Workers with disabilities left out of Obama wage planFebruary 1, 2014
Advocates are crying foul after learning that many individuals with disabilities will likely be left out of President Barack Obama’s plan to hike the minimum wage for federal contractors.
Obama said in his State of the Union address earlier this week that he will issue an executive order mandating that federal contractors pay their workers no less than $10.10 per hour.
“In the coming weeks, I will issue an executive order requiring federal contractors to pay their federally-funded employees a fair wage of at least $10.10 an hour — because if you cook our troops’ meals or wash their dishes, you shouldn’t have to live in poverty,” Obama said.
But now advocates say they are being told that the plan excludes people with disabilities who currently earn less than the federal minimum of $7.25 per hour.
Employers — including many with federal government contracts — can obtain special permission from the U.S. Department of Labor to pay those with disabilities less than minimum wage under a provision that’s been in place since the 1930s. Many disability advocacy groups have urged an end to the policy in recent years arguing that it is outdated and unfairly encourages segregation.
It’s unclear how many people earn less than minimum wage as employees of federal contractors, but the AbilityOne Program, which facilitates federal contracts for employers of those with disabilities, says that nearly 50,000 people with disabilities were employed through its programs in 2012, many of whom are believed to be working for subminimum wage.
In a call this week with U.S. Secretary of Labor Tom Perez and Vice President Joe Biden, disability advocates say they were told that the executive order would not alter the ability of approved federal contractors to continue paying people with disabilities less than minimum wage, though such workers could see a slight uptick in pay. That’s because subminimum wage is often calculated as a percentage of the pay that a typical worker would earn for the same job.
Now disability groups are uniting to ask Obama to reconsider.
“This may mean that a worker receiving pennies an hour today may receive a dime as a result of the executive order. Surely we can do better than this,” wrote Jeff Rosen, chairperson of the National Council on Disability, an independent federal agency tasked with advising Congress and the president on disability issues, in a letter to Perez and Obama.
Meanwhile, a separate letter to the administration organized by the Collaboration to Promote Self Determination has support from the Autism Society, the National Down Syndrome Congress, the Autistic Self Advocacy Network and TASH, among others.
“All employees of federal contractors should mean all employees, regardless of disability status,” the letter says.
White House officials declined to offer specifics about the executive order Obama will issue, but said that any changes to the current subminimum wage laws would require action from Congress. Further details about the executive order will be released “in the near future,” an administration spokesman said.
Advocates insist, however, that the president does have the authority to act unilaterally.
“We believe that if the president has the power to require government contractors to pay a higher wage for workers without disabilities that he can do the same for workers with disabilities,” said Ari Ne’eman, president of the Autistic Self Advocacy Network.
Source

Workers with disabilities left out of Obama wage plan
February 1, 2014

Advocates are crying foul after learning that many individuals with disabilities will likely be left out of President Barack Obama’s plan to hike the minimum wage for federal contractors.

Obama said in his State of the Union address earlier this week that he will issue an executive order mandating that federal contractors pay their workers no less than $10.10 per hour.

“In the coming weeks, I will issue an executive order requiring federal contractors to pay their federally-funded employees a fair wage of at least $10.10 an hour — because if you cook our troops’ meals or wash their dishes, you shouldn’t have to live in poverty,” Obama said.

But now advocates say they are being told that the plan excludes people with disabilities who currently earn less than the federal minimum of $7.25 per hour.

Employers — including many with federal government contracts — can obtain special permission from the U.S. Department of Labor to pay those with disabilities less than minimum wage under a provision that’s been in place since the 1930s. Many disability advocacy groups have urged an end to the policy in recent years arguing that it is outdated and unfairly encourages segregation.

It’s unclear how many people earn less than minimum wage as employees of federal contractors, but the AbilityOne Program, which facilitates federal contracts for employers of those with disabilities, says that nearly 50,000 people with disabilities were employed through its programs in 2012, many of whom are believed to be working for subminimum wage.

In a call this week with U.S. Secretary of Labor Tom Perez and Vice President Joe Biden, disability advocates say they were told that the executive order would not alter the ability of approved federal contractors to continue paying people with disabilities less than minimum wage, though such workers could see a slight uptick in pay. That’s because subminimum wage is often calculated as a percentage of the pay that a typical worker would earn for the same job.

