Inclusion

Yesterday’s Inauguration of President Obama was stirring on many levels.  First to see the transfer of power calmly and the oath of office administered by the Supreme Court Justices is an inspiring moment.  Around the world people hunger for this kind of civil and democratic process.  As the Arab Spring continues to struggle with Democracy and as Syria is a place of bloodshed and civil war as Mali and the Congo are ruled by militia, and other countries around the world can only dream of this kind of peace and this kind of government by the people, we ought to be heartened as Americans.  Even with our flaws and bitter elections and even our gridlock that seems to haunt the halls of Congress the symbols of our Republic that were on full view yesterday continue to inspire hope that we can overcome our differences.

Also inspiring was the inclusion on display at yesterday’s Inauguration.  For the first time in my life I felt my whole self present.  President Obama’s acknowledgement of the struggles of the LGBT civil rights movement affirmed what I have long worked for.  The struggle for LGBT people to be fully included into society and offered the same rights and responsibilities as all its citizens including the right to form our families and protect them is no less important that Women’s Suffrage or the dignity and freedom of the African- American civil rights struggle.

Inclusion also means acknowledging those who are poor not just the wealthy who financed the campaigns.  And President Obama did so.  He acknowledged those whose children are differently-abled and included all! And those who long to yet become part of America-those whose have come to this country and have yet to be a part of it!

But President Obama didn’t stop there. He acknowledge that America is diverse in ethnic heritage and it was on display in the Inauguration Parade as a Chinese – American Ethnic dancers, Mexican-American Mariachis, Native American marchers participated midst the military troops and marching bands.

This is an America that I am a part of. This is the kind of America I want to be a part of.  I hope we won’t get bogged down again but can indeed find a way to help lift up all those who are a part of the fabric of America.

Can we stop the political circus?

The President came out with a plan for America.  I think he is right-time to reinvest in our country and people. I am personally tired of those who block progress.  There is little but a Congressional side show in Washington.  Let’ s get serious. People are hurting.  Veterans of our wars in Iraq and Afghanistan need jobs.  Let’s get America rolling forward. Time to put the country first rather than politics.

Send a message to Speaker Boenher.  Get going.  Make him squirm and pass the American Jobs Act right away.

President Obama: The question is can we stop the political circus?

And can they do it? Act first to pass the bills.

No tears for Osama

I have no tears for Osama bin Laden. There is a reason the crowds have gathered at the White House, Time Square and Ground Zero.  America feels a sense of vindication.  A sense of justice done. The leader and mastermind of attacks on democracy and freedom through his evil terrorist network of Al-Qaida is dead.  The events of 9/11 so seared in all of our consciousness happened almost ten years ago.  Hard to believe that it has taken this long. But it is no less an important moment.  Especially for the families who lost someone that horrible day.
Bravo to the President for his courage and decision in action.  Bravo to the brave Navy Seals who executed this sensitive mission.

The month before 9/11 in August 2001 I was in Washington, D.C. with my family.  We toured the FBI building and learned about the ten most wanted people in the world.  Even then Osama was #1.  My son the baseball player (who was only 7 then) was worried by the tour guide’s description of Osama bin Laden as the #1 enemy.  He asked, “Could he come here?”   We quickly tried to allay his fears and told him no.  On 9/11 when the Towers came down and the Pentagon was crashed  into and the plane down in Shanksville, Pennsylvania and Osama Bin Laden claimed these evil attacks, the baseball player was properly upset. As we were.

I will never forget that August day when I first learned of Osama bin Laden.  And I will never forget today when even the now almost grown baseball player remembered both that August day and September 11, 2001.

The reaction of our country is as if we won a war.

Terrorism is not over.  Al-Qaida remains a threat.

But on this day of Holocaust Memorial that recalls the evil perpetrated by another human being,

let us  remember the victims of both Hitler and Osama bin Laden.  Let the  souls of the victims of their terror rest in peace.

And let us use today’s news of Osama’s death to help think about the capacity of the human being to do evil in the world.

May the good soldiers, men and women who continue to fight the war on terror be protected in their honorable service.

