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Concerning Gay Marriage
Veterans Day, 2004

PDY Blog for 11-11-04

    Timothy Ferris is one of the most fascinating people I have ever known or even heard about. He and I worked together for United Press International in New York and later for the New York Post. Nobody I’ve ever known has his deep-seated curiosity about just about everything—or his dogged determination to learn everything he can about just about everything. He didn’t just take an interest in billiards, he became a regular denizen of the pool rooms on 14th St. until he’d mastered the game. He approached rock and roll with the scrutiny of a classical scholar, which he is. He became an editor of Rolling Stone in that magazine’s earliest and most creative years. After that, he returned to a childhood fascination with science, especially astronomy.

    Ferris has now published 11 books, including Seeing in the Dark, The Whole Shebang and Coming of Age in the Milky Way. He writes regularly for the New Yorker and The New York Review of Books. Two television specials by Ferris—The Creation of the Universe and Life Beyond Earth—are still aired every year on PBS. Although he held no advanced degrees, he became a tenured professor of astronomy at UC Berkeley because he had become quite simply the pre-eminent science writer of our time. He is a worthy successor to Carl Sagan and Stephen Jay Gould.

    I am deeply honored by his response to this humble blog:

    “Dear Perry: Glad to see the blog; count me among your future regular readers.

    “Concerning gay marriage, when they first started happening at City Hall here, I phoned Mayor Newsome (although we’ve never met) to say that he had made this 60-year-old straight guy proud to be a San Franciscan, and that whatever the short-term blowback might be I felt confident that he was writing an important chapter in civil rights. As one of those being married said a day or two later, no civil rights movement ever gotten under way in the U.S. has failed. I think that will happen in this instance, too, although these things always take time.

    “I hadn’t anticipated that part of the blowback would be the notion that Gavin Newsome had influenced the Presidential election, but: 1) nobody from here to Karl Rove thinks that his initiative altered the outcome, and 2) I would support it even if it had. The Democrats’ current problems date all the way back to the day LBJ signed the civil rights bill; as he said on that very day, his action would probably cost the party the South, and it did. But would any right-thinking Democrat trade the party’s woes for decades more segregation and the ongoing devil’s bargain that had kept the party on top for so long?

    “Anyhow, just a few thoughts provoked by your thought-provoking blog. Cheers, Timothy Ferris.” Read more about this distinguished author and thinker at


     ABANDONING OUR OWN MORAL VALUES. Once again, we see our Democratic Party in disarray at the top. The so-called New Democrats like former President Bill Clinton lecturing John Kerry on how he should have handled the gay marriage issue. [I’ve always found the “New” Democrats a lot like the old Republicans.] From a purely political standpoint, I frankly don’t know how Kerry could have handled it any better. For political expediency, he said he was against gay marriage, but favored domestic partnerships. It was only right that gay partnerships have the same legal rights as straight ones. That was surely designed to lay the issue to rest, but of course, millions of people had already made up their minds and cold hard common sense and reason had nothing to do with it. Bush said it; they believed it; that settled it.

    Those of us who worked so hard in the Kerry-Edwards campaign must now make sure that our voices are still heard. The worst thing the party could do at this stage is to abandon our own moral values that have been the backbone and core of support for this party of the people since Franklin Roosevelt was first elected. The 240 delegates will meet soon to decide on a new national party chairman, let’s hope they give the job to Howard Dean who has worked hard for it and deserves it…and has the best chance of leading us to victory in 2008.

    We must never forget that a majority vote does not make something right. For 250 years, we Southerners defended human slavery with our laws and the Holy scriptures. After the slaves were emancipated, the Democrats instituted a shameful kind of political slavery with the Jim Crow laws that denied the basic rights of citizens purely because of their color. If it had not been for the federal Civil Rights Act of 1964, those laws preserving segregation and denying blacks the right to vote would still be on the books here in North Carolina and in every Southern state. You only have to look at the most recent election here to see the ugly cloud of racism still looming over our people. The very capable state auditor, Ralph Campbell, was defeated by a Republican nowhere near as qualified purely because of the color of his skin. Likewise, the most intelligent and articulate candidate for the State Supreme Court, James Wynn, was defeated by a narrow-minded right wing Republican ideologue, again purely because Wynn is African-American. However, we have not seen the last of Wynn. He is the most dynamic and articulate speaker we’ve seen in North Carolina in many years. He will be back.


Veterans Day, 2004

     This Nov. 11, 2004, finds this particular veteran despairing over yet another senseless war on foreign soil. We cannot expect George Bush or any of those chicken hawks surrounding him to have learned any lessons from Vietnam, they were all hiding out like Dick Cheney, scared shitless of getting anywhere near the danger. But, as I see the daily toll of dead and wounded rising, my heart sinks at how helpless right thinking Americans are in the face of it all. I offer these scenes from my own background in memory of all those who have died and in honor of those still doing what they see as their duty.

    “Dearest Perry: I almost got an attack last week walking up town. I had to pass the *!!?! Punks carrying the anti-Viet signs. One of the reporters asked one of the bewhiskered so & sos if he didn’t think he was hampering our efforts and causing a loss of morale at the front and he said, ‘Well, that’s the general idea!’ They say just because it isn’t a ‘declared’ war they aren’t committing treason. Nobody likes war except the ones who get rich on it. But when we are in it, I think a nice little treatment of living under the other rule might help. Will you please write. Love ma.”

    “Dear Mom: as one of the punks who will at 1 a.m. Nov. 4, 1965, raise my right hand and swear simply to uphold the laws of this country, I say to you that you are blindly misunderstanding the most exciting years in this beautiful country’s history.

    “The freedom demonstrators, under whatever banner, in whatever dress, and shouting whatever profanity, are holding onto the grandest part of our tradition in this country…It is a very lonely time for people like me. We see this ugly thing around us and we see the people who shout for more of it. And yet, I’m not brave enough to march or burn my draft card. Love, Perry.”

    Historical Note: Like George Bush, I fulfilled my basic training obligation but I did not go to all those reserve meetings I was supposed to attend. Unlike George Bush, I never saw any reason to lie about it. [I was a member of a reserve unit on Long Island, when I got sent to Vietnam by UPI, arriving the night the Tet Offensive began in 1968.]

    On this Veterans Day, let’s remember all those who have served their country. Let us also remember that thousands have died and continue to die in vain because of stupid political mistakes. Their blood is on George Bush’s hands, on all our hands unless we take action to stop the senseless slaughter in Iraq.