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Last updateTue, 18 Sep 2018 1pm

The two men competing to be the next governor of California met earlier this week for their first (and, alas, probably only) one-on-one debate.

If you didn’t see it, that’s because the showdown—which was structured more as a spirited conversation than your standard dueling-podiums-style debate—was on the radio, hosted by political reporter Scott Shafer, out of the San Francisco-based station KQED.

And if you didn’t hear it, that’s because it was on a Monday. At 10 a.m. On a federal holiday.

It’s a low-profile treatment for what may be the sole in-person exchange of ideas between the two candidates vying to become the next leader of the fifth-largest economy on Earth. But then again, few voters will have a difficult time distinguishing Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom, a liberal Democrat and former mayor of San Francisco, from John Cox, a conservative Republican with the backing of President Trump.

On housing, both candidates agreed that a shortage of production was to blame, but they offered very different solutions. Newsom argued that local governments often exert too much influence blocking production: “There’s a certain point where the state of California needs to intervene.” Cox disagreed, arguing that the focus needs to be on reducing the cost of adding new units by cutting state environmental regulations.

The debate over housing quickly turned feisty as Newsom pointed to his proposed solutions, including boosting the state’s low-income housing tax credit and allowing local governments to skim property-tax revenue for affordable housing. He then said that Cox offers only ”an illusory strategy where he criticizes and identifies problems” but offers no substantive fixes.

Cox countered that all of Newsom’s solutions rely on “more government.”

Despite Cox’s best efforts to keep the conversation focused on bread-and-butter economic issues and his history of “fighting against the establishment,” Shafer asked about his views on gay marriage. In 2007, Cox said that allowing same-sex couples to marry would “open the floodgates to polygamy and bestiality.”

“I’ve evolved on those issues … just like Barack Obama,” said Cox.

When asked about gun control, the candidate criticized the shift in the conversation toward “guns and all of these social issues,” arguing that he is not running for governor to change state law on those topics, but is instead focused on affordability.

Cox was happy to talk about Proposition 6, the ballot measure that would repeal the recent increase in the state gas tax and other driver fees, which he has made a crux of his campaign. Cox argued that the state’s Democratic leadership “didn’t want to do the tough job” of eliminating wasteful spending and cutting environmental regulations, so it instead raised taxes and fees. He insisted that under his leadership, the state would be able to fund necessary road repairs without the new revenue.

“We’re going to use the money efficiently and cut good deals with contractors,” he said.

Newsom once again called that plan “illusory.”

“His plan is to make things worse,” said Newsom. “You can eliminate every single position at Caltrans (the state transportation agency) … and still struggle to find the money.”

Likewise, Newsom seized the opportunity to turn the discussion of the state’s sanctuary policy, which limits local and state law-enforcement agencies’ cooperation with federal immigration authorities, into an opportunity to paint Cox as President Trump’s acolyte.

“He believes very passionately in building the wal. He believes in the elimination of sanctuary policy,” said Newsom. “Trump would have an advocate in Sacramento if he becomes the next governor.”

Cox ignored the reference to the president but said he would indeed push for a repeal of California’s sanctuary state law. “If somebody is here illegally, and they’re engaged in criminal activities, I think it’s up to public officials to kick them out,” he said.

Similarly, the two candidates also offered different views on the state’s recent criminal-justice reforms, including the recent elimination of cash bail.

“You’re replacing a private business with a lot more state workers,” said Cox, whereas Newsom called the new law “an extraordinary step forward and a civil-rights reform.”

While Newsom celebrated the state’s climate change policy, saying the state should play a “role not just nationally but internationally to lead,” Cox was more circumspect. He agreed that the planet was warming and that human activity “may very well” be partially to blame, but he questioned whether the benefit of dramatically cutting emissions across the state was worth the cost to electricity ratepayers and drivers.

The fact this year’s governor’s race will likely feature just one debate during the general election (there were a few before the June primary) is unusual by historical standards, but it likely represents the new normal. As the Los Angeles Times reported, no race for governor or U.S. Senate has featured more than one post-primary debate since 2012. That may be a consequence of the growing political polarization of the state.