Now disability groups are uniting to ask Obama to reconsider.

“This may mean that a worker receiving pennies an hour today may receive a dime as a result of the executive order. Surely we can do better than this,” wrote Jeff Rosen, chairperson of the National Council on Disability, an independent federal agency tasked with advising Congress and the president on disability issues, in a letter to Perez and Obama.

Meanwhile, a separate letter to the administration organized by the Collaboration to Promote Self Determination has support from the Autism Society, the National Down Syndrome Congress, the Autistic Self Advocacy Network and TASH, among others.

“All employees of federal contractors should mean all employees, regardless of disability status,” the letter says.

White House officials declined to offer specifics about the executive order Obama will issue, but said that any changes to the current subminimum wage laws would require action from Congress. Further details about the executive order will be released “in the near future,” an administration spokesman said.

Advocates insist, however, that the president does have the authority to act unilaterally.

“We believe that if the president has the power to require government contractors to pay a higher wage for workers without disabilities that he can do the same for workers with disabilities,” said Ari Ne’eman, president of the Autistic Self Advocacy Network.

Source

"If I was an athlete today, I wouldn’t be concerned about anything other than what’s right. You need to follow your conscience, follow your heart, follow your wisdom, and follow your education as to what the plight is. If you feel like you must do something, the only thing you will regret is doing nothing." - Former track & field Olympian John Carlos (right) on the Sochi Olympics being the prime moment for athletes to stand up for LGBT rights.

"If I was an athlete today, I wouldn’t be concerned about anything other than what’s right. You need to follow your conscience, follow your heart, follow your wisdom, and follow your education as to what the plight is. If you feel like you must do something, the only thing you will regret is doing nothing." - Former track & field Olympian John Carlos (right) on the Sochi Olympics being the prime moment for athletes to stand up for LGBT rights.

In major legal victory, sex workers in California gain access to victim compensation rights

December 15, 2013

California officials voted Thursday to overturn a discriminatory rule that prevented sex workers who are physically or sexually assaulted from receiving money from a special victim compensation fund intended to help the victims of violent crimes. The change in policy means that sex workers will now be eligible for state assistance to pay for medical and related expenses they incur as a result of the assault.

Members of the Victim Compensation and Government Claims Board said they were compelled to change the “repugnant” rule after hearing the testimony of sex workers who have been assaulted and left without recourse or support following the crime, simply because of their job. Prior to the change, sex workers who were raped while working were not eligible for compensation because sex work is illegal in California, but the new policy recognizes that “rape is rape, period,” according to board chairwoman Marybel Batjer.

“Victims of this violent crime deserve compensation, regardless of circumstance,” she added.

As the Press Democrat reports, Carol Leigh, a representative of the Bay Area Sex Workers Advocacy Network, was among the women who testified before the board. Leigh said she was raped by two men who entered the massage parlor where she worked. “[The men] took a knife to my throat and demanded sex and money,” she testified. “I realized that, as a sex worker, I was a sitting duck, that the system, basically, was set up so that I felt that I couldn’t go to the police. … The rapists know, and they see us as targets.”

“I think we sent a big message today from this board for the state of California, that we are now going to mirror some of our other states that feel the same way. It’s a national issue,” Michael Ramos, district attorney in San Bernardino County, said following the vote.

“It really opens the way for women who have suffered a very violent and traumatic act to get recognition from the state that something terrible happened and that you can get compensated for it,” Rachel West, of the U.S. PROStitutes Collective, said of the change.

But the fight for sex workers’ rights in California and elsewhere continues, said Maxine Doogan, an organizer for the Erotic Service Providers Union. “We would like the state of California to adopt the Obama administration policy on prostitution, which is that prostitution should not be discriminated against in seeking public services.”

Source

Hempstead Independent School District (ISD) in Texas has confirmed that a middle school principal has been placed on leave after Hispanic students said that she forbid the entire school from speaking Spanish.

A group of students told KHOU that Hempstead Middle School Principal Amy Lacey announced over the intercom on Nov. 12 that they were no longer to use their native language in order to “prevent disruptions.”

It was over two weeks later before the superintendent sent a letter home insisting that “neither the district or any campus has any policy prohibiting the speaking of Spanish.”

