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Wednesday, May 27, 2015

My Sad Tale of Being a Chicago Cubs Fan

Wrigley Field

I grew up in a sports family [see “My Competitive Parents” at] and to this day watch a lot of sports [“On Being a Gay Sports Fan” at].  When I was newly out of law school and in my mid-twenties I moved to Chicago and, in my spare time, often went out to Wrigley Field to see the Chicago Cubs play.  This was a great time for watching a fabled group of Cubs: third baseman Ron Santo, first baseman Ernie Banks, pitcher Ferguson Jenkins, outfielder Billy Williams, and the manager Leo Durocher.  Wrigley Field was and is a wonderful ball park, and its fans in attendance are magical, always joining in lustily at the 7th inning stretch for the singing of “Take Me Out to the Ball Game.”  Though the Cubbies failed to make the World Series either of the two years (1968, 1969) that I attended their games with some regularity, the upshot of this was that, though I moved away from the city, I became a devoted Chicago Cubs fan for life.

That was a mistake, and it’s one that many people have made to their regret.  I’ve written about this tragedy before [] and this post is an upgrade of that one.

Sports aficionados among my readers will know that the Chicago Cubs last won the World Series in 1908, a longer championship drought than that of any other major North American professional sports team.  Known as the "Loveable Losers," they've routinely disappointed their fans ever since.  When I say “disappointed” I mean “driven near to madness.”  The Cubs have often had promising seasons and then bizarre things go wrong, including a famous moment in 2003 when a fan leaned out from the stands and caught a ball that would have been an out sending the Cubs to the World Series.  For this infamous act he had to be escorted from the stadium under police protection [see]. 

Steve Bartman Catches a Ball and Becomes a Villain

The Cubs supposedly struggle under “the curse of the goat,” stemming from an incident in a World Series game being played at Wrigley Field in 1945 when a fan named Billy Sianis was ejected from the game because his pet goat was annoying others in the stands.  He supposedly sent a telegram to the Cubs’ owner stating “You are going to lose this World Series and you are never going to win another World Series again. You are never going to win a World Series again because you insulted my goat.”  The truth of all this has been disputed, but the effectiveness of the curse has held.  I don’t believe in superstitions [see], but if others do they can have a depressing effect on morale.  Damn that goat!


In 2007 and 2008 the Cubs had wonderful baseball seasons (having the best record in all of baseball in 2007 as the regular season closed), but as soon as the playoffs started, the Cubs were immediately eliminated (sigh), in both cases in the first four games.  Those two seasons were too much for me—the Cubs had broken my heart too many times after I’d spent the spring and summer watching game after game.  I vowed to never view a game again until the Cubs had a winning record going, and that pledge has keep me Cubs-free for seven years.  But (another sigh) this year the Cubs have been doing very well, and so I’m back in front of my TV, learning the names of the new players on the 2015 team and watching them with the enthusiasm of old. 

This season the Cubs have filled their roster with very young athletes, talented both at the bat and on the field.  The pitching has been impressive, and the Cubs have one of the best records in major league baseball so far this season.  Their new coach is Joe Maddon, hired away at great expense from Tampa Bay where he was twice the American League Coach of the Year.  Last night I watched in delight as the Cubs won a game at Wrigley Field in the bottom of the ninth inning against the Washington Nationals, the team currently leading the Central Division of the National League.  My sleeping neighbors heard my cheer, not to mention my sports-challenged husband (who thinks I’m nuts).  I’m once again bedazzled by the game and my beloved Cubbies.

But deep in my inner-Douglas I dread what will likely happen just as it’s happened before.  The Cubs will build up my hopes and then in the fall leave me wallowing in a puddle of misery, crying in my martini while muttering a string of interesting vile words I first learned in my Navy days.  I know too well what Linus experiences in his pumpkin patch each year as he vainly waits for the Great Pumpkin to appear.

If you're a Cubs fan, people (even usually nice people) will make fun of you.  I sometimes play poker with a group of lawyers (most of them former students) and when baseball season rolls around, I steel myself for the inevitable Cubs jokes.  Being Ohioans, they mostly root for the Cincinnati Reds or the Cleveland Indians, hardly exemplars of baseball renown, and it's doubly depressing to have them snub the Cubs. 

A couple of years ago, Free Inquiry, the magazine of Secular Humanist Society, had an article in which one of the questions addressed was whether atheists should proselytize their lack of faith.  The author (with whom I disagree) decided the answer was no.  He ruefully concluded that some people should be “left with their illusions” undisturbed, like "entrepreneurs, lovers, and Chicago Cubs fans."  That hurt.

But as one baseball announcer commented during a recent game, maybe this will be the Cubbies’ year because “any team can have a bad century!”