“I think there’s a growing cynicism about the utility of debates, Cal State Sacramento political scientist Kimberly Nalder told the Times.

Cox’s strategy during the debate mirrored the one he has employed for months on the campaign trail. He has tried to saddle Newsom with responsibility for California’s high gas taxes, high poverty rate, housing costs and every other economic woe facing the state. As a social conservative who opposes abortion, Cox has largely steered clear of those issues.

“This campaign is about change versus status quo,” he said. “Gavin has been part of the political class that has led this state downward.”

There’s a poetic irony in the claim that Newsom should be held responsible for so many of the state’s problems, given he has occasionally griped that the post of lieutenant governor offers little in the way of actual responsibility. But as a Bay Area Democrat, Newsom certainly represents more of a continuation of current policy than Cox.

For his part, Newsom also took a familiar tact in the debate, arguing that Cox was “in lockstep with Trump and Trumpism.” To hear Newsom tell it, Cox is the president’s Midwestern alter ego: a millionaire outsider with no political experience and ideas that are both unrealistic and unacceptable to most Californians.

In short, Cox hopes the election will be a referendum on the current political direction of the state, while Newsom wants every voter to have President Trump at front of mind as they fill in their ballot.

According to a recent poll from the Public Policy Institute of California, Newsom’s strategy appears more likely to succeed—and not just because he’s a Democrat in a blue state. Among likely voters, 61 percent disapprove of the way the Trump is handling the job. Meanwhile, by a slim 50-47 margin, more voters than not believe that California is headed in the right direction.

As the front-runner in a blue state, Newsom could be seen to have little to gain from more frequent, visible debates. In the newest Target Book Insider Track Survey, which asks consultants, lobbyists and other political players in California politics from both sides of the aisle, 37 percent of respondents said Newsom shouldn’t bother with debates because there’s no upside for him—only the risk of a downside. But 63 percent said he should debate, either because it would be a needed endorsement of the American political process (30 percent), or politically smart (8 percent), or both (25 percent).

For more on John Cox and Gavin Newsom—including video interviews and an ability to create a side-by-side comparison of the issues—explore the CALmatters voter guide. CALmatters.org is a nonprofit, nonpartisan media venture explaining California policies and politics.

Published in Politics

As I watched thousands of the faithful cheer ecstatically at the release of Rowan County, Ky., Clerk Kim Davis, I felt both revulsion and empathy.

If I’m being honest, the revulsion and the empathy were not in equal parts.

To be clear, my empathy is with the faithful—not Ms. Davis, nor the politicians using her gambit for their own electoral power grabs. I believe that, for many, religion is a balm, something that provides genuine comfort and guidance. I honor and respect that. I also happen to believe that, for some, religion is a convenient cloak behind which bigotry in its most virulent forms finds justification.

Ms. Davis is a four-times-married, fairly recent convert to Apostolic Christianity. She is also, paradoxically, a Democrat—although we shouldn’t be so surprised. Southern Democrats have been their own rare breed for decades now, so it’s no surprise she is not part of the Bernie Sanders/Elizabeth Warren wing of the party.

When the U.S. Supreme Court handed down its decision in June making marriage equality the law of the land, Ms. Davis, who was elected to her post last November, decided unilaterally that her savior’s word carried more weight than judicial fiat and, as such, refused to grant marriage licenses to same-sex couples.

In what one can only assume was a public-relations effort to avoid being branded a complete bigot, she also stopped issuing licenses to opposite-sex couples. “She is not going to violate her conscience,” her attorney and overalls-clad second and fourth husband (the same guy) responded repeatedly after she was jailed for contempt of court.

The logic here seems ridiculously clear: If you are elected to office and refuse to perform one of its most fundamental job functions, you are unfit for said position. Period. Unfortunately, as an elected official, she cannot be fired. She could be impeached. She should resign. If your convictions preclude you from doing your job, you have broken your promise to the electorate. She is not being discriminated against because of her religion. She is being properly admonished for not doing her job.

