Tag Archives: same-sex marriage

Emil Guillermo: Obama’s strange Friday–same sex and black churches.

Did you see his phone call to the Jim Obergefell, lead plaintiff on the same-sex case?  And then did you see him in Mother Emanuel singing, “Amazing Grace”?

President Obama was deftly in two different worlds that don’t always mix. Are we on a collision course?

Read my piece in Diverse.

DOMA done, challenge to Prop. 8 denied, let the June weddings begin again in California

I could sense something good was going to happen as early as this spring, but you never know.


And today, it happened.

The Supreme Court by it’s 5-4 ruling has declared Defense of Marriage Act unconstitutional.

This really is a states rights issue. How could those legally married in states that allow gay marriages be denied federal benefits given to straight wedded couples? That’s discrimination, and shouldn’t be allowed. The court concurred.

So if you’re in one of the states where same-sex marriage is legal, this is an especially great day.

The DOMA refutation was expected. It wasn’t clear what the court would do with Prop. 8, the same-sex marriage ban voted in by the state.  When it was challenged and California officials wouldn’t defend the ban, the proposition’s leadership went to court to defend its constitutionality. But the high court in the way it acted, chose to sidestep ruling directly on same-sex marriage. It simply ruled that the Prop.8 folks didn’t have standing, or the right to argue the matter. So the case is sent back to the 9th circuit with orders to dismiss the case, and based on reports, same-sex marriages can resume again in California.

The Pride Parade in San Francisco on Sunday is going to be extraordinarily celebratory.

After the disappointing decisions on affirmative action and the Voting Rights Act this week, the Supreme Court gives us something to cheer about.

No warm champagne toasts on these decisions.

On DOMA and Ginsburg’s dairy metaphor: Coconut milk marriages anyone?

I think my initial predictions will hold up. Prop. 8 goes back, and same-sex marriage resumes in California only. DOMA however goes dormant, if not totally dead.  DOMA doesn’t make sense, but to predict exactly how SCOTUS will come down on it isn’t really clear. Kennedy talking states’ rights and against Federalism could sway the conservatives, who may want to do nothing and let the Obama Administration have the courage of their convictions, i.e., if it’s a bad law, don’t enforce it. But who wants to deal with principles in Washington?

Then again, SCOTUS  can’t not do something. As Kennedy pointed out there is a definite victim with the estate tax burden on the plaintiff.

The court can be so stuffy that anytime someone shows some humanity or levity, it brings oxygen to the brain. That makes Justice Ginsburg  high-point scorer for the Wednesday session by pointing out the problem with denying same-sex couples the basic rights afforded to other marrieds under federal law.  The two-tiered, second class argument works here. But as Ginsburg put in dairy terms, that’s “skimmed milk marriage.” 

She totally skipped 2 percent marriage.

And then, what about the vegans?   

Do I have a coconut milk marriage? (You can have non-dairy, no-sugar, good fat Coconut Milk, Trader Joe makes the best one I’ve tasted. We’re talking alternatives that complete the metaphor).

See my original predictions at www.aaldef.org/blog


Some thoughts after SCOTUS – Prop.8 hearing

Prop. 8, that slimy, disingenuous constitution-block to same-sex marriage in the nation’s most Asian American state, is crawling back from the U.S. Supreme Court, not quite totally defeated but certainly with its tail between its legs.

It now waits for a decision by the High Court’s June recess. But from all appearances Prop. 8 will likely be sent back to California with the lower court ruling that declared it unconstitutional intact.

If my crystal ball is correct, same-sex marriages should continue again in the Golden State, but just in California. It doesn’t appear there’s five votes on the court to go whole hog for same-sex marriage nationwide quite yet.

But the trend is here. And if you’re for Prop.8 and anti-same-sex marriage, then you are akin to the proverbial Dutch boy with his finger you know where.

The flood of same-sex marriage support is about to overwhelm you.

Which is why, if you have a problem with same-sex marriage (maybe it’s a Catholic thing), I suggest you get thee to a gay marriage ceremony once they resume.

Stand in the back, by the organ — the big one that makes all the joyous noise. Or, if you’re crashing the party and feel uncomfortable, hide behind a rubber tree. Just go. You’ll be amazed.

