Want to Unite America? Think Like a Gay Rights Activist
If gay people could unite America enough to win the right to marry, surely an entire society can borrow from that playbook to get the US back on track.
Evan Wolfson is an attorney and gay rights advocate. He is the founder and president of Freedom to Marry, a group favoring same-sex marriage in the United States. Wolfson, who many consider to be the father and leader of the same-sex marriage movement, authored the book Why Marriage Matters: America, Equality, and Gay People's Right to Marry, which Time Out New York magazine called, "Perhaps the most important gay-marriage primer ever written..." He was listed as one of Time magazine's 100 Most Influential People in the World. He has taught as an adjunct professor at Columbia Law School, Rutgers Law School, and Whittier Law School and argued before the Supreme Court in Boy Scouts of America v. Dale. Wolfson wrote his 1983 Harvard Law thesis on same-sex marriage, long before the question gained national prominence. On October 6, 2010, he returned to the Yale Political Union to debate same-sex marriage against opponent Maggie Gallagher, chairman of the National Organization for Marriage Wolfson appeared before the United States Supreme Court on April 26, 2000, to argue on behalf of Scoutmaster James Dale in the landmark case Boy Scouts of America v. Dale, in which the Court ruled that the Boy Scouts organization had the right to expel Dale for revealing that he was gay through their First Amendment rights.
Evan Wolfson is an attorney and gay rights advocate. He is the founder and president of Freedom to Marry, a group favoring same-sex marriage in the United States.
Wolfson, who many consider to be the father and leader of the same-sex marriage movement, authored the book Why Marriage Matters: America, Equality, and Gay People's Right to Marry, which Time Out New York magazine called, "Perhaps the most important gay-marriage primer ever written..." He was listed as one of Time magazine's 100 Most Influential People in the World. He has taught as an adjunct professor at Columbia Law School, Rutgers Law School, and Whittier Law School and argued before the Supreme Court in Boy Scouts of America v. Dale.
Wolfson wrote his 1983 Harvard Law thesis on same-sex marriage, long before the question gained national prominence. On October 6, 2010, he returned to the Yale Political Union to debate same-sex marriage against opponent Maggie Gallagher, chairman of the National Organization for Marriage
Wolfson appeared before the United States Supreme Court on April 26, 2000, to argue on behalf of Scoutmaster James Dale in the landmark case Boy Scouts of America v. Dale, in which the Court ruled that the Boy Scouts organization had the right to expel Dale for revealing that he was gay through their First Amendment rights.
Evan Wolfson: Gay people have been seeking the freedom to marry in the United States since what we talk about as the dawn of the modern gay rights movement. We usually date that movement's beginning a little erroneously to Stonewall and the pushback against police harassment that was pervasive at the time here in New York City at the Stonewall Inn in 1969.
So within three years of Stonewall there were major cases brought by couples seeking the freedom to marry all across the country, percolating through the courts all the way up, and one of them even reached the United States Supreme Court in 1972. The Supreme Court in 1972, like all the other courts, rubber-stamped the discrimination throughout those couples. The courts weren't ready, the conversation hadn’t yet happened, and the country wasn't ready.
Well, the goal of the Freedom to Marry, the goal of our strategy and the goal that many in our movement rallied around over these four-plus decades was to get the Supreme Court to say “yes” to what it had said “no” to in 1972. But the strategy said that the way we're going to do that is not just by filing more briefs or leaving it to the lawyers alone, but instead by shaping the entire climate in which the decision makers, including judges and the justices, were thinking about this.
In other words while litigation was the way in which we were going to deliver the victory, in order for litigation to succeed we needed to win in the court of public opinion in order to win in the court of law.
My favorite passage came in the case in which we won the freedom to marry and brought the freedom to marry to Utah, one of the most conservative states in the country. And the judge in the Utah Freedom to Marry case wrote: "it's not the Constitution that has changed; what has changed is our understanding of what it means to be lesbian or gay."
Well, that sentence encapsulated the entire strategy and it encapsulated how all this work by so many different organizations and millions of people contributed to delivering a litigation victory.
We had to change people's understanding of who gay people are. We had to claim the vocabulary of marriage, love, commitment, family, connection. We had to engage people, as well as decision-makers, in the shared values of treating others as you'd want to be treated, of seeing the common humanity and aspirations and dreams of gay people.
