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The latest blue state political news, from the most reliable sources, all in one place.

Daily Kos Wed, 26 Nov 2014 19:22:36 GMT  

Reid's tax package deal with House GOP effectively dead after veto threat
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) speaks during a joint news conference with Sen. Charles Schumer (D-NY)(L) and Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-IL) (R) on the Republican Filibuster of Reid's debt plan on Capitol Hill in Washington July 29, 2011
WTF, guys?
The deal Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid was apparently close to sealing with House Republican leaders to make a bunch of tax breaks for corporations permanent while ending others that help lower- and middle-income families, seems pretty much dead now. The White House announced it would veto the plan, a veto that Democrats insist would be sustained.
"The president would veto the proposed deal because it would provide permanent tax breaks to help well-connected corporations while neglecting working families," said Jennifer Friedman, a White House spokeswoman. […]

A veto would be the third and by far the most significant of Mr. Obama’s presidency. His threat sent negotiators back to the table to see if Republicans could add measures that would win liberal support, especially a permanently expanded child tax credit for the working poor.

"It's somewhat ironic they're willing to just proceed here, unpaid for, leave the middle class behind and include a lot of things that I think wouldn't benefit our economy," said Jason Furman, chairman of the White House Council of Economic Advisers.

Why Reid would be willing to strike such a deal remains sort of a mystery, but Senate Democrats apparently argued to the Times in this piece that they thought it was the best deal possible before leadership in the Senate changes hands in January, and this:
Republicans say Congress might pass a one-year retroactive measure that would simply start the fight all over again in January, when they control the Senate and their numbers are fortified in the House.
Postponing the inevitable? But it was a very one-sided return on the negotiations. What Reid would have gained is a permanent extension of the American Opportunity Tax Credit, which provides tax relief for people with student loans, an extension of the deduction for employer-provided mass transit benefits, charitable-giving incentives, and the deduction for state and local sales taxes. None of that is worth jettisoning the expansion of the Earned Income Tax Credit or Child Care Tax Credit that benefit so many lower-income families. The deal makes no sense from a Democratic perspective, which is why Sen. Sherrod Brown and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi say they are determined to scuttle it.
Representative Nancy Pelosi of California, the House minority leader, made several calls to key House Democrats to ensure the votes would be there in the House to sustain the president’s veto.

"The light of day has changed the way this agreement might look," Mr. Brown said.

It can pretty much be considered dead at this point, with the veto threat and Democratic opposition. But it's an alarming harbinger of what might come from Senate Democratic leadership when they're in the minority.

Pensito Review Wed, 26 Nov 2014 19:22:37 GMT  

Tailgunner Ted Cruz Says He’s Not ‘All That Conservative’

I don’t think I’m all that conservative.

— Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX), quoted by the New York Observer.

I don’t think I’m all that conservative.

— Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX), quoted by the New York Observer.


http://blogs.ajc.com/mike-luckovich/feed/ Wed, 26 Nov 2014 19:23:00 GMT  


ThinkProgress Wed, 26 Nov 2014 19:22:37 GMT  

Envelope-Pushing Pakistani Bollywood Star Gets 26 Years For Blasphemy

"When the final verdict comes, it will do justice to me. Nothing bad is going to happen.”

The post Envelope-Pushing Pakistani Bollywood Star Gets 26 Years For Blasphemy appeared first on ThinkProgress.

veena4

CREDIT: YouTube

A Pakistani court sentenced Bollywood star Veena Malik and her media mogul husband to 26 years in prison for blasphemy. The court found their TV mock-wedding blasphemous because it was set to a devotional song about the wedding of the Prophet Mohammad’s daughter.

“The malicious acts of the proclaimed offenders ignited the sentiments of all the Muslims of the country and hurt the feelings, which cannot be taken lightly and there is need to strictly curb such tendency,” the 40-page verdict said.

The accused were not present at the trial, and the court arranged for a state lawyer to defend them.

