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Daniel Weintraub: For better or for worse, gay marriage is still illegal
By Daniel Weintraub -- Sacramento Bee Columnist
Published 2:15 am PDT Sunday, September 11, 2005
Story appeared in Forum section, Page E1
For legal and political reasons, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's vow to veto a bill the Legislature sent him last week to allow gay marriage in California was inevitable.
Legally, the bill is suspect because it seems to violate Proposition 22, a gay marriage ban approved by voters in 2000.
Politically, the proposal is a loser for Schwarzenegger because the left, which supports it, has already largely abandoned him and is not likely to return to the fold if he signs the bill. A signature, however, would imperil what remains of Schwarzenegger's support on the right, which was never solid to begin with.
You need not be homophobic, or even oppose gay marriage, to dislike AB 849, now on Schwarzenegger's desk. Indeed, the governor has suggested that he is sympathetic to the idea.
But this measure seeks to do for all of California what San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom did last year: overturn, or at least ignore, a vote of the people. That didn't work for Newsom, and it won't work for the Legislature, or the governor if he were to go along.
In 2000, 61 percent of California voters passed Proposition 22, declaring that "only a marriage between a man and a woman is valid and recognized in California." That law remains on the books.
But last year, Newsom decided to take the law into his own hands and approved the issuance of marriage licenses to same-sex couples in San Francisco. After hundreds of couples were married there, or thought they were, the courts ruled the nuptials invalid because a mayor does not have the right to ignore state law, even one he thinks is unconstitutional.
At the same time, lawsuits were filed challenging Proposition 22 on the grounds that it violates California's guarantee of equal protection under the laws for all of the state's citizens. A San Francisco Superior Court judge struck down the law on that basis and others, and the case has been appealed. Eventually it will get to the state Supreme Court.
Not wanting to wait for that court decision, legislators who support gay marriage passed AB 849 last week by a narrow margin. The bill seeks to change the definition of marriage in California to allow "two persons" to marry rather than only a man and a woman. It also declares that gender-specific terms in the state's family laws will be construed to be gender-neutral.
If the bill became law, it would open the door to hundreds or thousands of gay marriages in California. But these would be just as legally suspect as those granted in San Francisco last year.
A signature from the governor on the bill would be a slap in the face to the millions of Californians who voted for Proposition 22. It would also be a repudiation of Schwarzenegger's professed faith in the will of the people.
Gay rights activists say Proposition 22 didn't really ban gay marriage in California, because an earlier law, passed in 1977, had already done that. All the new measure did, they contend, was stop California from recognizing gay unions performed in other states, and their proposal would not undo that restriction.
But that's a stretch. A reasonable reading of the initiative concludes that the measure was meant to cement and extend California's definition of marriage as a union between a man and a woman.
Given that, Schwarzenegger is correct to say that even those who support gay marriage must stand by the rule of law. Since the people have spoken on this issue, there are only two ways to change what they have done. One is for the courts to rule the law unconstitutional. The other is for the voters to overturn Proposition 22, either by passing another statute or by placing a right to gay marriage in the constitution.
No such measure is in the works now. But two competing proposals that would elevate the current gay marriage ban to constitutional status, presumably insulating it from state court review, are circulating on petitions now. Both of those measures also seek to roll back the rights of same-sex couples in domestic partnerships, where California has been a leader.
Polls suggest that Californians have become more open to gay marriage since Proposition 22 passed. But a Legislature and governor who defy the people might just give extra life to one or both of those measures, setting back the gay rights cause for years.
And that would be a shame.
About the writer:
Reach Daniel Weintraub at (916) 321-1914 or email@example.com. Readers can see his daily Weblog at www.sacbee.com/insider. Back columns: www.sacbee.com/weintraub.
Governor: superhero to just another pol
Schwarzenegger lost magic that got him elected, expert says
- Carla Marinucci, John Wildermuth, San Francisco Chronicle Political Writers
Sunday, September 11, 2005
Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger strode to power as an "independent'' who vowed to bring warring California political parties together. Now, polls indicate, he's morphed into just another run-of-the-mill Republican.
And the once-heroic reformer who plunged into crowds promising a "clean sweep" of Sacramento? He has been replaced by the politician who is vilified in TV ads, avoids public events for fear of encountering protesters, and fundraises like crazy.
"He was a hotshot, and now he's an anathema,'' Barbara O'Connor, professor of political communication at Cal State Sacramento, said of the governor. "You don't want to see his face in ads.''
It's more than ironic, she said. "People want to like him: He's bright, complex'' and the rare political communicator who is effective with average voters and high-rollers alike, she said. "And Californians want him to succeed.''
But the recasting of Schwarzenegger from California's crusading political outsider to endangered political insider is a script that has been developed quickly since his historic election in the California recall of 2003.