That card goes well with Steve Goodman's "A Dying Cubs Fan's Last Request," which I didn't know about until fellow baseball fan and former student David Groshoff sent me the following.  The video of the song is terrific:

"Perhaps the life of the Cubs fan was best lyrically summed up in 1984 by two-time Grammy award winner and Cubs fan Steve Goodman, who wrote the tune only months before his untimely death to Leukemia (he also wrote "Good Morning America"/"City of New Orleans" among many "real" songs). Goodman was to have sung the national anthem before Game 1 of the Playoffs that year, but passed away a few days earlier, so Jimmy Buffet took Goodman's spot, and the "Go Cubs Go" that is played after every Cubs' win was written by Goodman as well:"

Related Posts:

“Put-Out at Home Plate,” February 14, 2010;  

 “Football Advice for Coach Jim Tressel,” October 23, 2010;
Basketball and Its Announcers,” March 6, 2011;
“Urban Meyer and the Christian Buckeye Football Team,” February 19, 2012;
“Update: Urban Meyer and the NON-Christian Buckeye Football Team,” August 24, 2012;
A Guide to the Best of My Blog, April 29, 2013;

Monday, May 18, 2015

The Joy of Writing This Blog

I had a heart transplant right before Thanksgiving in 2009 [see], and, as required by law whenever anyone has had such a life-altering experience, I promptly started a blog.  In the beginning I published two or more posts a week, but that was easy to do then because I had lots of topics at my disposal.  I’ve been given an interesting life (law professor, gay rights activist, former Catholic but now atheist, four long term relationships with both men and a woman (two of them marriages), father, owner of pets, novelist, tournament bridge player, and much more, and these things were the fodder for those posts.  But as the years went on I’ve mostly exhausted the stories from my earlier life and discussions of the philosophy by which I live, and the postings have trailed off in number quite a bit.  In recent years I’ve averaged two posts a month, the decline being not one of interest but of wanting to make sure that the posts weren’t fluff, or forced, or things not worth reading lest I lose my readers.  Fortunately life keeps feeding me topics (or my readers suggest them—after I posted a popular one about “How To Write an Effective Legal Threat Letter,”, a reader in a Comment begged for “How To Respond to a Legal Threat Letter,” so I complied,  The nightly news can send me to the computer with some new message buzzing around in my head: elections [], new acts of discrimination against gays [], etc.  But posts can also come from many sources such as getting married late in life [], publishing a new novel [] , sports [], and funny events in my life [].

The joy of writing this blog arises from a combination of things.  One of them is having a platform to vent about something that makes me furious—such as our politicians selling their souls for big money [], but there’s also a pleasure in explaining complicated things that I happen to understand: gay history, legal issues, or specials interests that I’ve had for years such as how the brain works []. There is also a satisfaction in recording stories about others that would fade away if not chronicled.  We all die and take with us (unless we’re famous and have biographers) not only our own stories but those of people we love.  I had two terrific parents, both fantastic: a father who could start life in a small Indiana town dreaming of being a lawyer, become a pilot in World War II, drop an atomic bomb in a test, go to law school late in life, become a prosecutor of the mafia in Dallas, and a mother who would leave southern Indiana to marry the man of her dreams and live all over the world, bowl the highest score (270, rolling seven strikes in a row) that a woman ever bowled in Japan to that date, and have one of the most evil senses of humor on the planet []. Many stories about them, other members of my family, and friends are preserved here forever.  As long as Google lasts this blog will go on, sort of an unofficial autobiography.
My Parents' Wedding Picture (1941)
One regret is that I cannot tell some of the best stories I know on this blog because they’d embarrass others or reveal things that are too personal to tell.  Damn.  There are some great stories—really fascinating ones—that will, alas, die with me.  But those of you who know me and understand all too well what stories I’m referring to, and who are now recoiling horror as you read this, relax. Tempting though it is to tell all, I’ll keep those stories locked away.

My greatest joy comes from my readers.  Every night I look through “Recent Visitor Activity” and am amazed that my blog has been visited by a hundred or more people in countries all over the world.  To see what I mean click on the “View My Stats” under the “STAT COUNTER” in the upper left, and when that next screen appears, click on “Recent Visitor Activity.”  It will reveal all of my visitors.  The stats only go back for the last 50,000 visitors of the 350,000 visitors I’ve had since the blog began in December of 2009, but they reflect the diversity of those who read my posts—(mostly from the United States, of course, but over 25% from other countries, for a total of 201 countries so far).
[Click To Enlarge]
I can’t tell who is reading my blog, but I can tell from what city, state, and country they visited, and what blog pages (though not specific posts) they’ve read.  The most popular posts concern legal issues: the need for someone foreclosing on a home to produce the original promissory note [ ], what happens if someone cashes a check tendered as “payment in full” [], and the above-mentioned legal threat letter posts.  I’m pleased to think I might have had some helpful advice for those facing foreclosures, or disputes with a creditor, and I have some future posts planned to help consumers understand their legal rights.  Embarrassingly, some of my most popular posts have to do with sexual topics, but I decline here to give you those links.