Now she’s out of jail after 4 1/2 days during which she was apparently sustained by reading the Bible. I’m glad she was able to find solace. Skeptically, I can’t help but think that she’ll be viewed as a martyr, at least for a little while. She’ll make a boatload of money from personal appearances and book deals and the like—and then she’ll disappear, and the right wing will find another poor, beleaguered, put-upon soul whose Christianity has been allegedly impugned by the big, bad leftist elite.

The real evil-doers in all of this are the professional pilers-on. Fox News, of course. Ted Cruz. And, most annoyingly, former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee. At various times during this circus show, the good Reverend has compared Ms. Davis to Abraham Lincoln and current California Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom. Really?

Lincoln spoke out against the 1857 Supreme Court Dred Scott decision which held that African-Americans were not full citizens. Newsom, when the mayor of San Francisco, performed same-sex weddings for committed couples to extend civil rights to a maligned minority. (It should also be noted that he stopped doing so when so ordered by the courts.)

Ms. Davis, on the other hand, is defying the law to withhold rights, not to extend them. The case has been settled. After protracted legal battles, a veritable sea of blood, sweat and tears, and a successful advocacy campaign to win the hearts and minds of a solid majority of the American people, marriage equality is the law. Don’t like it? Vote for people who will rewrite discrimination into the Constitution.

On second thought, please don’t.

Huckabee sure knows how to rev up a crowd. And that’s just what he did in Grayson, Ky. Throwing raw meat at the lions to bolster his own hapless presidential campaign is his stock in trade. That’s where my revulsion comes in: He knows better. Separation of church and state is not tyranny toward Christians. It is a bedrock foundation championed by the Founding Fathers who knew a bit about a tyranny themselves.

Huckster Huckabee is the worst kind of charlatan—grabbing handfuls of cash and consolidating power by fear-mongering to the faithful. It’s appalling. People of sound mind and clear judgment will continue to ignore him and his ilk. Sadly, though, it appears that the entirety of the Republican Party is tripping over itself to portray themselves as BFFs with Jesus. Their tactics don’t strike me as very American. Nor Christian. But, God Bless Them.

While this silliness will undoubtedly continue, I’m heartened that it will attract fewer and fewer converts as time goes on. There will always be shrill, bloviating politicians. But eventually, they’ll have to answer to a higher power.

Published in Community Voices

On this week's therapeutic Independent comics page: The K Chronicles is dedicated to that one black kid; This Modern World looks at what happened when conservatives awoke to a world gone mad; Jen Sorenson examines changing views; and Red Meat deals with some mommy issues.

Published in Comics

Everybody knew the U.S. Supreme Court would be ruling on the gay-marriage question sometime in late June.

However, nobody was sure what the decision would be—and nobody was sure when it would be announced.

Of course, now we all know: On Friday, June 26, in a narrow 5-4 ruling, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled it was unconstitutional for states to prohibit same-sex couples from marrying. The ruling means that, effectively, same-sex marriage is now legal in 50 states.

How fitting it was that the ruling was announced on June 26—the same day that the U.S. Supreme Court, in 2013, struck down the Defense of Marriage Act, and legalized (for the second time) same-sex marriage in California by effectively throwing out Proposition 8. It's also the same day that in 2003, the Supreme Court ruled that sodomy laws were unconstitutional. 

On Friday night, hundreds of people showed up at Francis Stevens Park in downtown Palm Springs for a rally that had been planned for weeks—albeit with the date TBA—by the LGBT Center of the Desert. Below is a gallery of photos from the momentous celebration.

Photos by Tommy Hamilton/Tommy Locust photography.

Published in Snapshot

I first met Shawn Kendrick back in 2008. We were both working at the Stagecoach Festival for Borders Books and Music; he was a general manager at the now-defunct company.

He showed me a photo of his family: Shawn is white; his husband, Gerald Raye, is black; and they’re the parents of six children.

Just another American family.

I recently caught up with Shawn, Gerald and their children at their home in Murrieta, about an hour and 15 minutes outside of Palm Springs.

