The Two Way Street

Politics for a New Generation


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A Letter To My Own Saint Nick

Dear Dad,

This christmas present isn’t a tie, or new socks, or a cotton hawaiian shirt. I’m sure Mom will get you those. No mix CDs, mediocre artwork, or strange foods that I totalled the kitchen making. I wish I could get you some shiny new plaything, but those are more than a babysitter’s salary will afford, and besides, you get those for yourself (how are you enjoying your new iPhone 4s?). Instead, this is a gift that, I hope, you’ll appreciate more, a gift only I can give: my gratitude.

So this is a letter to the jolly, white-bearded man with a round belly in my life. You make the magic of Christmas happen, with the theatrical way in which you give presents. You taught me how to build a warm fire (all santas know something about fireplaces), and be it the Daily Show or a comic clipped from the New Yorker, you’ve introduced me to the funniest things in my life.

You’ve taught me to appreciate music, fine cinema (sometimes), and good television production. You shuttle me back and fourth from WMAR on the weekends, and you’re the only family member with whom I can discuss the standby cue for the pre-taped on-set interview and the annoyance of typos in lower third chyrons. You do more than the job of a Dad, not only telling me, “good job, sweetie,” but also describing how I can better my performance by making my writing more conversational, reading the prompter more carefully, and for God’s sake– ironing my shirt. Where as my friends’ dads cheer them on at lacrosse tournaments, I can feel you cheering for me as I write, record, and tape my package, as I work my way towards being a better writer, producer, and on-camera talent. And I know you’ll keep cheering, when I get my first real job in the business, when I move station to station, and every new thing I do. I can see you getting up to watch me on the five AM news, and staying up to see me at eleven PM. You’re my biggest, and most loyal fan.

And when times get tough, when I need you to be there for me, to watch over me, to take care of me, you’re there too. I don’t always have to be the flawless television personality with you. You’re there to pull me out of danger, to save me from everything, be it a bad teacher or a bad neighborhood. You give great hugs too.

I don’t have anything nice to give you, just this letter, telling you things I should have been telling you all along. Thanks for being there, Dad, the magical, invincible, special man you are, my Saint Nick. Santa Claus doesn’t live on the north pole, he lives right here, in Baltimore. On this, my sixteenth Christmas, I’ve figured out that Santa doesn’t come down chimneys, or have a sleigh drawn by eight reindeer and rudolph, but instead, his reindeer is a fat gray cat named Jasper, and he doesn’t have to come down the chimney– he lives with us, among us, Dad. Thanks for everything you do for me.

Love,

Julia

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Laws on Love: Why Prohibiting Gay Marriage is Unconstitutional

There are only two reasons to outlaw gay marriage. The first is homophobia. People are irrationally afraid that allowing same sex marriage would somehow force them to get one, or  that they will somehow be forced to tell their kids that their LGTBQ peers are equal, an idea most people over  30 are unwilling to acknowledge. Not only that, but they’re afraid that they will come out on the wrong side of history, but, rather than admit their wrongs, they are covering them further, to end up on the right side of civil rights. Preachers are worried that they will be forced to perform gay marriages, which are “against their religion,” which, even though they have legal rights to disallow anything within their institution. Widespread fear of people who are different is an epidemic in this nation. Homophobia is not a legal reason to block gay marriage.

The only other reason given for interdicting same-sex marriage is the religious belief that being gay is wrong. However, this is not a legal reason either. The first amendment of our constitution says that, “congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.” Passing a ban because of religion is itself “respecting an establishment of religion,” ergo, that reason is unconstitutional.

Did you know that three times as many states allow marriage between first cousins as allow gay marriage? Not only are gay couples not allowed to marry, but in states without same-sex marriage protections, nor are lovers with a transgender in the pair, even those with gender-reassignment surgery. Imagine not being allowed to marry someone, ever. Imagine being turned away at a hospital when the person you love is dying, just because you were not allowed to marry. While civil unions take away some of this pain, the idea is the equivalent of separate but equal, and the concept of re-naming marriage is invalidating and degrading to all those gay couples out there, basically telling them that their love isn’t real. Poets from Shakespeare to Dickinson have proclaimed that love knows no law. So then, how can we excuse attempts to regulate it?