Supreme Court Stikes Down DOMA, Paves Way for Vows in California

This morning (well Washington DC time), The Supreme Court of the United States announced its deliberation on two of the most explosive issues of the term: gay marriage rights and due process.

Specially, two cases were debated in front of the judges earlier in the year: the constitutionality of the Defense of Marriage Act, DOMA, and Proposition 8.

To backup a bit, the United States is a behind when it comes to gay rights and equality. While in Sweden and most of Western Europe has legalized gay marriage, people in the US are embroiled in a bitter controversy of gay marriage rights between usually, religious conservatives, and liberals.

Yea, we are backwards. But going to the cases, I’ll try to break them down for you to easily understand. One thing that is essential to understand in US is the sovereign rights of states versus those of the federal government. It’s usually a reason why many cases head through the appeals as the states, federal, and the people jockey for rights asserted under the state and federal Constitutions.

First, it is uncommon for the Supreme Court to bundle cases together but they did so for this hearing. The cases were not directly about gay marriage rights, or what we would consider rights under the first amendment. The first case was about due process, while the Prop 8 case related to state’s ability to defend a case.

In the majority ruling for the DOMA case, SCOTUS ruled that the federal law violated due process in the Fifth Amendment. Most of us know that the Fifth Amendment protects us against double jeopardy but it also protects against unfair due process, specifically, “…nor shall any person…be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.”

Justice Kennedy wrote the majority opinion. In it, he said,

“The federal statute is invalid, for no legitimate purpose overcomes the purpose and effect to disparage and injure those whom the State, by its marriage laws, sought to protect in personhood and dignity,” Justice Kennedy wrote. “By seeking to displace this protection and treating those persons as living in marriages less respected than others, the federal statute is in violation of the Fifth Amendment.”

It’s in the due process statement that SCOTUS felt the federal law took liberties away by separating the population (those who are homosexual) and applied a different process to them.

In the end, married gay and lesbian couples are now granted the same federal rights as heterosexual couples. That includes more than 1,100 legal benefits, like passing of wills, tax exemption, health care and more, for such couples.

Justice Scalia, known for his wild banters, dissented on the DOMA case and his remarks were nothing short of amusing. Calling the majority view as demonizing the DOMA supporters, “I imagine that this is because it is harder to maintain the illusion of the Act’s supporters as unhinged members of a wild-eyed lynch mob when one first describes their views as they see them.”

The Proposition 8 case was a bit more interesting from a legal standpoint. The case reached the Supreme Court by ways of proponents of the proposition who were unsatisfied with the lower court decisions.

To clarify how this case made its way up the ranks, here’s a timeline of Prop 8.

The interesting part is that the Supreme Court ruled on a technicality. Chief Justice John Roberts said,

“We have never before upheld the standing of a private party to defend the constitutionality of a state statute when state officials have chosen not to. We decline to do so for the first time here.”

In all, Proposition 8 is struck down by ways of the District Court. Attorney General Jerry Brown just announced that marriage licenses should be handed out as soon as possible in all the counties.

Chaos in Husby & Stockholm Suburbs – Interview with Rami Al-Khamisi of Megafone

What started as a hostage situation with an elderly man armed with a machete, has ended in massive car fires and destruction of property by protesters in Husby and its neighboring suburbs.

It is uncertain whether the unnamed man shot by the police was a direct threat to them when they entered the apartment. He was shot by police after refusing to drop his weapon and was declared dead upon arrival at the hospital. However, Megafonen, a youth community group only saw a hearse and never an ambulance.

They believe the shooting was part of an increasing presence of police brutality in Sweden.

To get a better understanding of what is going on, I have translated part of the interview with spokesperson Rami Al-Khamisi at Megafone with the newspaper DN.

1. Varför startade kravallerna? // Why start the riots?
–?Det var en reaktion på dödsskjutningen i måndags. Folk uppfattar att polisen har rasistiska föreställningar som gör det enklare att inte respektera människors rättigheter. Dessvärre har vi också ett samhälle som inte tar tillräckligt avstånd från det.
– It was a reaction to the shooting that happened on Monday. The people believe that the police racist act make it easier to not respect people’s rights. Unfortunately, we also have a society that takes too much distance from this.

