Opinion L.A.

Observations and provocations
from The Times' Opinion staff

Category: Gay Marriage

What Kim Kardashian's divorce says about same-sex marriage

divorcegay marriagekim kardashianproposition 8same-sex marriage

Kim Kardashian weddingWhat do gay marriage and Proposition 8 have to do with Kim Kardashian? Not a whole lot on the face of it, yet somehow the news of the celebrity's divorce so soon after her wedding has led to a new chorus of anger over the passage of Proposition 8, which banned same-sex marriage in California.

Partners in same-sex relationships have pointed out in online comments that their partnerships, whether formally called marriage or not, have lasted decades. Other gay-rights supporters rage that it's people like Kardashian who harm the institution of marriage, not the gay and lesbian couples who want to wed.

Much as I support same-sex marriage rights, this argument doesn't wash and does no good to advance the cause. Opponents of gay marriage will simply say that both quick divorce and same-sex weddings cheapen the institution.

Beyond that, the argument for same-sex marriage shouldn't be about how long such marriages will last. Some marriages between heterosexual couples will end quickly, and so will some same-sex marriages. Some heterosexual unions are strong and loving, and others are fraught with problems. Same for gay and lesbian relationships.

The reason to support same-sex marriage isn't about whether such couples will form better households or stay together longer. It's that marriage is a basic civil right. Just as it cannot be withheld from couples based on their race or religion, it should not be forbidden to couples based on their sexual orientation. Whether those marriages ultimately prove to be stronger on average than heterosexual marriages is irrelevant. We don't ban adults from marrying based on a perception that their marriages won't last, and we shouldn't, whether they are gay, straight or Kim Kardashian.

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-- Karin Klein

Photo: Kim Kardashian and Kris Humphries in Monaco in May 27. Credit: Vincent Damourette / European Pressphoto Agency

America's post-DADT military: Stronger than ever

DADT

Hey, what happened?  Did I miss the big news?  Didn't America's armed forces disband Tuesday?

After all, the military's "don't ask, don't tell" policy  has officially ended.  Gays and lesbians are now free to serve openly.

Surely our troops in Iraq and Afghanistan surrendered, right?

Didn't thousands and thousands of troops desert, leaving places such as South Korea virtually undefended?

I'll bet the Navy has brought all of its ships into port, and the Air Force has grounded all flights. People probably fled the Pentagon en masse.  At West Point and Annapolis, cadets likely left school and went home.

No? You're kidding.

You mean, in 2011, America's fighting men and women actually don't care that those serving with them are gay?

Well, maybe that's too much to ask.  Maybe some do care.  And like all Americans, they're free to have their own opinions about homosexuality.

What has changed is that they can't officially discriminate against gays and lesbians.

And that's a good thing.

Of course, there are other changes.  Take this Navy officer:

Navy Lt. Gary Ross celebrated … by marrying his longtime partner in Vermont at midnight Monday -- the exact moment of the repeal. Ross told the Associated Press that when he returns to work as a surface warfare officer at Ft. Huachuca in Arizona near the Mexican border, he does not plan to make a big deal about the marriage. But he no longer has to keep it a secret either.

The old system "requires you to lie several times a day," he said.

Sheesh.  First, openly gay in the military.  Then married.  There seems to be no stopping this whole "equal rights" thing, once you get the hang of it.

Still, not everyone is pleased:

"It's a tragic day for America," said Peter Sprigg of the Family Research Council.

No, Mr. Sprigg, it's not. 

Because what we've finally recognized is that a gay Marine is, well, a Marine.  A lesbian Air Force mechanic who works on helicopters is, well, a mechanic who works on helicopters. 

And that makes it a great day for America, and for all Americans. 

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Photo: A member of the Air Force reads a copy of OutServe, a new magazine aimed at gay military service men and women. Credit: Paul J. Richards / AFP / Getty Images

Proposition 8: Watch the trial and judge for yourself

broadwaydvdfederal trialgay marriageplayproposition 8rulingsame-sex marriagetape

Prop. 8

Monday night, a star-laden, one-time showing of a play about the Proposition 8 trial will be presented on Broadway. Yes, that's the New York Broadway, which seems rather odd and sad for a drama about California's initiative.

