Tagged: civil rights

#BoycottIndiana: Republican law says religion trumps civil rights

swisher, benioff

Salesforce.com CEO Marc Benioff says he has canceled all his company’s events in the state of Indiana after its governor signed into law a bill that makes it legal for individuals to use religious grounds as a defense when they are sued by people who are lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender.

And in an interview with Re/code, Benioff threatened the state with a “slow rolling of economic sanctions” if the law is not thrown out.

“We’ve made significant investments in Indiana. We run major marketing events and conferences there. We’re a major source of income and revenue to the state of Indiana, but we simply cannot support this kind of legislation,” Benioff said…

Gov. Mike Pence signed the bill, called the Religious Freedom Restoration Act today, and said blah, blah, blah, God’s Will, blah, blah, screw civil rights, blah, blah, and the US Constitution!

Benioff said that Salesforce employs between 2,000 and 3,000 people in the state, owing largely to its 2013 acquisition of ExactTarget, an email marketing company based in Indianapolis. Salesforce paid $2.5 billion for it, and Benioff later described the acquisition as a “perfect fit.”

Since 2007, ExactTarget has hosted its most important customer event, called Connections, in Indianapolis. Last year it drew 10,000 people and about $8 million in spending to Indianapolis. Salesforce announced it would move the event to New York in September. Benioff says there are other events that will be canceled as well. “We can’t bring our customers or our employees into a situation where they might be discriminated against,” he said. “We have a large number of employees and customers who would be impacted dramatically by this legislation. … I’m really just advocating on their behalf.”

Bravo, Benioff!

Bigots courting votes from idjits have no place in a democracy that recognizes the civil rights of all citizens.

Continue reading

Pic of the Weekend

APTOPIX Selma 50th
Click to enlargeAP Photo/Butch Dill

In this aerial view, crowds of people move in a symbolic walk across the Edmund Pettus Bridge, Sunday, March 8, 2015, in Selma, Ala. This weekend marks the 50th anniversary of “Bloody Sunday,’ a civil rights march in which protestors were beaten, trampled and tear-gassed by police at the Edmund Pettus Bridge, in Selma.

All power to the people!

Celebrate International Women’s Day

On Sunday 8 March, it’s International Women’s Day. To celebrate, Helen Lewis pays tribute to 10 inspirational feminists


Aphra Behn

A playwright, translator and spy, Behn (also known as Astrea) has a good claim to being the first Englishwoman to make a living out of her writing. In the centuries after her death in 1689, her plays were dismissed as indecent because of their focus on female sexuality (“The stage how loosely does Astrea tread/ Who fairly puts all characters to bed!” wrote Alexander Pope in 1737). Recent feminist scholars have rediscovered her writing, and have made the case that the publication of her prose fiction Oroonoko, the story of a slave, was a key moment in the development of the English novel.


Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

“Feminist: a person who believes in the social, political and economic equality of the sexes.” In the most high-profile pop-feminist moment of 2013, Beyoncé included these words – taken from a TED talk given by Adichie – on her single Flawless. In the talk, which has since been published as a book called We Should All Be Feminists, the Nigerian-born author asks: why are girls taught to shrink themselves, to compete for men, to limit their ambitions? She urges her audience to reclaim the word “feminist” and to say: “Yes, there’s a problem with gender as it is today, and we must fix it.”


Nellie Bly

“No one but a man can do this,” Nellie Bly’s editor told her in 1886 when she suggested travelling round the world in less than 80 days. She would need a protector, he said – and how would she ever carry all the luggage a lady would need on such a trip? Bly didn’t worry too much about the first quibble, and travelled light, crushing all her belongings into a single handbag. She made it home in 72 days. That wasn’t the first time the pioneering American journalist had attracted attention through her work – a year earlier, in 1887, she faked madness to go undercover in an asylum, exposing its poor conditions and abusive staff.

The list goes on from there. RTFA to learn about a few folks you may not know. And should.

Angela and Gurley Flynn

Who would I add to the list? Angela Davis – who probably needs no introduction to folks under the age of 80. Occasionally, on her visits to the Northeast, I was one of her bodyguards.