No More Doma Defense

President Obama and the Justice Department have finally come to their senses.  Yesterday they announced they would no longer defend the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) in court.  There are at least two federal cases one in Connecticut and one in New York challenging sections of DOMA and the constitutionality for denying certain benefits and protections for legally married same-sex couples.  The Obama Administration and its justice department under Attorney General Eric Holder has been defending DOMA. That is until now.  DOMA is still the law of the land until Congress repeals it.  And with a Republican majority in the House that isn’t likely. But Sen. Diane Feinstein said yesterday she will introduce legislation to repeal DOMA.  I think the right wing nuts like NOM will try to get their minions to introduce a constitutional amendment to forbid same-sex marriage.

But several lower courts have ruled DOMA unconstitutional.  If the Justice Department won’t defend it then we have a chance for the federal courts to rule against the constitutionality of DOMA!
Here is the press release from the Attorney General and the reasoning behind it.

Department of Justice

Office of Public Affairs
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Wednesday, February 23, 2011
Statement of the Attorney General on Litigation Involving the Defense of Marriage Act

WASHINGTON – The Attorney General made the following statement today about the Department’s course of action in two lawsuits, Pedersen v. OPM and Windsor v. United States, challenging Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), which defines marriage for federal purposes as only between a man and a woman:

In the two years since this Administration took office, the Department of Justice has defended Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act on several occasions in federal court.   Each of those cases evaluating Section 3 was considered in jurisdictions in which binding circuit court precedents hold that laws singling out people based on sexual orientation, as DOMA does, are constitutional if there is a rational basis for their enactment.   While the President opposes DOMA and believes it should be repealed, the Department has defended it in court because we were able to advance reasonable arguments under that rational basis standard.

Section 3 of DOMA has now been challenged in the Second Circuit, however, which has no established or binding standard for how laws concerning sexual orientation should be treated.  In these cases, the Administration faces for the first time the question of whether laws regarding sexual orientation are subject to the more permissive standard of review or whether a more rigorous standard, under which laws targeting minority groups with a history of discrimination are viewed with suspicion by the courts, should apply.

After careful consideration, including a review of my recommendation, the President has concluded that given a number of factors, including a documented history of discrimination, classifications based on sexual orientation should be subject to a more heightened standard of scrutiny.   The President has also concluded that Section 3 of DOMA, as applied to legally married same-sex couples, fails to meet that standard and is therefore unconstitutional.   Given that conclusion, the President has instructed the Department not to defend the statute in such cases.   I fully concur with the President’s determination.

Consequently, the Department will not defend the constitutionality of Section 3 of DOMA as applied to same-sex married couples in the two cases filed in the Second Circuit.   We will, however, remain parties to the cases and continue to represent the interests of the United States throughout the litigation.   I have informed Members of Congress of this decision, so Members who wish to defend the statute may pursue that option.   The Department will also work closely with the courts to ensure that Congress has a full and fair opportunity to participate in pending litigation.

Furthermore, pursuant to the President ’ s instructions, and upon further notification to Congress, I will instruct Department attorneys to advise courts in other pending DOMA litigation of the President’s and my conclusions that a heightened standard should apply, that Section 3 is unconstitutional under that standard and that the Department will cease defense of Section 3.

The Department has a longstanding practice of defending the constitutionality of duly-enacted statutes if reasonable arguments can be made in their defense.   At the same time, the Department in the past has declined to defend statutes despite the availability of professionally responsible arguments, in part because – as here – the Department does not consider every such argument to be a “reasonable” one.   Moreover, the Department has declined to defend a statute in cases, like this one, where the President has concluded that the statute is unconstitutional.

Much of the legal landscape has changed in the 15 years since Congress passed DOMA.   The Supreme Court has ruled that laws criminalizing homosexual conduct are unconstitutional.  Congress has repealed the military’s Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell policy.   Several lower courts have ruled DOMA itself to be unconstitutional.   Section 3 of DOMA will continue to remain in effect unless Congress repeals it or there is a final judicial finding that strikes it down, and the President has informed me that the Executive Branch will continue to enforce the law.   But while both the wisdom and the legality of Section 3 of DOMA will continue to be the subject of both extensive litigation and public debate, this Administration will no longer assert its constitutionality in court.

But can they be statesmen and women?