In 2003, I attended my family’s big, fat gay wedding last weekend — my cousin Pauline’s, to be exact.

Forget about the legal contortions and gobbledygook you’ll hear from the lawyers on both sides of the issue. When you go to a gay wedding, one thing becomes apparent: The ceremony is so fundamentally American — as American as free speech — that it’s hard to imagine how anyone can fail to recognize a marriage based on such an unabashed public declaration of love.

The power of it all is undeniable. When the politics get personal, the matter is as clear as wedding-gift Lalique.

Before going further, I must say that while the function was big and fat, with nearly 400 people, I questioned whether it was really all that gay.

After all, this was a wedding where two brides made a pair — a lesbian pair. And that’s fine by me. As a straight male, I have definite lesbian tendencies. That is, I really like women, too.

At the wedding, author and former Ms. magazine Executive Editor Helen Zia helped make the distinction for me and schooled me on the lingo.

She said that I could use the term gay for a general description, but that lesbian was more appropriate, because it is more specific for my cousin.

Queer would be the inclusive term,” Zia told me. “Or you could say GLBT, for “gay lesbian bisexual transgender.'”

So be it. The whole affair was really my family’s big, fat queer wedding.

But the pressing questions straight people tend to ask are these: Are these really weddings? Are the participants really married?

No question in my mind. It was a celebration of love and diversity.

Some conservative religious folk keep bringing up children and procreation as the reason there’s a state interest to define marriage as between man and woman. But since that wedding, my cousin has raised a lovely daughter, in a family filled with love.

The truth is there is no good reason to ban LGBT marriages. Period. The change–for equality–is coming.

Addendum: Just heard the audio on the exchange between Justice Kagan and attorney Cooper on 55-year-olds. It’s a good way to refute the procreation idea as the deal breaker on same-sex marriage. Adoption and artificial insemination already diminish the point about procreation,  but using straight 55-year-olds drives the point home. Kagan’s right, most 55-year-olds who want to get married have no interest in kids. Not a lot of kids coming out of those marriages? Probably. But she never met my friend’s 80-something uncle who sired a son. But maybe that’s a Filipino thing. Most of the time, Kagan’s right. Marriage for the AARP crowd isn’t about kids, but no Prop.8 advocate in his right mind would think to try to block those marriages.

Procreation and the preservation of  family are the main points for those who hang on to traditional definitions of marriage. But they’re weak arguments that simply don’t hold up.

SCOTUS and Prop.8 ; Imagining a post-racial, post-same sex marriage debate world: the movie, “In the Family”; and Manny Pacquiao’s “Groundhog Day”

If you’re not sure what the Supreme Court is doing about gay marriage from all the different news reports,  then you need a time line.

Like the proverbial egg  passing through the snake, the issue is going through the process: In 2008, California narrowly passed a state amendment that banned same-sex marriage, but then a Federal court declared the ban unconstitutional. That ruling was subsequently upheld by an appeals court. Today, the U.S. Supreme Court simply said it would review the lower court’s decision.

Asian American same-sex marriage advocates saw it as a hopeful sign. API Equality-Northern California released this statement: “By granting a review now of the lower federal court’s ruling which held Proposition 8, California’s statewide constitutional ban on same sex marriage, to be unconstitutional, we hope that the U.S. Supreme will not uphold Proposition 8, but instead seek to affirm the lower federal courts’  ruling on this issue,” said Heidi Li, a California family law attorney and Steering Committee member of Asian Pacific Islander Equality – Northern California.

So the end is in sight of this snaky process. Maybe. We hope.


Those of you who remember me from my TV days in San Francisco, know that one of the things I did was act as resident film critic for the NBC affiliate (I was the one with the flower in the lapel, in between the convicted pedophile and the gal with the hat fetish).

I saw a lot of films in the ‘70s and 80s. Since then, I’ve been a lot more selective. But around the holidays, I always get the urge to see films (besides “Planes, Trains and Automobiles” for the umpteenth time) because this is truly the season when we are all prodded to the cinema right through Christmas.

But do you really want to flinch at another loud, crash’em up, blow’em up, spectacle in 1,2,3,or 4-D in the 8,14, or 16-plex?