But that's OK. Because on the same day, U.S. District Court Chief Judge James Ware ruled that the videotapes of the federal trial must be made public. His order will take effect Sept. 30, if a higher court doesn't overrule him.

It only makes sense for the public to get to see the actual testimony and arguments in the case. Proposition 8, the 2008 constitutional ban on same-sex marriage, has riveted attention and caused divisiveness like few other issues. The initiative's proponents, leaders of ProtectMarriage, had argued against allowing the videotapes to be made public; it's unclear to me exactly why they're against public viewing. Their argument that the witnesses in favor of the ban would feel intimidated fell flat after they brought only two witnesses to the stand, both of them well-known figures who have appeared publicly -- and on television -- before.

Or perhaps it's that they would prefer their own supporters not see the trial. ProtectMarriage put on a less-than-stellar defense of the ban, with the witnesses admitting that the country would be more democratic if same-sex marriage were recognized and that such marriages would strengthen the family lives for same-sex couples. They were unable to articulate any way in which same-sex marriage would harm traditional marriages.

At least, should Monday's ruling stand and the video be unsealed, Californians will get a chance to see for themselves. And that's good for everyone.

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--Karin Klein

Photo: Former chief judge of the U.S. District Court Vaughn R. Walker. Credit: Beck Diefenbach / Reuters

Rick Perry's bad timing for a visit to Falwell's university

Rick Perry

It isn't surprising that Rick Perry found a welcoming reception at Liberty University, founded by Jerry Falwell. But the timing -- a few days after the 10th anniversary of 9/11 -- might have given Perry pause.

Falwell famously explained that catastrophe this way: "I really believe that the pagans, and the abortionists, and the feminists, and the gays and the lesbians who are actively trying to make that an alternative lifestyle, the ACLU, People for the American Way, all of them who have tried to secularize America. I point the finger in their face and say 'you helped this happen.' " 

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--Michael McGough

Photo: Republican presidential candidate, Texas Gov. Rick Perry, gestures during a speech before a Virginia Republican fundraising event in Richmond on Wednesday. Credit: Steve Helber / Associated Press

Anti-gay Facebook postings: The free-speech rights of a teacher

anti-gayfacebookfloridagaygay marriagegay rightslesbianreassignedsame-sex marriageteacher

Gay marriage Teachers are certainly entitled to their opinions about homosexuality and gay marriage. But are they entitled to hold forth on those opinions on Facebook and other social media? The Orlando Sentinel reports on a Florida teacher who has been reassigned while administrators consider what to do about his anti-gay comments on Facebook.

At one point, high school social studies teacher Jerry Buell wrote on his personal Facebook page, rather inelegantly, that he felt sickened by the news about same-sex marriage being allowed in New York; he also said it was a sin and part of a "cesspool."

Buell and I couldn't be further apart in our personal views of same-sex marriage. But then, that's the point. It's his personal view, expressed on his personal page, on his personal time. If he used school equipment, time or software to express those views, he certainly would have it coming.

But it's problematic when schools -- and just about any other employer -- feel they should own their employees and dictate their behavior 24/7. It could be argued that Buell's comments might make gay and lesbian students uncomfortable in his class. In truth, high school students know quite well that many of their teachers are likely to hold radically different opinions from theirs. We should get beyond the idea that teenagers have to be "comfortable" at all times, as long as they're not being bullied.

Of course, Buell should face harsh discipline if he criticized gay and lesbian students in his classroom or in the school hallways. And his use of Facebook to promote his ideas -- despite district guidelines that call for cautious use of social media -- indicates a lack of tact and savvy. Far worse, though, is the lesson inherent in this action: that a person can't have a publicly expressed opinion on his or her own time.

