When America was great

Donald Trump’s campaign slogan is “Make America great again”. Apparently, he thinks the country is not in good shape and needs to be as great as it once was. As of this writing, I’ve seen no explanation from Trump detailing the ways in which the country is doing poorly, when the US was last great, nor what exactly it would take to return the country to the glorious heights he longs for. But then Trump isn’t one to explain the logic of his opinions (if there is any logic to them in the first place). I recently found myself thinking “Self, if Trump wants to make this country great again, he clearly envisions some point in the past as an era when the United States was great. Soooooo, when exactly was the United States great?” After the jump, I explore some possibilities.

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When America was great
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I'm of two minds

I’ve been an atheist for roughly 20 years. As a child, I didn’t grow up in a particularly religious household. My parents believed (and still do) in the god of the bible, but their belief wasn’t attached to any particular denomination. Unlike other families, we didn’t attend church services*. I wasn’t part of any church groups. We didn’t read bible verses at home. Heck, I don’t recall ever seeing a bible in the house (though I’m sure there was at least one). From what I recall (my memory regarding finer details is spotty the further I go back) god was not a subject that was often discussed at home. During the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays, we sat at the table and said grace, thanking god for giving us the food we were about to eat and praying that he’d ensure our continued health and happiness, but that was about it. This was par for the course for pretty much my entire childhood. As a teenager, I had some vague belief in god. If someone had asked me, I’d have said “yes, I believe in god”, but more than that? There wasn’t anything more than that. When I got to college, that ill-defined belief in a deity was challenged once I took Philosophy 101 and 202. It was in those classes that I began to explore morality and ethics. Questioning the morality of an a particular act led me down the path to atheism. Just as importantly, in those classes, I was exposed to other religions and learned that humans have created gods for thousands of years. By the time I’d taken my break from college in my sophomore year, I was an atheist. I realized that humans had been creating deities for a very long time and those gods so often served to explain aspects of the world we couldn’t explain. That bright flashing light in the sky when it rains? No idea what that was. Nor any idea where the rain came from. But chalk it up to Jupitor or Thor and you have an “explanation”. Does something happen to us after we die? No idea, but Hel and Valhalla provide an “answer”. As I began to learn about the similarities between religions, I began to think that if those were all invented, there’s no reason Christianity couldn’t have been invented either. Plus, the modern Christians had no more evidence to support the existence of their god than the ancient Greeks had to support the assertion that their gods existed. That was the primary reason I rejected a belief in any god or gods (there were other, slightly less important reasons, such as the problem of evil and my growing belief that there was nothing wrong with me or anyone else being gay-contrary to many religious teachings). I say all of this bc my lack of a belief in any higher power(s) had (and has) fuck-all to do with having faith. And that’s why I have a hard time understanding the perspective of Ijeoma Oluo, an atheist who recently wrote an article for the Guardian titled ‘My atheism does not make me superior to believers. It’s a leap of faith too

Continue reading “I'm of two minds”

I'm of two minds

I’m of two minds

I’ve been an atheist for roughly 20 years. As a child, I didn’t grow up in a particularly religious household. My parents believed (and still do) in the god of the bible, but their belief wasn’t attached to any particular denomination. Unlike other families, we didn’t attend church services*. I wasn’t part of any church groups. We didn’t read bible verses at home. Heck, I don’t recall ever seeing a bible in the house (though I’m sure there was at least one). From what I recall (my memory regarding finer details is spotty the further I go back) god was not a subject that was often discussed at home. During the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays, we sat at the table and said grace, thanking god for giving us the food we were about to eat and praying that he’d ensure our continued health and happiness, but that was about it. This was par for the course for pretty much my entire childhood. As a teenager, I had some vague belief in god. If someone had asked me, I’d have said “yes, I believe in god”, but more than that? There wasn’t anything more than that. When I got to college, that ill-defined belief in a deity was challenged once I took Philosophy 101 and 202. It was in those classes that I began to explore morality and ethics. Questioning the morality of an a particular act led me down the path to atheism. Just as importantly, in those classes, I was exposed to other religions and learned that humans have created gods for thousands of years. By the time I’d taken my break from college in my sophomore year, I was an atheist. I realized that humans had been creating deities for a very long time and those gods so often served to explain aspects of the world we couldn’t explain. That bright flashing light in the sky when it rains? No idea what that was. Nor any idea where the rain came from. But chalk it up to Jupitor or Thor and you have an “explanation”. Does something happen to us after we die? No idea, but Hel and Valhalla provide an “answer”. As I began to learn about the similarities between religions, I began to think that if those were all invented, there’s no reason Christianity couldn’t have been invented either. Plus, the modern Christians had no more evidence to support the existence of their god than the ancient Greeks had to support the assertion that their gods existed. That was the primary reason I rejected a belief in any god or gods (there were other, slightly less important reasons, such as the problem of evil and my growing belief that there was nothing wrong with me or anyone else being gay-contrary to many religious teachings). I say all of this bc my lack of a belief in any higher power(s) had (and has) fuck-all to do with having faith. And that’s why I have a hard time understanding the perspective of Ijeoma Oluo, an atheist who recently wrote an article for the Guardian titled ‘My atheism does not make me superior to believers. It’s a leap of faith too