So we looked consciously for the kinds of tactics and ways in which we could make that persuasion, that set of conversations happen.
One example is we did not write people off. We very much looked at who the people who were not yet with us, but who were reachable—what I call the reachable but not yet reached—and how do we most effectively engage them? Clearly we knew that conversation would be the engine of change, both this “air-cover” of political ads and debate and news coverage and popular culture but also the quiet persuasion needed to get people, both gay and non-gay people, to talk to others around them.
The air cover was the public debate. And some of that debate came through battles, attacks from the anti-gay side, discussions in the legislatures, coverage on the news as well as popular culture, softer presentations of who we gave people are whether through TV shows like Will and Grace or people coming out like Ellen DeGeneres, but also all of this discussion up here that created a climate that encouraged people to talk about this, that helped frame the discussion, that gave people images.
But what closes the deal is not this air cover, it's the ground game, the personal conversations, the millions of conversations around coffee tables and living rooms and water coolers in offices. The personal engagement, the one on one discussions that gay people needed to have with the non-gay people in our lives and that we needed non-gay people to be having with each other in order to talk through what people may be seeing or hearing up here in the air cover.
The air cover helped move things forward. It was a necessary part of reverberating and framing and generating millions of conversations, but it was the conversation, the ground game that was the closer, that was the necessary engine of change.
And so, by looking to who you want to persuade: what are their values? What are the commonalities? What are the stories and who are the messengers and what is the drumbeat and ways of engaging people where they are? That is the way you bring over a slice. You don’t need everybody, but you need enough. That’s what we were able to achieve, and if gay people can go from 27 percent support for the freedom to marry, which is what it was in the 90s, to 63 percent support that we had grown to by the time that we won the Supreme Court in 2015, if gay people can do that, surely we can make the kind of progress we need to get our country back on track on other fronts, where we are starting from a higher baseline to begin with.
Clearly some of the elements of the Freedom to Marry playbook are very relevant for the Democrats, they are very relevant for all the different causes. There’s no one cookie cutter strategy, but the playbook and the elements of success are very applicable and adaptable to other work at hand for other causes, other organizations, other countries, other ways of moving our society forward, getting our country back on track, and making a better world.
And history tells us, including our own history of winning the freedom to marry, that we can change things. We the people can do it, and it’s up to us to do it. We have the tools, we have the opportunity—we certainly have the urgency— and we have each other.
For four decades, gay rights activists and couples who appealed to the courts for the right to marry their partners were fighting against a legal system. The real battle, however, was against public perception. Evan Wolfson, founder of the national bipartisan organization Freedom to Marry, outlines the strategy that transformed public understanding and led to a triumph in the Supreme Court in June 2015. It wasn’t the legal appeals or height of the headlines that brought marriage equality to gay people, Wolfson says, rather it was millions of quieter, more personal conversations "around coffee tables and living rooms and water coolers in offices" that became the necessary engine of change. It’s much more difficult to deny a person a basic human right one on one, face to face. Wolfson opens his strategic playbook to Americans in a time of cavernous political division. "The elements of success [of Freedom to Marry] are very applicable and adaptable... for other causes, other organizations, other countries, other ways of moving our society forward, getting our country back on track, and making a better world," he says. Wolfson and the marriage equality story are the subject of the new documentary The Freedom to Marry, in cinemas now.
Nazi supporters held huge rallies and summer camps for kids throughout the United States in the 1930s.
- During the 1930s, thousands of Americans sympathized with the Nazis, holding huge rallies.
- The rallies were organized by the American German Bund, which wanted to spread Nazi ideology.
- Nazi supporters also organized summer camps for kids to teach them their values.
A Bund parade in New York, October 30, 1939.
Credit: Library of Congress
1930s AMERICAN FASCIST BUND CAMP HOME MOVIE BERGWALD NEW JERSEY<span style="display:block;position:relative;padding-top:56.25%;" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="69d54b175b0d317cf9bfd688e4fa04f3"><iframe type="lazy-iframe" data-runner-src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/gOPeDaDcw3w?rel=0" width="100%" height="auto" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" style="position:absolute;top:0;left:0;width:100%;height:100%;"></iframe></span>
Tea and coffee have known health benefits, but now we know they can work together.