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California needs to get back on the gay rights track [Most commented]

--Karin Klein

Photo: A sign on a motorcycle during the New York City gay pride march June 26, 2011. Credit: Stan Honda/AFP/Getty Images

Same-sex marriage: How much has public opinion really changed?

gaygay marriagegay rightslesbianmainenew yorkoregonproposition 8same-sex marriage

Samesex
Polls consistently show increased support for same-sex marriage, but the question that hasn't been determined is whether that support translates into proportionate votes at the ballot box. States that have same-sex marriage now have accomplished it either through the Legislature or the courts, not through popular vote.

Gay rights advocates in Maine are betting that things have changed enough to make it worth trying. That's a bold move in a state where voters overturned legislation passed in 2009 to allow the marriages. Still, the Maine secretary of state approved ballot language allowing the advocates to go forward with their petitions to put the measure before voters in November 2012, the Kennebec Journal reported Wednesday.

That means people would vote on the measure in the same election in which they're voting for president, which should mean higher voter turnout. It's unclear how that would affect the measure's chances. Polls show 55% of Maine voters supporting same-sex marriage as long as clergymen are guaranteed the right not to perform such weddings -- something they're pretty much guaranteed anyway under the 1st Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.

There are reports that the gay rights group Basic Rights Oregon is thinking of a similar move in that state, which has a constitutional ban against same-sex marriage, as California does.

Could the country be looking at same-sex marriage via popular demand?

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 Photo credit: Leonardo Munoz / EPA

2012 campaign: Republicans wax medieval on gay marriage in Iowa

Debate

Since gay-baiting worked so well the last time a Republican won the White House, same-sex marriage was destined to come up in Thursday’s GOP debate in Iowa. Nevermind that public opinion is moving steadily in favor of recognizing gay marriage; conservative journalist Byron York invited the candidates to address the topic, and most were happy to oblige.

Former Sen. Rick Santorum (R-Penn.) offered his tired polygamy slippery-slope argument, which Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas) rightly derided as just as pointless as questioning whether some states will legalize slavery (though he did express his personal support for opposite-sex-only marriage as a practice but not law). Former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman said he supports civil unions and doing more to protect minority rights -- not bad, for a Republican running for president. Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.) declared her record "unblemished" on this issue and reiterated her support for a federal marriage amendment. Mitt Romney, the impostor liberal front-runner and former Massachusetts governor, also called for a marriage amendment:

I believe the issue of marriage should be decided at the federal level.

You might wonder why is that? Why wouldn't you just let each state make their own decision? And the reason is because people move from state to state of course in a society like ours, they have children. As to go to different states, if one state recognizes a marriage and the other does not, what’s the right of that child? What kind of divorce proceeding potential would there be in a state that didn’t recognize a marriage in the first place?

There are -- marriage is a status. It's not an activity that goes on within the walls of a state. And a result our marriage status relationship should be constant across the country.

Americans move from state to state; we need a single federal standard; laws need to be consistent -- Obamacare, anyone?

But seriously, Republicans: This is 2012 we're talking about. Even the Bushes are coming around on gay marriage. Plus, your insistence on prolonging this battle could have political consequences, as your party faces serious demographic challenges. In short, continue raising an issue such as this, and you won't need Democrats to make the GOP irrelevant.

That the question was asked at all shows why it's a bad idea to have a small, rural state such as Iowa set the conversation for 2012 by holding its caucuses first. I doubt Santorum would blurt his dubious polygamy argument in, say, Massachusetts. Or California.

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Photo: Republican presidential candidates Newt Gingrich, right, and Rick Santorum, center, greet Fox News' Chris Wallace at the end of the Iowa GOP/Fox News Debate. Credit: Charlie Neibergall / Associated Press

California needs to get back on the gay rights track [Most commented]

Marchers hold signs thanking Gov. Mario Cuomo for keeping his campaign promise and legalizing same-sex marriage during the 2011 NYC LGBT Pride March on the streets of Manhattan on June 26. Credit: Jemal Countess /Getty Images The Times editorial board praised the New York Legislature for becoming the sixth and largest state to legalize same-sex marriage Friday. However, while New York is helping blaze the civil rights trail, California "is stuck in reverse," though the board noted that polls show sentiment toward gay marriage has shifted from slightly opposed to slightly in favor since the 2008 passage of Proposition 8, which banned same-sex marriage in California.