Continue reading “I’m of two minds”

I’m of two minds

Atheism, Humanism, and the Chapel Hill murders

Mohammad Abu-Salha was an artist.

Deah Shaddy Barakat worked to raise money to help Syrian refugees in Turkey to have access to dental care.

Yusor Mohammed was a bridge-builder, who sought to bring women in her community together, all while working on advancing her education.

Early today, their lives were taken in a horrific act of violence committed by this man, Craig Stephen Hicks:

Police said “an ongoing neighbor dispute over parking” might have been a factor in the shootings Tuesday evening but said they weren’t dismissing the possibility of a hate crime.

The victims — a newlywed couple and the bride’s younger sister — were shot in the head, sources told CNN affiliate WRAL.

Their families have said they believe the shootings were motivated by hate, and the suspect had threatened the three before, said family spokeswoman Linda Sarsour. The nature of the previous threats was unclear.

All three of the victims, Deah Barakat, 23, Yusor Abu-Salha, 21, and Razan Abu-Salha, 19, were Muslim. And given their religion and comments the alleged shooter apparently left on a Facebook page, many social media users wondered what role the victims’ faith may have played.

The 46-year-old suspect, Craig Stephen Hicks, has been charged with murder.

According to Hicks’ Facebook page, he was an atheist. Not only that, he was also an anti-theist. He didn’t just NOT believe in god. He was actively opposed to theism. In addition to that, he was quite likely an anti-Muslim bigot:

The father of two of three students shot to death in Chapel Hill on Tuesday says the shooting was a “hate crime” based on the Muslim identity of the victims.

Chapel Hill police said Wednesday morning that a dispute about parking in the neighborhood of rented condominiums near Meadowmont may have led Craig Stephen Hicks to shoot his neighbors, Deah Shaddy Barakat, 23, and his wife Yusor Mohammad Abu-Salha, 21, and Abu-Salha’s sister, Razan Mohammad Abu-Salha, 19, of Raleigh.

But the women’s father, Dr. Mohammad Abu-Salha, who has a psychiatry practice in Clayton, said regardless of the precise trigger Tuesday night, Hicks’ underlying animosity toward Barakat and Abu-Salha was based on their religion and culture. Abu-Salha said police told him Hicks shot the three inside their apartment.

“It was execution style, a bullet in every head,” Abu-Salha said Wednesday morning. “This was not a dispute over a parking space; this was a hate crime. This man had picked on my daughter and her husband a couple of times before, and he talked with them with his gun in his belt. And they were uncomfortable with him, but they did not know he would go this far.”

Abu-Salha said his daughter who lived next door to Hicks wore a Muslim head scarf and told her family a week ago that she had “a hateful neighbor.”

“Honest to God, she said, ‘He hates us for what we are and how we look,’” he said.

Barakat’s family held a press conference in Raleigh late Wednesday afternoon, urging people to celebrate the memories of their family members and urging authorities to treat their deaths as a hate crime.

While I accept that anger over parking spots may have played some role in his decision to kill three people, I don’t for a second believe it was the biggest motivating factor (unlike Richard the broken record Dawkins, who seems to think that repeating an assertion over and over makes it true). Absent any evidence that he suffered from a mental disorder, I’m also not going to attribute the murders to any hypothetical mental illness (unlike many people who are quick to label any action outside of normative behavior the result of a mental illness). Armchair internet psychiatric diagnoses help absolutely no one, and do nothing to advance our understanding of this horrible event. I think his anti-Muslim bigotry was the deciding factor here. And that worries me.

