A look back

Oh, hello, blog! I pretty much let this blog languish for most of the year, but I couldn’t let 2013 go by without at least briefly highlighting a milestone in my life: getting married. As you may know, for the last several years Thom and I have been advocating for marriage equality as volunteers for Marriage Equality USA. We were at as many rallies and protests and parades as we could attend, speaking out for equal marriage rights for all.

On June 26 of this year, the movement for marriage equality reached a turning point as the Supreme Court dismissed the Proposition 8 case and overturned a key section of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), which meant two things to us personally: Thom and I could get married in our home state of California, and our marriage would be recognized by the federal government. We thought the ruling wouldn’t issue for about another month, but the circuit court surprised us all by lifting its stay just a few days later, on June 28. Thom and I rushed to San Francisco City Hall to get our marriage license, and there we just happened to also witness the wedding of Kris Perry and Sandy Stier, two of the plaintiffs in the Prop 8 case. More history in the making!

On September 26, the anniversary of our “Happy Together”-themed commitment ceremony at the Cliff House four years ago, we got married at City Hall (and called it “Happy Together 2.0″).

Just married! (Photo: Pax Gethen / Funcrunch Photo; full album here.)

Just married! (Photo: Pax Gethen / Funcrunch Photo; full album here.)

And that weekend, we went back to the Cliff House and had a dapper party! (Photos by Levi Smith.)

Thank you to all our family and friends for your love and support. My husband (!) and I appreciate it so much. This has been an amazing year for us personally and for the advancement of civil rights in America. At the beginning of 2013, nine states and the District of Columbia had marriage equality. Since then, nine more states. Look out, 2014!

Next stop…

Last night I dreamed that Thom and I were watching a Christmas movie and trying to identify it.

Me: I think it’s The Polar Express.
Thom: [sarcastically] The tenth one.
Me: [in kind] Polar Express 10: The Reckoning.

Wow, our dream selves can be kind of snarky.

Anyway, apparently I said the word reckoning aloud in my sleep, waking myself up as well as Thom. I immediately explained the dream to him, since I guess having your partner in bed next to you suddenly say reckoning in their sleep would be a bit disturbing. Ha!

Ten years of bloggage

My blog is now ten years old. Wow. I started it on a Gateway laptop when I was twenty-five years old and living in Washington, D.C. In other words, in a previous life.

In the beginning

Though my first blog post was written in 2002, I registered the domain rebelprince.com and put up a small website in September 2001. It was a place for a few personal pictures and I would update it weekly with stuff that was going on with me, basically for friends and family. Not quite a blog; more like a newsletter.

The Rebel Prince domain name was inspired by the Rufus Wainwright song, as those years were the height of my Rufus fandom. I still love him now, but at the time he and my fellow Rufus peeps were pretty much the center of my leisure universe: reading the message board, following the Poses tour, etc. It was never a dedicated fan site per se, but I just loved the song so much that it stuck. I later moved the site to jefftabaco.com and intended to change the blog name, but I still find Rebel Prince endearing. So it stays, for now.

Little boxes

I would link to the very first entry, dated January 25, 2002, but as I’ve migrated this blog through three publishing platforms and two domains over the years, like physical moves there is still a lot of stuff in boxes. Back in the day I started on Blogger, and at the time their system did not have separate fields for post titles. (They didn’t have a built-in commenting system either. Imagine that!) I got into the habit of writing daily blog posts made up of unrelated blurbs and made my own subheadings.

Fast forward a few years to Movable Type. I migrated my posts to the new system, which now had title fields. So I had some clean-up to do for these old posts. Over time I started either breaking them up into separate posts or just giving them the same title as the first blurb. In any case now here we are now on WordPress, which I love, and I still have several months of posts in boxes as it were. I’ll get to them someday.

Thank you

Thank you, dear readers, for, well, … reading. Especially you old-school bloggers who have become friends over the years. No doubt I’m blogging less thanks to Facebook and Twitter, but there’s nothing like a blank, open page to get the imagination going. I do love my own little patch of Internet.

Motions to marry: Prop 8’s last stand at the Ninth Circuit

On Thursday the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco heard the final hearings of this stage of the Prop 8 case, a motion to release video of the original District Court trial and another motion to vacate that court’s decision because Judge Vaughn Walker was gay and in a long-term relationship.

Just before the hearings there was a rally outside the courthouse, where Thom and I spoke along with several other marriage equality advocates we’ve come to know over the last few years.

Here’s a loose recollection of what I said (based on my talking points I had scribbled on Post-It notes):

Hello, my name is Jeff Tabaco, and this is my partner, Thom Watson. We have been together for over eight years. We became domestic partners in 2009 and had a commitment ceremony later that year. What I want more than anything in the world is to marry this man.

But I can’t. Not here in San Francisco, in the city I was born. Not in my own home state of California. I am a proud Californian, a proud American. But I will be a prouder Californian, a prouder American — a more equal American — when the judgment striking down Prop 8 is upheld, when our rights are restored, and when I can marry the person I love.

Gay rights are human rights, and human rights are gay rights.” That’s what we’re fighting for, what everyone — gay, straight, and in between — should be fighting for: dignity and equal rights for all.

We are on the side of love. We are on the side of the law. And we are on the right side of history.

I’m happy to see a lot of familiar faces here today, and the joke is that we have to stop meeting like this. We’ll come to as many rallies and hearings as we have to to get our rights back. I know the next time we gather like this, it will be to celebrate a ruling upholding marriage equality for all.