2. Använde polisen rasistiska glåpord som ”neger” och ”råttor”? //Did the police use racist taunts like “n—er” and “rat”?

–Ja, vi överraskades hur polisen agerade mot människor, man använde hundar och batonger mot barn och föräldrar och uttryckte sig med ord som neger, svartskallar och apor.

– Yes, we were surprised at how the police acted toward people, how they used batons and dogs against children, parents and expressed themselves using words like negro, blackies, and monkies.

3. Tycker du att det är okej att människor kastar sten och bränner bilar? // Do you think it’s okay for people to throw stones and burn cars?

– Det hjälper inte att vare sig försvara eller ta ställning till det som händer, vi kan bara förstå det. Megafonen arbetar för social upprustning och har en konstruktiv och fredlig roll. Det är inte första gången upplopp sker i Husby. Det är strukturella problem som politikerna inte har åtgärdat. Ju större klyftorna blir kommer det tyvärr finnas människor som tar ut sin frustration på det här sättet.

– It doesn’t help to defend or take a position on what happens, we can only understand it. Megafone works for social rehabilitation in a constructive and peaceful way. This is not the first time riots have occurred in Husby. There are structural problems that the politicians have not resolved. The larger the gaps become, the more people will take their frustration in this way.

4. Du är kritisk till politiker och regeringen? // You are critical of politicians and the government?

–Regeringen väljer att lösa sociala problem med ökad polisbevakning och militarisering av förorten. Så länge detta pågår kommer människor att resa sig och vilja annat. Det skapar inte förändring men många tror att enda sättet att möta makten är med våld.

– The government choses to solve social problems with increased police and military presence in the suburbs. As long as this happens, people will rise up wanting something else. It does not create change, but many believe that the only way to meet that power is with violence.

5. Varför kräver ni en oberoende utredning av döds­skjutningen? // Why do you call for an independent investigation into the fatal shooting?

–Vi kräver en oberoende utredning för att ta reda på vad som hänt. Det har gjorts tidigare, och kan göras på förslag av rikspolisstyrelsen eller justieminister Beatrice Ask. Den kan bestå av jurister, professorer eller andra experter.

– We demand an independent investigation to take account of what happened. This has been done before, and is done on the suggestion of the National Police Board or the Justice Minister, Beatrice Ask. The board is comprised of lawyers, professors, and other experts.

6. Ni kräver också en ursäkt till kvinnan vars man dödades och Husbyborna? // Do you also demand an apology to the woman whose husband was killed and Husby residents?

–Vi kräver en offentlig ursäkt till Husbyborna som känner sig otrygga och fruktar för sina liv efter polisens övervåld. Folk såg att kvinnan blev illa behandlad av polisen och var i chock för att hennes man dödats. Polisen gick också ut med felaktiga uppgifter om att personen avled på sjukhuset vilket han inte gjorde.

– We demand a public apology to Husby residents who feel insecure and fear for their lives after the police assault. People saw that the woman was poorly treated by the police and was in shock that her husband was killed. The police also went public with false information that the person died in the hospital, which he did not.

7. Men är den felaktiga uppgiften ett bevis för övervåld? //but is this

–Frågan är om det krävs en insatsstyrka så många skott mot en knivbeväpnad, psykiskt sjuk man i 70-årsåldern. Frågan är också varför han inte fick hjälp efteråt och varför man inte kallar på ambulans.

– The question is whether a task force was needed and if it needed to fire so many shots to a mentally unstable 70 year old man. The question is also why he did not get help after and why an ambulance was not called.

–End interview.

If you are live outside of Stockholm central in Husby, Jakobsberg, and other suburbs, many community groups are walking out during the evenings this week to help instill a state of peace and security for the citizens.

The Blogroll is Broken — Add Your Blog Below

Well, I decided to do a little housekeeping on the site. Besides fixing a lot of minor issues (indexing attachment pages and page# urls), I noticed my blogroll page is dead.

