Dear Supporter of Marriage Equality:

First of all, thank you for caring!  I’m glad that you don’t need to be a QUILTBAG person yourself in order to take a stand for what is right.  I do, however, have one piece of advice:

Don’t postpone your marriage to make yourself a better straight ally.

Now, I don’t know you personally, so I don’t mean to presume your particular motivation for your actions.  But perhaps you happen to share a few common sentiments with others I know who are able to legally marry their partners but are holding off on it because same-sex marriage is still not legal in their region, in which case I appreciate you listening to what I have to say.

First, consider that you’re undermining a very important tenant of marriage equality: that “gay marriage has nothing to do with the success of your straight marriage”.  The most recent example I have is Jay Leno telling Michelle Bachmann that he’s been married 31 years, and can’t think of a single way that some other person’s ability to marry could harm his own marriage.  So now I ask you to consider the correlary to that situation: how does your not being straight married help me get gay married?  Answer: it doesn’t.  Unless you consider it to be a form of public attention-raising.  In which case…

You can raise awareness no matter what your own personal marital status happens to be.  It doesn’t take a piece of paper in the pocket to attend pro-marriage rallies, to write letters to congress people, or to donate money to non-profit organizations.  Besides, it’s just as easy to stand up and say “we’re a straight married couple who believe that every gay couple should be entitled to the same rights as us!” as it is to say “we’re a straight couple who refuse to marry until all gay partners are able to marry!”  Either way, your support of marriage equality is much appreciated, and we hope you keep it up.

This brings me to a third thought.  Again, I don’t presume to know your personal life, but I have spoken with a few straight couples who feel guilty about their marital status.  They feel like they’re somehow flaunting their privilege by taking advantage of the superior rights offered to their partnership.  They may even feel like gay couples resent their marriage.  There are many ways to deal with feelings of guilt, and I can offer one possible solution:

Take all the money you save by being legally married vs cohabiting (or what have you), and donate it to the marriage equality organization of your choice.  Any time you would have otherwise had to get a power of attorney, donate that money to charity.  Every time you file your taxes jointly, also calculate the rate it would be if you both filed single, and donate the difference.  With all that money you save by being on the same health insurance, set up a monthly deposit to your local LGBT center. Bet you never thought of getting married as a fundraiser before!  Heck, you could even take a collection for donations at your wedding and at any anniversary celebrations you may hold.

I know there are many reasons people choose to marry or not to marry.  I’ve been married, and now I’m with someone I’m not married to, though we have the legal right if we so choose.  Life is complicated that way.  But if the only reason you are holding out on marriage is for us QUILTBAG folk, I hope I’ve given you a bit more to weigh in on your decision.

P.S.  If you’re one of those people who are using the whole “I don’t want to get married till the gays can” card as an excuse to get out of a marriage you wouldn’t even want in the first place, you’re a douche.

wearethe99percent
This is why we need to put more teachers to work permanently: for the economy and for our future.
wearethe99percent:

I am a teacher. You are able to read, write, do arithmetic and much more because of people like me. Each year, I am expected to take your children further than ever before with fewer materials and resources. I spend thousands out of my own pocket to educate your child. Due to budget cuts, I am also nurse, lunch monitor, counselor, and janitor. I spend long hours after school away from my family, grading papers and planning lessons. I am overworked, underpaid, and I am still told I do not do enough. I am the 99%.”

This is why we need to put more teachers to work permanently: for the economy and for our future.

wearethe99percent:

I am a teacher. You are able to read, write, do arithmetic and much more because of people like me. Each year, I am expected to take your children further than ever before with fewer materials and resources. I spend thousands out of my own pocket to educate your child. Due to budget cuts, I am also nurse, lunch monitor, counselor, and janitor. I spend long hours after school away from my family, grading papers and planning lessons. I am overworked, underpaid, and I am still told I do not do enough. I am the 99%.”

Living the Libertarian dream in Obion County, Tennessee.  Never mind that letting a fire burn wild can cause a (duh) wild fire, taking out an entire block or even spreading out across the state.  There’s a reason these programs are supposed to be for everyone, no matter what their financial status.

"It’s not in the top 20 things that we think about when we’re making a business hire," said Ian Yankwitt, who owns Tortoise Investment Management. Yankwitt says deciding to bring on another employee is all about return on investment. Will adding another person to the payroll make his company more successful?

"If my taxes go up, I have slightly less disposable income, yes," said Burger, co-owner of CSS International Holdings, a global infrastructure contractor. "But that has nothing to do with what my business does. What my business does is based on the contracts that it wins and the demand for its services."

"I, like any other American, especially a business owner, I want to make as much money as I can and I want to keep as much money in my pocket as I can, but I also believe in the greater good," says Deborah Schwarz, who owns LAC Group, an information management firm with offices nationwide and in London.