Most especially, Elizabeth Gurley Flynn. I met the Rebel Girl in 1963, a year before she died. She was an inspiration to working women and men for decades. She paid for it with time in prison, hatred from fascists, proto-fascists, every flavor of apologist for the religion of corporate hierarchies owning and running our lives.

Pic of the Day


A sign on a restaurant in Lancaster, Ohio, in the old days

Remembering Selma, this weekend, Reuters offers a slideshow of background photos — and traces the course of some of the events in the civil rights struggle up to Dr. King’s assassination in 1968.

I chose the restaurant window up top just to remind folks that as craptastic as Confederate ideology has been in the Deep South, the disease of racism doesn’t skip any part of this nation. As you might expect, all the rationales of denying any segment of the population their civil rights extends easily and automatically to anyone else hated by bigots.

So, we’re still awaiting a dysfunctional politically-warped Supreme Court to decide if the 21st Century is too scary if folks who aren’t heterosexual want to live the American Dream. And I always take the time to remind my fellow trade unionists that the union I belonged to in the 1960’s – one of the largest in the country at the time – still had a clause in its constitution banning the president of the national union from being a woman or Black.

Oh, anyone surprised the Republican Party essentially is skipping commemorations in Selma, this weekend? The Sad Old Party has given up on joining any fight for civil rights. Not today’s Republican Party.

Undocumentados obey tax laws — New Mexico refuses to hand over refunds


“How can I be Republican VP candidate if I obey the law?”

A national and a statewide civil rights group have filed lawsuits against New Mexico and the state’s tax department alleging that refunds are being withheld illegally from people filing taxes using federal tax ID numbers.

Two suits filed in state court…on behalf of a couple and two other workers seek refunds and an injunction to block what the organizations call an “unlawful and discriminatory practice.”

Plaintiffs’ attorneys say the state Taxation and Revenue Department in 2012 began a policy of denying tax refunds to New Mexico residents who file returns using their federally-issued tax ID.

They say the state has sent at least 14,500 letters to filers citing discrepancies on their returns and seeking supporting documents. Meanwhile, the same people have been receiving federal refunds from the IRS.

Since these folks can’t get a regular social security card they have acquired the federal alternative used by immigrants nationwide. Perfectly legal as witness the IRS forking over refunds when due.

The problem is our so-called moderate Republican governor hates undocumentados as much as she hates unions. So the state – which always paid refunds when owed by the Tax and Revenue Department under previous Democrat administrations – now refuses to hand over folks’ refunds.

So much for asking immigrants to obey the law. When the governor won’t.

Simple brief ceremonies wedding same-sex couples throughout Florida

Edgard Perez, Charles Windham
Wedding photo for Edgard Perez and Charles Windham

With arms interlocked, about 20 gay and lesbian couples, too eager to wait any longer, were married in a five-minute ceremony at 3 a.m. on Tuesday at the Broward County Courthouse in Fort Lauderdale as Florida marked a long, arduous journey to become the 36th state to legalize same sex marriage.

Now the nation’s third-largest state, Florida joined the list allowing same-sex unions just six years after the state, led by Republican lawmakers, voted to approve a constitutional ban on gay marriage, which garnered 62 percent of the vote.

“Do you take each other to be your spouse for life?” asked Howard C. Forman, the Broward County clerk of courts, slightly stressing the word spouse. Together, the couples uttered their individual vows to one another. “I pronounce you legally married,” Mr. Forman said.

With that, the couples, their families and friends roared, cheered and clapped, and Frank Sinatra’s “Love” blasted into the room. For Anthony Butera, 44, and Abdel Magid, 45, there was no doubt that marrying as soon as possible in their home state was a must-do. A couple for 12 years, the two donned wedding finery — Mr. Butera wore a cream tuxedo jacket with a black handkerchief and Mr. Magid a black tuxedo jacket with a white boutonniere — and infectious smiles.

“It’s special to be recognized and be treated like everyone else,” Mr. Magid said.

More victories in a nation that supposedly believes in equal opportunity, that preaches to the rest of the world that we are the bastion of democracy and reason – and there still are states and politicians, religions and zealots who believe they have a mandate to prevent equal civil rights for every American. They believed they could do it because of skin color, They believe they can do so because of sexual inclination.

Understanding their misbegotten belief doesn’t make it anymore defensible. Such bigotry belongs in history’s cesspool. Witnessing expressions of love and freedom from these newly-married folks is worth so much more than the hatred and fear of fools.

