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Last week, I listened online at work while testimony was presented to the Washington State House of Representatives prior to their vote on whether to legalize gay marriage in Washington State.

Now, I came out as a lesbian in 1991 and I’ve been in a domestic partnership for almost a decade.  I’ve heard it all:  that gay marriage will lead to people marrying dogs, for example.  Or that legalizing my relationship will result in the downfall of “traditional” marriage (see: Newt Gingrich, Liz Taylor, and my personal fave, Kim Kardashian’s possibly sham marriage to Kris Humphries). And I’ve heard that gays are an abomination, that our relationships are  “unnatural.”

But those complaints no longer cause any bitterness for me — just irritation.  Once you’ve watched the media attack the gays during the HIV/AIDS crisis, it takes an awful lot to get riled up.

HOWEVER.  During live testimony at the State House, I kept hearing how irresponsible it was for WA State to spend its time and resources on a polarizing social issue like gay marriage when so many people are out of work and hungry and losing health benefits.  In truth, I can’t argue with that too much, except to say that if it weren’t for the opposition and their testimonies, the vote could’ve happened pretty quickly and the legislature could get back to whatever important business is on the agenda in Olympia.

I felt like they had a valid point.  Until I watched the local news just 2 days later.  KREM.com reports:

“The Washington State Senate has approved a bill that would allow a new form of traction device for vehicle tires called tire socks.

KREM 2’s Othello Richards found out that not many people, including local tire stores, have ever heard of them.”

Are you friggin’ kidding me????  This is the IMPORTANT business that the WA legislature needed to back to instead of insuring legal protections for thousands of couples in WA State, and potentially boosting some portions of the local economy in the process?  SOCKS for tires??

Read Governor Chris Gregoire’s beautiful speech on why gay marriage is the right thing to do.  Why separate but equal isn’t really equal.  Why my family is as legitimate as yours.  Why protecting gay families is important.

In my opinion, gay marriage is a lot more important than being able to use socks on my tires instead of chains.

Now I’m pissed.

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Starbucks is planning to open a new location right across the street from my office.  To announce the upcoming store, they put up a big sign that reads, “Don’t Worry!  Expected Delivery Winter 2011.

But here’s the deal:  I wasn’t worried.  Seriously, this is Seattle and coffee is just not something I have to worry about.

Here is a list of adequate (if not favorite) coffee shops that I can get to easily each day, without even going more than a block or so off my normal pedestrian route:

And these are just the places I am willing to grab coffee.  There are other places, like Fremont Coffee Company and Caffe Ladro, which are more than 2 blocks from my pedestrian path & hence not on this list.  There are others I’ve left off because I don’t enjoy their product.

So as you can see Starbucks, I wasn’t terribly worried.  But I appreciate your thoughtfulness and your concern for my mental health. In a day and age when companies don’t often consider their customers’ needs, your consideration of my mental state is refreshing.  As refreshing as a hot, steamy espresso drink on a cold, rainy day in the Pacific Northwest.

Now, when does the new store open exactly?  I’ve got a hankering for a caramel macchiato.

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Leslie Cochran

Have you ever been to Eeyore’s Birthday Party in Austin? How about Seattle’s Hempfest?  They’re pretty different, and I’ll tell you why below.

I got to go to Eeyore’s a couple of years ago when I took a road trip across the US.  It was right after college, and it was easy to make friends in new places.  One afternoon I ended up at this coffee shop on Sixth Street in Austin. I was smoking with my friend Bryon on the lawn in front of Book People and we noticed these two scantily-clad hot girls making flower wreaths & putting them in each other’s hair.  As you can imagine, we couldn’t look away.  After putting flowers in OUR hair, they invited us to follow them to Eeyore’s.  How could we resist?

Eeyore’s birthday party is in April every year, usually near 4/20.  (Heh heh)   There are drum circles and potato sack races, a donkey for the kids to pet, face painting, beer, pink cake, wood nymphs, girls dressed like faeries, and tons of people sitting in the shade smoking out while the cops look the other way.  A beautiful way to spend a day along Shoal Creek in Austin.

Now that I’m in Seattle, I had a chance to go to Hempfest and I must’ve expected something similar.  But it’s not.  Hempfest 2011 spans 3 city parks full of vendor tents.  You can get lemonade, donuts, pizza, bongs, edibles, tinctures, weed, and medical marijuana cards (in theory, medical records are required).  Cops are in the park as well as out, but don’t stop anyone from lighting up.  And there are 3 music stages, the main one hosts speakers like Dennis Kucinich and Mayor McBike.

