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Posts Tagged ‘civil rights

Justice Department will defend same-sex marriage nationwide

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dominos topple

In an assertion of same-sex marriage rights the US attorney general, Eric Holder, announced on Saturday that he will apply a landmark supreme court ruling to the Justice Department.

In prepared remarks delivered in New York to the Human Rights Campaign, an advocacy group which works on behalf of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender rights, Holder said same-sex spouses could not now be compelled to testify against each other, should be eligible to file for bankruptcy jointly and are entitled to the same rights and privileges as federal prison inmates in opposite-sex marriages.

The Justice Department runs a number of benefits programmes, and Holder said same-sex couples will now qualify for them. They include the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund and benefits to surviving spouses of public safety officers who suffer catastrophic or fatal injuries in the line of duty.

“In every courthouse, in every proceeding and in every place where a member of the Department of Justice stands on behalf of the United States, they will strive to ensure that same-sex marriages receive the same privileges, protections and rights as opposite-sex marriages under federal law,” Holder said.

Just as in the civil rights struggles of the 1960s, Holder said, the stakes in the current generation over same-sex marriage rights “could not be higher”.

“The Justice Department’s role in confronting discrimination must be as aggressive today as it was in Robert Kennedy’s time,” Holder said of the attorney general who played a leadership role in advancing civil rights.

Right on!

Our nation confronts exactly the same kind of ignorance and bigotry we did with the civil rights advances of the 1960′s. Nice to see official Washington ready to join in, again. Excepting Congress and the Confederates, of course.

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Written by Ed Campbell

February 10, 2014 at 8:00 am

MLKjr

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I think I’ll write a little bit about this photo. You see, I’m standing just to the right of the field of vision – politely nudged aside by the news photographer who wanted to get a good close-up of Dr. King speaking in one of the toughest neighborhoods in Black Chicago. Out in front of the Robert Taylor Projects.

Looking around for a photo and a news piece to reflect upon on this holiday, I bumped into this news photo from the summer of 1965 in Chicago. I spent that summer as a community activist working with other like-minded folks from the then fairly-new W.E.B.DuBois Clubs. Radicals, communist and non-communist, religious and atheist, all colors and creeds; but, convinced that it would take more than band-aids to patch up the effect of centuries of racism in America.

I met some wonderful people that summer. Not the least of whom was Dr. King. Though he wasn’t the biggest influence on my feelings, understanding of what the movement needed to do, where to go next. Most influential was Ismael Flory, founder of the African American Heritage Association, editor and stalwart in his dedication to producing an encyclopedia of African American studies. Ish could turn traffic directions into a discussion of history, turn lunch into the science of gastronomy – could make you laugh or cry over silly humanity.

I opened for Dr. King, that day in Chicago’s South Side. Back in the day, there wasn’t anyplace I sang and performed that didn’t have at least a core of the call for change in it. Newspaper articles and historic documents say this was the first time that Dr. King was booed by a Black audience. It was much, much less than that.

There were two truly tiny efforts birthing in Chicago at that time joining the early call for Black Power within the civil rights movement – and ready to exit the larger effort at the drop of a dollar bill. That day the noisiest boos came from members of the Blackstone Rangers already devolving into hustlers taking money from the Feds and using the funds to build one of the largest drug gangs in Chicago. The other silliest group was comprised of one well-known young Black man – an early advocate of separatist activism – who trotted out a line of a half-dozen or so schoolchildren, none over 6 or 7 years old, who carried anti-King signs. Dr. King chided him for his opportunism and guile.

For me, the day is remembered as the first time I met Martin Luther King, Jr.. I remember the summer sun and heat. I remember one Black teenager who liked one particular song I wrote – something I rarely did. I never wanted to be a songwriter. It was one more step away from America’s bigoted history. One more step towards a future still unrealized; but – believe me – better than it ever was.

I wrote this a few years ago. Worth reposting.

Written by Ed Campbell

January 20, 2014 at 2:00 am

UKIP suspends councillor who blames floods on gay marriage

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bigots

UKIP has suspended an Oxfordshire councillor after he blamed recent flooding on the government’s decision to legalise gay marriage.