I just saw the new Bond film and already find myself in need of a break. Slow food movement? I’m ready for the slow film movement.

Here’s my answer: “In the Family,” an independent film by Patrick Wang that some are calling a “masterpiece.” That may be a bit grand, but it is a fine antidote to the crashingly commercial. It opens this weekend, Dec. 7 at the Opera Plaza in San Francisco and the Camera Cinema in San Jose, and it’s definitely worth a look.

The film is a quiet tour-de-force. It’s absolutely one of the first post-racial, post-gay, post-hang-up movies I’ve seen ever. Hang up? That is to say it doesn’t get hung up on the obvious and because of that goes deeper. When do you recall seeing a film starring an Asian male, who is gay, in a conflict with his white family, over custody over a Caucasian child? And never once is there a mention of being Asian, or gay? Fish-out-of-water is a Hollywood convention and always played to the hilt. But here, the oddity of a Chinese American gay father in the South? Well, the movie just presumes it’s totally natural, like “Oh sure, there’s a gay interracial marriage and they’re raising a kid, and when the white father dies, the straight sister comes in to take the child.”

Oh, yeah. Like, you’ve seen these movies on Lifetime in your lifetime.

So are you ready for that?  In this movie, there’s nothing prurient or tawdry. When in a movie about gays is a kiss ever just a kiss? It is here. When is a movie with an Asian male in it just an excuse to show off some marital arts moves? All the time. But this movie is kung-fu free.

There’s also interesting things going on cinematically here. It’s an indy film so realism is a given, but this film shows off by disdaining the quick edit and letting the camera see and the actors act.  It seems like one long take after another. It is a long take. But by letting the camera go, the audience gets to see something amazing in the performance of the actors. They’re creating and letting us in on it. Cutaways? Sometimes. Mostly the camera is still and not moving, set on a wide shot and turned on. The viewer is allowed to see it all unfold as if watching a play (indeed Wang directed live theatre). Wang, an MIT grad naturally, shoots the movie in New York (Yonkers) but sets it in the South, (Martin,TN). And it’s totally believable.

So let’s review: here’s an Asian guy talking like a redneck, kissing his white husband, and raising a little white boy who calls him Daddy. With no karate chopping?

Yes, yes, yes and yes.

It doesn’t always work. In fact, you might feel like a fly in the wall who wants to move in for a closeup. Or land on someone’s nose instead of a backside.

But on the whole the movie works because it gets beyond the political rhetoric of race and gender, and marriage, and just looks at the human situation. There are even scenes that humanize the lawyers, which I actually found to be among the film’s best segments.

By the end, Patrick Wang playing Joey Williams makes perfect sense. It’s an Asian American story in a world where we simply exist. And may even be coincidentally gay, as if that matters. It’s the film after the culture clash. But even after some form of acceptance, there’s still conflict. And that’s where the movie reaches its peak.

Seeing the film reminded me of my days in Texas and Missouri where I spent the early days of my career. People thought I was Mexican and not Filipino. And then they were really confused when they heard my unaccented English and saw that I was dating their daughter.

If you want to imagine a post-racial future free of any race or gender B.S., or want to see a “Gaysian” portrayed in something other than the effeminate gal pal in chick flicks (those are the parts that used to go to Bronson Pinchot), then “In the Family” is a welcome sight.

Opening Dec.7 at the Opera Plaza in San Francisco and the Camera Cinema in San Jose.



After losing the debacle known as the Timothy Bradley fight which was so unfair even I felt cheated, Manny Pacquiao has run out of options. The best he can do is repeat himself. And the guy is human, not a machine.

The Mayweather fight is the only thing left, and that’s not happening. So what’s a Filipino super-star pugilist to do? In keeping with this posts’ movie theme, call Marquez-Pacuiao 4, “Groundhog Day.”

Manny answers the bell and it’s Marquez. Again.

No.4.(Four, by the way, rhymes with “whore” if you haven’t noticed). And what are we doing by going to the well another time except for money? I mean, I guess Pac-man shouldn’t dignify Bradley’s “championship” by fighting for the crown that was stolen from him.

So what’s left? Marquez? Again?

