Waldlaw Blog

Friday, October 29, 2010

How 'Bout Them Giants?!

I admit it -- I'm a baseball fan. There are few things I'd rather do, on a summer afternoon or evening, than go to a baseball game.

I am having A LOT of fun with this postseason, as my team wins first the division series, then the league championship, and now is up 2-0 in the World Series. I'm sure that it's exciting having your team in the World Series no matter where you live. But San Francisco really knows how to celebrate, and San Francisco has really embraced this band of colorful characters known as the Giants. They are so ... well, so San Francisco! From the seamless blend of Spanish and English heard on the field and in the clubhouse, to the red rally thong and the beards that have sprouted on every single relief pitcher's face, this band of boys (and many of them really are more boys than men -- our oldest starting pitcher is 27!) has won the hearts of San Franciscans young and old.

The San Francisco Giants show their appreciation for this city in so many ways. There are ball games dedicated to the celebration of every cultural aspect of this city: Filipino Day, Latino Heritage Day, Lesbian & Gay Night, Marine Mammal Preservation Day, Halloween in July, and Dog Days at the Ballpark when the bleachers are opened up to people for whom a baseball game just wouldn't be complete without the company of their canine best friends. There is a Jerry Garcia Tribute Night, in honor of the Greatful Dead's legacy to our City by the Bay. The Negro League is honored every single day the ball park is open, with a stand full of Negro League memorabilia -- including baseball cards, t-shirts, etc -- that has proved both educational and fascinating to my sons.

In return, San Francisco is showing our appreciation for our Giants in abundance right now, with many of the historic San Francisco buildings lit up orange at night. Driving across the Bay Bridge night-before-last, I was stunned and delighted to see Coit Tower glowing orange from top to bottom. Since I was driving, I couldn't take a picture. But last night we were at an event across the street from City Hall, and I couldn't resist this shot:
It's an exciting moment to be in San Francisco. As our team flies to Texas for games 3, 4 and -- if necessary -- 5, the jubilance can be felt all over our city, on the street cars and in the shops and on the sidewalks. If you aren't too far away, it's worth coming for a visit -- especially in the evening, when the whole city seems to be glowing orange. And if you can't come by, well, cheer for us from wherever you are. It's been a rough few years in California, and we are savoring this happy moment.

Go Giants!!

Friday, October 08, 2010

The Times They Are A'Changin'

Remember Anita Bryant? The woman who led public campaigns featuring Florida orange juice and raging homophobia, her very own special Mimosa? In 1977, she was given credit for the successful repeal of an equal rights ordinance that had been passed by Miami/Dade County, and Florida has never been the same. Almost 30 years later, in 2004, the United States Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit found Florida's ban on adoptions by lesbians and gay men constitutional -- a ban that allowed children to be placed in foster care with fit lesbians and gay men, but denied these same children the permanency of adoptions by the people who had taken them in in their moments of need. Florida has never fully shaken off the enduring image of Anita Bryant.

If you go to the website of the Florida Department of Children and Families, and look at their FAQ on who can adopt, you will find the following: "There is no one description of people who can be prospective adoptive parents. If you have the ability to love a child, to provide the basics and to make a lifelong commitment, you can be an adoptive parent. A few things will prevent you from becoming an adoptive parent, such as certain felony criminal records. Section 63.042(3), Florida Statutes, states that 'no person eligible to adopt under this statute may adopt if that person is a homosexual.'" Great. Felons and homosexuals.

So it was with an overpowering sense of turning tides that I read the letter from the State of Florida Department of Children and Families to its Regional Directors that came across my desktop last week. The "subject" of the letter is "Third District Court of Appeal ruling on the state's ban on adoption by homosexuals as unconstitutional." Then, "Action Required": "Discontinue asking potential adoptive parents their sexual orientation and update necessary forms deleting any reference to potential adoptive parents' sexual orientation. DATE DUE: Effective immediately."


It gets better. As I skimmed down the memo, I came to the section headed "ACTION REQUIRED." It is too good to paraphrase, so I'm quoting: "Effective immediately, staff will discontinue asking prospective adoptive parents their sexual orientation including questioning whether they are heterosexual, homosexual, gay or lesbian. Staff should be instructed not to use this information as a factor in determining the suitability of applicants to adopt and should focus his/her attention on the quality of parenting that prospective adoptive parents would provide, and their commitment to and love for our children."

What a concept -- to focus, in an investigation of suitability to adopt, on quality of parenting and commitment to the children, rather than on sexual orientation. It seems so obvious. But it has taken until now -- over 30 years after Anita Bryant's campaign -- for Florida to get there, and it is a big deal, given the particularly public history of anti-gay activity in that state.

Hopefully, in this regard anyway, as Florida goes, so goes the Nation....