That is because Feevy, the site I used to aggregate all the blogroll links and sort them by latest post, is dead. Completely dead. Googled for Feevy and nothing comes up.

It means my blogroll list of 30+ blogs over the past five years are gone. Boo!

I need your help then. If you would like to have your blog included in my blogroll, please drop a comment below and I will add you to it (shameful plug – please do add mine).

Write a comment below so that I can have a new, cool list of awesome bloggers about Sweden!

Swedish Department Store Opens Pandora’s Box with “Normal Sized” Mannequins – We Think It’s Awesome

This past week you all have probably heard about the normal size models Åhléns department store put up. First, it is in Åhléns Malmö and not in H&M like many news channels are saying. Second, everyone in the world has made it a huge deal except Sweden. And third, this is real and not a hoax.

Glad we got that out of the way!

From reader, Sabina, who captured the photos below, said “I liked that the store itself didn’t make a big deal about it. These models were just like every other model.”

The lingerie “normal” sized mannequins were mixed in with the regular, skinny ones. If you were walking by, you might not have noticed at first glance. But obviously people did.

I think it is an awesome idea to have more realistic looking models that the skinny things that are usually on display. Seriously, how many of us have a little extra flub and are desperate to get rid of it? Why are we, women, so afraid of being proud of our curves?

Really, we are scared shitless of ourselves in underwear. But at least these models are not. And I think it’s because in a country like Sweden, where the Swedish women are proud, smart, and equal to man can their mannequins not give a shit about being skinny.

And what about the standard skinny models Åhléns has on display? Not that skinny when you compare it to a Victoria’s Secret window display, below.

photo via

Maybe we should follow the Swedish way by valuing women for being beautiful with and without their curves.

The only real complaint about the mannequins? The hair. Can they not look so grey and flat?

What do you all think? Progressive or weird to have “normal sized” mannequins?

Why Lost in Stockholm Exists… And Why I Write

The most popular (or infamous) article on this site is the “10 Things I Hate About Sweden.” Somehow, people take it so personally that it mandates a comment filled with insults, hate, or name-calling directed to me. And they believe that this entire blog exists to hate on Sweden.

If that is the case, then I sure have some power!

Today, I find the hate comments amusing and pitiful. Before, I would feel bad when people would post a comment that *I* must be fat, ugly, stupid, ignorant, dumb and have no right to say such things because America is just as bad.

I don’t claim the US to be better on all fronts, on some issues, yes (shopping, customer service), but on many, no (health care costs, women’s rights). And yes, sometimes I have made comparisons that were perhaps unequal or not related to the topic at hand.

Many of you read these articles with such a fervour that you are drawn to a level of insanity that insulting others somehow rectifies the situation. Perhaps also you want to fuel the fire with name calling too. But we should all understand that pointing out others’ faults does not absolve your own faults.

I loved what one of the regular readers posted:

For all of those who take this post the wrong way.
Take a damn chill pill, this is meant mostly for laughs and fun while describing stereotypes. If you recognize yourself too much and feel a need to reply in a offensive nature then perhaps take a hint and change yourself instead of trying to defend something that does not really matter. For everyone else, that dont fit in, well be fun and interessting and fun and interessting people will find you. Swedish people are not hard to make friends with, its just that there is a certain procedure involved=D. Good luck.


Thanks Björn!

I love this blog and I love *most* readers who come here. This is a place for you to feel at home, debate, drink a cup of coffee, learn something new, feel better, and go home. Some of you are in moments of angst and loneliness being in a foreign country; certainly I have felt burden of being a foreign housewife.

Some of you want some good laughs for a few rough weeks you had understanding Swedes in your office. The lack of selection of tissue paper and fitted sheets should make you laugh, not get angry.

And of course, for many of you, you are deciphering the secret code of Swedish men and women. It is a tundra out there, so keep your club tight to your chest.

There are unfortunately a few bad apples here. I have allowed a lot of comments, despite their aggressive, spiteful nature to be approved. I do not like censoring comments, but when someone believes insulting me betters this blog, he/she is not making this ecosystem a better place. Read the comment policy first, think before you type, and if you still want to be a douchebag and write something stupid, go ahead. I will not approve it, but I may keep it for the dumb comment hall of fame.