If it’s all rigged anyway, let me watch it all a week later  when it’s free.  So, to pre-empt your question, I’m not watching the fight this week.

 I’ll be watching my “24” DVDs all weekend long when I’m not going to Christmas cookie parties.

Pacquiao has been a great champion, but he’s got other things on his mind. And now boxing is his J-O-B.

He’s 2-0-1 against Marquez, who some say beat Pacquiao in at least one of the previous fights. I saw them all. It was close. But Pacquiao deserved the edge. Now, I’m not sure. Both are older and Marquez may get the better of Manny finally. But so what?

Part of me says, who cares about championships and belts, let’s just see a good fight. Marquez and Pacquiao fits the bill. But the other part of me hates to see Manny expose himself to more of boxing’s brutality.

He’s got a future outside of the ring—if he can leave with his brains intact.


Obama’s new middle on same-sex marriage

He knew it all along.

The New York Times reports it was on Tuesday morning before leaving for a speech in Albany, New York, that it was decided the president would finally come out in support of same-sex marriage on Wednesday.

So later on Tuesday night, in his speech at Asian Pacific American Institute for Congressional Studies dinner in D.C, he knew that the bombshell was coming.

What a poker face Obama showed before his “ohana.”

I knew same-sex marriage was on the radar since Vice President Biden’s unbridled support of it on Sunday. But I wasn’t expecting Obama to say anything on an election night when politicians’ “gay-dar” tends to work overtime.

My ears, however, were perked for anything on affirmative action, a new wedge issue in the Asian American community with the Supreme Court expecting to rule on the Texas case this summer. It’s a big deal for minority groups.

When addressing the Asian American group, the president dropped hints about his support for affirmative action without saying it. Very political.  But it was the right thing to say to an organization dedicated to empowerment and civil rights of an often ignored and under-represented minority.

Still, he said nothing about topic A, gay marriage.

Now that we know he knew he was going to evolve on gay marriage the very next day, I feel cheated. He could have given us a little more of a preview.

But not even a wink. He was totally in the closet.

Here’s the transcript from the APAICS dinner and what he told Asian Americans:

“So some of the things that matter to this community are things that matter to every community, like making sure that a woman earns an equal day’s pay for an equal day’s work.  (Applause.)  Or ending “don’t ask, don’t tell” so that nobody has to hide who they love to serve the country they love.  (Applause.)  Or enacting education reform so that every child has access to good schools and higher education.  (Applause.)  Or caring for our veterans because it’s our duty to serve them as well as they have served us.  (Applause.)”

He touched on it a bit with the “gays in the military” reference. But he didn’t go all the way.

At every applause note, he could have said, “Or making sure that any two human beings regardless of their gender had a right to marry one another. ”

That certainly matters to Asian Americans, as well as all Americans.  Asian Americans, especially those in Hawaii and California, have long been at the forefront of the same-sex marriage battle. (I’ve written about it a number of times over the years).

I guess the timing just wasn’t right to show his hand to Asian Americans. Maybe the president was still evolving. I suppose he could have changed his mind right up to the last moment.

But he’s just in time for today’s Clooney event in Hollywood where the president should be closer to fully evolved, and gay rights supporters are ready to open up their pocket books.

Politically, the barometer must have indicated the time is right.  

If conservative Republicans think they win this issue, great. It seems to be a tremendous non-issue.

Gays are an integral part of our society. Discrimination against them makes no sense. To be against gay marriage in today’s world is just illogical. (Asian Americans know how troubling it is when laws get in the way of love. For years, my father was unable to intermarry in the ‘20s because of anti-miscegenation laws)

Even national polls show a majority in favor of same-sex marriage.

At the same time, states always vote the idea down (North Carolina being the most recent).

Considering that history shows Obama is too political and too moderate to be all that daring, maybe what we have here is simply Obama carving out the new middle ground.

The historic new middle?

Conscience, family talk, and Joe Biden may have forced him to move, but the evolving is still happening.

Any movement by a president toward equality, justice and progress is a good thing.

So for now, activists must settle for this new fence point: being for same-sex, but letting the states decide.

It’s Obama’s new middle for the national moderates.

Now will someone just fix the non-tech economy?