Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Australia becomes 2nd country to pass same sex marriage by popular vote

Results of Aussie vote on equal marriage, courtesy ABC

Ireland was the first country in 2015 to pass equal marriage by national popular vote, by a margin of 62% to 38%. 

Today, Australia released its results in that country's postal survey of voters in which almost 80% of voters participated on the issue of legalizing same sex marriage in that country and the results are wonderful: 62% in favour, 38% opposed.  Observers expect the Aussie government to pass same sex marriage into law perhaps by the end of this year.  

I want to congratulate all Australians on this historic victory for equality! 

It's heartening that these national votes, at least in the western world, are starting to result in wins for human rights and equality.  Sadly other national votes outside the west in recent years, like in Slovenia, have been won by the bigots.

But referendum victories even in the west are a recent phenomenon.  Defeats in similar referendums at the state level in the United States used to be common.  It wasn't until 2012 that American voters started embracing equality by popular vote at the state level.    

Other victories for same sex marriage happened either in legislative bodies or in the courts, including in Canada where a court victory in 2003 legalized same sex marriage in Ontario, followed by passage of full marriage equality across the country in the House of Commons in 2005.  Full marriage equality was granted by the American Supreme Court in 2015 across that entire country.

Of course, we must not forget that homosexuality remains illegal in many parts of the world, so we must keep up the fight for equality the world over and not forget those LGBTQ people not fortunate enough to live in mostly progressive countries. 

As always, we can't forget that many other issues remain for LGBTQ people: Freedom from discrimination in human rights laws, protection against hate crimes, as well as a host of other economic equality issues which are even more relevant to all LGBTQ people than marriage laws.  On those fronts, much more progress, especially in over half of American states where LGBTQ people can still be fired from their jobs for being queer, is needed. 

Saturday, November 4, 2017

I never thought Frank Underwood's comeuppance would look like this...

Actor Kevin Spacey as Frank Underwood
Netflix has announced that Kevin Spacey will no longer play any part in its series, 'House of Cards.'  

This follows a series of allegations of sexual harassment and sexual assault leveled against the actor from various House of Cards male crew, former colleagues and actor Anthony Rapp, who made public last weekend complaints that Spacey made inappropriate advances on him when Rapp was 14 (and Spacey was 26.)

It also follows the maelstrom that has erupted across Hollywood recently in response to allegations against movie mogul Harvey Weinstein and other powerful straight men.

For a country that heard gross admissions of sexual assault and harassment from Donald Trump, but then proceeded to "elect" him anyway over a more qualified woman, these recent developments are a minor step in the right direction.  We have to continue to fight to make sure all sexual predators, straight or queer, pay for their behaviour (that means that Trump must be tossed out on his ass in 2020 if not sooner).  It's nice to see that the immense bravery it takes to come forward with allegations like these is being partially rewarded with some major professional consequences for those who clearly seem, due to the mere volume of complaints, to be far from innocent.  That's heartening.

This article this week by writer Natasha Chart proved to be one of the best articles on the connection between sexism and homophobia I've ever read.  I recommend it highly. 

But back to Kevin Spacey and 'House of Cards.'   Please allow me a bit of glee at Spacey's demise from the increasingly tiresome show.   This was a show that since Season 3 or 4 (of six) has become incredibly annoying, ditching any pretense for realism in favour of the repeated formula that went something like this: "Let's introduce weak adversaries for Frank, let them annoy him for an episode or two, then let Frank flick them away like dust off his lapel only to become stronger and even more powerful than before. Repeat."

It wasn't good writing the last three seasons, it was bullshit.  No politician has ever experienced the kind of uninterrupted climb to immense power as Frank Underwood.  And to get there, Underwood killed at least two people.  Furthermore, his wife Claire joined the murderous club last season just before the heavy-handed writers made her President of the U.S. 

I've been watching 'House of Cards' since the first season but have been disappointed since Season 3.  I stopped watching mid-way through Season 6 when it became clear the writers were taking delight in deceptively teasing us with the continued hope that Underwood and his wife would finally pay in any major way for their crimes.  In life, that kind of evil should face consequences, but so rarely does.  The last thing I need is to experience dramatized and exploited evil in my entertainment.  I'm kind of sensitive that way.  

That's why I've also refused to watch the celebration of misogyny and violence against women that is "Game of Thrones." Other sadists may love that shit, but not me.  (In a culture that adores such entertainment, is it any wonder that sexual harassment and violence against women remain such problems?)

Who could have foretold that Frank Underwood's demise would be due to the complaints of one man?  Anthony Rapp is my new hero.