The most alarming turn, his supporters say, is how the broad support that transformed the former Hollywood action hero into the head of California's executive branch -- made up of Republicans, Democrats and independents -- has been reduced in the latest polls almost exclusively to voters who identify themselves as GOP conservatives.
Although rumors are flying that the governor will announce his re-election plans next week, before the state GOP convention in Anaheim, Schwarzenegger continues to play coy.
"I will be making an announcement very soon, '' he told reporters at a Sacramento event Friday.
But approaching the Nov. 8 special election, when voters will decide his proposals on teacher tenure, budget reform and redistricting, the governor faces a dilemma: whether he can recover the magic with all kinds of voters that propelled him into political stardom.
"The governor must still convince independents and moderates that he is as he seemed to be last year ... a figure in Sacramento who stood for solutions and an end to partisan bickering, who put the people's interests first,'' said Mark Baldassare, pollster for the Public Policy Institute of California.
It won't be an easy job: With little more than a year to go before the November 2006 election, the latest polls show the governor's approval rate at less than 40 percent. Even fewer voters said they are inclined to re-elect him.
Schwarzenegger's popularity has been hammered by public protests and pricey television ads from nurses, teachers, firefighters and other union groups. The California Teachers Union alone has put up more than $27 million to battle Schwarzenegger and his ballot initiatives, arguing that the governor has reneged on deals to increase money for education.
News stories also have reported that the governor has raised more money during his early tenure than the man he replaced, Democrat Gray Davis, who Schwarzenegger repeatedly assailed for his fundraising efforts.
While Schwarzenegger is about to broadcast some commercials on behalf of his ballot measures, his backers worry the message is coming too late -- and has already been drowned out by the opposition.
"We're on board with the governor's reform plan, but it's hard to get people motivated when you're not fighting back,'' said Mike Spence, president of the conservative California Republican Assembly. "He has to step it up."
"The Democrats and their allies have been very successful this year in painting a different picture of the governor -- a partisan figure who has his own group of special interests,'' Baldassare said. "He has to find a way to win back the trust, which he's lost ... but he hasn't done things to help himself much.''
Sacramento GOP consultant Wayne Johnson said that has concerned voters on both sides -- Republicans particularly.
"People are discouraged and they're willing to be challenged and inspired,'' he said. Schwarzenegger "has got boundless energy and an infectious, positive attitude. What's missing is the belief by many people involved in the (special election) campaign that we can win -- and that's what he'll provide.''
Some Sacramento insiders, such as Tony Quinn, a co-editor of the California Target Book, which focuses on state campaigns, said the governor hasn't been willing to take the time needed to lay the groundwork for his government reform efforts, but instead rushed into another round of elections.
"He should have spent a year as a substance governor, dealing with what people care about,'' he said. "People don't want a clone of Gray Davis, where it looks like his driving forces are consultants and fundraising."
Democrats have been happy to make it tougher on him. In the last days of the legislative session, they rejected his requests for transportation and solar energy bills, and passed bills legalizing same-sex marriage and allowing driver's licenses for undocumented aliens. The latter two bills forced the governor to step further to the right -- solidifying his GOP base -- by announcing vetoes.
But Sacramento insiders aren't counting Schwarzenegger out, given the governor's considerable political skills.
"Arnold Schwarzenegger is his own best salesman, walking into Chevy's to talk with people,'' O'Connor said. "He needs to tell them he has a plan.''
Interviews with analysts and political consultants suggested six areas the governor must improve to get his campaign on track:
Get a message: His campaign team has pushed "reform to rebuild'' as the official special election slogan -- but it has fallen flat. "The public is totally blank on what it means,'' says Michael Semler, government professor at Cal State Sacramento. "All they know is, the state is a mess.''
Get out of the bubble: Schwarzenegger's most memorable moments in the recall campaign came when he went toe-to-toe with his opponents, such as Arianna Huffington. But that moxie has been sorely missing lately.
"He's been bogged down in the process of government and people want to see him break free. He's got to get out of Sacramento,'' said Johnson, the GOP consultant. "Because he's been unable to respond, he's taking a drubbing.''
Worse, "his handlers have made him into a caricature with staged events that worked OK at first -- but now have become tired and repetitive,'' said Republican consultant Arnie Steinberg. "He's allowed (them) to dumb him down and let himself be tarred as a partisan Republican, even though he really hasn't been that partisan.''
Get bold: The governor plans a series of "Ask Arnold" campaign sessions arranged by groups such as local chambers of commerce. Schwarzenegger's campaign spokesman Todd Harris says that such unscripted events have proven revelatory.
But the experts suggest dumping the chamber of commerce-style predictability in favor of real "town halls'' open to the public. Those kinds of events would reap free media coverage and could set up a confrontation with an angry teacher or protester in the audience that would allow Schwarzenegger to make his case.