Along with a TV executive and host, the famous couple have been ordered to surrender their passports and properties as well as pay a fine of nearly $13,000 for the offending program which set off a firestorm of controversy when it first aired in May. Many observers suggested that blasphemy accusations were part of a broader campaign to malign Geo TV, the country’s largest news channel. The independent network has long been the target of scorn from country’s religious lobby, military supporters, and business rivals.

Geo TV picked a tough fight in April when it accused the ISI, Pakistan’s powerful spy agency of shooting the influential talk show host, Hamid Mir. The channel was ordered off the air and fined $100,000 following complaints filed by the ministry of defense.

Malik, who lives with her husband in Dubai, claims that she is innocent and would never commit blasphemy.

“We are planning to return to Pakistan in December,” she said. “I have always been a person who faced troubles by looking it in the eye. I have faced highs and lows in my life. But I am sure I haven’t done anything wrong.”

The Bollywood actress comes with her own controversies which have been met with a combination of derision and eye-rolling from Pakistanis.

In 2011, she appeared nude on the cover of an Indian magazine with the letters “ISI” stenciled onto her arm. Malik sued, claiming that she was clothed on the set and that her photo was “morphed” to make her appear naked.

After a trip to Islam’s holiest site in Mecca, Saudi Arabia earlier this year, she said she “matured” and would be giving up acting and singing for good.

While she’s so far kept her word and turned her focus to her first child, some Pakistani commentators believe that the retirement announcement was just another antic for someone who has built a career on shock factor. One columnist wrote in Pakistan’s Express Tribune newspaper:

My point is that Veena has gone out of her way to create a spectacle out of everything she has put herself into. And she has done a good job, judging from the fame she has accumulated over the years. I don’t think there is anyone who would not know of Veena Malik. They might not have seen her pictures, shows or movies, but they would still know who she is and why she is famous.

In this case, it’s not fame that will save her but rather the limited purview of the court which ruled against her.

“Twenty-six years! Come on. Twenty-six years is a lifetime,” Malik said when the ruling came out, adding, “But I have faith in higher courts in Pakistan. When the final verdict comes, it will do justice to me. Nothing bad is going to happen.”

The case may not even have to make its way to a higher court to save Malik from jail time. That’s because court which ruled against her is a regional one. Its decisions don’t apply to the rest of the country. Similar blasphemy allegations have been registered against the four elsewhere, including in the cities of Islamabad and Karachi.

But such charges aren’t always mere theatrics. Blasphemy is a capital offence in Pakistan, and since the laws around it are open-ended, they’re often invoked to settle political scores and unfairly target minorities.

The case of Aasia Bibi is a prime example. The Christian farm worker was sentenced to death four years ago for blasphemy after some Muslim women who worked with her refused to drink from a bucket that she had touched. The ruling against her has been upheld by one of Pakistan’s top courts. Last week, her husband appealed for a presidential pardon to save his wife’s life.

The post Envelope-Pushing Pakistani Bollywood Star Gets 26 Years For Blasphemy appeared first on ThinkProgress.

Darren Wilson And George Zimmerman Described Mike Brown and Trayvon Martin The Same Way

Wilson and Zimmerman tell eerily similar stories.

The post Darren Wilson And George Zimmerman Described Mike Brown and Trayvon Martin The Same Way appeared first on ThinkProgress.

mikebrown-trayvonmartin

CREDIT: AP and NBC

Following the explosive announcement of the non-indictment of Officer Darren Wilson, documents released to the public reveal for the first time a first-hand account of the death of 18-year-old Michael Brown.

Wilson, who shot the unarmed Brown a total of 12 times, told a grand jury that the high schooler immediately provoked a violent confrontation.

Wilson2
Wilson3

The description is eerily similar to another lethal confrontation with an unarmed black teen in broad daylight: the death of Trayvon Martin in Sanford, Florida. George Zimmerman, the man who shot and killed Martin, told police that the teen “jumped out from the bushes” and punched him in the face, knocking him down. “I started screaming for help. I couldn’t see. I couldn’t breathe,” he said. “He grabbed my head and started hitting it into the sidewalk. My head felt like it was going to explode.”

Zimmerman also claimed Martin put his hand over Zimmerman’s mouth and nose and told him, “You’re going to die tonight.”

