the great debaters

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put me in front of a group of people and i start to shake. my hands were shaking on stage, literally. i had to put my note cards down. i saw terror in myself. then i remembered – breathe. i rehearsed at home. breathe. i rehearsed on the way to the office. breathe. breathe victor, i told myself. i didn’t need to look at my notes after that. an hour later i had the migraine of migraines. i laid down around 9. my cell phone rang. it was mr. egyptian wannabe. mr. egyptian wannabe lives in new york. people always have to guess what his ethnicity is.

so you aren’t watching the debate, he said. i’m in pain, i said. don’t tell anyone that, he said. i got up, went to cnn.com, and clicked on the live broadcast.

i wasn’t interested in watching this debate. the vice presidential debate was more worth watching to me. the highlight of the show was when the facilitator, gwen ifill asked senator biden:

Do you support, as they do in Alaska, giving same-sex benefits to couples?

biden said: Absolutely. Do I support granting same-sex benefits? Absolutely positively. Look, in an Obama-Biden administration, there will be absolutely no distinction from a constitutional standpoint or a legal standpoint between a same-sex and a heterosexual couple.

The fact of the matter is that under the Constitution we should be granted — same-sex couples should be able to have visitation rights in the hospitals, joint ownership of property, life insurance policies, et cetera. That’s only fair.

It’s what the Constitution calls for. And so we do support it. We do support making sure that committed couples in a same-sex marriage are guaranteed the same constitutional benefits as it relates to their property rights, their rights of visitation, their rights to insurance, their rights of ownership as heterosexual couples do.

i was running on the treadmill. i had to slow down. i started crying. sometimes my friends make fun of me for being so unemotional about things. this was big. it was like a thousand champagne bottles popping all at once.

Then ifill asked senator biden:

Do you support gay marriage?

biden said: No. Barack Obama nor I support redefining from a civil side what constitutes marriage. We do not support that. That is basically the decision to be able to be able to be left to faiths and people who practice their faiths the determination what you call it.

The bottom line though is, and I’m glad to hear the governor, I take her at her word, obviously, that she think there should be no civil rights distinction, none whatsoever, between a committed gay couple and a committed heterosexual couple. If that’s the case, we really don’t have a difference.

breathe, i told myself. i don’t shape my life around washington, around politics, around speeches, around the things speak say. i shape my life around my own experiences, my own ideas, what i know is true.

what does marriage represent? does marriage represent love? does it represent happy ever after? does it represent commitment? marriage is a ceremony that can be held at city hall for $25. how can you put a value on love. little boys, most little boys anyway, don’t grow up dreaming to get married. at twenty-coughs, do i want to get married? i don’t know. a marriage ceremony, a marriage license, a preacher, the works, wouldn’t change the way i felt about my partner but i would like to have a choice.

i was reminded what spanish prime minister jose luis rodriguez zapatero said during his state of the nation address:

I will never understand those who proclaim love as the foundation of life, while denying so radically protection, understanding and affection to our neighbors, our friends, our relatives, our colleagues. What kind of love is this that excludes those who experience their sexuality in a different way?

in reference to roe vs. wade, last night obama said:

…I am somebody who believes that Roe versus Wade was rightly decided. I think that abortion is a very difficult issue and it is a moral issue and one that I think good people on both sides can disagree on. But what ultimately I believe is that women in consultation with their families, their doctors, their religious advisers, are in the best position to make this decision. And I think that the Constitution has a right to privacy in it that shouldn’t be subject to state referendum…

…So this is going to be an important issue. I will look for those judges who have an outstanding judicial record, who have the intellect, and who hopefully have a sense of what real-world folks are going through.

I’ll just give you one quick example. Sen. McCain and I disagreed recently when the Supreme Court made it more difficult for a woman named Lilly Ledbetter to press her claim for pay discrimination.

For years, she had been getting paid less than a man had been paid for doing the exact same job. And when she brought a suit, saying equal pay for equal work, the judges said, well, you know, it’s taken you too long to bring this lawsuit, even though she didn’t know about it until fairly recently.

We tried to overturn it in the Senate. I supported that effort to provide better guidance to the courts; John McCain opposed it.

equal pay. a woman’s choice. supreme court nominee. what has to happen for the gay marriage debate to get equal billing?

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