June 14th, 2007

submarine insignia, dolphins

This date in history

Today has a couple of bits of historical significance.

On the one hand, it's Flag Day, celebrating the 230th anniversary of the Continental Congress's approving the Stars and Stripes as the national flag:
Resolved, that the Flag of the thirteen United States shall be thirteen stripes, alternate red and white; that the Union be thirteen stars, white on a blue field, representing a new constellation.
Remarkably, the current fifty-star flag is less than a year older than I am, having been put in place on July 4, 1960, following Hawaii's statehood the previous August.

On a more personal note, though, today is the 25th anniversary of my flying out to Recruit Training Center Great Lakes for eight weeks of boot camp "fun", which was followed by six years and change of other Fine Navy Days. Somehow, I ended up as the man-in-charge of ten other recruits flying out of Logan that morning. I had a few nervous moments when several of the other recruits figured that this was the last chance for two months to wet their whistles, so they hit the airport bars running. Luckily for me, nobody missed the flight, and nobody missed the bus at O'Hare, so my first "leadership" mission was successfully accomplished. The next morning, at zero-dark-thirty, we got the traditional Flying Trash Barrel wakeup call ...

Looking back, joining the service was definitely the right thing to do at the time. Had I stayed in, I'd be either a master chief petty officer, a chief warrant officer, or (most likely) a mid-grade officer by now. However, that would have required some things to have gone rather differently; as it turned out, leaving the service after just shy of seven years was also the right thing to do at the time.
vote at your own risk

History made today

The effort to ban gay marriages in Massachusetts has been soundly defeated in the Legislature. From boston.com:
A proposed constitutional ban on same-sex marriage was swiftly defeated today by a joint session of the Legislature by a vote of 45 to 151, eliminating any chance of getting it on the ballot in November 2008. The measure needed at least 50 votes to advance.

The vote came without debate after House Speaker Salvatore F. DiMasi, Senate President Therese Murray, and Governor Deval Patrick conferred this morning and concluded that they have the votes to kill the proposal. Cheers echoed in the State House when the vote was tallied.

"In Massachusetts today, the freedom to marry is secure," Patrick told reporters after the results were official.

The three leaders - along with gay rights activists - spent the last several days intensely lobbying a dozen or more state representatives and state senators who had previously supported the amendment but signaled that they were open to changing their positions.

Because fewer than 50 of the state's 200 lawmakers supported the amendment, it will not appear on the 2008 ballot, giving gay marriage advocates a major victory in their battle with social conservatives to keep same-sex marriage legal in Massachusetts.

Opponents of gay marriage face an increasingly tough battle to win legislative approval of any future petitions to appear on a statewide ballot. The next election available to them is 2012.
Frankly, I suspect that the amendment would have lost at the polls if it had gotten on the ballot; gay marriage has been legal here for three years and the world has signally failed to end. Today, however, the Legislature did its job and kept a very bad proposal off the ballot. Congratulations to the Great and General Court, as well as to my married friends, fellow church members and neighbors.