It worries me because there is a contingent of atheists in the online atheist/skeptical community who are anti-Muslim bigots. From pseudonymous online atheists to well-known non-believers like the asshole Sam Harris (who thinks you not only can, but should visually profile Muslims at airports; to the best of my knowledge he’s never explained how you can look at someone and determine they are Muslim, unless you’re assuming that Muslims all share certain physical characteristics, like say, skin color) and the repellent Pat Condell, anti-Muslim bigotry exists in the atheist community.

NOTE: I AM NOT SAYING, NOR WILL I SAY, THAT THE ATHEIST MOVEMENT HAS A GREATER PROBLEM WITH ANTI-MUSLIM BIGOTRY THAN ANY OTHER COMMUNITY.

I am saying that the atheist community has a problem with anti-Muslim bigotry (just as it has a problem with homophobia, transphobia, misogyny, and ableism). How could it not? The atheist community is made up of people. People who are members of societies across the planet. Within these societies, anti-Muslim messages are propagated and absorbed by people. Some of these people are Christians. Some are Jews. Some are Scientologists. And some of them are atheists. As an atheist, I am appalled at the thought of sharing a community with bigots. I strongly oppose sexism, misogyny, homophobia, transphobia, and anti-Muslim bigotry (often referred to as Islamophobia). I want no part of any of that shit. But I’m not going to abandon the atheist community nor the atheist movement and let the bigoted assholes have their way. The world is becoming more multicultural and more diverse, and these people are clinging to regressive, discriminatory, oppressive ideas and viewpoints. These ideas and views contribute to ongoing pain and suffering of human beings in the world, and I oppose that.

People who know me know that as an atheist, I do not believe in Yahweh, Allah, Vishnu, Quetzalcoatl, Zeus, Hermes, Herakles, Ares, Thor, Isis, Osiris, or any of the other thousands of gods humanity has created. I think that religion contributes more to pain and suffering in the world than it alleviates, and I think the world would be better off without religion (I don’t however, think that religion is the root cause of evil in the world).

People who know me also know that I embrace the values of Humanism, a worldview that stresses the value and goodness of human beings, seeks rational, evidence based solutions to alleviating human suffering, and does not rely on authoritarian dictates from human beings masquerading as laws from a deity.

As I said following the murders of the Charlie Hebdo staff, I don’t think members of a group are obligated to denounce the horrific actions committed by other members of that group. Muslims are under no obligation to denounce the actions of the Charlie Hebdo terrorists. Nor am I under any obligation to denounce the actions of the Chapel Hill murderer. Just because you and a murderous asshole are part of the same community, it does not therefore follow that you endorse or condone the actions of said murderous asshole.

THAT SAID:

I do denounce the actions of Craig Hicks and the underlying hate that IMO was a significant factor in his decision to murder three innocent people. I do this in part to refute the idea that atheists live lives free of morality. I’m sure there will be no shortage of theists proclaiming that this is evidence that atheists are without morality. In my case (and in the case of many, many, many people I know) this is not the case. I also do this to establish what I, as an atheist and a Humanist, stand for and believe in. Unlike theists who often claim that a Christian who commits an act of violence isn’t a real Christian (which is the No True Scotsman Fallacy), I will not deny Hicks’ atheism. He is an atheist. I am an atheist. Like Hicks, I am also an anti-theist. I am opposed to religion. Period. But that’s pretty much it for the similarities between the two of us and I think it comes down to worldviews. While we both are atheists and anti-theists, I am also a Humanist. I do not condone, nor do I endorse violence as a solution to anything, and I find violence is only justified in a limited number of circumstances (such as self-defense). Moreover, unlike Craig Hicks, I am not an anti-Muslim bigot. My worldview includes a respect for the lives of other human beings. In addition, because of my worldview, I want to see less violence, less suffering, and less destruction in the world, not more.

I wrote this post knowing that some people think atheists are all like Craig Hicks: immoral deviants who stand for nothing…who believe in nothing…who have no respect for human life and worship only themselves. Nothing could be further from the truth. My post, this post by Daz, this post by PZ Myers, this post by Aron Ra, this post by Heina Dadabhoy, this post by Greta Christina, this post by Dana Hunter, this post by Ed Brayton, this post by Ophelia Benson, this post from the bloggers of Atheist Experience, this post by Richard Carrier, this post by Hemant Mehta, and this post by Rebecca Watson put the lie to that. I’m sure in the coming days, more atheists who oppose violence as a means of achieving any end will speak up and condemn the actions of the Chapel Hill murderer.