Credit: NIKOLAY OSMACHKO from Pexels
- A new study finds drinking large amounts of coffee and tea lowers the risk of death in some adults by nearly two thirds.
- This is the first study to suggest the known benefits of these drinks are additive.
- The findings are great, but only directly apply to certain people.
Maybe you should enjoy this article with a cup of coffee or tea.<p> The <a href="https://drc.bmj.com/content/8/1/e001252?T=AU" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">study</a> involved 4,923 type 2 diabetics living in Japan. The average participant was 66 years old. All of the participants were taken from the rolls of the Fukuoka Diabetes Registry, a study geared at learning about the effects of new treatments and lifestyle changes on the health of diabetics. <br> <br> The participants filled out questionnaires concerning their health, diet, habits, and other factors. Among the questions were two focused on determining how much green tea or coffee, if any, the participants consumed over the course of a week. The health of the participants was recorded for five years. During this time, 309 of the test subjects died from a variety of causes. <br> <br> Subjects who drank more than one cup of tea or coffee per day demonstrated lower odds of dying than those who had none. Those who consumed the most tea and coffee, more than four and two cups a day, respectively, enjoyed the most significant reductions in their risk of death. This level of consumption was associated with a 40 percent lower risk of <a href="https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2020/10/201020190129.htm" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">death</a>. </p><p>Most interestingly, the effects of drinking tea and coffee appear to combine to reduce risk even further. Those who reported drinking two or three cups of tea a day and two or more cups of coffee were 51 percent less likely to die during the study, while those who drank a whopping four or more cups of tea and two or more cups of coffee had a 63 percent lower risk of <a href="https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/diabetes-coffee-and-green-tea-might-reduce-death-risk" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">death</a>. </p>
So, should I start swimming in a vat of coffee and green tea?<iframe width="730" height="430" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/LY0E-JQxeoY" frameborder="0" allow="accelerometer; autoplay; clipboard-write; encrypted-media; gyroscope; picture-in-picture" allowfullscreen></iframe><p> Not quite. </p><p> The primary takeaway from this study is that Japanese adults with type 2 diabetes who drink a lot of green tea and/or coffee die less often than similar people who do not. If this effect is caused by something in the drink, lifestyle choices people who drink that much tea all make, or something else remains unknown. The finding must be considered an association at this point. <br> <br> The eye-popping reductions in mortality rates are compared to the risk of death of others in the study. The people who died reported drinking less tea and coffee than those who lived. Unless you have several demographic and conditional similarities to the subjects of this study, you probably won't suddenly be at a two-thirds lower risk of death than your peers because you drink green tea. </p><p> Like all studies that depend on self-reporting, it is also possible that people misstated how much they consumed any one item. The study also did not look into other factors like socioeconomic status or education level, also known to impact death rates and potentially linked to coffee and tea consumption. </p><p> However, it is yet another study in the pile that suggests that <a href="https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/top-13-evidence-based-health-benefits-of-coffee" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">coffee</a> and <a href="https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/top-10-evidence-based-health-benefits-of-green-tea" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">green tea</a> are good for you. That much is increasingly <a href="https://www.health.harvard.edu/press_releases/health-benefits-linked-to-drinking-tea" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">agreed</a><a href="https://www.rush.edu/health-wellness/discover-health/health-benefits-coffee" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer"> upon</a>. This study also suggests the benefits are additive, which is a new development.</p><p><br> So, while it isn't time to start the IV drip of green tea, a cup or two probably won't <a href="https://www.webmd.com/diabetes/news/20201022/coffee-green-tea-might-extend-life-for-folks-with-type-2-diabetes" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">hurt</a>. </p>
Logic puzzles can teach reasoning in a fun way that doesn't feel like work.
- Logician Raymond Smullyan devised tons of logic puzzles, but one was declared by another philosopher to be the hardest of all time.
- The problem, also known as the Three Gods Problem, is solvable, even if it doesn't seem to be.
- It depends on using complex questions to assure that any answer given is useful.