The New York legislation's success was also due in part to support from lawmakers with gay and lesbian friends and relatives, a well-organized campaign, and from donations from Republican billionaire Paul Singer. Here's an excerpt from Monday's editorial:

New York's historic vote should help speed things along. With its large population -- third in the nation, behind California and Texas -- there will be more same-sex marriages than ever and more opportunity for Americans to observe and grow accustomed to them. Many of those couples will move to other states where they will press to have their rights recognized.

[…]

Today it is New York's turn to bask in the knowledge that it has moved the entire country forward in the ongoing struggle for equal rights for all. California should learn lessons from New York's victory and quickly put itself back on the right side of history.

Readers  mostly stuck to picking apart each other's arguments, with some offshoots of conversation about bisexuality, polygamy and, as always, some erroneous arguments.

Civil union should be good enough

The article says "WE" believe..... and "WE" feel this way..... Who is "WE"? If this issue is going to end up on the ballot again, it will once again get shot down. The gays will still refuse to accept it though, and some liberal judge will once again overthrow the will of the voters. When will California gays realize that most people in this state don't believe in their wanting to get married. Why isn't a civil union good enough? NO! They want to get MARRIED.

Gays these days are calling anyone that disagrees with them on this a hater. I am not a hater and I am not a religious nut. I just don't agree with gay marriage. If you want to see hate, just look at the hate that will be directed at me for stating my opinion here. 

--LAzyPD 2011

Separate the religion from the law

The fact is, marriage is as much a civil institution as a religious one, if not more so these days.  And in matters of the law, religious beliefs or texts should not play any role.

--HiVeloCT

The "right" to marry isn't a right

This is yet another "progressively" manufactured false issue. There is no "right" to marriage of any kind, be it heterosexual or gay. Interesting how anytime a "progressive" thinks something is "unfair," it morphs into a Constitutionally defended "right" somehow. Which is about the only time they ever pay attention to the Constitution. I don't care what your sexual preferences are. Really. I won't poke you in the eye with my "heterosexualness;" please feel free to stop poking me in the eye with your "gayness." I. Don't. Care.

--Shawn P

Marriage only between human male and female

 I'll say this again, "marriage" can ONLY BE between a human male and female.   Human because the act of "commitment" is reserved for only those with critical thinking, capable of improving upon the previous generation.   Male and female because a marriage is a "union" both physical and emotional.   Only a male and female can unionize in a manner that is designed to produce the continuation of the species.   Any other construct is a "relationship".  

 Secondly, I don't think "marriage" is what homosexuals are really after.  I believe that the goal is "formalized legitimacy" and "marriage" is the closest and strongest thing that approximates that end-goal.   The problem is that even if the Supreme Court decides that gay marriage is constitutional, it will never be accepted in the hearts of conservative believers, much the way abortion has never been accepted.   

--P-Funk

Let's hope future generations don't repeat this bigotry

[…] As any other civil rights struggle, the US will have marriage equality eventually, no matter who is against it. Nobody can stop it.

As a guy from another country, I had never understood why it took the US so long to give blacks what they deserved by birth, how so many people were against African American rights (and so in favor of violence and discrimination) and, mostly, how many said nothing to support those rights a few decades ago. Now I can understand because I hear and read the same non sense arguments against gays, the same stupid violence, and the same dehumanization of people -- to make them an easy target -- that have the same hearts and needs as anybody else.

It's worth saving these comments to make future generations understand why it did not happen before.

--Pablo G

"Sanctity of marriage" is already ruined anyway

Straights have thoroughly botched marriage. Gays could do no worse.

--DGates

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Marchers hold signs thanking Gov. Mario Cuomo for keeping his campaign promise and legalizing same-sex marriage during the 2011 NYC LGBT Pride March on the streets of Manhattan on June 26. Credit: Jemal Countess /Getty Images

If Catholic Charities can't accept same-sex marriage, it should get out of childcare and adoption business [Most Commented]

Photo: The rainbow flag symbolizing gay pride flies from a pole in Manhattan on June 21, 2011. Credit: Mario Tama / Getty Images The debate over marriage equality moved to the New York Senate this week. If the measure passes the Legislature, the state would be the largest to adopt same-sex marriage. Op-Ed columnist Tim Rutten zeroed in on New York's importance in the issue, especially in lieu of the Illinois adoption agencies run by Catholic Charities refusing to place children with same-sex couples. Rutten hopes New York will steer clear of a similar mess and, in taking the legislative route, provide a constructive debate.