Get rid of the fat: Schwarzenegger has a growing cadre of consultants and Sacramento insiders -- with no designated campaign manager. "He's got a team with no direction ... spending too much money to feed the monster, to give everyone a commission check,'' Semler said. "The bigger the monster, the more non-direction.''
Get tough on the Legislature: The Legislature's passage -- and the governor's vetoes -- of the driver's license and same-sex marriage bills may fire up opposition on the left.
But "now Arnold has the campaign he wanted ... on a silver platter,'' Semler said. "He can rail against the out-of-control Legislature. He can say, 'If we don't make a change, the Legislature will continue to ignore the people.' ''
Get Maria: In the 2003 recall, Schwarzenegger's Democratic wife hit the road when her man was confronted with groping allegations -- and told female voters that she stood by him. The "listening tour'' made points, and may have made the difference in the election.
"She's charismatic and wonderful and loves people,'' said O'Connor of Cal State Sacramento, and it won't hurt to remind voters of her Kennedy connections.
E-mail the writers at firstname.lastname@example.org and email@example.com.
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Scotland on Sunday
Sun 11 Sep 2005
Gay hate crimes to face tougher court penalties
CRIMES motivated by hatred of gay, lesbian or bisexual people are to receive stiffer penalties under a crackdown by ministers.
New legislation is to be brought forward, under which such 'hate crimes' will be considered an aggravated offence.
For example, if it is proven that a gay man or a lesbian has been attacked because of their sexuality, the offender will receive a harsher penalty.
The new law follows similar moves against sectarianism where longer sentences have been handed out to those committing a crime while showing prejudice towards religious groups such as Muslims and Catholics.
Similarly, racially aggravated offences have been set in law since 1998.
Gay campaigners last night hailed the new moves, claiming that they would send out a message that homophobia was unacceptable.
But religious groups who believe homosexuality is a sin warned they faced being stigmatised by the new law.
The plans are to be contained in a new Scottish Sentencing Bill unveiled by First Minister Jack McConnell last week.
They originate from studies conducted by a Working Group on Hate Crime which recommended that the new aggravated offence should be introduced to crack down on homophobic thugs.
The moves follow police figures last year which showed that there had been a marked increase in the amount of homophobic crime in many of Scotland's regions. That has been mirrored by similar rises in London, where the Metropolitan Police has registered a 12% rise, and in Liverpool, where forces have noted a 49% rise in cases.
Across Britain as a whole, men are almost four times as likely to be attacked if they are homosexual.
Tim Hopkins, spokesman for the Equality Network in Scotland, said: "This is a very real problem. The majority of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender [LGBT] people have been abused in public and a very significant minority have been attacked.
"They are significantly more likely to be attacked than the population at large."
Hopkins said the new aggravated offence, which has already been introduced in England, was overdue.
"It will send a message that homophobic crime is unacceptable. It will encourage people to report their complaints to the police and also put in place a system which registers these crimes as homophobic attacks," he added.
"There is nothing to be made illegal which wasn't already illegal. All this will just flag the crime up as motivated by homophobia."
However, religious groups are concerned that the introduction of the new law will mark the thin end of the wedge.
John Deighan, parliamentary officer for the Catholic Church in Scotland, said: "The trouble with this is where is it going to end up? The working group did say that they didn't want to impinge on the right of free speech, but there is always a worry that this is where it will lead.
"There has been intimidation of religious groups, who felt they had to keep quiet as a result. You get self-censorship developing. People are afraid to say what they believe in on homosexuality because they feel that they will be accused of homophobia."
Gay campaigners insist that there will be nothing to prevent religious groups from continuing to express their views on homosexuality.
But the new laws are also likely to meet opposition from lawyers, who have warned that the addition of an aggravated offence simply makes it harder to convict offenders in court, as they have to prove not just the offence but also the motivation behind it.
The moves are likely to spark a further row over perceived political correctness within the legal system, particularly if, as expected, the Scottish Executive adopts several other of the working group's recommendations.
Alongside the new offence, the group urged ministers to run a campaign against prejudice of LGBT people, along the lines of its high-profile anti-racist campaigns.
Web posted at: 15:58 JST
ジョージ・クルーニー監督が１９５０年代のマッカーシー旋風を題材にした「Good Night and Good Luck」は、最優秀男優賞（デビッド・ストラザーン）とオゼッラ賞（脚本賞）を受賞した。
監督賞は、１９６８年のパリ五月革命を背景にした恋愛映画「Les Amants reguliers」のフィリップ・ガレル監督が受賞。最優秀女優賞には児童虐待をテーマにした「La Bestia nel Cuore」のジョバンナ・メッツォジョルノさんが選ばれた。
ベネチア金獅子賞に同性愛テーマのアン・リー作品 (時事 2005/09/11)
Gay cowboy film rides off with Venice Golden Lion
Sat Sep 10, 2005 4:47 PM ET
By Clara Ferreira-Marques
VENICE (Reuters) - Ang Lee's "Brokeback Mountain," a tale of homosexual love in the mountains of Wyoming, won Venice's Golden Lion on Saturday, beating film festival favorite George Clooney in the race to take the top prize.
