator (out of three) was working at the Foggy Bottom Metro stop, meaning apart from the elevator, thousands of commuters had no other option but to walk in/out single-file. This meant a massive line several blocks long waiting to get in last night, and a giant crowd between the turnstiles and the escalators this morning waiting to get out (gawd help us if an emergency occurred). Last night, I took one look at the lines and decided to go to the next stop at Farragut North.

The three escalators at Foggy Bottom have been slowly (and I do mean slowly) refurbished over a period of several months. Ideally, one escalator would be replaced while two would function (one moving in peak direction, the other kept non-moving). But on several occasions the one escalator would be moving in the opposite direction, or both would be stopped, or the traffic on the two escalators would be so increased that we had a situation like today, where one of the two would break down. The worst case happened a few months ago, when all three escalators were broken and the station had to be temporarily closed.

If only the original system planners had foreseen that Foggy Bottom would be one of the most busy downtown stations that isn't a transfer point; with the various government organizations, non-profits, and GWU in the area, the designers could've added a second entrance on 22nd and I. With the giant construction project across from the hospital underway, I wonder how difficult/costly it would be to construct a new entrance as part of the building.

In the meantime, I'll go to Dupont Circle instead. Not much longer of a walk.

Ugh. Still, marginally less costly/troublesome than driving. For now.

November 6, 2008

Musings on Election Day

I marvel at America sometimes.

A lawyer from Illinois, imbued with radiant personal charm and natural charisma but virtually no political experience (save two years in Washington) and only a short time in the national spotlight, gets elected to the highest office in the land (defeating a powerful senator with two other unsuccessful presidential bids under his belt) during one of the most turbulent eras in our nation's history.

But enough about Abraham Lincoln... =)