Let me confess that the visitors who most make me feel good about the blog are men and women struggling with the issue of being gay in a straight world and facing, some for the first time, the big issues such as: how do I know if I’m gay [], can I change  [], will my parents disown me [], what does the bible say [], where does homosexuality come from [], how many homosexuals are there [], etc.  Because often readers visit some of these same posts over and over, I flatter myself in hoping that these posts might bring some needed light into a room filled with dark and scary questions.

And, best for my ego, are visitors who come back time and again.  Since the beginning of my blog certain readers have apparently read everything, and I’m amazed by that.  Some readers stumble across my blog and then proceed, over a period of time, to read all the posts.  In the first year there was someone in (I’m not making this up) Borneo(!) who did this, then someone in England, and, following that, a number of others.  Most recently someone in Mountain View, California, has not only read all the posts, but keeps revisiting favorite ones over and over.  Whoever you are, I love you.

To all my readers, many thanks for taking time out of your busy lives to visit mine.  I’ve written many law books (seven are used to teach commercial law and related subjects to law students throughout the country), law review articles, two novels, and much else.  But nothing I’ve written (and perhaps nothing I’ve done) is as important as the posts I’ve put on this blog.  They are the summation of my life and, as I said above, will outlive me.  That’s a thrill.
A Guide to the Best of My Blog, April 29, 2013;

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Oral Arguments on Gay Marriage in the Supreme Court: What Was and What Wasn’t Said


Today the United States Supreme Court heard 150 minutes (60 minutes is the usual amount) of oral arguments in Obergefell v. Hodges, the appeal from the Sixth Circuit’s decision that upheld the right of the States of Ohio, Michigan, Tennessee, and Kentucky to ban gay marriages.  For my discussion of that decision see  The Court divided the oral arguments into two parts: 90 minutes on the question of whether the 14th Amendment of the Constitution (equal protection, due process of the laws) requires the states to recognize gay marriages, and 60 minutes on whether gay marriages validly entered into in states recognizing such marriages (like my husband and my marriage in New York two years ago) must be honored in states that do not (like Ohio, where we live).  A bit of terminology: since those in favor of gay marriage lost in the court below they are “petitioners” in the Supreme Court, while the States that won below are the “respondents.”  I listened to the arguments on the internet (audio only—they are not, so far, being televised or even videotaped for posterity).

Justice Kennedy
As I’ve explained before—see—the most powerful judge in the world is Supreme Court’s Justice Anthony Kennedy.  There are four liberal Justices and four conservatives, and that places Justice Kennedy in the middle as the swing vote.  He has been very, very good in gay rights cases, authoring the three famous opinions protecting gays: Lawrence v. Texas (striking down all sodomy laws as unconstitutional), Romer v. Evans (striking down a Colorado constitutional amendment that took away gay rights), and, in 2013, Windsor v. United States (making the federal government recognize gay marriages).  So today all of the lawyers who stepped up to the lectern to make their arguments, while of course deferential to the other members of the Court, were really only talking to Anthony Kennedy (and paying attention to not only what he said but also every twitch in his face).

Chief Justice Roberts called for Obergefell v. Hodges to begin, but not far into petitioner’s opening argument a protestor stood up in the courtroom and loudly began yelling that those who engage in homosexuality will “burn in hell for all eternity.”  As he was led screaming from the room, Justice Scalia impishly remarked that the protest “was rather refreshing actually.”

When the petitioner’s attorney began she was almost immediately brought up against a statement from Justice Kennedy that what bothered him most was that the definition of “marriage” had been the same—one man, one woman—for millennia, and then he paused to emphasize “millennia!” and that changing it so quickly was perhaps hasty, and maybe “too little time” had passed before this gay marriage experiment was made a constitutional requirement.  Yikes!  Then Justice Steven Breyer, one of the liberals, chimed in with "[S]uddenly, you want nine people outside the ballot box to require states, that don't want to do it, to change . . . what marriage is to include gay people. Why cannot those states at least wait and see whether in fact doing so in the other states is or is not harmful to marriage?Double Yikes!  I listened, stunned but hoping that they were just putting this on the table so it could be discredited early and the harms the gay marriage ban was doing to real people now would carry the day. 

 The respondent’s attorney argued that marriage was meant to protect “procreation” and since gays can’t procreate it was “rational” for states to exclude them from being granted a state-sanctioned marriage.  This was a muddled justification that was hard to say with a solemn expression, and the attorney predictably had a rough time of it.