The latest movie by the director of "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon" and "Hulk" is adapted from a story by Annie Proulx and stars Heath Ledger and Jake Gyllenhaal as love-struck cowboys whose forbidden affair begins in 1963 and ends 20 years later.
Taiwan-born Lee described "Brokeback Mountain" as a story of love against adversity. Independent and low-budget, like several U.S. entries at the festival, it was filmed in Canada to save money.
"After two big movies, I decided to make a small movie that really moved me," said Lee, who flew back from the Toronto Film Festival to take the award.
"I have the impression this is the most auteur-specialist of all film festivals and I never thought I would come here. I can't tell you how proud I am."
Critics had predicted Clooney's black-and-white tale of 1950s broadcasting courage, "Good Night. And, Good Luck," would win the Golden Lion, beating the 19 other films in competition.
Clooney, adored in Venice, did not go home empty-handed, winning an award for best screenplay with co-writer Grant Heslov.
His star, David Strathairn, won the best actor prize for his intense portrayal of journalist Edward R. Murrow, who used television to expose the bullying tactics of Senator Joseph McCarthy in his anti-communist crusade.
"This film is a tribute to the reporters who are in Afghanistan, in Iraq, in Africa, in our poor city of New Orleans, to bring us the truth," Clooney told a news conference.
"I don't believe it is a political statement per se. I felt that if I kept this in a historical context you could make your own decision."
Italy took home a consolation prize thanks to Giovanna Mezzogiorno, who won the best actress award for her role in Cristina Comencini's "La Bestia nel Cuore" ("Don't Tell"), a moving tale of adult siblings scarred by child abuse.
She beat France's Isabelle Huppert, a front-runner for her role in the emotionally intense "Gabrielle," and Gwyneth Paltrow, a contender for her performance as the daughter of a mentally unstable mathematician in John Madden's "Proof."
Huppert was instead given a rarely awarded special Lion for her "outstanding contribution to cinema," her third accolade at Venice.
Asia was feted as the honoured guest of the 62nd edition of the Venice festival, but its productions won none of the top prizes. Korean director Park Chan-wook was seen as a front-runner for his beautifully shot "Sympathy for Lady Vengeance."
Instead, U.S. director Abel Ferrara took the special jury prize for "Mary," starring Juliette Binoche as an actress haunted by the figure of Mary Magdalene after having played her on screen.
Ferrara told reporters this week that his film was possible thanks to the interest in religion generated by Mel Gibson, who struck gold with the ultra-realist "The Passion of the Christ."
France's Philippe Garrel won the Silver Lion prize for best director with his nouvelle vague-inspired "Les Amants Reguliers" ("Regular Lovers"), an austere story of love between disaffected young people in bohemian Paris after the May 1968 riots.
The moody three-hour film with only bare dialogue was well received by critics but got mixed reactions from the public at the Lido. It also won an accolade for its striking photography.
Another French offering, Laurent Cantet's gritty "Heading South" took home an acting prize for best newcomer thanks to Haitian Menothy Cesar, cast as the lover of white women paying for affection in 1970s Port-au-Prince.
Assemblywoman puts sex on the agenda
Lesbian politician Kanako Otsuji talks about gender issues in Japan
By MASAKO TSUBUKU
Special to The Japan Times
The Japan Times: Sept. 11, 2005
In April 2003, 28-year-old Kanako Otsuji became the youngest person ever elected to the Osaka prefectural assembly when she won the seat for Sakai City. It was a distinction made more special by the fact that there were only six other women in the 110-member assembly at the time. However, another distinction was not known to most of thepeople who voted for her.
Otsuji is a lesbian. Though she did not keep her sexual orientation a secret, the supporters who knew talked her out of revealing this information during the campaign. She was even open about her homosexuality to individual local journalists, but none reported it.
Born in Nara and raised in Kobe, Otsuji was an Asian Junior karate champion while in high school. Later, she dropped out of college and took odd jobs, eventually going to Seoul University to study Korean and tae kwon do in the hope of going to the Sydney Olympics in 2000. She didn't make the national team, though, and later enrolled in Doshisha University in Kyoto, where she became interested in politics. Otsuji interned with a lawmaker in the Kansai region before her successful run as an independent candidate for the Osaka prefectural assembly.
After taking office, Otsuji knew that she wanted to come out. She spent two months writing a memoir, titled "Coming Out," which was accepted by Kodansha. She wanted the publication to coincide with the Tokyo Lesbian and Gay Parade 2005 on Aug. 13, where she planned to come out publicly. However, she felt some sort of obligation to her supporters in Sakai City, and on the day before the parade she held a press conference at which she revealed her sexual orientation.