Both Zimmerman and Darren Wilson told officials that the young men they killed had their hands in their waistbands—suggesting they feared the presence of a weapon when there was none.

Throughout his testimony, Wilson repeatedly referenced Brown’s size, calling him “really big,” “obviously bigger than I was,” and saying he felt “like a five-year-old holding onto Hulk Hogan,” though the two men were about the same height.

Later, describing the moment right after he first fired the first bullet, he said Brown “looked up at me and had the most intense aggressive face. The only way I can describe it, it looks like a demon.” In other places, he describes Brown in animalistic terms (“he made like a grunting, like aggravated sound”) and supernatural ones (“it looked like he was almost bulking up to run through the shots”).

Zimmerman offered a vaguer physical description, telling a 911 dispatcher that Martin looked like “real suspicious guy” and saying: “This guy looks like he’s up to no good, or he’s on drugs or something.”

Both Zimmerman and Wilson are free men today, in part because of these accounts and descriptions provided to law enforcement and the courts. Though the public may never know exactly what happened on those days, research shows that hidden biases often lead people to see African Americans as aggressive, superhuman and less vulnerable to pain.

The descriptions from Zimmerman and Wilson also couldn’t be further from the picture of the young men painted by friends, family, and teachers. Michael Brown has been described as a “gentle giant” by those who knew him well, while Trayvon Martin’s close friend said: “He cared about you. That’s a good human.”

The post Darren Wilson And George Zimmerman Described Mike Brown and Trayvon Martin The Same Way appeared first on ThinkProgress.

Millennials’ Nonchalance About HIV Has Made The Virus A ‘Silent Killer’

"For people living with HIV and AIDS, it's not enough to know -- you also have to go for health care."

The post Millennials’ Nonchalance About HIV Has Made The Virus A ‘Silent Killer’ appeared first on ThinkProgress.

In this May 10, 2012 file photo, Dr. Lisa Sterman holds up a Truvada pill, an HIV treatment pill used to prevent infection in people at high risk of getting the AIDS virus, at her office in San Francisco.

In this May 10, 2012 file photo, Dr. Lisa Sterman holds up a Truvada pill, an HIV treatment pill used to prevent infection in people at high risk of getting the AIDS virus, at her office in San Francisco.

CREDIT: AP Photo/Jeff Chiu, File

NBA Hall of Famer Earvin “Magic” Johnson has inspired millions because of all that he has done with his success despite having HIV: start a foundation, spearhead redevelopment efforts in underserved communities, launch successful businesses ventures, and serve as an NBA commentator.

On Sirius XM’s Hip-Hop Nation earlier this year, Johnson put to rest rumors that he had been fully cured of HIV. The entrepreneur told host Renada Romain that he has been able to remain healthy, not with a special concoction, but with consistent care and the combination of pills that HIV-positive people take to keep the virus at bay.

“I do have it and have had it for 22 years. It’s just laying asleep in my body,” said Johnson. “The virus acts different in everybody … so just because I’m doing well, you might NOT do well.”

Thanks to Johnson’s story and that of other celebrities, a generation of Americans removed from the AIDS epidemic of the 1980s don’t see HIV as a death sentence. Awareness campaigns, billions of dollars in research, and improvements in testing and prevention techniques have lengthened the lives of millions of people with the virus. In recent years, mother-to-child transmission of the virus also dropped by nearly 90 percent.

The nonchalance that people have toward HIV, however, has thwarted ongoing efforts to push back against the virus and ensure that the infected live long, fruitful lives.

A recent study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that 70 percent of HIV-positive Americans didn’t have the virus under control. Among that group, people either hadn’t received regular medical care or remained unaware of their HIV-positive status, according to a report recently released by the federal agency.

Among those who had not received medication that suppresses the virus, nearly two-thirds knew their status, 20 percent didn’t know that they had been infected, and 14 percent hadn’t been able to stop the virus’ development, even with treatment. Young people fared even worse: 13 percent have achieved viral suppression, according to the study.

