Monthly Archives: June 2015

Obergefell et al v Hodges Opinion – ES CliffsNotes

Gay rights activists gather outside the US Supreme Court building in Washington, DC on June 26, 2013. The US Supreme Court on Wednesday struck down a controversial federal law that defines marriage as a union between a man and a woman, in a major victory for supporters of same-sex marriage.The Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) had denied married gay and lesbian couples in the United States the same rights and benefits that straight couples have long taken for granted. AFP PHOTO / MLADEN ANTONOVMLADEN ANTONOV/AFP/Getty Images

(Community Matters) My cliffs notes from reading the Supreme Court Decision – Obergefell et al v Hodges

Some of my favorite lines in the majority opinion granting marriage equality:

  • the petitioners, far from seeking to devalue marriage, seek it for themselves because of their respect—and need—for its privileges and responsibilities, Continue reading

Married in Texas, at St James Episcopal Church

11700912_10153780897233029_5585344577308769605_o(Community Matters) While the Constitution contemplates that democracy is the appropriate process for change, individuals who are harmed need not await legislative action before asserting a fundamental right.” – Justice Kennedy for the majority, Obergefell et al v. Hodges 

Thomas Jefferson’s quote: All . . . will bear in mind this sacred principle, that though the will of the majority is in all cases to prevail, that will to be rightful must be reasonable; that the minority possess their equal rights, which equal law must protect and to violate would be oppression.

at least right now, I’m not remembering a more important day in our lives. Last night, Steven and I were married in front of some of our dearest friends at St James Episcopal Church. What took place at St James’ last night, transcends us. No doubt we were enveloped in love (we could physically feel it). And . . . the timing . . .SCOTUS ruling on an unexpected Friday,  Rev Lisa’s enthusiasm, the Bishop’s approval, an open Saturday night for a wedding in a church in Austin in June . . . We were so privileged to help cap this extraordinary week with the reality of full inclusion within our inclusive, multi-cultural home, St James Episcopal.

Continue reading

David Brooks: The Art of an Illusionist; a World Class Contortionist

Brooks_New-articleInline(Community Matters)  The Art of an Illusionist; a World Class Contortionist: I’ll grant you usually elegant prose . . . yet few people mislead readers as regularly by distorting assumptions & selective citation of facts as David Brooks. He’s perfected the art of launching with misleading assumptions. Framing Democrats concerned for the outsourcing of more middle class jobs as a Democratic Tea Party is typical Brook’s illusionist art  – The Democratic Tea Party. 

There is no doubt that globalization (especially badly negotiated and enforced) has hurt America’s middle class; that it’s cost us millions of middle class jobs. I agree it reduces poverty around the world. If we’d adequately fund the social safety net which is intended to provide for systemic un- & under- employment and enforce labor & trade provisions as well as adequately fund dislocation & retraining programs, I’d be for the expansion of free trade. I’m not completely against this free trade agreement, how could I be? It’s provisions are national secrets. Let’s debate the agreement & its provisions openly.

oh, and equating the secrecy of a treaty on nuclear armament to one about jobs and goods . . . David Copperfield watch out.

Austin Property Tax Relief

tax-739107_1280-620x365(Community Matters) I’m seeing postings against property tax relief.

It’s the families who most need the tax break that this is about – those for whom property taxes constitute a much higher percentage of their annual income. They aren’t all old, or elderly, or east side families, they also include a lot of middle class families with kids making $50k, $75k, $100k, even $125k per year. We’d all prefer to cap exemption at $500k value but that’s not an option. in the interim, voters overwhelmingly want property tax relief – according to the recent zandan poll: 80% of Austin residents support a 20% homestead exemption, 83% of Austin residents who have voted in the last 4 years (79% from the broader polled universe). Affordability is a growing concern – 86% of the poll’s respondents fear Austin is at risk of losing its appeal because of the rising cost of living. The proposal to launch w/ a 6% exemption “setting a 6 percent exemption at the rollback rate of 48.24 cents would cost the city budget nothing, reduce the median homestead tax burden by $49 per year and potentially increase the rent of the average apartment by $6.31 per year and the average single-family home by $15.93 per year.”

I don’t disagree we need to help renters too. Perfection is too often the enemy of good. Just because this step doesn’t accomplish both doesn’t mean we shouldn’t proceed. Let’s look at utility fee restructure to provide relief to renters.

geez . . . listening to the voices & leadership from the past not likely to get us anywhere but where we are today (see today’s article about threat to musicians & artists of Austin). Voters overwhlemingly rejected the past and elected a new way forward. 80% of Austin citizens want a new way forward & the 20% homestead exemption.

if we always do what we’ve always done . . .