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Spilled Milk: Prop 8 — The Color of Pee-Pee

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This post is the first in a series of Spilled Milk columns by Emmy Award-winning writer and producer William Lucas Walker that chronicle his journey through parenthood. Hereafter, Spilled Milk, which originates in The Huffington Post, will appear on these pages every Saturday.

 

Our son was three years old when Prop 8 passed, too young to understand what was going on but just the right age to articulate his thoughts about those yellow “Yes on 8” signs he saw everywhere. They were, he announced, “the color of pee-pee.”

On some level, he got what was happening to his family.

Six months earlier, on May 14, 2008, my children and I had helped their Papa celebrate his 40th birthday. Since Kelly was born here in Los Angeles, we took him on a sort of “This Is Your Life” driving tour. We visited the hospital where he was born, his childhood home in Sylmar, his kindergarten and elementary schools. After that we drove to Pasadena so we could show the kids the spot where Kel and I had met, in the courtyard of All Saints Episcopal Church. Growing up, Kelly’s mom had told him that if he was lucky, he’d meet the person he was going to marry at church. As usual, she was right, though I doubt she pictured a bride with my testosterone levels.

The next morning, May 15, a late, unexpected birthday gift arrived. It wasn’t the sort of thing you could wrap or slip into a card. It was too big. Huge, in fact. The California Supreme Court had just handed down a landmark verdict: Kelly and I were no longer banned from getting married. That night, after nine years and two children, I was finally able to propose to the love of my life. There were tears, so it was fitting that our daughter captured the moment on the video camera we’ve used to record every moist event in our family’s life together, from her sticky birth to the time she threw up on her grandfather.

Kelly insisted that we marry the first day such unions would become legal, June 17, before — as he so presciently put it — “they try to take it away from us.” Bastards. That’s what I was thinking. Our children will no longer be bastards! Our plan to correct this problem was to take the kids to the county courthouse, pay for our license, and get hitched then and there. But our next-door neighbor had other ideas.

“You finally get the right to marry, and you’re not having a wedding?” cried Judy. “You have to have a wedding!” I told her we were on a tight timetable — three weeks — and besides, a wedding wasn’t in our budget. Judy was hearing none of it. “We’ll help you,” she said. “We’ll make it happen.”

“Who’ll make it happen?” I asked.

“Your neighbors. The Ladies of La Punta Drive!” I wondered why it was so important for her to see us get married, so I asked, and she answered: “Because we love your family, and we want you to have what we have.” A moment I’ll never forget.

So the Ladies of La Punta kicked into high gear. Mary, an attorney, forever reversed my low opinion of lawyers by baking us a spectacular, three-tier wedding cake. Alexa augmented a $100 flower budget by grabbing a machete and taking to the street like some feral florist, whacking down enough greenery to turn our living room into a lovely, low-cost garden. As for Judy, she took pictures with a broken wrist, while Lisa handled the nuptial food, demonstrating what every parent of a pregnant bride has known for years: there’s nothing like Costco for a quickie wedding reception. Neil, our daughter’s godfather and an Episcopal priest, officiated. Our attendants were our children: Elizabeth, then 7, and James, 2-and-a-half. Elizabeth called herself our groomsmaid and never looked more radiant. Or proud. James froze on the aisle, as 2-year-olds have done throughout time. Still, he managed to strew a path of leaves for his parents as they strode toward a day they thought would never arrive.

Nothing can compete with the birth of your kids for sheer depth of joy, but our wedding day was a close second. Kelly and I repeated the vows we’d made to each other at a religious blessing of our union at All Saints Church in 2001. Only this time we were able to use the words “lawfully wedded.” We were married, in the eyes of our god, our state, our friends and family, but, most importantly, our children.

The reception rocked. Way back in 1995, I had written the gay wedding episode of Roseanne, the first time a national television audience had witnessed such a(n illegal) thing. At his sitcom reception, Martin Mull, who played one of the grooms, looked aghast at the wedding cake topper Roseanne had concocted for him. She explained herself in her trademark nasal whine: “I couldn’t find anything with two grooms, so I ripped off the bride and stuck on one of D.J.’s action heroes from Pocahontas.”

I loved that cake topper and had kept it as a souvenir. When Mary told me about the three-level, 18-million-calorie confection she planned to bake, I dug the topper out of storage. And once again, these two little men, plastic but clearly meant for each other, took their place on the frosting, this time as a legally married couple: Mr. and Mr. Captain John Smith. Our children thought it was funny.

But as Elizabeth and James watched our wedding day unfold, what neither of them realized was this: though it may have seemed to be about us, this day was very much about the two of them. Marriage has a way of providing kids with a sense of stability most children take for granted. Now our kids no longer had to stand on a playground wondering why everybody else’s parents could be married but theirs could not.