A section of the Tokyo Lesbian and Gay Parade, in which placards call for a Domestic Partners Law for homosexuals and declare "You're not alone."
On Aug. 30, Otsuji held her first meeting with supporters since coming out. She explained why she made the announcement, as well as the meaning of the term "sexual minorities" -- comprising lesbians, gay men, bisexuals, and transgender individuals -- and why she aimed to support them in her political career.
Following the meeting, Otsuji talked to The Japan Times about being an openly gay politician in Japan.
Why did you decide to come out?
Somebody had to. Before people can acknowledge the problems faced by sexual minorities, they have to see them. Otherwise the vicious circle continues.
You said that you became a politician in order to change society. How did you present yourself to voters?
When I ran there were very few women in the Osaka prefectural assembly, and the average age of all the members was about 60. I thought the assembly should represent a wide cross section of people, but it was just old men. So in my campaign I said we needed the voice of a young woman. I also said I didn't belong to any party, so I could promote things I believed in without any strings attached.
As for policies, I had worked on peace and environmental issues, human rights, in particular, women's problems.
I wanted to represent people who didn't have an outlet for their views. I wanted to give them a voice in the assembly.
I had no record of accomplishment as a politician, so I asked voters to give me a chance as a young person who wanted to change things.
Why didn't you reveal your sexual orientation when you ran?
I never hid the fact that I'm gay. I never went out of my way to tell someone I am, but if they asked me I'd tell them. At the beginning of the parade I announced that I was a lesbian, and it was supposed to be a happy occasion. I didn't expect it to be so serious.
I had a hard time until I finally admitted to myself my true sexual orientation [at the age of 23]. Until then I thought I was weird, the only person in the world who felt this way. Then I met people who were in the same situation.
As I explained this at the parade, I just started crying. I was remembering all the pain I had gone through. I hope that in the future when people come out they'll have an easier time of it.
What about your parents?
When I told my family that I was going to come out, they said I would have to prepare myself for hardship. My father told his relatives in Kagoshima and they got very upset. "Don't publish the book! Grandmother will faint!"
My mother acknowledges my homosexuality but she doesn't understand. One of her friends, a teacher, said, "It happens often in girls schools." And another friend simply said, "Wow, your daughter published a book! That's great!" I think she felt better after that.
How about your partner's family?
Her relatives don't understand either. It's very hard because if our families don't accept it, that means they're rejecting us. Mothers tend to think they did something wrong when their daughters say they are lesbians. It's like a mother who gives birth to a handicapped child. Mothers tend to think that society looks down on them, as if they were at fault. That's why we have to educate everyone.
Human rights problems are caused by prejudice, and all prejudice is created out of ignorance. I want to remove this prejudice. I want a society where you can talk about your sexual orientation as casually as you would left-handedness or right-handedness.
It'll probably take at least another 10 years.
In your book, you write that you were bullied in junior high school.
Bullying in school happens to people who are perceived as being different. If someone is even a little away from the mainstream, they're bullied. I was a bit boyish.
You said you were hurt when other students called you a "les," but were also happy when someone mistook you for a boy. Were you having gender identity problems?
People in Japan tend to think of lesbians as being very feminine. The ones I've known are not necessarily transgendered, but they do have doubts about their femaleness. They have lived their whole lives as females, so it's too late to think seriously about changing sex. I wrote that in the book so that people would understand that sexuality is not a black-and-white thing.
You sometimes hear of heterosexuals acknowledging their gayness, or saying that they love someone who "happens" to be the same sex. They understand homosexuality from that point of view. But I have no sexual desire toward men, only women. I would never say that the person I "happen" to be in love with is a woman. I love that woman because she is a woman. It's a very complicated subject.
You say that lesbians are forced to live under special conditions.
Among developed countries, Japan has a very small number of women in positions of power. This fact is reflected in the situation of lesbians.
When a woman acknowledges that she is a lesbian, she loses the option of getting married to a man who will support her. It is difficult for a woman to live by herself in Japan. There are few jobs where she can earn a decent salary. The average woman's salary is about 60 percent that of a man's, so being a woman in this country automatically means being poorer, which means lesbians are poorer, too. That's why some get married anyway.
Do the lesbians you know want to have children?
Some of them are divorced and already have children. I don't know of any lesbian couple in Japan who have had a child together [by means of artificial insemination]. The priority is financial survival.
How do you feel about the way the media treats sexual minorities?
It makes me angry. This morning I saw [comedian] Razor Ramon for the first time. I never watch TV. I'd only heard about him. He's not homosexual. He just uses gayness for his act, to make people laugh. I'm afraid that people will get the idea that gay people are all like that, yelling and pumping their hips.
Are there any groups who complain to the media about discrimination?