Here are the major differences between Hempfest and Eeyore’s:

  • Hempfest:  best scenery (Olympic Mountains, Puget Sound)
  • Eeyore’s: best girl-watching
  • Hempfest: cops stand right next to smokers
  • Eeyore’s: cops hang out on the periphery with their backs turned
  • Hempfest: lots of street food but no alcohol
  • Eeyore’s:  COLD BEER
  • Hempfest: Mighty-O vegan donuts
  • Eeyore’s:  Mexican pink cake
  • Hempfest: 3 music stages
  • Eeyore’s:  a continuous, 2 day drum circle
  • Hempfest: groups of loud young guys looking for a place to smoke & hit on chicks
  • Eeyore’s: smelly people who need showers
  • Hempfest: no shade
  • Eeyore’s: lots of space to stretch out and chill under the trees
  • Hempfest: political activism
  • Eeyore’s: kid-friendly
  • Hempfest:  no Leslie Cochran

But even though they aren’t the same kind of event at all, they’ve both definitely worth going to.  So this post was pretty useless, wasn’t it?

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If you’re a Seahawks fan, you know how hard it is to be an football fan in Seattle right now.  It sucks.   I wish I had taken the time to count how many times the word “sucks” has appeared this season in my local paper and on blogs, etc.   But I noticed something else early on, and I did take notes.  Unflattering Seahawks Nicknames used on the web — compiled during the 2009 season:

As for Matt Hasselbeck:  Hasselsack & other names are being tossed about.

Okay, I’ll stop there.  Look, there are two things going on here that I want to address.

1) This city is demeaning this team more than they’re demeaning themselves on the field.  If you want a team to play well for the fans, this is not the way to do it.  Where’s the 12th Man?  He’s acting like a fairweather friend who doesn’t understand football, the NFL, loyalty, the concept of the “home team” or sportmanship.  The 12th Man needs to get schooled (and is, right now!).

2) Coach Mora is calling for a culture change.  And he’s correct that we need one.  Not just the team, the fans too.  More on this in the off-season when my blood pressure goes back down.  Til then, the funny insulting names will continue… but shouldn’t. 

Seattle, support your local team.  Period.  It’s the right thing for a fan to do, even in lean times.  If you just want to root for a winning team or player, there’s Fantasty Football out there for you.  

And P.S., while you’re bitching about this team, calling for Mora’s firing, complaining about “losing” Holmgren again, telling Matt he’s old & washed up, yelling about Housh being all hot air, calling for the Seahawks to leave town & go to LA, bemoaning the 3 hours you wasted watching another game… you’re just reinforcing suckdom.  Seattle, shut up.  And go to a high school football game to learn what a real football fan looks like.

Below are photos of the 2005 12th Man — the year we went to the Superbowl.  Where’s the 12th Man now?

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Every year, starting Thanksgiving week, we’re treated to recycled “news” in the major papers.  Surely you’ve seen such stories — the Holiday Gift guides, the review of your local church nativity scene, the announcement of the Christmas tree lighting in the town square, how to winterize your home… you get the idea.

This year, I decided to recycle one of my own favorite December stories, which was published last year in the now-defunct Seattle Post-Intelligencer, “Seattle ornament banned from White House Christmas tree.”  I love this story. 

Photo courtesy of Deborah Lawrence

According to the PI, Laura Bush asked members of Congress to pick artists to decorate the tree.   370 artists were selected to create something red, white & blue. Beyond that, they were given artist freedom. Washington State Democratic Rep. Jim McDermott chose Seattle artist Deborah Lawrence.  And she, in turn, chose to create a 9 inch ornament that included tiny print of the House impeachment resolution previously signed by McDermott.  

And yes, the ornament ended up on the White House Christmas tree.  It was later removed, and the White House expressed disappointment as to its content — but in my book, Deborah Lawrence is a local folk hero.

So what’s she doing this year?  More ornaments!  This time, sustainable balsa wood Pentagon-shaped ornaments that suggest ways to recycle the Pentagon. From Deborah’s website

Photo courtesy of Deborah Lawrence

“How can we recycle The Pentagon?” The collaborators have suggested a gigantic single-payer hospital, or a free university, or the Department of Peace.

Deborah Lawrence remains a heroine in my book.  Learn more here.

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The Washington State Liquor Control Board, which runs just about all the liquor stores in WA state (and there aren’t many!), has decided this is the year to make it quicker AND easier to get drunk

Beginning today, four Western Washington shopping malls will feature little mini-liquor stores for shoppers’ convenience — including Pacific Place mall, which just happens to be located next to Nordstrom and only 2 blocks Chris With Santafrom Macy’s.  Both stores have elaborate Santa-visiting traditions. 