The second part of the session focused on whether the Constitution requires states to recognize gay marriages validly entered into in other states, an issue the Court would get to only if it first upheld gay marriage bans as argued in the earlier part of the session.  This new issue was harder for the respondents to win since states almost always recognize marriages in other states, but here they argued that a strong public policy in favor of procreation protection (the same argument from the first part) not only justified banning gay marriages but keeping out foreign ones.  There was a confusing discussion of Article 4 of the U.S. Constitution (which requires the states to give “full faith and credit . . . to the acts, records, and judicial proceedings of every other state”), but no one, neither the attorneys nor the members of the Court seemed to have much grasp of the history of the Article nor its judicial treatment in the courts (which amazed me, because I’ve explored the issue and was embarrassed that obvious arguments on both sides were missed).  The petitioners made points by detailing the plight of some of the actual plaintiffs in this appeal.  For example, a gay couple was married in California, one husband gave up his job to be the primary caregiver for their adopted children, and when the couple and their children had to move to Tennessee because the working spouse was transferred there, suddenly they were no longer married in the new state, and had major problems with who could make medical decisions for the children in emergency situations.  To this the respondent’s attorney pointed out that if the Court decided states could constitutionally ban gay marriages, then making them recognize those from other states would, effectively, fill their state with gays married in those states, and the ban would be useless.  He concluded by pointing out that states that have stuck with traditional marriage have not changed, have not done anything except keep the status quo, and are then being punished by being forced to agree with experiments in other states with which they do not approve.  


With that the Chief Justice announced the case was “submitted,” and the argument ended.  Now what?

Well, the Court will now meet and talk about the case and vote.  The senior justice on each side will assign the writing of the opinions (the majority and the dissent), and the writers will get to work producing drafts that the others will sign off on.  The Court must hand down its decision by the end of June when the Court’s 2014 session is over.  My guess is that they will delay until the last day and then throw the opinion from the door of the airplane that they all board as they head off on vacation.

What bothered me most about the arguments were the things that were not discussed but which were on everyone’s minds. 

The first of these is the messes that will erupt no matter what the Court does.  If the Court decides, as many people including me have predicted, that it is unconstitutional to ban gay marriages, there will be a mini-version of the chaos that swept the country when the Court in 1954 handed down Brown v. Board of Education, requiring that blacks be given the same rights as whites.  There were riots and refusals to obey and troops had to be sent into schools to enforce the Court’s decision.  This won’t be that bad, but it also won’t be just a one-off event.

If the Court decides that the states win and gay marriage bans are constitutional there are major problems with that too.  First of all the Court knows—we all know—that the day will come in the future when the Court will have to change its mind, just as Brown overruled Plessy v. Ferguson (1896) (racial segregation allowed, and blacks to be “separate but equal”), or, more recently, Lawrence v. Texas (2003) (sodomy statutes unconstitutional) overruled Bowers v. Hardwick (1986) (constitutional for Georgia to have a criminal statute making private gay sex a felony).  So deciding in 2015 not to declare these anti-gay statutes unconstitutional just kicks the can down the road, leaving thousands (millions?) of gays and their families to suffer on the journey down that road.

Even more immediately troubling is the effect on the many lower court federal decisions in the past two years that state gay marriage bans were unconstitutional, allowing thousands of gays to get married in those states.  Are those marriages now invalid?  Are the statutes that were declared unconstitutional now permissible?  Must they be reenacted?   Must there be new lawsuits to determine this issue in each of those jurisdictions?  In the meantime can gays still get married there?  Who the hell knows?  To use clich├ęs: you can’t unring that bell, you can’t unscramble those eggs.

But the chief thing is that not a single person—lawyers, judges, those who wrote the briefs, the journalists—has pointed out the real issue in this case.  It’s a simple fact, demonstrated by the protester in the Court, that many people in this country hate gays.  Their bible tells them that gays are an abomination and their guts tell them that what gays do in bed is repellant and should certainly not be enshrined in the United States Constitution as a right to be forced down the throats of God’s clean people.  That issue needs to be front and center and addressed.

I have gay friends who find the idea of heterosexual sex to be repellant.  One gay man, a law professor, gets ill at the thought of having to touch a naked woman.  A lesbian friend has a similar reaction to the idea of a male penis being thrust into a woman’s body.  If these gay people were in the majority would their revulsion be a sufficient justification for banning straight sex?  Perhaps the best solution is that we should all studiously avoid thinking about what other people do in bed—that way, as King Lear observed, lies madness.

It might be tempting for the Court to just affirm the status quo and let gay marriage bans stand.  But it was pointed out to the Court, and rightly so, that being “neutral” has major real life consequences for innocent people who only want to marry and have their families protected.  When I took a course in Jurisprudence (legal philosophy) in law school one of the things that was emphasized was that a decision not to act is in fact a decision to act.  It rules in favor of one side and the other side is out in the cold with no legal protection at all. 
So, as my mother used to say, just "hold your thumbs and hope for the best" between now and the first of July.

“A Guide to the Best of My Blog,” April 29, 2013;