Rolando M. Viani, professor of clinical pediatrics at the University of California, San Diego, foresaw this outcome in 2009 when he predicted a “silent epidemic” among young people during an interview with health website Infectious Diseases in Children.

“Young people today have not seen the epidemic killing their friends and partners like those at-risk did in the 1980s,” Viani said. “Among many young people, this has led to the development of a somewhat nonchalant attitude about HIV risk. Many young people do not understand the difficulties they will face if they acquire HIV infection and the enormous challenge of HIV treatment.”

CDC clinical guidelines require that the HIV-infected receive some form of treatment. Antiretroviral medication has been found to significant lessen the impact of HIV in the afflicted and reduce the spread of the virus to their sexual partners by 96 percent, according to the federal agency.

HIV patients can expect the virus to reproduce rapidly in their bodies within ten years without antiretroviral treatment, even if they show mild symptoms. Once HIV turns into AIDS, infected people usually have an average of three years left to live.

“For people living with HIV and AIDS, it’s not enough to know — you also have to go for health care,” CDC Director Dr. Tom Frieden told reporters earlier this week.

“For health care systems, it’s not enough to diagnose patients. You have to take accountability and responsibility for every patient diagnosed in your health center, to provide them with the most sensitive, effective, culturally appropriate care so that they will get onto treatment, stay into treatment, live longer, live healthier, stay out of the hospital and not infect others.”

For some HIV-positive people, however, receiving treatment often proves as much of a burden as the virus itself. While the Affordable Care Act forbids insurance companies from refusing coverage to people with preexisting conditions, many providers have categorized special drugs — including those that treat HIV — so that patients shoulder as much as 50 percent of the total cost.

While Obamacare caps annual out-of-pocket costs at $6,350 for individuals and $12,700 for families, patient advocates say that many HIV patients usually end up reaching the cap before insurance money kicks in. HIV patients living in states without Medicaid expansion fare much worse, making the Ryan White HIV/AIDS Program, a safety net for more than 500,000 HIV-positive people without adequate safety coverage, even more crucial.

Earlier this year, patient advocacy groups filed complaints with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services in response to what they described as insurance providers’ attempts to shift treatment costs to HIV-positive consumers.

“By putting the drugs that are recommended up on the highest tiers in an unaffordable place, they are in essence discriminating against people with HIV because these are the lifesaving drugs they require to survive,” Dr. Melanie Thompson, a Georgia physician told Reuters in August.

That’s why the CDC plans to expand HIV diagnosis and treatment using its national HIV/AIDS strategy as a guide. The agency will lead efforts to identify and contact people who have fallen out of care. With World AIDS Day less than a week away, Johnson also plans to raise awareness among young people by cohosting events with fraternities and other young groups.

The post Millennials’ Nonchalance About HIV Has Made The Virus A ‘Silent Killer’ appeared first on ThinkProgress.


PoliticusUSA Wed, 26 Nov 2014 19:22:37 GMT  

GOP Fail: Almost Half a Million People Sign Up for Obamacare in First Week
Almost half a million people signed up for Obamacare in one week.

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Coast To Coast: Thousands Of People Across The Nation Protest In Solidarity With Ferguson
Thousands of protesters in 170 American cities participated in rallies and marches Tuesday night to not only show their solidarity with Ferguson protesters, but to also display their outrage at the racial injustice apparent in the nation's broken legal system.

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With One Move Obama Has Completely Shattered The Republican Agenda
The consequence of President Obama turning the tables and using the Republican just say no strategy against them is that the president has completely shattered Boehner and McConnell's agenda.

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Paul Krugman Wed, 26 Nov 2014 19:23:00 GMT  

Keynes Is Slowly Winning
In the long run, wrong ideas are sort of dead.
The Wisdom of Peter Schiff
No, seriously, almost.
Friday Night Music: Jessica Hernandez and the Deltas
A pick-me-up on a cold night.