I arrived shortly after 3 p.m. on a weekday; the kids had just come home from school and were each given the opportunity to pick something out of the “treasure chest,” a box containing various toys. Raye explained that he’s a seasoned bargain shopper at Walgreens, so he knows how to stock up on items to give them.

The kids are 15, 13, 9, 7 and 5. Their oldest son is 20 and now lives on his own.

Shawn Kendrick and Gerald Raye met two decades ago.

“We met through a personal ad in the Los Angeles Times,” Kendrick said. “The Internet wasn’t like it is now, and there weren’t really all these sites they have now. I had just moved here from Missouri. I was tired of hanging out in bars, and I wanted to settle down a bit, so I put an ad in the paper.”

Raye said he still has the ad that Kendrick placed.

“It was funny how I responded,” Raye said. “I was at work with my best friend, and we used to look in the paper at the ads, circle them, read them out loud to each other, and make fun of them. For that whole week, one ad kept appearing—so I took it and called it. We talked on the phone for two to three months before we actually met each other because of my job at the time.”

As they got to know each other, they learned they were both interested in having children.

“I’ve always wanted children, because I’m an only child,” Raye said. “Starting from the time I was 10 years old, I always said I was going to adopt children. The relationship I had prior to Shawn—we were always going to do it, but every time we went to start, he got cold feet. When I got together with Shawn, we talked about having kids, and he told me that he wanted to have kids, too. On our first-year anniversary, he gave me a card, and it had the foster-care application in it.”

They were living in Long Beach at the time, and they began the licensing process and the training classes, dealing with an agency that mostly worked with gay couples.

“We didn’t know how to start the adoption process, so I thought it’d be good to become foster parents and see how that works out,” Kendrick said. “We became foster parents a few months after that. A lot of people think you can’t do it if you’re gay, (and did) especially 20 years ago. California’s laws have always been very liberal, and they don’t look it as gay or lesbian. … California always let unmarried people do it, and there was never a question.

“It was way easier than we thought. In fact, it was harder when we first went to get our car loan.”

Kendrick and Raye are not wealthy by any means. Kendrick works for Fresh and Easy; Raye stays at home with the children—all of which have special needs.

“People think we’re different, and we’re not,” Kendrick said. “We struggle with our finances; when we sit together at the end of the month and try to figure stuff out, most of our disagreements are over money. With that being said, (the government) doesn’t want that to be the reason you don’t adopt children. When you adopt through the county in California, they’re going to do some things to help you. The children are eligible for Medi-Cal until they’re 21. … You’re also going to get a stipend. You can’t live on that, and you can’t get rich from it, but it sure helps to keep them clothed. They’re also eligible for a college grant.”

All of those factors make it much easier for them to be good parents.

“It allows us to have Gerald stay home,” Kendrick said. “When you have special-needs kids, you have to have someone stay at home. You can’t just parcel them out all over the place. They need the direction you get by having a parent at home. With special-needs kids, we determined we were going to have to make some sacrifices, and one of us would have to stay home. ”

Being an interracial gay couple with children of various races hasn’t always been easy. Raye remembered one frightening instance when he was shopping with his son Anthony, and the fact that their skin colors are different became an issue.

“I was in the dollar store, and he was in the cart with me. I’m shopping the whole store, and as we’re getting ready to leave, security grabs me at the register, and has me with my hands up and pinned against the wall, asking me, ‘What are you doing with this child?’ I’m screaming, ‘Why would I shop in a store this whole time and pay for stuff if I was stealing a child?’ They asked Anthony, ‘Who is this man?’ and he said, ‘That’s my dad.’”

Kendrick said there have been times when they’ve received dirty looks or looks of scorn from people while out in public. However, they’ve also earned a lot of people’s respect.

“People see that (as a gay couple), you’re not having big sex parties, and you’re not having a huge Sunday brunch in your backyard … (and) they see that your kids are the same as everyone else. They see that your kids get in trouble just like all the other kids, that you do homework with them every night, that you go to the school activities—and they see that you’re more normal than they think. We have straight families in our neighborhood who will drop their kids over here and ask Gerald to watch them. We know a husband and wife who are both Marines, and they went away for the weekend and left their daughter with us.”