Right now there is no organization that monitors the media about such things. In a speech during the Chiba governor's election this year, Kensaku Morita [a former TV actor and LDP Diet member, who ran unsuccessfully as an Independent] said that if Japan maintains its policy of gender-free education, there will be no masculinity or femininity, only "okama" [a derogatory term, similar to "homos"].
We became angry and started a blog to protest his statement. I suppose you could call that a movement.
Sexual minority organizations concentrate on counseling: How can we survive in this society? We haven't reached the stage where we can operate as a political group. We can appeal to heterosexuals with something like this parade, which was held for the first time in three years. We also sent questionnaires to candidates in the Lower House election, asking them about their policies regarding sexual minorities.
We tend to think that the pursuit of happiness includes living with the person you love. In Japan, the smallest unit recognized by the authorities is the family, but the definition of family is very narrow.
The definition of the Japanese family is fixed. In Osaka, you can only live in public housing with your family, which is designated through the family registration system. So you have to prove that you are married with a family register, and -- according to the family register -- marriage is only between a man and a woman.
Whether or not it's good for gay couples to be accepted as a family within this convention is a problem, because then single people will be discriminated against, including single mothers. Actually, gays and lesbians identify more with single people, meaning we want to live in a society that recognizes the basic rights of individuals.
I don't want a society in which families and singles are antagonists. That's why we aren't aggressive about guaranteeing same-sex domestic partners' rights. We were influenced by feminism. Lesbians tend to not like words like "couples" and "marriage."
Personally, I decided a long time ago to never get married.
Do you oppose the institution of marriage?
Yes. Now, the law doesn't even allow married people to have different names.
But as you wrote [in a newspaper article], you want to make laws that broaden the rights of domestic partnerships.
I think domestic partners should have the same rights as married couples. If they did, it would mean the government accepts gays and lesbians as full citizens. The Seisakuken [a policy group that works on women's and sexual minority issues] surveyed gays and lesbians about what they want. The main priority was the right to remain with a seriously ill partner in hospital. If something happens to my partner, I want to be able to talk to the doctor, be there by her side. I want to be part of the decision-making process with regard to her care. Presently, only family members are allowed to do that. The second priority is inheritance.
If you want to change society you have to do it on a national level.
Right. We want to put up at least one sexual minority person for the Upper House as a proportional candidate. That way we will see how many votes we can get and what kind of support we have.
Has any party talked to you so far?
I think they're taking a wait-and-see attitude. There are many gays and lesbians living in places like Shinjuku, and if any of them decided to run for local government I think they could get elected. If an openly gay person ran, then members of sexual minorities who are interested in politics will vote for that person. Wherever I go I try to badger gay people into running for office.
You formed a sexual minority political group -- you, Aya Kamikawa [a transgender member of the assembly of Setagaya Ward, Tokyo] and another person.
Actually, there are more. The only members who have disclosed their names are myself and Kamikawa-san.
Are they politicians from local governments?
Yes. And there are national politicans, too.
Why don't they come out?
They didn't become politicians to work on sexual minority issues. Once you become a politician your job is to get reelected, and that becomes difficult when you come out, especially if you're from a rural district.
In your book, you also worry about children. Lately, sex education has come under fire. Do you think it's acceptable to teach children about sexual orientation?
Right now, home economics textbooks for high school students discuss same-sex couples. Every four years textbooks are revised, so we must try to keep it as it is. The Seisakuken is making a special gender-free program. We'll go to schools and explain about sexual minorities. Teachers will then be compelled to deal with any related questions from their students. It's not something many teachers want to do, so they may ask for help. Once the subject comes out people will want to know more.
We really have to tell people that there's nothing wrong with being gay or lesbian. It's a healthy sexual orientation. We use civil rights as a kind of breakwater. We have to insist that when people make discriminatory statements in school or in the political arena it violates our rights.
Since this concerns individuals' sexual orientation, it's difficult for society to recognize it as a civil rights problem. That's why people don't come out.
Right, but somebody has to.
And that somebody is you . . .
In 1993, Yuko Kakefuda, a writer, came out after she wrote "Being a Lesbian." It was the first time such a book was published in Japan. Then, singer Michiru Sasano, who read Kakefuda's book, wrote her own, and I read it when I was about 20. In 1999, a schoolteacher named Kumiko Ikeda wrote a book titled "I Won't Leave You." She was a lesbian activist using a pseudonym, and in 1997 she came out in her school. I'm an extension of that line.
Sasano suffered from depression after she published her book.
Everyone I know who comes out more or less suffers from depression.
What about you?
I try to fly low, but I can feel the pressure.
Do you feel it directly?
It's more like I'm untouchable. You saw the women at the meeting, the ones in their 60s? They don't have the vocabulary to discuss sexuality. Their image of sex is one of dirty jokes and pornography. They can't talk about sex seriously during the daytime. That's why they don't know how to talk to me since I came out.