* * * *

Update 1: Another atheist has eloquently spoken out against the actions of Craig Hicks. You ought to go read what Jason Thibeault has to say.

Update 2: T. Kirabo also has something to say about the Chapel Hill murders over at Notes From an Apostate. Sadaf Ali, over at The Burning Bush, shares her thoughts on the horrific murders.

Atheism, Humanism, and the Chapel Hill murders

What is Rich Lowry’s agenda?

In a New York Post article, Rich Lowry claims that the national conversation we’re having about race in the wake of Michael Brown’s death at the hands of former officer Darren Wilson is “based on lies”:

The “national conversation” about race and policing we’ve been having ever since Michael Brown was shot by Officer Darren Wilson in Ferguson, Mo., last summer has been based on lies.

The lie that Officer Wilson shot Brown while he had his hands up and was pleading “Don’t shoot.”

The lie that New York City policemen targeted Eric Garner for a violent arrest because he was black.

The lie, peddled especially by the progressive prince of New York City, Mayor de Blasio, that the police are racist.

These are the lies that fuel hatred for the police, because if the police routinely execute black men in cold blood and serve a thoroughly racist system, they deserve to be hated.

That “national conversation” that has been occurring since Ferguson?

It is not based on lies. Yes, there are facts that may be disputed in the specific case of Michael Brown’s EXTRAJUDICIAL death and denial of his rights as a human being and a U.S. citizen at the hands of former officer Darren Wilson. But the Black Lives Matter movement is about addressing the racial disparities in the criminal justice system. The movement is based on the very real experiences of black Americans. It’s based on the fact that black men are 21 times more likely to be shot and killed by police officers than white men. It’s based on the disproportionate presence of Black Americans in prison. It’s based on racist policies like Stop & Frisk. It’s based on the fact that law enforcement officers are just as prone to possessing implicit racial biases as anyone else which leads to them making snap judgments about People of Color that are often based on stereotypes:  

The first step in understanding how implicit racial bias works is to understand the general concept of implicit bias, which can shape the way we think about lots of different qualities: age, gender, nationality, even height.

You can think of it generally as  “thoughts about people you didn’t know you had.”

Two of the leading scholars in the field, Mahzarin Banaji and Anthony G. Greenwald, capture it well in the title of a book they wrote about the concept. It’s called “Blindspot: Hidden Biases of Good People

What do these “blind spots” look like, and how do they shape behavior?  Well, if you have a stereotype about Asian people that labels them as “foreign,” implicit bias means you might have trouble associating even Asian-American people with speaking fluent English or being American citizens. If you’ve picked up on cultural cues that women are homemakers, it means you might have a harder time connecting women to powerful roles in business despite your conscious belief in gender equality.

Implicit racial bias also means that many people think of African-Americans as prone to violence. Or less educated than Anglo-Americans. Or that African-Americans are mostly criminals. Or the thinking that leads to officers thinking that a Black suspect has a gun when they don’t have any reason to think so.

These biases are present in cops. In lawyers. In judges. In jurists. No matter their intentions, they are still human beings. No matter our desire to be fair and impartial, we humans have prejudices and the criminal justice system doesn’t currently have a means of weeding out or minimizing those biases so that all citizens are treated equally on the streets by police officers and given a chance at a fair hearing in the courtroom. These prejudices are one more thing that people are protesting against. They are one more example of the racial disparities in the U.S. criminal justice system that leads to People of Color being treated differently than white people.

And these disparities?  They did not spring into existence when Darren Wilson decided he had no recourse but to shoot and kill a black man he deemed demonic (no denial of Brown’s basic humanity there). Those disparities were long in existence and the death of Brown brought them to light once more.  National attention is shining on the ugliness of those disparities, which is necessary if we are to ever fix this fucked up system.

Lowry goes on to say:

His rote praise of the police notwithstanding, especially now that he is under so much political pressure after the murders of Officers Rafael Ramos and Wenjian Liu, Mayor de Blasio is deeply invested in this smear.

It is why he has made career anti-police agitator Al Sharpton practically deputy police commissioner.

Smear? It’s a smear to recognize that Black Americans are not treated fairly on the streets or in the courtroom?

Also, Al Sharpton is anti-police? Got a citation for that?  Not a twisting of his words, but actual quotes where he demonstrates that he is anti-police.  Not quotes that call for a reform of law enforcement, but actual quotes where he demonstrates that he is anti-police. I wonder if they’ll be forthcoming.

