Monday, June 8, 2009

Drawing about obscure stories

This week's cartoon (check back Wednesday for it) is about a pretty obscure news story, reported by James Kirchik on The New Republic's blog pages.

Yesterday, the Senate Judiciary Committe held the first-ever hearing on the Uniting American Families Act, which would equalize the status of foreign-born same-sex partners of American citizens. Heterosexual Americans can earn citizenship for their foreign partners by marrying them. Gays, obviously, cannot do that, effectively making a gay American and his or her foreign spouse legal strangers.

Testifying was Shirley Tan, a Fillipino woman who has been with her American partner for 23 years. Together, they are raising twelve-year-old twin boys. She originally left the Phillipines after suffering a violent attack from a man who murdered her mother and sister (one of the reasons why Tan does not want to return to her native country, aside from the fact that her partner and children live in the U.S., is that the man who brutalized her has since been released from prison.) Tan was originally scheduled to be deported on April 3rd, but won a reprieve after Senator Diane Feinstein introduced a private bill allowing her to stay in the country temporarily.

...[O]ne of Tan's children started crying within seconds of the start of her testimony. At the sight of this, Judiciary Chairman Pat Leahy stopped the hearing and asked Tan if her son might want to sit in another room, where presumably a Senate staffer would console him for the duration of what was clearly an emotionally fraught experience. For most people, the sight of a 12-year-old boy in tears at the prospect of his mother being deported halfway around the world would invoke some sympathy. Unmoved, however, was Alabama Republican Jeff Sessions, ranking minority member of the Committee and the only Republican to bother to attend the hearing. At the sight of the weeping boy, according to a Senate staffer who was at the hearing, Sessions leaned towards one of his aides and sighed, "Enough with the histrionics." Sessions's press secretary did not return a call seeking comment.

One can explain these stories on a blog (quoting entire paragraphs, for that matter), but that doesn't work in a cartoon -- unless, like Tom Tomorrow, you have no qualms about having smaller print in your cartoon than the legal disclaimers in the medical and insurance advertisements. It's impossible to be pithy; I'd like to have Sessions saying just "Enough with the histrionics" in it, but I need someone in the cartoon to explain why boys are crying, what Sessions has to do with them, what's going on, even who's who. So much for brevity, the soul of wit!

I'm therefore not very satisfied with this week's oeuvre. I'm also hoping that I can come up with a cartoon very soon that is NOT about marriage equality.

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