RTFA for more examples of a new kind of freedom creeping cautiously through the halls of Florida’s backwards government, a state which still tries to dignify the fascist time-warp infecting their brains.

Pope suggests reforms making Catholic Church more liberal than Republican Party

A panel of high-ranking Catholic officials has proposed a dramatic change in the way the church treats gays and lesbians. The group of Cardinals, known as a synod, suggested the church is capable of “valuing their sexual orientation, without compromising Catholic doctrine.”

The Cardinals stopped well short of endorsing gay marriage, stating “unions between people of the same sex cannot be considered on the same footing as matrimony between man and woman.” But they also acknowledged, in a section called “Welcoming homosexual persons,” there “are cases in which mutual aid to the point of sacrifice constitutes a precious support in the life of the partners.” The Cardinals also suggest that same-sex couples should never be discriminated against in ways that could impact their children…

The new language is reflective of more inclusive thinking by Pope Francis on homosexuality. Earlier this year, Pope Francis may have hinted at support for civil unions for same-sex couples. Speaking specifically about gay priests last year, Francis said, “Who am I to judge [homosexual priests] if they’re seeking the Lord in good faith? They shouldn’t be marginalized. The tendency [to homosexuality] is not the problem… they’re our brothers…”

Several of the world’s Catholic countries — including Argentina and Brazil — have begun to embrace gay marriage.

Unsurprising, the Catholic equivalent of Protestant fundamentalist ideologues have their knickers in a bunch over how this is progressing. As far as they’re concerned, the Church ended The Inquisition way too soon. Meanwhile, the Pope seems to be acting like his names’ source more and more.

Watch this space. Maybe we’ll see priests back in civil rights marches, again – along with the nuns who never left.

Civil Rights continue to grow – Republicans continue to fail


Marriage freedom selfies, a new day in Idaho, NevadaJIM URQUHART/REUTERS

Legal momentum for extending U.S. marriage rights to same-sex couples accelerated on Tuesday as a federal appeals court struck down bans on gay matrimony in Idaho and Nevada a day after the U.S. Supreme Court let stand similar rulings for five other states.

A three-judge panel of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco ruled the bans in Idaho and Nevada violated the constitution and cannot be enforced, adding to a growing list of states where same-sex unions are now legal.

The 9th Circuit move puts the United States on track for legal gay marriage in 35 states, as rulings by the court are binding on all states in its region including three others that do not permit gay marriage, Arizona, Montana and Alaska…

Nevada’s Republican governor, Brian Sandoval, whose state withdrew its opposition to gay marriage earlier this year, said he respected the ruling, and U.S. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada welcomed it warmly…

By contrast, Idaho Republican Governor C.L. “Butch” Otter said blah, blah, blah…

County clerks’ offices in big cities in Idaho and Nevada said they were reviewing the ruling and waiting for formal direction before issuing licenses.

Diana Alba, clerk of Nevada’s Clark County, said her office had been preparing for weeks, including changing the forms for marriage licenses so they use gender-neutral pronouns, employing “party one” and “party two” instead of “bride” and “groom.”

When we get the green light, we’re ready,” Alba said…

Click the link above to read the complete article. It finishes with a state-by-state update on further challenges to the last few states dragging their feet. Still afraid to enter the 21st Century.

Republican commitment to Christian sharia law illustrates what a dead end that party has become. They haven’t a conservative viewpoint to offer. They only whine “NO”, beat their holier-than-thou bosoms and hope there are enough old white folks left to keep them in office – picking plums off the tree of corporate lobbyists.

In this occasional land of the free, there are plenty of old white folks like me who were willing to stand up for our Black brothers and sisters in the 1950’s. We’re still here and perfectly able to smack Democrats on the butt to get them to join up with progressive women, minorities, young people. Speak out, march to the polls and shove foot-dragging bigots out of the way.

It may not be quick enough to satisfy this short time each of us has to tread on this Earth – but, the need for freedom shall prevail.

UPDATE: Idaho governor apparently whined loud and hard enough to nudge Justice Kennedy into ordering a temporary stay of the order allowing same-sex marriages. Shouldn’t be long before the appellate court can review the plea. Sanity will return.