Any day now the Ninth Circuit could rule on any or all of the issues before it (standing of the Proponents, these motions to release the video and to vacate the decision, and the underlying constitutional merits), but the word seems to be it could be as soon as later this month or early next year. The commentaries I’ve read also suggest that the court will deny the motion to vacate, but may find it difficult to grant the motion to release the trial video. We shall wait and see.

See also:

  • The photo above is by our friend, wedding photographer, and continuing documentarian of the marriage equality cause, Julie Bernstein. For more, see her “Motions to Marry” rally photos.
  • Videos of the Ninth Circuit hearings have been published: Hearing 1 (motion to release trial video) and Hearing 2 (motion to vacate).

Rally on Prop 8 standing

A couple of weeks ago we took part in a rally and attended a court hearing about the latest detour in the Prop 8 saga: whether the proponents’ have standing to appeal the case when the official state defendants (the governor and the attorney general) refuse to do so. My opinion is that they do not, but in any case the outcome of this particular hearing at the California Supreme Court (due in under ninety days now) is only meant to advise the Ninth Circuit as it ponders whether the proponents have federal standing.

Anyway, we watch and wait. But I did want to share some of the sights and sounds from the rally that morning, courtesy of our good friends.

Check out Julie Bernstein’s site for her full set of rally photos.

Here is a video by Sean Chapin, showing the contrast between the anti– and pro-equality sides:

You really see what our side stands for: love.

Where was I?

I haven’t written much at all about 9/11 on my blog, but I did want to write down (mostly for my sake, before the details fade from memory) where I was that day.

At the time, I was living in Washington, D.C. (I had moved there in the summer of 2000.) On the morning of September 11, 2011, as usual I took the Metro to my office in Bethesda, Maryland, and arrived sometime around 9:00 a.m. After I settled in at my desk, a coworker came to me and said that a plane had crashed into the World Trade Center in New York. At first I thought it was an accident, “just” a plane crash, but as the morning progressed and I kept reading news about the other planes online, it became clear that this was an organized terrorist attack.

I stayed at my desk the whole morning. Some others were watching the news on TV in another part of the office, but for some reason I stayed glued to my computer and kept reloading the major news sites, though they were slow to access. By noon, our company said we could go home if we wished. So I left for my apartment, stopping at the supermarket for food on the way.

It was eerie. I lived less than a mile from the White House and a couple more miles to the Pentagon. Who knew if there would be even more attacks? I would hear helicopters and didn’t know what to think. The afternoon wore on. I called my parents and some friends to let them know I was safe, and watched more news on TV. After a while I had to turn it off and try to rest.

Lego airport

A few weeks ago I surprised Thom with the Ken and Barbie dolls from the cute Toy Story Hawaiian Vacation short that ran before Cars 2. They look great (even still in their box) on our tiki bar. While I was at Toys “R” Us, I wandered over to the Lego section, where the items were “buy one, get one half-off.” How could I resist?

For Thom I got a Kingdom castle set, and for me the City airport! I can’t remember the last time, if ever, I bought Lego for myself. As a kid I think I had just plain Lego blocks; that was kind of it. Thom, however, has been putting together several themed sets over the years.

A couple of weekends ago we unpacked the sets in the family room and had a fun afternoon building our respective little worlds. One end of the coffee table was his medieval stronghold and the other was my aviation hub. Here are some photos of the airport, yet to be named. What do you think, the Henry Doelger Daly City-Westlake District Airport, a.k.a. Doelger Field? (OK, maybe only you fellow Daly Citizens will get that.)

I’m hoping to get more of the related airport sets in the future (including an additional, smaller plane), and even some of the other City sets, like the public transport one. Light rail to the airport! Soon I’ll have a bustling metropolis. Also yet to be named.

Prop 8 hearing: Gay judge’s ruling on same-sex marriage is upheld

Yesterday morning Thom and I went to a San Francisco federal courthouse to watch a hearing held to decide on a couple of motions brought up by the Prop 8 proponents: to vacate Judge Walker’s judgment overturning Prop 8 because he is gay and in a same-sex relationship (the argument being that he could have benefited from the case’s outcome), and to compel return of the trial recordings. The good news is that today both of these motions, as we expected, were denied.

From Judge Ware’s ruling on the motion to vacate (Section 455 of the U.S. Code [28 U.S.C. §455] addresses disqualification of federal judges):

The Court finds that neither recusal nor disqualification was required based on the asserted grounds. The sole fact that a federal judge shares the same circumstances or personal characteristics with other members of the general public, and that the judge could be affected by the outcome of a proceeding in the same way that other members of the general public would be affected, is not a basis for either recusal or disqualification under Section 455(b)(4). Further, under Section 455(a), it is not reasonable to presume that a judge is incapable of making an impartial decision about the constitutionality of a law, solely because, as a citizen, the judge could be affected by the proceedings. Accordingly, the Motion to Vacate Judgment on the sole ground of Judge Walker’s same-sex relationship is DENIED.

It’s a good read (full PDF here). Justice — not prejudice — prevails. Thank you, Judge Ware, for putting the smackdown on this absurd, frivolous motion by the Prop 8 proponents, who should be ashamed and embarrassed.

Bright and early before the hearing, outside the courthouse Thom and I participated in a rally organized by Marriage Equality USA to show our support for the cause. Among the speakers was Thom, who told our story as domestic partners who are waiting for and fighting for the right to marry.

Thom speaks at rally

Speaking with reporter Scott Shafer of KQED:

Speaking to reporter

These photos are by Julie Bernstein, and you can find her entire set of photos covering the rally here. And check out Sean Chapin’s video montage:

Thanks to all who showed up and to everyone for their support. We’ll keep showing up and fighting as long as we have to!