But the students said that the effect of the ban had been chilling.

“People don’t want to speak it no more, and they don’t want to get caught speaking it because they’re going to get in trouble,” sixth-grade student Kiara Lozano explained to KHOU.

Some students felt that the principal gave teachers permission to discriminate against them.

“She was like no speaking Spanish,” eighth-grader Yedhany Gallegos recalled. “I was like that’s my first language. She said, well you can get out.”

….

I grew up in a border town in Texas where almost half of the kids in my class lived in Mexico,  & I had multiple grade school teachers who also banned speaking Spanish in the classroom. This discrimination happens all too often in many schools & it just absolutely cripples the student’s ability to learn.

sexgenderbody

asteriskseverywhere:

Find out more about Transgender Day of Remembrance at www.transgenderdor.org

See the list of people who died because of anti-transgender violence in 2012.

I’ll be joining the Bronx/Harlem LGBT Task Force in the first ever Transgender Day of Remembrance March on Wednesday, November 20 at 6 p.m. at 138th St. & 3rd Ave. 

See ya there.

Hate crimes in NYC on the rise: On Saturday night Dr. Prabhjot Singh was brutally attacked in his neighborhood by a large group of young men, who yelled the words “Osama,” “terrorist,” and “get him.” He says they grabbed his beard, punched him, and dragged him to the ground where they continued to beat him. He was rushed to the hospital with a fractured jaw and several missing teeth. Singh is Sikh and wears a turban and beard, and says he’s been profiled as a Muslim and attacked in the past, although never so violently. Singh is a professor at Columbia University, and is also a practicing physician. In addition he has also been an advocate for addressing historic discrimination against Sikhs in the U.S., which he says goes beyond mistaking this ethnic group for Muslims. The suspects have not yet been detained. 

Hate crimes in NYC on the rise: On Saturday night Dr. Prabhjot Singh was brutally attacked in his neighborhood by a large group of young men, who yelled the words “Osama,” “terrorist,” and “get him.” He says they grabbed his beard, punched him, and dragged him to the ground where they continued to beat him. He was rushed to the hospital with a fractured jaw and several missing teeth. Singh is Sikh and wears a turban and beard, and says he’s been profiled as a Muslim and attacked in the past, although never so violently. 

Singh is a professor at Columbia University, and is also a practicing physician. In addition he has also been an advocate for addressing historic discrimination against Sikhs in the U.S., which he says goes beyond mistaking this ethnic group for Muslims. The suspects have not yet been detained. 

I think we disproportionately stop whites too much and minorities too little. It’s exactly the reverse of what they’re saying. I don’t know where they went to school, but they certainly didn’t take a math course. Or a logic course.

Mayor Michael Bloomberg on NYPD’s Stop & Frisk program.

LOL, okay. Some stats:

  • From 2002 to 2011, black and Latino residents made up close to 90 percent of people stopped.
  • About 88 percent of stops – more than 3.8 million – were of innocent New Yorkers.
  • Even in neighborhoods that are predominantly white, black and Latino New Yorkers face the disproportionate brunt. For example, in 2011, Black and Latino New Yorkers made up 24 percent of the population in Park Slope, but 79 percent of stops.
  • In 2012, New Yorkers were stopped by the police 532,911 times
    - 473,644 were totally innocent (89 percent). 
    - 284,229 were black (55 percent).
    - 165,140 were Latino (32 percent). 
    - 50,366 were white (10 percent).