Friends and people in my group come up to me, discuss my book, ask me if I'm OK, but everybody else just avoids the topic. They know I came out, but they refuse to acknowledge it. Even the bureaucrats I work with have no idea how to talk to me.
If somebody comes to me and says he read my book or an article about me, then I can believe he or she accepts me for what I am. Everyone knows I came out, but no one talks about it to my face.
I had a such great time at the parade. It was like a dream. Then, the next day, back in Osaka, I returned to earth and realized how difficult real life is. There will be somebody else, somebody who reads my book and comes out, so I'll hand the baton to her. That gives me a sense of purpose. But until that person comes out, I'll accept my role as the front runner.
The Japan Times: Sept. 11, 2005
Gay Marriage Opposition Split in Calif.
- By LISA LEFF, Associated Press
Saturday, September 10, 2005
(09-10) 15:24 PDT San Francisco (AP) --
Despite their state's history of promoting gay rights, Californians have been split on the subject of same-sex marriage — a contrast that's expected to become even more pronounced because of two overlapping voter initiatives. Fearing that courts eventually will support the rights of gay couples to marry, opponents want voters to amend the state Constitution to allow only heterosexual unions.
However, a rift among conservatives has led competing groups to promote two different bans and snipe at each other over which is best. Both petitions would do away with rights associated with domestic partnerships as well as same-sex unions.
Conservatives worry the infighting could doom the initiatives, while gay-rights advocates say voters are not likely to discard established domestic partnership rights.
"There is obviously a rift in the family over which of the proposed amendments best protects marriage and protects the rights and benefits of marriage," said Benjamin Lopez, a lobbyist for the Traditional Values Coalition who tried to unite the competing groups behind one measure earlier this year. "The situation right now is delicate."
Voters agreed five years ago in a ballot initiative, Proposition 22, that marriage should be only between a man and a woman, but courts said the law violated gay couples' civil rights.
Last week, the California Legislature became the nation's first legislative body to approve a bill allowing same-sex marriages, although Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger said he would veto it.
In the ballot initiatives, a group called Vote Yes Marriage favors a detailed, multi-paragraph amendment rescinding the marriage-like rights lawmakers granted domestic partners over the last five years while defining marriage as a union between a man and a woman.
The other group, Protect Marriage, does it in one sentence: "A marriage between a man and a woman is the only legal union that shall be valid or recognized in this state."
The sponsors have until January to gather 598,105 signatures to put the amendments on next June's ballot.
Andrew Pugno, legal adviser to Protect Marriage, said that group wants to keep the wording simple as a strategic move.
Backers of the longer Vote Yes Marriage version say that while the Protect Marriage initiative might keep the courts and the Legislature from bestowing marriage licenses on same-sex couples, it would not necessarily do away with domestic partnerships.
Thirteen states already have constitutional bans on gay marriage. Others are expected to be on ballots next year in Alabama, Indiana, Wisconsin, South Carolina, Colorado, Arizona, Florida, Virginia, South Dakota and Tennessee. Voters in Texas will decide on an amendment outlawing gay marriage this year.
Although Proposition 22 passed with 61 percent of the vote five years ago, a recent poll by the Public Policy Institute of California found that voters are evenly divided on whether gays should be allowed to marry. Other polls have found a majority think same-sex couples deserve at least domestic partner rights.
Gay rights advocates said that by attempting to void California's domestic partner laws as well as ban gay marriage, both proposals might be spelling their defeat. But they nevertheless are bracing for the likelihood that at least one will make the June ballot and the possibility that the second would be put before voters the following November.
"Ultimately, it wouldn't surprise me if this is a way for two different groups to raise as much money as possible and then join forces," said Geoffrey Kors, executive director of the lobbying group Equality California. "We are suspicious of their motivation because we know they are motivated by wanting to take away the rights of our families."
On the Net:
Vote Yes Marriage:
The Chicago Tribune
Respecting the voters
Published September 10, 2005
California law does not allow marriages between same-sex partners, and that ban has been affirmed by the people: In 2000, they approved a ballot initiative that barred the state from sanctioning same-sex marriages. Proposition 22 declared, "Only marriage between a man and a woman is valid or recognized in California."
That measure passed with the approval of 61 percent of the voters. Yet just five years later, the legislature has decided the will of the people on this subject deserves to be ignored. Recently, by a single-vote margin, it became the first legislature in the nation to act on its own to permit gays to marry. (In Massachusetts, gay marriage came about from a ruling by the state's highest court.)
The legislature's vote, however, became moot when Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger said he would veto the bill. Though much of the political opposition to the legislature's action reflects a simple and unfortunate animus toward homosexuals, the governor made the correct decision.
Not everyone would agree with California's frequent reliance on direct democracy to address major policy issues. But once the people have spoken so unequivocally, the legislature ought to respect their choice. To do otherwise is to render the ballot initiative process irrelevant, which can only alienate the legislature from the people it is supposed to serve.