With Republicans in charge of the House of Representatives let’s hope something more can be done to solve our nations problems.  I pray that instead of the party of  NO, that continuously hammers our President that as part of government they will compromise to get things done. Can Bohner find solutions? Can the Republicans active the GO in GOP?

Or are we just going to see a 2012 presidential election dragged out.  You see it started the day after the mid-terms in earnest. Undeclared candidates were already planning and visiting early states like Ohio and New Hampshire. But the day after the elections-even Sarah Palin sent out a campaign like video.   God save us!

The President got a trouncing in most places.   The message is jobs jobs jobs. I hope he heard it.  But the problem with just one note or motif is that we have a complex country and world.   And although the person in Peoria is angry and can’t pay her mortgage, Iran still will demand our attention when it is working on nuclear weapons and is about to make weapons grade nuclear fuel.  And President Obama should pay attention to that. He can’t ignore such a threat. Nor can he ignore our relationships with other countries or the myriad of problems we are facing.

And Republicans can’t just loose the corporations to do whatever they wish. They already bought the election in many places by their unfettered donations. Unregulated corporate greed got us into this economic disaster of the last three years in the first place.  Let us not forget.

So the Tea Partyers who got elected remember this:  Governing and legislating are vastly different from being an attack candidate.  I pray they understand the difference.  I fear they do not.

 

 

 

 

Here is the video of my Invocation at USC for President Obama

For those that didn’t get to be there, here is the video of my invocation for President Obama at University of Southern California on Friday, Oct 22. 2010. It was an honor to do this at my alma mater. I was happy that my son got be there to be part of this! Thanks to my dear friend, Rev. Dr. Neil Thomas of Metropolitan Community Church Los Angeles for shooting this with his Iphone!

My invocation at Obama Rally at USC

My invocation for President Obama

As a proud SC alumna

יי שפתי תפתח ופי יגיד תהלתך

Adonai Sfatai tiftach ufi yagid t’helatecha

O God Open up my lips that my mouth may declare your glory. Let us pray.

מקור החיים

Mekor Hachayim- Source of Life itself, that flows through all existence. We come from many places and backgrounds.  We call you by many different names.

We give thanks for this Cardinal and Gold day.  We are grateful for all of the  blessings that surround us and our Trojan Family.   Bless all who gather here, those who teach and work on this campus, those who study and learn and all the community members who have come to hear the President this day.

In these difficult economic times we especially turn to Your Holy Presence and seek Your abundant love and strength. Shower us with the fortitude to make a difference.  Grant us patience as our President and his advisors, elected officials and business leaders work hand in hand to change the course of this economy.  Lift up those who have fallen and teach us to more and more care for our neighbors.  As You taught us in Scripture: Ahavta Reyacha Kamocha: Love Your Neighbor As Yourself.

In recent weeks there have been so many deaths by suicide of young people who have been bullied because they are gay.  Terrel, Seth, Tyler, Billy, Asher, Raymond and sadly so many more. We grieve and mourn for their deaths.  Help us to create safer schools and campuses free from harassment and bullying because of gender or sexual orientation; abilty; race  or the practice of faith or no faith at all.  Help us teach our young people who even in their darkest and most difficult hour: When they feel they don’t belong because someone taunted them, teased them, or bullied them —be near to them and let them each hear our collective voices ring out—It Gets Better!

We also ask for Your abundance blessings upon our country. May it be a stronghold of peace and an advocate for peace among the nations.  Bless those who serve our nation at home and abroad in the efforts of peace. And bless those who wish to serve but are yet prevented by acts of inequality and fear.  For You Eternal Holy One dower us with the blessings of equality.  We are all made in Your Holy image.

We ask You to Bless the leaders of our country that they may rise to do justice.  Help us remember our responsibilities to vote.   Help us place goodness and mercy and peace and equality above political expediency.  Teach us seek out the gifts our country offers, life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness for all our residents and citizens.

Bless our President and his family with good health, and surround them with love.  Sustain him with courage to face those who would tear our country apart even as we try to build it up.  Bless him with vision to make peace where there is strife.  Enable him to stand for the dignity and equality of all people even when others fear difference.

And let our President come to know the blessing of the Trojan Family—the fortitude and strength of the age-old hope—Fight On!  Fight On to move America forward.

In the many names we pray.  Amen.