via NYCLU

Texas rushes ahead with voter ID law after supreme court decision
Officials in Texas said they would rush ahead with a controversial voter ID law that critics say will make it more difficult for ethnic minority citizens to vote, hours after the US supreme court released them from anti-discrimination constraints that have been in place for almost half a century.
The Texas attorney general, Greg Abbott, declared that in the light of the supreme court’s judgment striking down a key element of the 1965 Voting Rights Act he was implementing instantly the voter ID law that had previously blocked by the Obama administration. “With today’s decision, the state’s voter ID law will take effect immediately. Photo identification will now be required when voting in elections in Texas.”
The provocative speed with which Texas has raced to embrace its new freedoms underlines the high-stakes nature of the supreme court ruling. Civil rights leaders declared the judgment to be a major setback to the fight against race discrimination in the south that has been a running sore in the US since the civil war. “This is devastating,” the reverend Al Sharpton told MSNBC.
Benjamin Todd Jealous, president of the NAACP, called the outcome “outrageous. The court’s majority put politics over decades of precedent and the rights of voters. We are more vulnerable to the flood of attacks we have seen in recent years.”
Experts in voting rights laws warned that the supreme court’s 5-to-4 majority ruling would encourage local jurisdictions such as Texas to implement measures that could disenfranchise minority voters. Under the now moribund section four of the Voting Rights Act, Texas and eight other mainly southern states as well as counties in other parts of the country, were listed as being subject to “pre-clearance” – in other words, they were barred from tampering with electoral procedures without prior federal approval.
Research by the Brennan Center for Justice at New York University has shown that pre-clearance has consistently protected minority voters from discrimination. In the past 15 years, Brennan found, the Justice Department has blocked election changes from the listed jurisdictions 86 times, 43 of those in the past decade.
Myrna Pérez, author of the Brennan report, said that the most dangerous changes that could happen now were the invisible ones. “The biggest threats could come from small town officials making changes without any public notice or scrutiny – canceling an election, say, or moving the location of a polling station a week before election day.”
She added: “We will be asking people to keep vigilant.”
The Texas voter ID law was blocked by a federal court under the Voting Rights Act last August. The court found that the requirement to show photo identification before casting a ballot would have imposed “strict, unforgiving burdens” on poor minority voters and the cost of the scheme would have fallen disproportionately on blacks and Hispanics.
The Department of Justice pointed out that hundreds of thousands of registered voters in Texas were without the necessary identification and were thus at risk of disenfranchisement. A disproportionate number were Latino.
Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, dissenting from the ruling, highlighted a paradox at the heart of the majority opinion: “In the court’s view, the very success of section five of the Voting Rights Act demands its dormancy”.
Pamela Karlan, a professor at Stanford law school who advised the leadership of the bipartisan House judiciary committee in this case, likened the 5-4 ruling to a doctor telling a patient that their treatment had been so successful it could now be ended. “The court is saying: ‘You can stop taking your medicine now.’”
The new question, Karlan added, is what will happen to the patient once the treatment is terminated.
The answer to that question continues to divide America, both within the supreme court itself and in the wider response to its ruling. The majority judgment, written by chief justice John Roberts, focuses on how far the country has come over the past half century since Lyndon Johnson wrestled the act through a resistant Congress.
"Nearly 50 years later, things have changed dramatically. Blatantly discriminatory evasions of federal decrees are rare. And minority candidates hold office at unprecedented levels," Roberts writes.
The chief justice draws on census information to underline his point. In Alabama, the proportion of black people registered to vote has increased from 19% in 1965 to 73% in 2004; and from 6.7% to 76% in Mississippi.
That rosy view of progress is shared, unsurprisingly, by Shelby County, the predominantly white area of central Alabama that brought the challenge all the way to the supreme court. Frank “Butch” Ellis, who has been Shelby County’s attorney since 1964 when the Voting Rights Act was still being debated, insisted that Alabama at that time “was a different time, a different place, it didn’t resemble what it is now.
"I know there was discrimination in 1964, but I also know that what we were doing then is not a relevant barometer of what we are doing now in 2013. It’s not fair to override our sovereign jurisdiction based on a formula that is almost 50 years old."
Shelby County voters, who are about 90% white, have in recent years elected black mayors and a black president of the board of education, Ellis said. Pre-clearance he said was expensive and an administrative burden: “We had to go to Washington for pre-clearance just to move a polling station from one church to another church across the street.”
But for Ginsburg, backed by justices Sephen Breyer, Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan, it is the very success of pre-clearance that underlines why it must be preserved. “The Voting Rights Act has worked to combat voting discrimination where other remedies have been tried and failed,” she writes.
In her dissent, Ginsburg lists some of the insidious changes to voting laws that could now creep back into the American electoral landscape. Under pre-clearance, states including Texas have been blocked from racial gerrymandering by redrawing electoral boundaries in an attempt to create segregated legislative districts.
Other states have been barred from moving to “at-large voting” where the electoral power of minorities is diluted by the overall majority population. A similar dilution effect has been attempted by the discriminatory annexation into city limits of majority white suburbs.
Following the supreme court ruling, section two of the Voting Rights Act has been left in place. This allows for the US government to prosecute local officials anywhere in the country for implementing racially-discriminatory electoral laws.
Opponents of pre-clearance say that section two will be sufficient on its own as a safeguard against future discrimination. But the burden of challenging new electoral laws now shifts from the federal government to the individual voter.
Karlan said that by striking down pre-clearance the supreme court had “shifted the burden away from the perpetrators of discrimination and onto the shoulders of the victims of discrimination. Local minority voters will now have to find a lawyer and go to court – and for many that will be very difficult.”
Source
Submitted by dashielsheen!