Media Matters for America - Latest Items Wed, 26 Nov 2014 19:23:00 GMT  

WSJ Badly Misreads Legal Justification For Obama's Immigration Order

The Wall Street Journal is misrepresenting the legal justification for President Obama's executive actions on immigration from the Justice Department's Office of Legal Counsel (OLC) -- even falsely claiming that the OLC's opinion does not quote "specific statutory language."

On November 20, Obama announced that he would take executive action on immigration by prioritizing deportations of dangerous undocumented immigrants over the undocumented parents of U.S. citizens or lawful permanent residents who pass a criminal background check and register for temporary administrative relief. Right-wing media were quick to accuse Obama of lawlessness for this deferred action on deportations and to declare his order "unconstitutional," despite the fact that the overwhelming majority of legal experts agree that the president has the authority to exercise this sort of prosecutorial discretion in service of family unification.

The Wall Street Journal was no exception. Before the president issued his executive order, the Journal claimed in a November 16 editorial that the president didn't have the authority to act on immigration because his administration had not yet received a "written legal justification" from the OLC. According to the editorial, the "President should always seek legal justification for controversial actions to ensure that he is on solid constitutional ground" by asking for the OLC's guidance. The Journal ultimately concluded that "[i]t's possible" the Obama administration hadn't "sought an immigration opinion because they suspect there's little chance that even a pliant Office of Legal Counsel could find a legal justification" -- apparently unaware that Obama had already received legal advice from the OLC, Attorney General Eric Holder, and immigration experts before the Journal published its editorial.

As requested, the OLC published its official opinion on Obama's immigration proposal prior to his announcement on November 20. The opinion determined that the president had the authority to prioritize and defer some deportations over others -- but that apparently wasn't enough to appease the Journal. In a November 24 editorial, the Journal criticized the OLC's opinion: "Now that we've studied the legal memo his government used to support his order, his abuse of power looks even worse." But the editorial incorrectly claimed the opinion allowed the president to "rewrite" the law by "exempting whole categories of people and extending federal benefits that they aren't entitled to by statute." Worse, the Journal falsely claimed the memo omitted information that it actually included. From the November 24 editorial:

The problem, as the Justice Department's Office of Legal Counsel (OLC) concedes in the 33-page document, is that "the Executive cannot, under the guise of exercising enforcement discretion, attempt to effectively rewrite laws to match its policy preferences" or apply "set formulas or bright-line rules." Yet Mr. Obama is making precisely such a rewrite, by exempting whole categories of people and extending federal benefits that they aren't entitled to by statute.

By recognizing that there is no categorical exemption, the OLC is implicitly admitting that Mr. Obama is stretching prosecutorial discretion beyond legal norms.

[...]

These are the kind of errors that normally scrupulous lawyers make under deadlines or political pressure. The OLC memo reveals that the White House did not submit formal legal questions until Wednesday, Nov. 19, and the OLC drafted the opinion the same day. The details of the new program weren't complete and submitted to the Justice Department until Monday. The OLC published the memo on Thursday, Nov. 20.

We wouldn't be surprised if some West Wing minion read our editorial [from November 16] "The Missing Immigration Memo," panicked, and rushed one out. Mr. Obama's political calculation --in keeping with his lawlessness on health care, drug policy and the rest -- seems to be that he'll dispense with laws or parts of laws that displease him and dare Congress to challenge him. Republicans can and should take the dare.


Right Wing Watch Wed, 26 Nov 2014 19:23:00 GMT  

In Mississippi Marriage Ruling, Judge Gives History Lesson on Anti-Gay Discrimination

The federal court ruling striking down Mississippi’s ban on same-sex couples getting married is worth reading for many reasons. Paul wrote earlier at People For the American Way's blog about U.S. District Judge Carlton Reeves’s compelling explanation of the role of the courts in protecting Americans’ constitutional rights. The ruling is also filled with rich historical detail about the extent to which the state of Mississippi and the federal government have discriminated against LGBT citizens over the years, as well as the ways in which groups like the Ku Klux Klan and the notorious Mississippi State Sovereignty Commission used anti-gay rhetoric and innuendo in their attacks on African American civil rights leaders and institutions.

This history is an important rebuttal to bogus claims by anti-gay activists that gay people do not need to have their rights protected in law because they have never suffered from discrimination.