The issue is now in court, but if it can't be resolved, Catholic Charities may simply go out of the childcare and adoption business. That's no small matter because its agencies care for 20% of Illinois' parentless children. Nationally, Catholic Charities, with 1,700 agencies, is the country's second-largest provider of social services after the federal government.

If a bipartisan majority in the New York Legislature can work out a path to marriage equality that doesn't involve the sort of destructive confrontation occurring in Illinois, the contribution to moral progress and the common good will be inestimable.

Here's what readers are saying about same-sex marriage and adoption agencies run by Catholic Charities:

Don't fund discrimination

 State funds should not be granted to or managed by organizations that discriminate.  Period.

 -- slyypper

It's the people’s decision, not the legislature's

 My ultra conservative political view: Gov't and marriage do not mix, what a man and woman (or guy/guy) do to legalize their commitment should remain a private (or religious) matter. Government is only involved to get money and for some idiotic reason, our society accepts that.

Nonetheless, I am a native Angeleno who now lives in NY, and what I do not like about NY politics is that ''we the people'' can not vote on referendums (no prop 13 will ever happen here my friends!) Since I believe in and will accept "majority rules" I think that gay marriage then should be decided by people at the polls. If 58% of NYers support gay marriage, it would pass, case closed. If 51% oppose, get the gay PR machine going to change public opinion so that in a few years it might pass....which is what they should have done in California two years back.

 --JeffreyAllenMiller

Separate religion from civil marriage and adoption

This Archbishop argues about freedom of faith in order to protect marriage laws?

Freedom of Faith means that people are free to be of whichever faith they want and that the law shouldn't infringe upon them.

Yet he is arguing against homosexual marriage because of his faith which means he is actually limiting the Freedom of Faith by imposing Christian rules on people through law.

Freedom of Faith would involve the separation of Civil and Spiritual marriage. Priests would lose the right to Legally bind any couple however they will be free to spiritually marry anyone and decline to marry homosexuals based on their faith. Similarly Civil Marriage would lose the idea of a spiritual union however it will be able to be exorcised without being constrained by the religious beliefs of people.

As for Catholic Adoption agencies refusing to allow homosexual couples to be foster parents I would think that their right to allow anyone to adopt should come under scrutiny as they are putting their religious belief system above the children's best interests in terms of finding them parents and so they might be doing so in other areas. The Catholic Church's record in regards to the well-being of children is abysmal after all.

 --GilaEnnui

Blame the Catholic Church, not the Illinois Legislature

Mr. Rutten is wrong in blaming Catholic Charities' misdeeds on the Illinois State Legislature.  In Massachusetts, when marriage equality became the law, Catholic Charities could no longer expect to use taxpayer dollars to promote their anti-gay agenda, and instead of compromising, Catholic Charities threw orphan children under the bus and proved hurting loving, committed same gender couples is more important to them than helping children needing loving parents and a good home.  The Catholic bishops are ratcheting up their attempts to use taxpayer dollars to hurt same gender couples in Illinois.  The bishops are well within their rights to show all Americans their hatred and fear of LGBT Americans, but, conversely, Americans are free to prevent Catholic bishops from using our tax dollars for their anti-gay agenda.

-- Carrot Cake Man

*Spelling errors in the above comments were corrected.