Same goes with sending me a hateful or stupid email. I will read it and possibly post it later for all to see your stupidity. Case in point, the blogger who said I copied her article about removing your shoes, who cc’ed her manager, and demanded I link to her piece. Who knew she owned the intellectual property to that idea!

Please don’t be an idiot and write me something snarky and conceited.

And if you really think I have copyrighted one of you ideas, then please do send me an email explaining the situation and I will do my best to rectify it, if it is reasonable.

All in all, I enjoy writing here and I hope to continue to blog. I have so many exciting pieces to write about, especially pretty travel articles in Sweden. Overall, read this blog with a pinch of salt and use it as your place for learning and growing.

Keep the love on for Sweden, despite her depressive winters and gloomy summers she is always a beauty.

Love to all you readers and supporters!

Snömaggeden 2012 – Be Safe When Traveling

If you ventured out today, you probably noticed that the whole city is blanketed in white. And by blanketed I mean, you have no visibility to your feet.

SMHI, the Swedish Meteorological Institution has issued a class-2 warning and predicting another 10-20 cm of snofall in the region.

Please be careful when traveling outside and check SL.SE for the latest updates. I would say, if you cannot walk to your destination and back, don’t do it at all!

Stay warm, drink glögg, light candles, and eat pepparkakor.


{Thanks to @sandsss for the photo on the FB page}

Should LiS Start a Forum or Not

I’ve been debating for a long time whether to start a forum on the site. A lot of articles here end up on tangential discussion because there isn’t an appropriate spot to have it.

I thought of creating a forum where all of you could post questions about life and dating, post notices, and sell your stuff. It *could* be really awesome. It could also be a total dud with no one around.

And so, I made a list of pros/cons:

Pros of a forum:
Ability to create dedicated threads
Easy viewing of topics
Interact with more people
Supplement articles already on the site

Cons of a forum:
Need lots of people posting to make it interested
Has high competition – several other sites out there (amerikanska, lost in sweden, the local)
Can become spammy/snarky/trolly without moderation

These were the big thoughts that came to mind. But really it matters if you readers would like to see a forum. I would love to know if you guys would want one and if so, how to run it. And what channels you want to see. And any other ideas you may have.

<3 sapphire

Lost in Sweden’s First Moosletter This Week – Be Sure to Join!

On Wednesday, you will receive a pack and fun filled newsletter about Sweden through the Lost in Sweden – Moosletter group.

The newsletter is aimed at bringing you, the reader, snippets of the best articles about Sweden from bloggers.

There are two ways to participate:

1. Be a blogger. Want to get more traffic and readers? Then put this adorable image on your site, link to Lost in Stockholm, and let me know in the comment section. That’s it! By putting the badge up, you’re letting everyone know that you are part of an awesome Swedish group.

2. Be a reader. If you like Lost in Stockholm and want to read more about Sweden from different authors, then you should subscribe.

Fill in the box below and voilà!

A shout out to all participating bloggers:
Photos from Sweden
Swedish Freak
Something Swedish
Monkey Goes to Sweden
Vermont to China
Stockholm Globetrotter
Now Boarding
Lost in Stockholm

Happy moos’ing!

Updates & Happenings 6.5.12

I’ve been offline most of the week because my best friend A and I went to Budapest.

Hungry in Hungary!


I love Europe because it is amazingly easy to travel through. There are lots to tell and zillions of photos to share. If I am a good blogger, I’ll put together a couple posts on eats, visits, and the Swedes.

A few weeks ago, since The Swede and I couldn’t get a ticket to Gotland, or anywhere else in Europe by taxi cab carrier RyanAir, we went to Öland. What a sweet island! It is the second largest island in Sweden, after Gotland, and is full of windmills, 300 remain. Lots of photos and posts to come about what to see and do in Småland.