Quotes from the opinion, with citations removed for readability:

Any claim that Mississippians quietly accommodated gay and lesbian citizens could no longer be made in the 1960s, when prejudice against homosexuals (and other groups) became more visible during the civil rights movement. Segregationists called their opponents “racial  perverts,” while U.S. Marshals – summoned to enforce civil rights – were labeled “sadists and  perverts.” Klan propaganda tied together “Communists, homosexuals, and Jews, fornicators and liberals and angry blacks – infidels all.”

One Klan photo showed a black man touching the crotch of the white man sitting next to him, attempting to make the link between racial equality and homosexuality explicit.

Civil rights leaders had predicted the attack. In selecting the Freedom Riders, James Farmer had conducted interviews to weed out “Communists, homosexuals, [and] drug addicts.” “We had to screen them very carefully because we knew that if they found anything to throw at us, they would throw it,” he explained.

This reflected society’s notion that homosexuals were “undesirables.” It also placed civil rights leaders in the position of seeking rights for one disenfranchised group while simultaneously seeking to avoid association with another disenfranchised group. Mississippians opposed to integration harassed several civil rights leaders for their homosexuality. Bill Higgs was a prominent gay Mississippi civil rights lawyer. He was targeted for his activism, convicted in absentia of delinquency of a minor, and threatened with “unlimited  jailings” should he ever return to Mississippi.

He never did.

Reeves also discusses the case of Bayard Rustin, the openly gay African American civil rights activist who organized the 1963 March on Washington at which Martin Luther King, Jr. delivered his famous “I Have a Dream” speech.

The most interesting part of Rustin’s story, though – and the reason why he merits more discussion here – is that he was subjected to anti-gay discrimination by both white and black people, majority and minority alike. Congressman Adam Clayton Powell, a black Democrat, threatened to feed the media a false story that Rustin was having an affair with Martin Luther King, Jr., unless Dr. King canceled a protest at the Democratic National Convention.

Other persons within the civil rights movement were similarly “put off by Rustin’s homosexuality.” Roy Wilkins, an NAACP executive, “was particularly nasty to Bayard Rustin – very hostile,” in part because he “was very nervous about Bayard’s homosexuality.” Dr. King eventually had Rustin resign “because of persistent criticism of Rustin’s homosexuality and Communist ties and because of Congressman Adam Clayton Powell’s threat.”

Rustin reemerged years later as one of the principal organizers of the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom. A. Philip Randolph and Dr. King wanted Rustin as the march’s chief organizer, but Wilkins pushed back “because [Rustin] was gay . . . something which in particular would offend J. Edgar Hoover.” The group ultimately “decided Randolph would be in charge of the march, that Rustin would be the principal organizer, but that he would stay somewhat in the background.”

The concern about offending Hoover was prescient, as the FBI Director and other top officials soon moved to use Rustin’s homosexuality against him. In August 1963, FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover, Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy, and President John F. Kennedy urgently reviewed the transcript of a FBI wiretap in which Dr. King acknowledged Rustin’s homosexuality. A day later, Senator Strom Thurmond of South Carolina “rose in the Senate to denounce Rustin for sexual perversion, vagrancy, and lewdness.” FBI “headquarters badgered the field offices for new details” of Rustin’s sex life for months.

As Reeves makes clear, this kind of persecution was not only reserved for civil rights activists.

Rustin’s story speaks to the long tradition of Americans from all walks of life uniting to discriminate against homosexuals. It did not matter if one was liberal or conservative, segregationist or civil rights leader, Democrat or Republican; homosexuals were “the other.” Being homosexual invited scrutiny and professional consequences.

