Saturday, June 29, 2013

Surprise Gift

The other day I got home and found a beautiful hanging basket on our pouch. The card was sweet - from our realtor who when we bought our gave us a nice bottle of champagne. She said she saw it and Immediately thought of us and could not pass it up!

Thanks LisaJo!

Later - Jim

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Happy Pride Weekend!

Copy of the cover of the upcoming The New Yorker! Love it!

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Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Thank you Mr. President!

Not sure which picture I like more!

One makes me proud and the other makes me laugh!


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Two Historic Wins for Marriage Equality!

What a historic day it is for marriage equality! From today's New York Times.

WASHINGTON — Married gay and lesbian couples are entitled to federal benefits, the Supreme Court ruled on Wednesday in a major victory for the gay rights movement.

In a second decision, the court declined to say whether there is a constitutional right to same-sex marriage. Instead, the justices said that a case concerning California’s ban on same-sex marriage, Proposition 8, was not properly before them. Because officials in California had declined to appeal a trial court’s decision against them and because the proponents of Proposition 8 were not entitled to step into the state’s shoes to appeal from the decision, the court said, it was powerless to issue a decision.

The ruling leaves in place laws banning same-sex marriage around the nation. Its consequences for California were not immediately clear, but many legal analysts say that same-sex marriages there are likely to resume in a matter of weeks.

The decision on the federal law was 5 to 4, with Justice Anthony M. Kennedy writing the majority opinion, which the four liberal-leaning justices joined.

“The federal statute is invalid, for no legitimate purpose overcomes the purpose and effect to disparage and injure those whom the State, by its marriage laws, sought to protect in personhood and dignity,” Justice Kennedy wrote. “By seeking to displace this protection and treating those persons as living in marriages less respected than others, the federal statute is in violation of the Fifth Amendment.”

Chief Justice John G. Roberts was in the minority, as were Justices Antonin Scalia, Clarence Thomas and Samuel Alito.

The ruling overturned the Defense of Marriage Act, which passed with bipartisan support and President Bill Clinton signed.

The decision will immediately extend some federal benefits to same-sex couples, but it will also raise a series of major decisions for the Obama administration about how aggressively to overhaul references to marriage throughout the many volumes that lay out the laws of the United States.

“In the majority’s telling, this story is black-and-white: Hate your neighbor or come along with us,” Justice Scalia wrote in his dissent. “The truth is more complicated.”

Justice Scalia read from his dissent on the bench, a step justices take in a small share of cases, typically to show that they have especially strong views.

Justice Kennedy, in his opinion, wrote that the law was “unconstitutional as a deprivation of the equal liberty of persons that is protected by the Fifth Amendment.”

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Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Tomorrow is the big day!

Hoping for a day of celebration tomorrow!

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Sunday, June 23, 2013

New Kayaks!

Kent and I have been talking for years about getting kayaks and have never felt like the timing and or our location was such that we would use them regularly. Space for storage was also an issue. Well - no more! We picked up a couple from Costco last week and took them out for the first time this weekend. They are pretty basic models but will definitely meet our needs.
It was a bit tricky getting them home.

Once we figured that out there was the matter of storing them and how to transport them. We went to REI and bought these great Thule racks and now we are good to go!

We are so lucky that 3 minutes from our house we have a very small little known park where we can launch.

We had a great time and went out both Saturday and Sunday. The great thing is from our launch point we can explore both Lake Washington and Lake Union.

Here's to many kayaking adventures!
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Which Way Will They Go?

This is a big week in the fight for equal rights. Pride is next weekend so it will be either one big party or a huge rally of pissed off gay calculating our next move.

From today's Seattle Times

Supreme Court has range of options on gay marriage

The waiting is almost over.

Associated Press


Sometime in the next week or so, the Supreme Court will announce the outcomes in cases on California's Proposition 8 ban on same-sex marriage and the federal Defense of Marriage Act.

The federal law, known by the shorthand DOMA, defines marriage as the union of a man and a woman and therefore keeps legally married gay Americans from collecting a range of federal benefits that generally are available to married people.

The justices have a lengthy menu of options from which to choose. They might come out with rulings that are simple, clear and dramatic. Or they might opt for something narrow and legalistic.

The court could strike down dozens of state laws that limit marriage to heterosexual couples, but it also could uphold gay marriage bans or say nothing meaningful about the issue at all.

A look at potential outcomes for the Proposition 8 case and then for the case about DOMA:


Q. What if the Supreme Court upholds Proposition 8?

A. This would leave gay Californians without the right to marry in the state and would tell the roughly three dozen states that do not allow same-sex marriages that there is no constitutional problem in limiting marriage to a man and a woman.

Such an outcome probably would trigger a political campaign in California to repeal Proposition 8 through a ballot measure, which opinion polls suggest would succeed, and could give impetus to similar voter or legislative efforts in other states. Proposition 8 itself was adopted by voters in 2008, but there has been a marked shift in Americans' attitudes about same-sex marriage in the past five years.


Q. What if the court strikes down Proposition 8?

A. A ruling in favor of the two same-sex couples who sued to invalidate the gay marriage ban could produce one of three possibilities. The broadest would apply across the country, in effect invalidating constitutional provisions or statutes against gay marriage everywhere.