In a letter to his local paper, David Silvester said he had warned the PM the legislation would result in “disaster”.

He said David Cameron had acted “arrogantly against the Gospel”…

UKIP leader Nigel Farage said he was entitled to his “strong Baptist view of the world”, but had defied a request not to do further media interviews.

Mr Farage said: “So we suspended him, quite rightly.”

“He’s not a spokesman for the party,” Mr Farage continued, adding: “I’ve never even met him.”

Conservative Business Minister Michael Fallon said UKIP was “the only big protest party at the moment” and still counted “one or two fruitcakes” among its members…

Mr Silvester, from Henley-on-Thames in Oxfordshire, defected to UKIP from the Conservatives in protest at David Cameron’s support for same-sex unions.

In the letter to the Henley Standard he wrote: “The scriptures make it abundantly clear that a Christian nation that abandons its faith and acts contrary to the Gospel (and in naked breach of a coronation oath) will be beset by natural disasters such as storms, disease, pestilence and war.”

He added: “I wrote to David Cameron in April 2012 to warn him that disasters would accompany the passage of his same-sex marriage bill.

Mr. Silvester should probably emigrate to the Confederate wing of the former colonies where he could join the range of nutballs that infest the Republican Party under the Tea Party umbrella. The family values hypocrites, the constitutionalist hypocrites, libertarian hypocrites or straight-up bigot hypocrites would welcome him with open arms.

Written by Ed Campbell

January 19, 2014 at 2:00 pm

Pope welcomes Atheists in his Christmas call of peace

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Pope Francis used the first Christmas address of his papacy on Wednesday to make a broad call for global peace and an end to violence in Syria and parts of Africa, urging atheists and followers of other religions to join together in this common cause…

“True peace is not a balance of opposing forces,” Francis said. “It is not a lovely facade which conceals conflicts and divisions. Peace calls for daily commitment…”

Francis has regularly attracted huge crowds in Vatican City, and almost overnight he has emerged as a major figure on the global stage, surprising many Catholics with his nonjudgmental tone on issues like homosexuality and divorce, and his focus on the plight of the world’s poor. He has also been unpredictable, telephoning ordinary people who have written him letters, embracing a badly disfigured man at St. Peter’s and making unannounced visits in Rome.

He proved unpredictable again on Wednesday, when he went off script to include atheists in his call for peace, rare for a Catholic leader.

“I invite even nonbelievers to desire peace,” he said. “Let us all unite, either with prayer or with desire, but everyone, for peace…”

A bit disingenuous. I find more often that atheists and particularly those who’ve moved on to studies in science, humanist philosophy, secular views on progress – generally not only support efforts for peace; but, work at it.

Francis broadened his peace message to call for an end to violence in Syria, as well as in the Central African Republic, where Christians and Muslims have clashed in a country that he described as “often forgotten and overlooked.” He cited the rising tensions and violence in South Sudan, calling for “social harmony,” and he asked for a “favorable outcome” to peace talks between the Palestinians and the Israelis. He also renewed his focus on the plight of migrants, some the victims of human trafficking, others fleeing war and poverty to try to reach Europe.

Francis called attention to victims of natural disasters, especially Philippine typhoon victims, while renewing his call to protect the environment, which he said was “frequently exploited by human greed and rapacity.”

Maybe I shouldn’t be so cynical; but, I still recall the too-brief reign of Pope John, the peoples’ Pope. His epistle for Pacem en Terris sparked much of the participation of priests, nuns and their parishioners in peace movements, the civil rights movement, opposition to the scumbags who have always profited from exploitation.

It’s been more than a couple of decades since I could wake up in a jail cell after confronting economic thugs like the Koch Brothers and their private blue-clad army – and found I was sharing a cell with a priest. Cripes, I haven’t had a deep discussion behind bars about that Essene rebel named Jesus since 1965.

The Pope needn’t be concerned about inviting atheists into the battle for peace. We’re waiting for his own brothers and sisters to rejoin the struggle on the same scale as a half-century ago.