These consequences befell quite a few Mississippians. Ted Russell, the conductor of the Jackson Symphony Orchestra, lost his job and his Belhaven College faculty position after he was caught in a gay sex sting by the Jackson Police Department. In the early 1980s, Congressman Jon Hinson drew scrutiny for frequenting an X-rated gay movie theater in Washington, D.C., and although he won reelection, he resigned when he returned to Washington and was caught performing gay sex acts in a Capitol Hill bathroom. As early as 1950, the State’s flagship institution of higher learning, the University of Mississippi, “forced three homosexual students and one faculty member to leave the university” because it “did not tolerate homosexuality.” Lesbian instructors at Mississippi University for Women were pushed out of their jobs, while students at other Mississippi public universities were expelled for their homosexuality. A 1979 article on gay Jacksonians said “most” remained closeted because “they fear losing their jobs, friends and families.”

Reeves discusses the anti-gay actions of the Mississippi State Sovereignty Commission, which was created in 1956 to maintain racial segregation by any means necessary.

Sovereignty Commission “[i]nvestigators and local officials also targeted local blacks and outsiders involved in civil rights activities as being sexually deviant.” They singled out Rust College, a private historically black institution, on reports that instructors there were “homosexuals and racial agitators.”

Those with power took smaller, yet meaningful, actions to discourage gay organizing and association in Mississippi. The State refused to let gay rights organizations incorporate as nonprofits. The newspaper at Mississippi State University – student-led, with an elected editor – refused to print a gay organization’s advertisement notifying gay and lesbian students of an off-campus “Gay Center” offering “counseling, legal aid and a library of homosexual literature. An advisor to the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights concluded that the Jackson Police Department took “a series . . . of maneuvers to harass members of Jackson’s gay community.” “As of 1985 not a single university campus in Mississippi recognized a lesbian and gay student group.”

Reeves’s ruling also makes clear that official discrimination is not only in the state’s past.

In 1990, the Mississippi Supreme Court affirmed a trial judge who declared that a mother, who was a lesbian, could not visit her children in the presence of her female partner. In Weigand v. Houghton, the Mississippi Supreme Court affirmed a trial judge who refused residential custody to a father in large part because he was in a long-term relationship with another man. A dissent complained that the father’s sexuality had impaired the court’s judgment, since the child would now have to live with “the unemployed stepfather [who] is a convicted felon, drinker, drug-taker, adulterer, wife-beater, and child-threatener, and . . . the mother [who] has been transitory, works two jobs, and has limited time with the child.”

In 2002, one of Mississippi’s justice court judges, frustrated with advances in gay rights in California, Vermont, and Hawaii, “opined that homosexuals belong in mental institutions.” Although he was reprimanded and fined by the Mississippi Commission on Judicial Performance, the Mississippi Supreme Court vacated the sanctions. It was more important for gay citizens to know that their judge was biased and seek his recusal than to “forc[e] judges to conceal their prejudice against gays and lesbians,” it wrote. The “Commission urges us to ‘calm the waters’ when, as the guardians of this state’s judicial system, we should be helping our citizens to spot the crocodiles.”

Reeves details a number of recent complaints and lawsuits challenging discriminatory treatment by state and local governments as well as legal inequities such as the fact that Mississippi law permits a single person to adopt a child but not gay or lesbian couples.

This kind of restriction was once supported by pseudoscience. We now recognize that it actually “harms the children, by telling them they don’t have two parents, like other children, and harms the parent who is not the adoptive parent by depriving him or her of the legal status of a parent.”

Reeves concludes the historical section of the ruling this way:

“The past is never dead. It’s not even past.” That is as true here as anywhere else. Seven centuries of strong objections to homosexual conduct have resulted in a constellation of State laws that treat gay and lesbian Mississippians as lesser, “other” people. Thus, it is easy to conclude that they have suffered through a long and unfortunate history of discrimination.


http://blog.buzzflash.com/rss.xml Wed, 26 Nov 2014 19:23:01 GMT  


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liberal adj.
  • Not limited to or by established, traditional, orthodox, or authoritarian attitudes, views, or dogmas; free from bigotry.
  • Favoring proposals for reform, open to new ideas for progress, and tolerant of the ideas and behavior of others; broad-minded.
  • Of, relating to, or characteristic of liberalism.
  • Liberal Of, designating, or characteristic of a political party founded on or associated with principles of social and political liberalism, especially in Great Britain, Canada, and the United States.




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