The Three Gods Problem<iframe width="730" height="430" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/UyOGZk7WbIk" frameborder="0" allow="accelerometer; autoplay; clipboard-write; encrypted-media; gyroscope; picture-in-picture" allowfullscreen></iframe><p> One of the more popular wordings of the problem, which MIT logic professor George Boolos <a href="https://www.readersdigest.ca/culture/hardest-logic-puzzle-ever/" target="_blank">said</a> was the hardest ever, is:<br> <br> "Three gods A, B, and C are called, in no particular order, True, False, and Random. True always speaks truly, False always speaks falsely, but whether Random speaks truly or falsely is a completely random matter. Your task is to determine the identities of A, B, and C by asking three yes-no questions; each question must be put to exactly one god. The gods understand English, but will answer all questions in their own language, in which the words for <em>yes</em> and <em>no</em> are <em>da</em> and <em>ja</em>, in some order. You do not know which word means which."<br> <br> Boolos adds that you are allowed to ask a particular god more than one question and that Random switches between answering as if they are a truth-teller or a liar, not merely between answering "da" and "ja." <br> <br> Give yourself a minute to ponder this; we'll look at a few answers below. Ready? Okay. <strong><br> <br></strong>George Boolos' <a href="https://www.pdcnet.org/8525737F00588A37/file/31B21D0580E8B125852577CA0060ABC9/$FILE/harvardreview_1996_0006_0001_0060_0063.pdf" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">solution</a> focuses on finding either True or False through complex questions. </p><p> In logic, there is a commonly used function often written as "iff," which means "if, and only if." It would be used to say something like "The sky is blue if and only if Des Moines is in Iowa." It is a powerful tool, as it gives a true statement only when both of its components are true or both are false. If one is true and the other is false, you have a false statement. </p><p> So, if you make a statement such as "the moon is made of Gorgonzola if, and only if, Rome is in Russia," then you have made a true statement, as both parts of it are false. The statement "The moon has no air if, and only if, Rome is in Italy," is also true, as both parts of it are true. However, "The moon is made of Gorgonzola if, and only if, Albany is the capitol of New York," is false, because one of the parts of that statement is true, and the other part is not (The fact that these items don't rely on each other is immaterial for now).</p><p> In this puzzle, iff can be used here to control for the unknown value of "da" and "ja." As the answers we get can be compared with what we know they would be if the parts of our question are all true, all false, or if they differ. </p><p> Boolos would have us begin by asking god A, "Does "da" mean yes if and only if you are True if and only if B is Random?" No matter what A says, the answer you get is extremely useful. As he explains: <br> </p><p> "If A is True or False and you get the answer da, then as we have seen, B is Random, and therefore C is either True or False; but if A is True or False and you get the answer ja, then B is not Random, therefore B is either True or False… if A is Random and you get the answer da, C is not Random (neither is B, but that's irrelevant), and therefore C is either True or False; and if A is Random...and you get the answer ja, B is not random (neither is C, irrelevantly), and therefore B is either True or False."<br> <br> No matter which god A is, an answer of "da" assures that C isn't Random, and a response of "ja" means the same for B. </p><p> From here, it is a simple matter of asking whichever one you know isn't Random questions to determine if they are telling the truth, and then one on who the last god is. Boolos suggests starting with "Does da mean yes if, and only if, Rome is in Italy?" Since one part of this is accurate, we know that True will say "da," and False will say "ja," if faced with this question. </p><p> After that, you can ask the same god something like, "Does da mean yes if, and only if, A is Random?" and know exactly who is who by how they answer and the process of elimination. </p><p> If you're confused about how this works, try going over it again slowly. Remember that the essential parts are knowing what the answer will be if two positives or two negatives always come out as a positive and that two of the gods can be relied on to act consistently. </p><p> Smullyan wrote several books with other logic puzzles in them. If you liked this one and would like to learn more about the philosophical issues they investigate, or perhaps if you'd like to try a few that are a little easier to solve, you should consider reading them. A few of his puzzles can be found with explanations in this <a href="https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2017/02/11/obituaries/smullyan-logic-puzzles.html" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">interactive</a>. </p>
But most city dwellers weren't seeing the science — they were seeing something out of Blade Runner.
On Sept. 9, many West Coast residents looked out their windows and witnessed a post-apocalyptic landscape: silhouetted cars, buildings and people bathed in an overpowering orange light that looked like a jacked-up sunset.