It is why he considers the police a clear and present danger to his biracial son, Dante.

If it wasn’t already clear, Lowry demonstrates in this one sentence that he doesn’t understand the Black Lives Matter movement AT ALL. The reasons why Mayor de Blasio has talked to his son about police brutality are all over the country. We’re in the middle of having a national conversation about those reasons, remember? Is Lowry’s memory that poor?  I doubt it. What is more likely is that he doesn’t believe the claims of African-Americans across the country.  Or perhaps he simply doesn’t care about the experiences of Black people, which is entirely possible, scary though that may be. Either way, the end result is an article that attempts to undermine the entire Black Lives Matter Movement while not understanding the very reasons the movement exists.

Lowry also takes it as truth that people are lying about aspects of the Brown case. Given that many facts in the case are disputable, he has no reason to be as certain as he is that people are lying. How does he know that? How do we know these “lies” aren’t actual truths? I hope he’s not using Witness #40 as reason to believe people are lying, since she wasn’t even there to witness Wilson’s heartless murder of Brown. As I said above, there are facts that are disputable. Did Brown have his hands up was Wilson shot him? I don’t know. Was he pleading “don’t shoot”?I don’t know. I don’t know how the writer of this article knows either. But whether he was or not doesn’t change what the movement is about. By claiming that the entire Black Lives Matter movement is based on lies, the writer of this New York Post article dismisses the real experiences of countless people across the country. He also demonstrates that he doesn’t understand the complaints of African-Americans across the country as he sets up a massive strawman and sets about burning it to the ground.

I wonder what agenda Rich Lowry has.

What is Rich Lowry’s agenda?

What is Rich Lowry's agenda?

In a New York Post article, Rich Lowry claims that the national conversation we’re having about race in the wake of Michael Brown’s death at the hands of former officer Darren Wilson is “based on lies”:

The “national conversation” about race and policing we’ve been having ever since Michael Brown was shot by Officer Darren Wilson in Ferguson, Mo., last summer has been based on lies.

The lie that Officer Wilson shot Brown while he had his hands up and was pleading “Don’t shoot.”

The lie that New York City policemen targeted Eric Garner for a violent arrest because he was black.

The lie, peddled especially by the progressive prince of New York City, Mayor de Blasio, that the police are racist.

These are the lies that fuel hatred for the police, because if the police routinely execute black men in cold blood and serve a thoroughly racist system, they deserve to be hated.

That “national conversation” that has been occurring since Ferguson?

It is not based on lies. Yes, there are facts that may be disputed in the specific case of Michael Brown’s EXTRAJUDICIAL death and denial of his rights as a human being and a U.S. citizen at the hands of former officer Darren Wilson. But the Black Lives Matter movement is about addressing the racial disparities in the criminal justice system. The movement is based on the very real experiences of black Americans. It’s based on the fact that black men are 21 times more likely to be shot and killed by police officers than white men. It’s based on the disproportionate presence of Black Americans in prison. It’s based on racist policies like Stop & Frisk. It’s based on the fact that law enforcement officers are just as prone to possessing implicit racial biases as anyone else which leads to them making snap judgments about People of Color that are often based on stereotypes:  

The first step in understanding how implicit racial bias works is to understand the general concept of implicit bias, which can shape the way we think about lots of different qualities: age, gender, nationality, even height.

You can think of it generally as  “thoughts about people you didn’t know you had.”

Two of the leading scholars in the field, Mahzarin Banaji and Anthony G. Greenwald, capture it well in the title of a book they wrote about the concept. It’s called “Blindspot: Hidden Biases of Good People

What do these “blind spots” look like, and how do they shape behavior?  Well, if you have a stereotype about Asian people that labels them as “foreign,” implicit bias means you might have trouble associating even Asian-American people with speaking fluent English or being American citizens. If you’ve picked up on cultural cues that women are homemakers, it means you might have a harder time connecting women to powerful roles in business despite your conscious belief in gender equality.

Implicit racial bias also means that many people think of African-Americans as prone to violence. Or less educated than Anglo-Americans. Or that African-Americans are mostly criminals. Or the thinking that leads to officers thinking that a Black suspect has a gun when they don’t have any reason to think so.

