If you believe the stuff about life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness — and the other stuff about the wisdom of separating church and state — then you will defend to the death the right of religious institutions to discriminate against people like me, and predict our eternal damnation, even as you will also defend to the death our right to the same civil protections and responsibilities as anyone else.

Yesterday, as you doubtless saw, the President joined Laura Bush, Dick Cheney, Cindy McCain, Meghan McCain, and Steve Schmidt, among others (Steve Schmidt was McCain’s campaign manager, singularly focused on defeating Obama), in supporting marriage equality.

He did it respectfully and in wonderfully human terms — as I knew he would, once he decided to do it.

Each time we act to advance the rights of our citizens — be it freeing slaves, enfranchising women, allowing gays to visit their loved ones in the hospital, or anything else that moves us closer to equal rights — we perfect our union.

So yesterday was a good day.

We have much bigger challenges than marriage equality, but most of them require making someone unhappy — whether it’s the wealthy, because we raise their taxes, or the indigent, because we cut their safety net; whether it’s the coal companies, because we restrict their strip mining, or the environmentalists, because we don’t.   This gay marriage thing is not be as important as getting the economy back on track or our species on a sustainable path, but it has the virtue of being easy.  Letting two devoted people assume responsibility for each other, love each other, pursue their happiness, has no downside.

FANTASY POLITICS

Full disclosure:  I have never played fantasy baseball or fantasy football.  Further full disclosure: I am a small investor in the just-now-launching Fantasy Politics.  And already I’m confused, because at least for now (because it’s still in beta?) the site is a “.co/” instead of a “.com.”  Does this mean it’s a Colombian company?  Congolese?  Cote d’Ivoire?  It’s too late at night to call the CEO and ask; I’m sure all will be revealed with time.

Here‘s what USA Today had to say about the venture recently.

Your political beliefs aside, would you trade Newt Gingrich and Rick Perry for Rick Santorum and Ron Paul? Millions of people play fantasy sports. So it was probably inevitable that a start-up would push fantasy politics, especially during the season in which the presidential primaries are in full swing. The start-up is appropriately called Fantasy Politics, and the company chose the Launch conference in San Francisco to unveil an online game for political junkies, coming in a week or two.

Like a fantasy sports site, you get to draft a team of real life national politicians and pundits (Jon Stewart, Rush Limbaugh, etc.), make trades, and add or drop pols that fall in or out of favor. Each member of your team has a card just like a baseball card. The people behind the company come from across the political spectrum. An adviser, Aaron McLear, was press secretary for former California governor Arnold Schwarzenegger.

If you’re a Republican you might be reluctant to draft a team of left-leaning politicians; Democrats would feel the same about acquiring GOP politicians. But CEO Aaron Michel compares the game to a Washington Redskins fan playing fantasy football who despite his gridiron loyalties would still happily draft star New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady.

In fantasy football, you measure results by passing and rushing yards, touchdowns scored and other statistics. The metrics aren’t as clear-cut in politics, of course, an arena whereby the ultimate winners are chosen in the voting booth.

Fantasy Politics says it has developed a power score between 0 and 100 that measures “political momentum,” based on 30 different characteristics—polling numbers, campaign funding, Twitter followers, Facebook friends, predictions at Intrade, data from OpenSecrets.org and so on. Intrade, OpenSecrets and Rock The Vote are among the outfits partnering with Fantasy Politics.

Like many presidential hopefuls, Fantasy Politics would seem to face long odds. Though many political die-hards read partisan blogs and watch favorite cable channels, the Super Bowl of politics, a U.S. presidential election, only takes place once every four years. But even in off-year election cycles, Michel thinks Fantasy Politics will remain relevant as an educational tool and way to keep folks engaged in the political process. Says Michel, “More people voted in 2008 than watched this year’s Super Bowl yet there is no online gaming experience that matches the billion fantasy sports market played by over 30 million Americans.”

If you’re an early adopter, go take a look.  Suggestions welcome.

 

 

 

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