Five months after our happy day, the “Yes on 8” campaign convinced over half of California’s electorate that my family’s having equal access to marriage is a Very Bad Thing. I heard them say, a lot, “Why do you need to be married? You guys get the same rights and protections as marriage. It’s just called ‘domestic partnership’; really, it’s exactly the same,” as if pointing in the far distance and saying, “See, there it is, way over there. Squint.” I grew up in the segregated South, and those arguments sounded awfully familiar. I was in a domestic partnership for eight years; I’ve now been married for five. The water does not taste the same.

In the final weeks leading up to the election, as I was driving Elizabeth home from school, we passed a newspaper stand on which someone had plastered a “Yes on 8” bumper sticker. She became visibly agitated, as she did whenever she saw a “Yes on 8” yard sign. She asked if I would stop the car so that we could scrape off the bumper sticker. I explained to her that we live in America and there’s a thing called freedom of speech, which means everyone has the right to express their opinion, as long as they’re not hurting anyone. She started to cry, saying, “But they are. They’re hurting our family. Why do all those people want to hurt our family?” It was one of my lowest moments as a father.

Prop 8 passed that November. Elizabeth’s second-grade class had been following the presidential election, so she knew about percentages and majorities. What she was unable to wrap her mind around was the fact that over half the voters in California thought we had no legal right to be a family.

It was months before she told me about the nightmares she’d been having, dreams of people with yellow signs coming to our house with torches, trying set fire to our home. I wish I were making this up. Sadly, no. Thanks, National Organization for Marriage. To you I would say this: if, as your misleading campaign ads bleated for months, your main goal is to protect children, how could you possibly do this to mine?

We got married that very warm, first possible evening in June, not to be part of history or to make some political statement, but because we’re a family and want what’s best for our kids. Luckily, California’s Supreme Court subsequently held that our marriage, and the other 18,000 marriages performed during those five months, had been entered into in good faith and could not be evaporated by a vote. But what about the other families, the ones who weren’t lucky enough to marry when they had the chance?

With last February’s decision by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals upholding Judge Vaughn Walker’s finding that Prop 8 is unconstitutional, you’d think things were looking up. Not for kids with gay parents. With ProtectMarriage.com now trying to convince the U.S. Supreme Court that our families don’t deserve legal recognition, and the freshly-minted Republican Party platform calling for a nationwide ban on marriage equality, it can only mean one thing for these children: a lot more time standing on playgrounds wondering why they can’t have married parents like their friends.

* * * * *
William Lucas Walker is an Emmy Award-winning writer and producer whose television credits include Frasier, Will & Grace and Roseanne. He co-created the critically-acclaimed Showtime comedy The Chris Isaak Show. Bill and his husband Kelly are the parents of Elizabeth and James, born in 2001 and 2005. The children were gratified by the legal marriage of their parents in 2008, an event that rescued them from a life of ruinous bastardry.

Spilled Milk chronicles Bill’s misadventures in Daddyland. The first recurring humor column by a gay parent to appear in a mainstream American publication, Spilled Milk has regularly landed on the front page of The Huffington Post.

Follow William Lucas Walker on Twitter: @WmLucasWalker, @SpilledMilkWLW or Facebook: “Spilled Milk” by William Lucas Walker.       

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OPINION

‘You Just Don’t Do It’: Federal Judge Denounces Alito’s Flags as ‘Stop the Steal’ Stickers

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A senior U.S. district judge is denouncing U.S. Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito‘s flying of two insurrection-related flags at his homes in Virginia and New Jersey, declaring the actions “improper. And dumb.”

Judge Michael Ponsor, 77, who has served on the federal bench since 1984, writes in a Friday New York Times op-ed that he has “known scores, possibly hundreds, of federal trial and appellate judges pretty well,” and “can’t think of a single one, no matter who appointed her or him, who has engaged or would engage in conduct like that.”

“You just don’t do that sort of thing, whether it may be considered over the line, or just edging up to the margin. Flying those flags was tantamount to sticking a ‘Stop the steal’ bumper sticker on your car. You just don’t do it.”

Justice Alito’s first flag scandal came late last week, when The New York Times reported an upside down U.S. flag had flown at his Virginia home jut days before Joe Biden was sworn in as President. That flag is associated with the insurrectionists who stormed the Capitol on January 6, 2021. As of January, more than 1200 who were there that day have been arrested and charged with crimes.

Alito blamed his wife, claiming she made the decision to fly the flag upside down, which according to the U.S. flag code should only be done to signal distress. Martha-Ann Alito, her husband claimed, had gotten into an argument with a neighbor and manifested her anger by flying the “Stop the Steal” flag.