Written by Ed Campbell

December 26, 2013 at 2:00 am

Pic of the Day

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REUTERS/Jim Urquhart

Natalie Dicou (L) and her partner Nicole Christensen, and James Goodman (2nd R) and his partner Jeffrey Gomez (R), wait to get married at the Salt Lake County Clerks office in Salt Lake City, Utah, December 20, 2013.

As much as folks here in New Mexico celebrated Thursday’s ruling by our state Supreme Court validating the civil rights of same-sex couples – the victory in Utah the next day is even more meaningful. That ruling was delivered by a federal court superseding the Utah state constitution. As it should do.

The stage is set for another era of civil rights rolling out over this federal union of American states.

Written by Ed Campbell

December 22, 2013 at 8:00 am

Illinois is Sweet 16

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It’s official: Illinois on Wednesday joined 15 other states and the District of Columbia in legalizing same-sex marriage.

Democratic Gov. Pat Quinn, accompanied by state Rep. Greg Harris, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, and several other dignitaries, signed into law a measure allowing gay couples to begin marrying on June 1. “It’s a triumph of democracy, a triumph of government by the people,” said the governor, shortly before signing. “We want to have a new birth of freedom across America, and love is not relegated to second-class citizen status.”

The historic nature of Wednesday’s ceremony was underscored by the desk Quinn used to sign the legislation, which once belonged to another Prairie State lawmaker: Abraham Lincoln. According to the Chicago Sun-Times, Lincoln used the desk to pen his first inaugural address, delivered on March 4, 1861.

Thousands flooded the University of Illinois at Chicago Forum to watch the signing ceremony, which came two weeks after the legislature passed SB10, also known as the Religious Freedom and Marriage Fairness Act. Quinn legalized civil union legislation in 2011 and announced his support for full marriage equality a year later.

Since January, the LGBT movement has seen unprecedented gains, including two U.S. Supreme Court rulings strengthening same-sex unions, a Senate vote on the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, and the addition of seven states (including Illinois) to the U.S.’s marriage equality column. Hawaii legalized same-sex marriage just last week…

One of the most special moments of the ceremony came when Jim Darby, a Korean War veteran, and his partner, Patrick Bova, shared a kiss on stage.

“We’ve been together for over 50 years,” said Bova to thunderous applause. “I can remember so many times when I was celebrating families’ and friends’ anniversaries, and thinking how wonderful it would be to celebrate my marriage to Jim. Finally, that day has come.”

Regardless of imprecations from leading True Believers, the Earth did not falter on its axis nor did Satan rise from the cleft soil of Illinois to strike humankind dead.

Written by Ed Campbell

November 20, 2013 at 8:00 pm

10-point victory for Women’s Rights over anti-abortion forces in Albuquerque special election

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The anti-science, anti-civil rights coalition of religious true believers and right-wing organizers from around the country have failed. Their attempt to kickoff a shutdown battle against pro-choice women’s rights came down to failure by 10 percentage points. A spread that is at least as great as national averages – perhaps foreshadowing another step forward in the whole range of civil rights changes happening in the United States.

Nutballs from Operation Rescue moved to Albuquerque, setting up a field headquarters away from their bastion in Kansas here in New Mexico. Fortunately, though we have our own native crew of religious crazies, we also have a much larger number of religious folks, atheists, ordinary who-gives-a-damn citizens who resent attempts to shut down civil liberties in the name of superstition over science.

No need to refresh the realities of the issue. Just a chance to congratulate the citizens of Albuquerque, New Mexico, who turned out more voters in this special election than came out to re-elect a popular Republican mayor a few weeks ago.

With 49 of 50 polling places reporting, AGAINST 55% – 45% FOR limiting the right to choose an abortion.

Written by Ed Campbell

November 19, 2013 at 10:38 pm

Catholic Bishop leads conservative freak-out. Plans exorcism while Illinois governor signs law affirming same-sex civil rights

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A Catholic bishop in Illinois said…he was planning prayers of “supplication and exorcism” to protest the state governor’s plan to sign same-sex marriage into law.

Next week, Illinois will become the 16th U.S. state to extend marriage rights to gay couples, following Hawaii, whose governor signed it into law on Wednesday. The Illinois law will take effect on June 1, 2014.