In other news, I will be traveling again this weekend to the United Kingdom for a wedding site launch party. Totally random I know. But the most exciting part? Going to the Design Museum to see the Christian Louboutin exhibition!

Personally, things are up and down as each day is still a struggle of its own. Some days are amazing, some days are terrible. The vacation to Öland and Budapest were so so needed.

It’s been a year since my husband and I went on a vacation that didn’t involve burying someone. And going on a girls trip is always a special experience. A is hilarious and is a great friend to travel with and drink.

When I came back to Sweden this weekend, I had the please of enjoying the bat shit crazy insane weather. I totally wanted to be back in Budapest with +20C weather and eating at the Four Seasons. PS – Eating at the Four Seasons is cheaper than getting a burger and a few beers at a pub in Stockholm.


Stockholm Decides to Consider, Maybe, Possibly Fining People for Cigarette Littering – Half Win

Two weeks ago, the Moderaterna Traffic and labor commissioner in charge of sanitation in Stockholm, Ulla Hamilton, wrote an op-ed piece in the newspaper Aftonbladet about cigarette littering {cigaretfimpar} and the need to curtail butt litter.

Basically, she wrote littering is bad and that the city needs to pass a law that both makes it illegal to dump cigarette butts but also considers it a finable offense.

Currently, there is only the Stockholm litter law which went into effect last summer. All those beer cans and engångsgrill trashed in the parks became an offense. But in typical Swedish fashion, not one person has been fined for leaving their crap out in public.

To me, this is a big DUH. The fact that Stockholm has never passed a law against littering until last year and even then, avoided placing cigarette butts as ‘litter,’ astonishes me. No wonder most parks in the city are a dump.

In 2010, Stockholm announced it would be working with the tobacco companies to clean cigarette butts off the street with nifty vacuum cleaners. Instead of having the people be responsible for the crap they throw on the sidewalks, the city offers a cleaning service to deal with the problem.

Seriously, the city needs to get with it. I am tired of living in the supposed “most clean city of Europe” when nothing is done to make the people be responsible for the shit they throw on the streets.

Here is a plan I support:

  • Make it illegal to dump cigarette butts and make it finable civil offense (note: not criminal).
  • Hire police officers that would be in charge of giving citations. I am guessing this is revolutionary idea considering in the three years I have lived next to Polishuset, I have NEVER ONCE seen a traffic officer issuing tickets. Hell, I have seen a traffic officer twice in my entire time living in Stockholm. They’re as good as severely endangered species.
  • Have police make occasional sweeps in parks and public places to fine people litter cans, garbage, and cigarette butts.
  • Provide more garbage cans, especially, small litter baskets to accomodate cigarette butts.
  • Blitz the city with campaigns and education to inform citizens: 1. littering is BAD; 2. littering is city offense; 3. cigarette butts are disgusting and destroy the environment.

Fast facts about Stockholm litter:

The City of Stockholm’s garbage measurement was conducted with the Keep Sweden Tidy and SCB.

  • Cigarette butts account for an average 65 percent of the estimated debris objects in streets and public places in Stockholm.
  • A 2005 survey shows that over 1 billion cigarette butts are thrown on the ground in Sweden each year. This is an increase of 36 percent since 2007.
  • For the sixth consecutive year, Keep Sweden Tidy Foundation will have 23 to 27 litter picking days in 2012.
  • Kindergartens and schools will receive materials about how we take care of our environment and will participate on litter picking days.
  • The City of Stockholm employs 150 sanitation workers to pick up more than 5000 tons of garbage each year.  That is more than 6 kg per Stockholmer.  This includes  chewing gum, candy wrappers, cigarette butts, cigarettes, glass paper, pouch, coffee mugs and much more. 
  • The litter costs SEK 100 million annually to pick up from the streets which instead could have been placed in one of the 11 000 bins found in the city.

What’s really amazing is that kids will be assisting on clean up days.  Not adults or adults who smoke and throw the cigarettes on the ground, but kids.  Sure, children should the importance of keeping a clean city but shouldn’t littering adults do the same?

No matter what, there is absolutely no excuse that Stockholmers have the ability to litter without repercussion.