The subject of race is discussed openly in the Kendrick-Raye household. They teach their children about it and expose them to different cultures.

“We teach that there is no better race than any other race—and that we are one race, all together, in this house,” Raye said. “During Black History Month, we’re all at the parade, and we’re front and center. If there’s a Latin parade, we’re front and center. Our children come from all different backgrounds, and we’re going to know all of them. If there’s a powwow at the Pechanga Casino, let’s all go, because there could be Native American in our bloodline somewhere.”

Published in Features

On this week's healthy Independent comics page: Jen Sorenson suggests gifts for the unvaccinated; The K Chronicles yearns for the days of art patronage; The City checks in on recent efforts by the culture warriors; and Red Meat does some vacation planning.

Published in Comics

Although sexual orientation and dirty-trick campaigning have dominated the headlines regarding the Rancho Mirage City Council election, to my mind, there is a more interesting issue that has emerged: Should only older and more-experienced individuals be elected to represent the city’s residents?

Councilmember Dana Hobart recently made that assertion, casting Councilmember Scott Hines as “younger … (with) just ambition.”

Hines attended the Air Force Academy, earning a degree in political science in 1992, and then master’s degrees in public management from the University of Maryland, and organizational management from George Washington University. With more than 20 years of business and entrepreneurial experience, he is hardly a kid.

Hobart served in the Air Force for four years, then graduated from California State University and earned a juris doctorate from the USC School of Law in 1963. In addition to a long legal career and positions of prestige within the legal community, he successfully argued a case before the United States Supreme Court in 1976. 

Assuming these are both honorable men who want to serve their community, why would age even be a factor? Do older residents only want to see people their own age elected?

Here’s what I’m wondering: Is it time for the younger generations to take over? Remember that old saying, “Never trust anyone over 30”?

Although Hines is well beyond millennial age, a recent poll by Pew Research Center sheds some light on the ongoing conflicts between the generations. 

“Millennials,” defined as people between the ages of 18 and 33 by Pew, have very different views of traditional cultural norms and institutions. The underlying struggle to redefine our society is taking place throughout the country at all levels.

A recent column in The New York Times by Charles M. Blow, discussing the Pew findings, got me thinking. Yes, there is value in the wisdom we hope to have developed over many years of experience, but there is also value in accepting that society’s norms have already changed in important ways, and public policies must adjust to reflect those changes.

For example, 69 percent of millennials believe that marijuana use should be made legal, while only 32 percent of the so-called “silent generation” (those 68 and older) support legalization (although even that number has almost doubled since 2002). On the issue of whether gays and lesbians should be allowed to marry, 68 percent of millennials support such rights, compared to only 38 percent of the silent generation.

Millennials also largely believe that abortion should be legal in all or most cases (68 percent), and that immigrants in the country illegally should be allowed to stay and eventually apply to become citizens (55 percent). 

In the Coachella Valley, particularly the western and central parts, we tend to think of the local population as made up of many retirees. However, according to the Coachella Valley Economic Partnership (CVEP), in 2011, only about 30 percent of valley residents were 55 or older.

Does that mean almost 70 percent of our residents are not having their interests represented when elected officials are from older generations?  Not necessarily. For example, in Rancho Mirage, more than half of the population is 60 or older. Yet, it is worth considering that elected officials are supposed to not only manage current realities, but plan for the future viability of their communities. That may require attitudes and philosophies that encompass the cultural changes we are already experiencing.

Local officials have to consider policy approaches that are necessary for their communities to be seen as welcoming to younger generations. At the national level, “the young-old partisan voting gaps in 2008 and 2012 were among the largest in the modern era,” said Blow. So if Rancho Mirage is largely made up of older people, does that mean their City Council representatives should disdain appealing to younger people? Not if they want their city to survive.