Texas rushes ahead with voter ID law after supreme court decision

Officials in Texas said they would rush ahead with a controversial voter ID law that critics say will make it more difficult for ethnic minority citizens to vote, hours after the US supreme court released them from anti-discrimination constraints that have been in place for almost half a century.

The Texas attorney general, Greg Abbott, declared that in the light of the supreme court’s judgment striking down a key element of the 1965 Voting Rights Act he was implementing instantly the voter ID law that had previously blocked by the Obama administration. “With today’s decision, the state’s voter ID law will take effect immediately. Photo identification will now be required when voting in elections in Texas.”

The provocative speed with which Texas has raced to embrace its new freedoms underlines the high-stakes nature of the supreme court ruling. Civil rights leaders declared the judgment to be a major setback to the fight against race discrimination in the south that has been a running sore in the US since the civil war. “This is devastating,” the reverend Al Sharpton told MSNBC.

Benjamin Todd Jealous, president of the NAACP, called the outcome “outrageous. The court’s majority put politics over decades of precedent and the rights of voters. We are more vulnerable to the flood of attacks we have seen in recent years.”

Experts in voting rights laws warned that the supreme court’s 5-to-4 majority ruling would encourage local jurisdictions such as Texas to implement measures that could disenfranchise minority voters. Under the now moribund section four of the Voting Rights Act, Texas and eight other mainly southern states as well as counties in other parts of the country, were listed as being subject to “pre-clearance” – in other words, they were barred from tampering with electoral procedures without prior federal approval.

Research by the Brennan Center for Justice at New York University has shown that pre-clearance has consistently protected minority voters from discrimination. In the past 15 years, Brennan found, the Justice Department has blocked election changes from the listed jurisdictions 86 times, 43 of those in the past decade.

Myrna Pérez, author of the Brennan report, said that the most dangerous changes that could happen now were the invisible ones. “The biggest threats could come from small town officials making changes without any public notice or scrutiny – canceling an election, say, or moving the location of a polling station a week before election day.”

She added: “We will be asking people to keep vigilant.”

The Texas voter ID law was blocked by a federal court under the Voting Rights Act last August. The court found that the requirement to show photo identification before casting a ballot would have imposed “strict, unforgiving burdens” on poor minority voters and the cost of the scheme would have fallen disproportionately on blacks and Hispanics.

The Department of Justice pointed out that hundreds of thousands of registered voters in Texas were without the necessary identification and were thus at risk of disenfranchisement. A disproportionate number were Latino.

Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, dissenting from the ruling, highlighted a paradox at the heart of the majority opinion: “In the court’s view, the very success of section five of the Voting Rights Act demands its dormancy”.

Pamela Karlan, a professor at Stanford law school who advised the leadership of the bipartisan House judiciary committee in this case, likened the 5-4 ruling to a doctor telling a patient that their treatment had been so successful it could now be ended. “The court is saying: ‘You can stop taking your medicine now.’”

The new question, Karlan added, is what will happen to the patient once the treatment is terminated.

The answer to that question continues to divide America, both within the supreme court itself and in the wider response to its ruling. The majority judgment, written by chief justice John Roberts, focuses on how far the country has come over the past half century since Lyndon Johnson wrestled the act through a resistant Congress.

"Nearly 50 years later, things have changed dramatically. Blatantly discriminatory evasions of federal decrees are rare. And minority candidates hold office at unprecedented levels," Roberts writes.

The chief justice draws on census information to underline his point. In Alabama, the proportion of black people registered to vote has increased from 19% in 1965 to 73% in 2004; and from 6.7% to 76% in Mississippi.