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Photo: The rainbow flag symbolizing gay pride flies from a pole in Manhattan on June 21, 2011. Credit: Mario Tama / Getty Images

Michele Bachmann: The anti-Mitt Romney [The Conversation]

BachmannMichele Bachmann is all the buzz after Monday night's New Hampshire Republican presidential debate, in which she emerged as the anti-Mitt Romney and a leading candidate for the GOP nomination. Here's what opinionators are saying:

She’s the "tea party" candidate

There was one candidate who rose above the usual positioning, though she stood a head shorter than the six men on the stage. Eleven minutes into the debate, Michele Bachmann stole the show, and she didn't return it in the subsequent hour and 49 minutes. […]She served Tea Partyers all their favorites: "I want to announce tonight President Obama is a one-term president. ... I will not rest until I repeal Obamacare. ... There is no other agency like the EPA. It should really be renamed the job-killing organization of America. ... I fought behind closed doors against my own party on TARP.”

--Dana Milbank, Washington Post

She might be more rational than Sarah Palin

Bachmann indisputably knows how to put on a show, but one problem, according to John B. Judis at The New Republic: "She lacks Palin's charm and sexual charisma." More winking, perhaps?

Bachmann is clearly more interested in pretending to be rational. She also claimed on the Early Show this morning that she would be the "voice of common sense" in the White House, "where it's been missing for far too long."

--Irin Carmon, Jezebel

She's antiabortion

The parallels between Bachmann and Palin are hard to ignore, up to and including their backgrounds as minor beauty pageant contestants. Both women are politically rooted in the anti-abortion movement, having earned the loyalty of anti-choicers by "walking the walk" -- Palin by carrying to term a child with a severe disability, and Bachmann by serving as a foster parent to 23 children (in addition to her own five), plus walking a few abortion clinic picket lines over the years. Both candidates are heroes of the Tea Party movement (Bachmann is the founder of the House Tea Party Caucus). And both have regularly played fast and loose with facts and history, constantly treading the boundary between ideologically loaded viewpoint and sheer ignorance.

--Ed Kilgore, the New Republic

She opposes gay rights

Lots of politicians talk about a sinister homosexual agenda. Bachmann, who has made opposition to gay rights a cornerstone of her career, seems genuinely to believe in one.  […] Indeed, no other candidate in the race is so completely a product of the evangelical right as Bachmann; she could easily become the Christian conservative alternative to the comparatively moderate Mormon Mitt Romney. "Michele Bachmann's a complete package," says Ralph Reed, the former Christian Coalition wunderkind who now runs the Faith and Freedom Coalition. "She's got charisma, she's got an authentic faith testimony, she's a proven fighter for conservative values, and she's well known."

--Michelle Goldberg, the Daily Beast

She hasn't thought through her economic policies

Michele Bachmann had the strangest, most simplistic economic solution of all: simply close down the Environmental Protection Agency, which she said "should really be renamed the Job-Killing Organization of America."

--New York Times editorial

The media will try to tear her down for her religious faith

Now that she's had a chance to exhibit her talents on the national stage, her detractors are going to have to do more than mention the fact that she looked into the wrong camera during her response to President Obama’s State of the Union speech and committed a gaffe when she thought the Revolutionary War started in Concord, New Hampshire, [rather] than Concord, Massachusetts. Which means that slurs about her religious faith, her political beliefs and the usual snarky stuff that is used against female politicians (her looks, clothes, hair and makeup) will be trotted out.

--Jonathan S. Tobin, Commentary

But Bachmann's media-savvy

She also used her moment on the national stage, which she shared with six other candidates, to announce that she had formally filed her papers to run for president. The announcement comes less than eight months before the first GOP presidential nomination contest will be held in Iowa, the state of her birth.

The savvy political move, which came just 11 minutes into Monday night's nationally televised event, guaranteed that her name would dominate early stories flooding the Internet about the debate.

--Liz Halloran, NPR

And she's always been a star

Bachmann's good performance seems to have caught everyone by surprise except me.  The media paints Bachmann as a wild-eyed nut, but I've known her for years, and she's very sharp and quick-witted.  She didn't make any mistakes, and perhaps more than anyone last night allowed her personality to shine, impressing even Dana Milbank.  She can play with the big boys, as she will prove again and again, but other than the surprise factor, Bachmann turned in a solid but not breakout performance. 

--Ed Morrissey, Hot Air

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--Alexandra Le Tellier

Photo: Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.) appears between former U.S. Sen. Rick Santorum, left, and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich. Credit: Darren McCollester / Getty Images

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