When I first moved to the Coachella Valley in 1985, I remember thinking that all the service employees who worked in local cities—waiting tables, cleaning hotel rooms, maintaining golf courses, working in sales, etc.—could not possibly afford to live in the cities where they were employed, and thus had less invested in making those cities sustainable. I remember when, in 1988, Indian Wells, which then boasted one of the highest per-capita incomes in the state, sought an exemption from having affordable housing built within their city’s borders. Thankfully, they lost that battle, thanks to a veto by the then-Republican governor.

The Pew poll showed that millennials are more racially diverse and less disapproving of government services. They are experiencing higher student loan debt, poverty and unemployment, and lower levels of wealth and personal income. However, they are the future, and we need to incorporate their attitudes and needs if we hope to sustain our communities.

So, the question remains: Should only older and more-experienced individuals be elected to represent the city’s residents? Should age trump “ambition”? When Hobart was younger, wasn’t he ambitious?

As Blow puts it: “One might argue that millennials simply haven’t lived long enough to hit the triggers that might engender more conservatism … but it could just as well be that this group of young people is fundamentally different.” 

Is it perhaps time that older folks recognize that younger generations have something to offer as a balance, with a new approach to “the way we’ve always done it.” Our future will be as different from today as today is from the “traditional values” of a mere 50 years ago—a time that some in the older generation still cling to as what should be “normal.” Without that balance, and those new ways of looking at our culture and our institutions, we are only stalling the inevitable.

Maybe it’s time for older folks, myself included, to just get out of the way. Those with experience should teach, mentor and advise—but let younger generations lead.

Published in Know Your Neighbors

Siouxzan Perry, a graphic designer and website developer, was the manager of Tura Satana, the lead actress in the 1965 B-Movie classic Faster, Pussycat! Kill! Kill!

“She passed away in 2011 on my birthday,” said Perry.

Perry was devastated by the loss of her client and close friend. At Perry’s home, Tura Satana is in every room in some way—paintings, photographs, film props, movie posters and even some of her personal items.

While Perry has always been open about the fact that she’s a lesbian, she was in no rush to date. She explained that past romances have included drama, ex-girlfriend issues, and other things she didn’t want to deal with.

Then Helen Macfarlane entered her life.

“I met Helen on Facebook through a friend. I do something called ‘LP of the day.’ I’ve been doing it for five years now: I put up an LP everyday that’s absolutely hideous, and I just let everybody go with it,” said Perry.

Macfarlane, a commissioned artist and language interpreter, felt immediately connected to Siouxzan after reading her Facebook page.

“We just started to have contact. I knew she was a real person, and it wasn’t a catfish situation,” said Macfarlane.

There was only one problem with their online romance: Macfarlane, a native of New Zealand, was living in Austria, and had been for 30 years.

Perry was hesitant at first to meet Macfarlane.

“Before I knew it, she came out to visit, and she fell in love with the desert—and with me! She went back, and it took about two years to make preparations to bring her here,” said Perry.

Then came June 2013, when U.S. Supreme Court rulings struck down much of the Defense of Marriage Act, and reversed Proposition 8 in California, again legalizing gay marriage here. Macfarlane was out of the country and in the process of returning to the United States when Perry called her with the news.

They decided it was time to make that leap themselves.

“We want to be married, not just because we love each other and we know that we want to be together, but also because it will help with Helen with getting her green card and getting sponsored so she can work here,” Perry said. “Right now, she’s here on a six-month visa, and everything is going through Austria. It’s a pain.”

They are having two weddings: They enjoyed a small ceremony on Dec. 26, and early in the new year, they will go all out with a Hawaiian-themed event, featuring Hawaiian food, Hawaiian music and tiki-related items.

Meanwhile, the gay-marriage rush has led to good times for local LGBT wedding planners and officiants.

Richard Cadieux of Palm Desert, known as the “Wedding Professor” (right), said that he couldn’t be happier with the boom in business. He said he’s performed more than 900 wedding ceremonies for couples both straight and LGBT over the past 13 years, and he’s enjoyed the increase in business since June.

“On Nov. 22, I did 27 (weddings) back to back in Palm Springs under the Marilyn statue,” said Cadieux. “In November, I did 47 total. In December, I did 18. Ever since July, my business went up 400 percent.”