These biases are present in cops. In lawyers. In judges. In jurists. No matter their intentions, they are still human beings. No matter our desire to be fair and impartial, we humans have prejudices and the criminal justice system doesn’t currently have a means of weeding out or minimizing those biases so that all citizens are treated equally on the streets by police officers and given a chance at a fair hearing in the courtroom. These prejudices are one more thing that people are protesting against. They are one more example of the racial disparities in the U.S. criminal justice system that leads to People of Color being treated differently than white people.

And these disparities?  They did not spring into existence when Darren Wilson decided he had no recourse but to shoot and kill a black man he deemed demonic (no denial of Brown’s basic humanity there). Those disparities were long in existence and the death of Brown brought them to light once more.  National attention is shining on the ugliness of those disparities, which is necessary if we are to ever fix this fucked up system.

Lowry goes on to say:

His rote praise of the police notwithstanding, especially now that he is under so much political pressure after the murders of Officers Rafael Ramos and Wenjian Liu, Mayor de Blasio is deeply invested in this smear.

It is why he has made career anti-police agitator Al Sharpton practically deputy police commissioner.

Smear? It’s a smear to recognize that Black Americans are not treated fairly on the streets or in the courtroom?

Also, Al Sharpton is anti-police? Got a citation for that?  Not a twisting of his words, but actual quotes where he demonstrates that he is anti-police.  Not quotes that call for a reform of law enforcement, but actual quotes where he demonstrates that he is anti-police. I wonder if they’ll be forthcoming.

It is why he considers the police a clear and present danger to his biracial son, Dante.

If it wasn’t already clear, Lowry demonstrates in this one sentence that he doesn’t understand the Black Lives Matter movement AT ALL. The reasons why Mayor de Blasio has talked to his son about police brutality are all over the country. We’re in the middle of having a national conversation about those reasons, remember? Is Lowry’s memory that poor?  I doubt it. What is more likely is that he doesn’t believe the claims of African-Americans across the country.  Or perhaps he simply doesn’t care about the experiences of Black people, which is entirely possible, scary though that may be. Either way, the end result is an article that attempts to undermine the entire Black Lives Matter Movement while not understanding the very reasons the movement exists.

Lowry also takes it as truth that people are lying about aspects of the Brown case. Given that many facts in the case are disputable, he has no reason to be as certain as he is that people are lying. How does he know that? How do we know these “lies” aren’t actual truths? I hope he’s not using Witness #40 as reason to believe people are lying, since she wasn’t even there to witness Wilson’s heartless murder of Brown. As I said above, there are facts that are disputable. Did Brown have his hands up was Wilson shot him? I don’t know. Was he pleading “don’t shoot”?I don’t know. I don’t know how the writer of this article knows either. But whether he was or not doesn’t change what the movement is about. By claiming that the entire Black Lives Matter movement is based on lies, the writer of this New York Post article dismisses the real experiences of countless people across the country. He also demonstrates that he doesn’t understand the complaints of African-Americans across the country as he sets up a massive strawman and sets about burning it to the ground.

I wonder what agenda Rich Lowry has.

What is Rich Lowry's agenda?

Just change the damn name already

That Washington football team whose full name I won’t use because it’s fucking racist? The granddaughter of the founder told them they should change the name:

Continue reading “Just change the damn name already”

Just change the damn name already

Another win for Marriage Equality…in my state!

A county circuit judge in Florida struck down a ban on same sex marriage, thus allowing couples in Monroe County to get married starting Tuesday.  It’s a limited ruling, but it paves the way for a more expansive, state-wide ruling.  

Monroe County Circuit Judge Luis Garcia overturned Florida’s 2008 constitutional gay-marriage ban on Thursday, and ordered that two Key West bartenders and other gay couples seeking to wed be allowed to marry.

The judge gave the Monroe County Clerk’s Office until Tuesday to begin issuing marriage licenses to gay couples.

“The court is aware that the majority of voters oppose same-sex marriage, but it is our country’s proud history to protect the rights of the individual, the rights of the unpopular and rights of the powerless, even at the cost of offending the majority,” Garcia wrote in his opinion, released about 1 p.m. Thursday.

The judge gave the clerk’s office several days to prepare “in consideration of… anticipated rise in activity.”

It was unclear early Thursday afternoon whether the state will appeal the ruling, which applies only to Monroe County. A judge in Miami-Dade County has yet to rule in a similar case.

Yippee. I’m so ecstatic, I’m positively gay.

Another win for Marriage Equality…in my state!