READ MORE: ‘Investigate Now’: As Alito Scandal Grows Pressure Mounts on ‘MIA’ and ‘AWOL’ Judiciary Chair

The second flag scandal came on Wednesday, when The Times again revealed an Alito insurrection-related flag, this time at his New Jersey home, where the Alitos were flying the “Appeal to Heaven” flag which has ties both to the insurrectionists, and to extreme right Christian nationalists.

Justice Alito has not made any public comment defending his second flag.

Judge Ponsor offered up a hypothetical to counter Justice Alito’s claim his wife was to blame, in this case, an example of him presiding over a death penalty case.

“Let’s say my wife was strongly opposed to the death penalty and wished to speak out publicly against it. I’m not saying this is true, but let’s imagine it. The primary emotional current in our marriage is, of course, deep and passionate love, but right next to that is equally deep and passionate respect. We would have had a problem, and we would have needed to talk,” Ponsor explained.

“In this hypothetical situation, I hope that my wife would have held off making any public statements about capital punishment, and restrained herself from talking about the issue with me, while the trial unfolded. On the other hand, if my wife had felt strongly that she needed to espouse her viewpoint publicly, I would have had to recuse myself from presiding over the case, based on the appearance of partiality.”

READ MORE: ‘Going for the Jugular’: Legal Scholar Warns ‘Trumpers’ Want to End Major Civil Right

Note he mentions as a sitting federal judge he would have applied the same standards that jurors are expected to observe: to not discuss the case with anyone, including their spouses.

And should there have been a discussion, or if she were to air her views publicly, he would be forced to recuse himself from the case.

Justice Alito has not recused from any 2020 presidential election cases, any Trump-related cases, any insurrection-related cases.

That includes the Trump “absolute immunity” case the Supreme Court heard in April, for which they have yet to rule.

The Supreme Court “recently adopted an ethics code to ‘guide the conduct’ of the justices,” Ponsor observes. “One of its canons states that a justice should ‘act at all times in a manner that promotes public confidence in the integrity and impartiality of the judiciary.’ That’s all very well. But basic ethical behavior should not rely on laws or regulations. It should be folded into a judge’s DNA. That didn’t happen here.”

READ MORE: Trump Adviser Scanned and Saved Contents of Box That Had Classified Docs: Report

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OPINION

Trump’s Bronx Rally Attendance Claim Fuels Mockery as Aerial Images Show a Different Story

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Once again the Trump campaign is claiming massive attendance at his latest rally, and once again internet users are making a mockery of those claims – as a local ABC reporter reveals a few facts about attendance and the attendees.

“Trump vows to ‘save’ deep-blue New York City in massive, historic Bronx rally,” Fox News‘s Brandon Gillespie, Paul Steinhauser, and Michael Ruiz reported Thursday evening. “25,000 supporters of the former president descended on Crotona Park, Trump’s campaign said.”

The Associated Press offered a different take.

“Former President Donald Trump campaigned Thursday in one of the most Democratic counties in the nation, holding a rally in the South Bronx as he tries to woo minority voters days before a Manhattan jury will begin deliberations on whether to convict him of felony charges in his criminal hush money trial.”

ABC 7 New York’s Jim Dolan, reporting from the Trump rally in the South Bronx Thursday, served up a reality check (video below).

READ MORE: Trump Adviser Scanned and Saved Contents of Box That Had Classified Docs: Report

“Donald Trump can now say he held a rally in the South Bronx, home to immigrants and minority communities, and that it was well attended. It’s just not clear that the people who attended were from the Bronx. The campaign controlled who got in and the campaign of course, picked only supporters,” Dolan revealed. “Trump’s motorcade arrived in Crotona Park tonight. The crowd surged to get a look at him, more like a pop star than a politician. Not everyone wants a pop star for President.”

One person in the park told ABC 7, Trump is “a big fat bigot. And he just doesn’t have any love in his heart, for anyone, anyone of color. Anyone who’s in the LGBTQ plus community.”

Another called Trump, “a crook, a liar, and he tries to make money off people. And that’s what he’s doing right now,” and claimed the attendees are “all from out of state.”

“Go out there and look at all them cars that are parked and check where they came from? Tennessee, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Texas.”

U.S. Rep. Ritchie Torres (D-NY), who represents the South Bronx, was also at the park and told ABC 7, “If you did a poll about who’s more popular, Donald Trump or lead paint. I suspect lead is more popular than Donald Trump in the Bronx.”

READ MORE: ‘Not an Accident’: Trump’s ‘Unified Reich’ Video Alarms Historians and Fascism Experts

Congressman Torres also posted this commentary to social media:

The Trump campaign’s claim of 25,000 in attendance was belied by ABC 7’s aerial photography (screenshot, above), which was from Dolan’s report:

Meanwhile, some internet users had a good time mocking the Trump campaign’s claims by posting images clearly not of Trump’s Bronx rally.