ThinkProgress rounds them up:

Since the last SOTU, the economy has created 1.9 million private sector jobs. [Source]

• The top 1 percent take home 24 percent of the nation’s income, up from about 9 percent in 1976. [Source]

• Private sector job creation under Obama in 2011 was larger than seven out of the eight years Bush was president. [Source]

• The top 1 percent of Americans own 40 percent of our country’s wealth while the bottom 80 percent owns only 7 percent. [Source]

• Thanks to the Affordable Care Act, 2.5 million young adults gained health insurance. [Source]

• For every one job opening, there are four people looking for work. [Source]

• Last year, China spent 9 percent of its GDP on infrastructure. The U.S. spent 2.5 percent. [Source]

• 2.65 million seniors saved an average of $569 on prescriptions last year thanks to the Affordable Care Act. [Source]

• “In 2011, the United States killed Al Qaeda’s most effective propagandist, Anwar al-Awlaki; its operating chief, Atiyah Abd al-Rahman; and of course its founder, chief executive and spiritual leader, Osama bin Laden.” [Source]

• Union membership is at a 70-year low. [Source]

• Unemployment benefits have lifted 3.2 million people out of poverty. [Source]

• The United States used to have the world’s largest percentage of college graduates. We’re now #14. [Source]

• One quarter of all contributions to federal campaigns come from 0.01 percent of Americans. [Source]

• 47.8 percent of households that receive food stamps are working, because having a job is not enough to keep them out of poverty. [Source]

• In the last three years, 30 major corporations spent more on lobbying than they paid in taxes. [Source]

• 50 percent of U.S. workers make less than $26,364 per year. [Source]

• More than one in 70 homes faced foreclosure last year. [Source]

• Since 1985, the federal tax rate for the 400 wealthiest Americans dropped from 29 percent to 18 percent. [Source]

what we’ve learned about Mitt Romney from his tax returns: 1) He pays a low rate in taxes, lower than many of us who derive our income from working 2) His work income is pocket change compared to the money he makes sitting on his ass paying other people to make money for him and 3) He makes more in a day doing nothing than your average American makes in a year of life being consumed by work.

Dedicated fans and stalkers alike will know that I reject the notion that there are “super-foods” or foods which are universally healthy for all people in all situations.  It is also a basic staple of nutrition that consuming too much of one nutrient (such as sugar, or even water!) can overwhelm the body whereas consuming too little of another (such as iron or calcium) can result in malnourishment.  But when I hear a solution that is merely slapping a tax on top of an already bad situation, I cringe.

Dr Peter Scarborough of the British Heart Foundation Health Promotion Research Group at the University of Oxford, said … taxing only one type of food could have unintended consequences, such as people cutting back on fruit and vegetables to save money for other purchases.

He told the BBC: “If you only tax one aspect of food like sugar you can have unintended consequences.

"If you tax fat, salt and sugar, combined with subsidies for fruit and vegetables, you’ll get healthier diets."

Yes, exactly what he said!  Let’s say I can’t decide between vegan tacos made with fresh produce or a frozen veggie pizza.  A delicious Tombstone pizza covered in cheese and veggies (including broccoli!) goes for just under $5 at my local Shop-n-Save; at a pound and a half, it’s not even one of those crappy cardboard pizzas.  A can of beans for $1 (or tofu for $2), tortillas for around $1.50, small onion for $1, green pepper for 75c, an avocado for $1.50, and if I’m out of seasonings that’s another $1+, ditto for green salsa for $3.  With the avocados, the tacos maybe have as many calories as the pizza, but the pizza is definitely more filling.  Plus, pizza is in and out of the oven in 1/2 hour.  Tofu tacos (which are seriously tasty) take 1/2 hour of active prep, browning and crisping the tofu (cuz who likes mushy tacos?) and chopping the veggies and slicing the avocado (which is an amazing cheese substitute in this case) and lots more cleanup too.  And I’m only preparing food for myself and one adult partner who puts in equal labor in the kitchen!

But what if the pizza cost $6-$8, while the produce cost even 25% less than they do now?  Suddenly I’m looking at a different picture.  Maybe asparagus is a pretty attractive deal when it’s not several dollars per bunch?  Maybe grapes make a sweeter desert than ice cream when they’re not $2 more?  Maybe an apple a day does keep the doctor away when they’re not $2-$4 per pound?

Anyway, my point is that policy changes won’t work if they’re just about punishing a few arbitrary “bad” behaviors.  They also need to increase people’s access to a wider range of choices.  And that’s going to require the experts to do something that I don’t see a lot of “experts” doing: listen.  Listen to what the needs of the people are instead of assuming what you think they should be.