Bishop Thomas John Paprocki of Springfield, the state’s capital, said that those who contract civil same-sex marriages are culpable of “serious sin.” He planned the service to coincide with the signing of the legislation by Governor Pat Quinn on Wednesday.

Without naming names, Paprocki criticized Catholic politicians for their support of the measure…

Both Quinn and powerful Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan are Catholic Democrats. Speaking in support of the legislation in Springfield last week, Madigan quoted Pope Francis, who asked “Who am I to judge?” regarding gay clergy.

Quinn had no immediate comment on the planned exorcism, which will be held at Springfield’s Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception.

Paprocki made news before the 2012 presidential election by warning his flock in a letter of the “intrinsic evils” of the Democratic platform’s support of abortion and same-sex marriage, and that to vote for someone who promotes such actions is to risk your soul.

The funniest thing is that many polls find Catholic voters tend to support gay marriage a wee bit more than other denominations. Maybe their lifetime of experience with leaders who are hypocrites better equip them to deal with the follies of our nation’s fear of progress.

We’re all witnessing campaigns around the United States from sects of conservative Catholics who are upset that the Pope is querying members of the church for their opinions on matters like equal rights for women, civil rights for LGBT folks, all that far-out democracy kind of stuff.

There actually are Tea Party nutballs who say – gasp – the Pope may be a Liberal.

Written by Ed Campbell

November 16, 2013 at 8:00 am

Native American tribes ignore Oklahoma ban on gay marriage

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Two gay men are getting married under Native American tribal law in Oklahoma, apparently circumventing a state law that does not allow same-sex unions.

Activists said the marriage advances the cause of gay rights in a state that has blocked federal benefits for same-sex military couples in the past.

Jason Pickel, 36, and Darren Black Bear, 45, who have been together for more than eight years, were planning a trip to Iowa to get married. But they changed their minds when the Cheyenne and Arapaho tribes allowed them to pick up a marriage license on Friday in the tribes’ courthouse after the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) was struck down, Pickel told Al Jazeera.

“I proposed to Darren several years ago, and we were planning an elaborate wedding,” he said. “Now,” he added, “we decided the time was right. I’m so happy; it’s just amazing.”

Lisa Liebl, the tribes’ public relations officer, told Al Jazeera in an email, “This is the 3rd same-sex couple to be issued a marriage license by the Cheyenne and Arapaho Tribes.”

According to their legal code, the candidates should be married on sovereign land and one should be a member of the tribes, but a marriage license should not specify a couple’s gender. The code reflects the respect enshrined in some Native American communities for gay individuals, who are often believed to be endowed with special spiritual gifts…

Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Ed Campbell

October 27, 2013 at 2:00 pm

IRS to recognize all gay marriages

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All legally married same-sex couples will be recognized for federal tax purposes, regardless of whether the state where they live recognizes the marriage, the Treasury Department and the Internal Revenue Service said Thursday.

The federal rules change is one of many stemming from the landmark Supreme Court decision in June that struck down the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act. That ruling found that same-sex couples were entitled to federal benefits, but left open the question of how the federal government would actually administer those benefits.

As of the 2013 tax year, same-sex spouses cannot file federal tax returns as if they were single. Instead, they will have to opt for filing as “married filing jointly” or “married filing separately.” The location of their marriage — as long as it is legal — or residence does not matter: a same-sex couple who marry in Albany and move to Alabama will be treated the same as a same-sex couple who marry and live in Massachusetts.

“Today’s ruling provides certainty and clear, coherent tax-filing guidance for all legally married same-sex couples nationwide,” Treasury Secretary Jacob J. Lew said in a statement. “This ruling also assures legally married same-sex couples that they can move freely throughout the country knowing that their federal filing status will not change.”

The important part about mundane is the government finally starting to treat same-sex couples like anyone else. They won’t stick out in the crowd of ordinary people assuming too much of our nation’s tax burden, anyway.

The ruling applies to all legal marriages made in the United States or foreign countries – it does not extend to civil unions, registered domestic partnerships or other legal relationships. So, that’s the copout handed to right-wing dorks who can’t stand civil rights being fully extended to a class of people their grandfather wouldn’t have approved of.

Written by Ed Campbell

August 30, 2013 at 2:00 am

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