Walk by Nordstrom on a random Tuesday afternoon, and you’ll see kids dressed up for their Santa photo wearing clothes that probably cost my annual salary.  The kiddoes line up for hours while their latte-sipping mamas share gossip with one another and people watch.  Let me tell you, the moneyed people you’ll see when Santa is out in Seattle.  My, my.  Anyway.  Now mama can put some Bailey’s in that coffee.

Which got me to thinking. Ever heard of the Santaland Diaries?  It’s an essay written by this really sarcastic guy named David Sedaris (yup, Amy’s brother) who once took a job as a Macy’s elf.  Ho ho ho!  The essay was first made public by NPR in 1992, and has since been included in Sedaris’ holiday short story collection, Holidays on Ice.  And it’s wildly funny. 

Are you thinking what I’m thinking?  That’s right — not only is it easier for weary shoppers to pick up a little midday holiday nip, but now Santa and his elves can too.  I mean, we’ve all smelled drunken Santa breath right after lunch, haven’t we?  Now Santa doesn’t even have to lug around that heavy bottle in his oversized pants.  No sirree.  And, if he really wants, he can take a few swigs right before his mid-morning shift even starts.

Where’s Sedaris?  Maybe he wants to write a sequel — this time from Seattle.

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Washington State voters are being asked to vote on what’s popularly known as the “Everything But Marriage Law” this election cycle.  Most of us know how we want to vote, and what outcome we’d like to see.  But what we may not all realize is that, according to recent polls, a good number of us are confused about which bubble to fill in on our ballots. DSC02394

The vote can be confusing in two ways.  First, gays & lesbians & gay rights supporters are accustomed to voting “no” on gay issues because they’re often intended to curb our rights.  Defense of Marriage Act:  No thanks.  Proposition 8 in California:  No again.  For me, voting no on anti-gay rights legislation in Texas was just part of being GLBT in the red state.  Not so with Proposition 71.  This time, we need to vote affirmatively.

Here’s a summary:

  • The WA State Legislature passed SB 5688 which provided expanded rights to domestic partners — both gay & elderly straight couples.
  • Governor Gregoire signed the bill in May.  It would have gone into effect immediately if not challenged.
  • Opponents of the bill got enough signatures (arguably) to put the bill in front of WA State voters.
  • We’re now being asked to vote on Referendum 71 to either keep or reject that law.
  • A “yes” vote affirms the law to provide expanded domestic partnership rights.
  • A “no” vote overturns the law and denies expanded domestic partnerhip rights.

So if you’re in favor of expanded rights:  vote YES.

If you’re against expanded rights: vote NO.

Here’s how it’ll look on your ballot:

Ballot Title
Statement of Subject: The legislature passed Engrossed Second Substitute Senate Bill 5688[4] concerning rights and responsibilities of state-registered domestic partners [and voters have filed a sufficient referendum petition on this bill].

Concise Description: This bill would expand the rights, responsibilities, and obligations accorded state-registered same-sex and senior domestic partners to be equivalent to those of married spouses, except that a domestic partnership is not a marriage.

Should this bill be:

Approved ___
Rejected ___

A straight, non-elderly colleague recently asked me why it matters.  Great question.   Highlights of the bill from Wikipedia:

  • Hospital visitation, health care decision–making, and information–access rights
  • Inheritance rights and administration of the estate when the domestic partner dies without a will
  • Rights regarding cemetery plots, disposition of remains, anatomical donations, and ordering of autopsies
  • A surviving domestic partner may bring a wrongful death action based on the death of the other partner
  • Testimonial privileges (can’t be compelled to testify against partner, just like spouses aren’t)
  • Community property rules apply
  • Dissolution laws apply (with only a few exceptions)
  • Domestic partners may sue on behalf of the community
  • Domestic violence statutes apply
  • Certain property transfers between partners are not taxed
  • State veterans benefits apply
  • Appointed and elected officials’ domestic partners are subject to the same laws and regulations that apply to officials’ spouses
  • In my own life, hospital visitation privileges are vital.  See related stories here and here.

    In addition, my Pentecostal family does not recognize my relationship with my partner. In the event of a medical emergency and/or my death, my partner would be unable to make decisions for me, visit me in the hospital, divy up my belongings, etc. 

    Author’s note: LA & I have paid hundreds of dollars in legal fees to get some of these rights through an attorney — successfully (unlike in South Carolina where we tried the same thing).  But in the event of an actual emergency I’m not going to have our legal documents in my back pocket. They’re in a safe downtown.

    Remember, a vote “yes” affirms the law & legalizes expanded domestic partnership rights in the state of Washington.  A no vote is a vote against these rights.

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