Or a majority of the justices could agree on a middle option that applies only to California as well as Colorado, Hawaii, Illinois, Nevada, New Jersey and Oregon. Those states already treat gay and straight couples the same in almost every respect through civil unions or domestic partnerships. The only difference is that gay couples there are not allowed to marry.

This so-called seven-state solution would say that the Constitution forbids states to withhold marriage from same-sex couples while giving them all the basic rights of married people. But this ruling would not implicate marriage bans in other states and would leave open the question of whether states could deprive gay couples of any rights at all.

The narrowest of these potential outcomes would apply to California only. The justices essentially would adopt the rationale of the federal appeals court that found that California could not take away the right to marry that had been granted by the state Supreme Court in 2008, before Proposition 8 passed.

In addition, if the Supreme Court were to rule that gays and lesbians deserve special protection from discriminatory laws, it is unlikely that any state ban on same-sex marriage could survive long, even if the justices don't issue an especially broad ruling in this case.


Q. Are there other potential outcomes?

A. Yes, the court has a technical way out of the case without deciding anything about same-sex marriage. The Proposition 8 challengers argue that the private parties defending the provision - members of the group that helped put the ban on the ballot - did not have the right to appeal the trial judge's initial decision striking it down, or that of the federal appeals court.

The justices sometimes attach great importance to this concept, known as "standing". If they find Proposition 8's proponents lack standing, the justices also would find the Supreme Court has no basis on which to decide the case.

The most likely outcome of such a ruling also would throw out the appeals court decision that struck down the ban but would leave in place the trial court ruling in favor of same-sex marriage. At the very least, the two same-sex couples almost certainly would be granted a marriage license, and Gov. Jerry Brown, D-Calif., who opposes Proposition 8, probably would give county clerks the go-ahead to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples.


Q. Are the possibilities for the DOMA case as complicated?

A. No, although there are some technical issues that could get in the way of a significant ruling.


Q. What happens if the court upholds Section 3 of DOMA, defining marriage for purposes of federal law as the union of a man and a woman?

A. Upholding DOMA would not affect state laws regarding marriage but would keep in place federal statutes and rules that prevent legally married gay Americans from receiving a range of benefits that are otherwise available to married people. These benefits include breaks on estate taxes, health insurance for spouses of federal workers and Social Security survivor benefits.


Q. What if the court strikes down the DOMA provision?

A. A ruling against DOMA would allow legally married gay couples or, in some cases, a surviving spouse in a same-sex marriage, to receive benefits and tax breaks resulting from more than 1,000 federal statutes in which marital status is relevant. For 83-year-old Edith Windsor, a New York widow whose case is before the court, such a ruling would give her a refund of $363,000 in estate taxes that were paid after the death of her spouse, Thea Spyer. The situation could become complicated for people who get married where same-sex unions are legal, but who live or move where they are not.


Q. What procedural problems could prevent the court from reaching a decision about DOMA?

A. As in the Proposition 8 case, there are questions about whether the House Republican leadership has standing to bring a court case to defend the law because the Obama administration decided not to.

House Republicans argue that the administration forfeited its right to participate in the case because it changed its position and now argues that the provision is unconstitutional.

If the Supreme Court finds that it does not have the authority to hear the case, Windsor probably would still get her refund because she won in the lower courts, but there would be no definitive decision about the law from the nation's highest court and it would remain on the books. It is possible the court could leave in place appeals court rulings covering seven states with same-sex marriage: Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York, Rhode Island and Vermont.

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Sunday, June 16, 2013

New Toys!

We have been talking for a very long time about getting Kayaks and today we took the plunge! This is the model. It's pretty basic but should meet our needs! This model is 10.5 ft. long - perfect for our limited space!

We decided that since we live so close to Lake Washington and Lake Union that it was now or never! They were a challenge to get home but we managed!

We have not taken them out yet. Picked up a couple of new life vests today and hopefully some evening next week we will get them in the water!
I'll keep you posted!
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Saturday, June 1, 2013

Better late than never...

I swear - I really need to learn to relax. I have a terrible habit of filling up every second of every day and then before I know it a week or more has passed and I've not posted.

Kent and I have been busy - between SIFF and a short visit from my parents we have been on the go. Not to mention a little gardening in between!

We had a nice visit with my parents albeit a brief visit. We went to a couple of baseball games and movies with them and celebrated Mom's 73rd birthday! Happy birthday Mom! I made a huge carrot cake which we made a pretty good dent in before they left.

We saw two Husky Baseball games - the last of the season.

We took Mom and Dad on the Metro to see the Great Gadsby - which was not to great!

Mom helped me with some gardening while Kent and Dad went to the Hardware store to pick up supplies for a project he was working on. We ended our three days together having a birthday dinner for both Mom and Dad at Ivar's on Lake Union. It was great!

Finally - Mom and Dad brought us 10 new plants for our yard for a house warming gift which we loved. Here is a picture of some that I put into a pot near the garage.

Today Kent got a major project to lift up the ceiling in the garage which had begun to sag and I spent the day planting and working in the yard. We are now in line to see our 11th film of the SIFF this year. I'll post about them when the festival is over but we have seen some terrific movies this year!

Later - Jim

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