Supporters of the measure say public opinion has softened considerably since 2000, and a recent poll found Californians split evenly, with 46 percent supporting same-sex marriage and 46 percent opposing it. If sentiment has truly shifted, though, it would make more sense to take the issue back to the voters. Overriding the choice they made at the polls practically invites an angry backlash.
This is not the first time that public officials in California have chosen to flout what the people decided. Last year, the mayor of San Francisco decided Proposition 22 was unconstitutional and issued more than 4,000 marriage licenses to same-sex couples. The state Supreme Court said the city had overstepped its authority and nullified those licenses.
Schwarzenegger has been ridiculed for saying the question of same-sex marriage should be resolved by the people or the courts. But in the California context, that makes perfect sense.
It's the right of the people there to pass laws by ballot initiative. It's the obligation of the courts to decide whether those laws, like statutes passed by the legislature, are compatible with the state constitution. A lower court recently ruled Proposition 22 was unconstitutional, and the state Supreme Court will have to make the ultimate judgment.
In the meantime, the needs of gays and lesbians in California have not exactly been ignored. Not only does the state ban discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, it has a domestic partnership law that allows same-sex couples to register with the state and get almost all the rights that marriage affords under state law. This is nearly indistinguishable from the civil unions permitted in Vermont.
But the people of California have made it clear that while they have no problem with domestic partnerships, they are not ready for same-sex marriage. Schwarzenegger is wise to abide by their decision, since the legislature would rather not.
Posted on Sun, Sep. 11, 2005
Governor a politician after all, as waffling on gay vows shows
By Phil Yost
San Jose Mercury News
Arnold Schwarzenegger was taking instruction straight from the manual of conventional political strategy when he sidestepped the bill legalizing same-sex marriage.
Handed a landmark law by the Legislature, Schwarzenegger promptly promised a veto while sort of endorsing the goal. Asserting that ``gay couples are entitled to full protection under the law,'' he nonetheless said he had to be subservient to the will of the people as expressed in the anti-gay-marriage Proposition 22 from 2000.
It's hard to knock this decision in political terms, and it has a defensible legal rationale. But it's still disappointing to me from a leadership standpoint, especially the vacillating language, because the promise of Schwarzenegger the candidate was that he would throw the old political manual out the window. He not only called himself an untraditional Republican, he bristled when anyone referred to him as a politician.
He acted like one last week.
Surely he reckoned that even if he had signed the bill, the question wouldn't be settled. Same-sex marriage is in the courts, and is soon to be on initiative petitions in front of supermarkets. Either one could take the decision away from the Legislature and the governor.
Further counseling caution is the still-fresh spectacle of liberal Democrats last year ducking in the same way -- endorsing domestic partnerships, not marriage. Why should Schwarzenegger rush in where Barbara Boxer feared to tread?
The prospect of delivering a political hand grenade to the governor had to motivate Democrats, along with their belief in the cause. The vote was safe for all but a handful of Democrats, but not for the governor. Why should Schwarzenegger put himself in harm's way?
Same-sex marriage is probably opposed by a majority of Californians -- although one recent poll shows an even split. It's certainly opposed by a majority of the governor's fellow Republicans. The bill got no Republican votes in the Legislature.
With a special election coming up in which the governor already looks to be making little headway against the tide of public opinion, he can't afford to lose any more people in the boat who are willing to help him row.
Add it all together and you get a decision that keeps his head down and his party happy.
Maybe Schwarzenegger is against same-sex marriage. In that case, he should just say so. Because the overall impression left from his various conflicting comments is that he's comfortable with it if the courts or the voters want to change the law. He's just not going to get out in front until it's clear which direction the parade is going.
Schwarzenegger argues that Proposition 22, which voters passed 61 percent to 39 percent, prevents him from signing the bill. It says, ``Only marriage between a man and a woman is valid or recognized in California.''
But even if Proposition 22 ties his hands, it doesn't tape his mouth shut.
Schwarzenegger could have said that while the law prevented him from signing the bill, he wished he could have. He could have called on voters to reject the initiatives that opponents of same-sex marriage are preparing. Some of them roll back the rights of domestic partners that California has established, in addition to limiting marriage to a man and a woman.
Instead, he issued a two-paragraph statement saying the matter should not be determined by the Legislature and the governor.
It's unfair to make same-sex marriage a litmus test for Schwarzenegger's promise to be a different kind of governor just because I wish he had chosen to make national history.
But for me, it's not so much the veto as the bobbing and weaving. He doesn't consider himself a politician, but there he was last week, not really against same-sex marriage, not really for it. His firmest position was that he isn't allowed to decide.
PHIL YOST is chief editorial writer of the Mercury News. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org
［宗教はいま］アメリカ支える右派「神学」 (読売 2005/09/10夕刊)