Cadieux said many couples rushed to tie the knot before the year’s end.

“There’s a thrust of people who are beating the clock before Jan. 1 because of tax purposes—and there’s been pent-up excitement,” he said. “The first year, I know, is going to be the heaviest year; the second year will trail down, and the third year will tail off from there.”

Still, there is the potential for Palm Springs to become a gay-wedding hub, of sorts, Cadieux said.

“We hope as a tourist destination that people come from states where it’s too cold, even if (marriage there is) legal or not, and that we develop a tourist destination for weddings here,” said Cadieux.

Cadieux has noticed trends developing regarding LGBT wedding ceremonies—some of which have been surprising.

“The ones who are spending the most money are girls,” he said. “Recently, there were a couple of women from Long Beach who were taking over the Farrell Compound. It was probably a $40,000 wedding.”

The first wave of same-sex couples who are getting married has included many couples who are older and have been together longer—25 to 50 years or more, in many cases. The Rev. Lisa Phillian, of Rainbow Weddings—she prefers to be known as The Reverend Lisa—provided one example of an older couple she married earlier this year.

“There was a gentleman—his name was George,” she said. “… He came with his oxygen tank and his partner. We made a makeshift chapel in our living room and married them in front of it. A month after they were married, his husband, Kenny, called me and said George had died. I send out 150 Christmas cards each year, and six have called me this year to inform me that their partner has passed since their weddings.”

At the same time, The Reverend Lisa has witnessed more elaborate weddings that have included the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway and hot-air balloon rides in Temecula—and there was even one on a helicopter pad at a Beverly Hills hotel.

“What we try to promote to our clients is romance,” she said. “Every couple I have ever married has said they’re just doing it for the taxes, and it’s a piece of paper. Out of 150 couples, at least 125 of them have stood and cried, so it’s not just a piece of paper.”

Both Richard Cadieux and The Reverend Lisa offered some advice to couples considering taking the leap.

“A wedding is more than just flowers, cake, a venue and a reception,” said The Reverend Lisa. “Hire a good planner, and allow your event to be pleasant. Your day should be special—whether it’s small or large. … The right planner makes a difference. Also, do it in reverence. We sometimes jump at something because we’re afraid it’s going to leave. (Gay marriage) is not leaving this time.”

Richard Cadieux emphasized the importance of the wedding’s attendees.

“Talk to your partner about the guest list,” said Cadieux. “Get realistic so that feelings don’t get hurt. … I knew Harvey Milk when I was living in San Francisco, and he said, ‘Come out, come out, wherever you are!’ My experience is when there are a number of straight guests who have never been to a same-sex wedding, they see who we are. … If (people getting married) can invite some people who have not seen love in a same-sex marriage, it will affect their consciousness, and we will gain our rights across the country faster.”

Below: The Reverend Lisa: “I send out 150 Christmas cards each year, and six have called me this year to inform me that their partner has passed since their weddings.” Photo by Jehd Tienzo.

Published in Local Issues

As thousands of people celebrated in 100-plus-degree heat, Rancho Mirage City Councilmember Scott Hines had sobering words.

Standing directly under the Forever Marilyn statue in downtown Palm Springs, the gay family man, military veteran and elected official explained that he was there representing not the city of Rancho Mirage—just himself. He had asked the current mayor of Rancho Mirage, Richard Kite, to issue a proclamation celebrating the U.S. Supreme Court's partial repeal of the Defense of Marriage Act, as well as the decision effectively appealing Proposition 8—therefore setting the stage for gay marriage to be legal once again in California.

But Kite refused, Hines said. Such a proclamation, or even allowing Hines to speak on behalf of the city, might be offensive to some.

Despite Hines' sobering words, thousands of people showed up to celebrate the happy events. Below are images from the celebration of this historic day.

Published in Snapshot

On this week's Indy comics page: Red Meat is finally able to get some sleep; The City tries to pick up a woman in an inappropriate fashion; Roland and Cid ponder North Korea and the Mayans; and Jen Sorenson takes on gay marriage and Antonin Scalia.

Published in Comics

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