Watch the videos above or at this link.

READ MORE: ‘Contemptuous’: Justice Alito’s Actions ‘Close to Treason’ Suggests Constitutional Scholar

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News

‘Will You Accept the Results?’: Cruz’s Election Denialism Shut Down in ‘Brutal’ Interview

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U.S. Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) promoted Donald Trump’s false election denialism and was challenged by a CNN anchor in an interview being praised by several media watchers.

During the Wednesday interview Cruz suggested to host Kaitlan Collins that Democrats or Hillary Clinton criticizing election results was equivalent to Donald Trump’s “Big Lie” campaign, which included over 60 legal challenges and countless false allegations of massive fraud. He also insisted there was a “peaceful transfer of power” after the 2020 presidential election despite the violent and deadly January 6 insurrection for which more than 1200 people have been criminally charged and for which the ex-president is facing several indictments. In the end, Collins appeared to cut the interview short.

“Will you certify the election results?” in the November election, Collins asked the Texas Republican on Wednesday, noting he was the first in the Senate to say he would not certify the 2020 election results. “Do you plan to object or will you accept the results regardless of who wins the election?”

“So Kaitlan,” Cruz replied, “I gotta say, I think that’s actually a ridiculous question.”

“It’s a yes or no question,” Collins replied.

“No it’s not that let me explain why it’s a ridiculous question,” Cruz alleged combatively. “It’s not a question – have you ever asked Democrat that?”

READ MORE: ‘Investigate Now’: As Alito Scandal Grows Pressure Mounts on ‘MIA’ and ‘AWOL’ Judiciary Chair

“Of course,” Collins replied.

“What Democrat?” Cruz demanded to know.

After a short back-and-forth, Collins said, “I know, I know, I’ve been on this road many, many times, but no Democrat – you can not compare the two situations. We have talked about that, we’ve seen the audio of that when they protested,” Collins said,  appearing to refer to Hillary Clinton having called the 2016 presidential election “stolen,” which she did three years after the election, in 2019.

“Have you ever had a sitting president who refused to facilitate the peaceful transition of power refused to acknowledge that his successor won the presidency?” Collins asked Cruz.

“So, A, we did have a peaceful transfer of power. I was there on January 20. I was there on the swearing in,” Cruz insisted, ignoring the January 6 insurrection.

“Barely,” Collins replied..

Cruz continued to refer to individual “objections” Democrats have made about results of elections – not formal, legal objections (except Al Gore in 2000) but comments or remarks, or individual objections to one state elections – not organized campaigns.

So you’re asking, ‘Will you promise no matter what to agree an election is illegitimate regardless of what happens?’ and that would be an absurd thing to claim,” Cruz said.

Again, after some back-and forth, Collins said, “This isn’t a game. There was no widespread voter fraud.”

“It is a game,” Cruz responded. “You only ask Republicans that.”

It November of 2022, the right-wing Cato Institute published an opinion piece titled, “Yes, Democrats Have Called Some Elections Illegitimate. GOP Election Denialism Is Far Worse,” and added: “It’s not even close.”

READ MORE: ‘Contemptuous’: Justice Alito’s Actions ‘Close to Treason’ Suggests Constitutional Scholar

Collins later pointed out that it is only Republicans who have “tried to block the transition of power. You have to acknowledge that.”

“So my question for you again: free and fair election. Will you accept the results regardless of who wins?” Collins again asked.

“Look, if the Democrats win, I will accept the result, but I’m not going to ignore fraud regardless of what happens.”

“Was there fraud in 202o?” Collins pressed.

“Of course there was fraud,” Cruz insisted.

“No, that wasn’t and you still objected,” Collins pointed out.

“Oh, you know, for a fact there was zero voter fraud really? What’s your basis for that? Show me your evidence,” Cruz demanded, inserting “zero” when Collins meant fraud “that would have changed the outcome,” as she noted later.

Commenting on the interview, writer Charlotte Clymer, a former press secretary for the Human Rights Campaign said, “This is brilliant.”

“I seriously cannot remember the last time any journalist on cable news confronted the bad faith of a MAGA politician this insistently,” Clymer remarked. “For five minutes (!), Kaitlin Collins pressed Ted Cruz and demanded a good faith answer.”

Democratic strategist and former DNC official Adam Parkhomenko commented, “this is just brutal.” He added Cruz was “being humiliated.”

Calling it, “Well done,” journalist Ahmed Baba wrote: “Kaitlan Collins interjecting with fact-checks multiple times and ending the interview after Ted Cruz refused to engage in the facts and continued to spread his propaganda.”

Watch below or at this link.

READ MORE: Trump Adviser Scanned and Saved Contents of Box That Had Classified Docs: Report

 

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