Tina K. Russell

April 28, 2009

Gavin Newsom and the hedgehog vote

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , , , , , — Tina Russell @ 9:32 pm

When I heard that San Francisco mayor Gavin Newsom was running for governor of California, I was very happy. You see, when the Walk of Game exhibit at the Sony Metreon in San Francisco opened in 2005, with Sonic The Hedgehog among its first inductees, Mayor Newsom spent some time hobnobbing with videogame heroes. (Presumably, he was courting the gamer demographic, which we could call “the question-mark bloc.”) Here is the defining picture of that event, and what I always think of when I hear the name “Gavin Newsom”:

newsom_and_sonic

That’s right. Mayor Newsom has his arm around a celebrating Sonic The Hedgehog. You have no idea how happy this photo made me: a politician, one with influence, is angling to be seen living it up with my favorite blue hero. (No doubt Fox News must have thought this made California look weak in the face of videogame threats.)

What amused me the most is to imagine a publicist fretting away at Newsom’s office that morning, pacing frantically and telling Newsom, “you know what you need? We need you to be seen putting your arm around… a blue hedgehog!” (You know, because you have to court the blue hedgehog demographic. You need to show that you care about animal and spectral diversity.) The truth is that it felt like he was doing it for me, for gamers everywhere, telling us that he gets the importance of videogames and modern technology, gets why I would like such a silly and idealistic hero. Maybe he does, maybe he doesn’t, but he made me happy that day.

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December 18, 2008

Looking back on Proposition 8

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , , , , , , , , , — Tina Russell @ 2:56 pm

Letters – When Your Beliefs and My Civil Rights Collide – NYTimes.com
To the Editor:

The deep repugnance and aversion to homosexuality held by the black church-going community revealed in the passing of Proposition 8 in California are not a wedge in the progressive agenda. They are simply a very common human failing. It is human to scapegoat.

This is an opportunity to make the tent even bigger, if it is construed as an opportunity to examine prejudice from the other side.

Progressives should invite the black church community to engage in the dialogue. The result would allow all those in the tent to feel and work better with each other. The tent would become an even better tent.

It would even make it easier to reach out to those still outside the tent. Name-calling means we have learned nothing.

Catherine Barinas
New York, Dec. 7, 2008

It’s sad the way the media consistently frames the post-Prop. 8 debate as “gays vs. blacks” (props to Stephen Colbert for excellently lampooning this). The truth, beyond the fact that the Obama surged actually hurt, rather than helped, Proposition 8, is that there is a deep well of social conservatism in older black and Hispanic communities. The problem that poses to gay rights is not insurmountable, and it’s important; just imagine you were gay, as well as black or Hispanic, and you were in the closet, or your were afraid to discuss your significant other, or people assumed you didn’t exist because you aren’t white. How would you feel?

We all underestimated the threat of Proposition 8, and the finger-pointing is understandable. My feeling is that we never spoke to the concerns of these communities that vote Democratic but aren’t necessarily thrilled about same-sex marriage. We never countered the arguments of the scaremongers, we never established that the same-sex marriage ruling doesn’t have any effect on schools or churches, we never claimed the mantle (as we should have) of strengthening marriage, love, and commitment for all Americans. It’s tough to establish the very real, and very sad, links between Jim Crow separate-but-equal laws and the idea of a separate institution for gay “civil unions” when gays are stereotyped as being white and well-to-do. If the truth got out—that whether or not you know, gay people are in your family, among your teachers, among your coworkers, among all the people you love and admire—it would change the dynamic entirely.

Prop. 8 might still get thrown out on the grounds that the California Constitution does not allow such sweeping changes to it without a Constitutional convention. Let’s hope the California Supreme Court rules the right way and strikes down this loathsome, opportunistic ballot measure. I shouldn’t have to tell you that Supreme Courts are there to protect fundamental rights, whether or not they’re in vogue; these are the kind of rights than cannot be invalidated by simple majority. Either way, though, I think I speak for us all in saying that I hope we learn as we heal from this debacle.

May 19, 2008

Hooray for California!

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , , , , — Tina Russell @ 1:09 am

Congratulations to the California Supreme Court, for recognizing all Americans’ right to marry.

California Court Affirms Right to Gay Marriage – New York Times
The California Supreme Court, striking down two state laws that had limited marriages to unions between a man and a woman, ruled Thursday that same-sex couples have a constitutional right to marry.

The court’s 4-to-3 decision, drawing on a ruling six decades ago that struck down the state’s ban on interracial marriage, would make California only the second state, after Massachusetts, to allow same-sex marriages.

I especially like this part:

The court left open the possibility that the Legislature could use a term other than “marriage” to denote state-sanctioned unions so long as that term was used across the board — for both opposite-sex and same-sex couples.

That’s the best response to calls for “why not have same-sex marriage, but just call it something other than ‘marriage’?” Well, how would you like it if I told you that you couldn’t call your marriage a “marriage,” and said you should just use a different word? So, thanks to the court for making such a rule go across the board: if we call marriage for gay people something different, we’ll have to call marriage for straight people the same thing, at least legally.

What excellent news. This is the best day ever.

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