That rosy view of progress is shared, unsurprisingly, by Shelby County, the predominantly white area of central Alabama that brought the challenge all the way to the supreme court. Frank “Butch” Ellis, who has been Shelby County’s attorney since 1964 when the Voting Rights Act was still being debated, insisted that Alabama at that time “was a different time, a different place, it didn’t resemble what it is now.

"I know there was discrimination in 1964, but I also know that what we were doing then is not a relevant barometer of what we are doing now in 2013. It’s not fair to override our sovereign jurisdiction based on a formula that is almost 50 years old."

Shelby County voters, who are about 90% white, have in recent years elected black mayors and a black president of the board of education, Ellis said. Pre-clearance he said was expensive and an administrative burden: “We had to go to Washington for pre-clearance just to move a polling station from one church to another church across the street.”

But for Ginsburg, backed by justices Sephen Breyer, Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan, it is the very success of pre-clearance that underlines why it must be preserved. “The Voting Rights Act has worked to combat voting discrimination where other remedies have been tried and failed,” she writes.

In her dissent, Ginsburg lists some of the insidious changes to voting laws that could now creep back into the American electoral landscape. Under pre-clearance, states including Texas have been blocked from racial gerrymandering by redrawing electoral boundaries in an attempt to create segregated legislative districts.

Other states have been barred from moving to “at-large voting” where the electoral power of minorities is diluted by the overall majority population. A similar dilution effect has been attempted by the discriminatory annexation into city limits of majority white suburbs.

Following the supreme court ruling, section two of the Voting Rights Act has been left in place. This allows for the US government to prosecute local officials anywhere in the country for implementing racially-discriminatory electoral laws.

Opponents of pre-clearance say that section two will be sufficient on its own as a safeguard against future discrimination. But the burden of challenging new electoral laws now shifts from the federal government to the individual voter.

Karlan said that by striking down pre-clearance the supreme court had “shifted the burden away from the perpetrators of discrimination and onto the shoulders of the victims of discrimination. Local minority voters will now have to find a lawyer and go to court – and for many that will be very difficult.”

Source

Submitted by dashielsheen!

Homophobic law passed in Russia creates greater climate of fear for homosexuals; makes acknowledging queer existence illegal
June 12, 2013

Moscow’s gays and their supporters rallied Wednesday with rainbow flags — only 24 hours after Russia’s Parliament passed a law that effectively bans gay-pride parades or speaking publicly in defense of gay rights.

The gays marched amid an anti-Kremlin opposition rally that drew about 10,000 protesters to a Moscow park.

Between the red flags of the communists and the black flags of the anarchists, the gay activists walked bunched together, waving their rainbow flags, but appeared visibly nervous.  They eyed the black uniformed police that cut occasionally through the marchers.

Vitaly held a brightly colored gay-rights sign.  But he talked with a nervous stutter. “In any normal country, [there] should not be a law like this, said Vitaly, a 19-year-old computer student.  So, it is really negative.  It really makes no sense.  And my friends, who are mostly not gay, also understand the law is absurd and that something wicked is happening now in our country,” said Vitaly.

The day before, about 20 gay activists gathered outside Russia’s Parliament building to protest the vote.  Right-wing militants attacked and beat the activists.  Then, police made their move - they arrested the gay protesters.

Anna, a 22-year-old linguistics student, talked as her rainbow flag fluttered in the summer breeze. “I know that yesterday people were beaten up, and they were arrested, she said.  And I am actually very scared that this is the last opportunity for me to freely come and not be arrested.”

At the Duma, the vote was 436 - 0, with one abstention.

Ilya Ponomaryov, was the deputy who abstained.  On Wednesday, he marched in the opposition rally among the red flags of the “Left Front, a socialist group.

He said he abstained because the language of the act was vague.  He also said he saw the legislation as part of a hard-right turn taken by Russian President Vladimir Putin, who seeks to bolster his support among traditional conservatives.

A 51-year-old English teacher, Alexei Sinodov, was one of thousands of unaffiliated protesters who marched Wednesday.  He said the anti-gay law was just the latest in a series of restrictive laws passed since President Putin returned to the Kremlin one year ago. The same undemocratic law, he said. I have nothing against the gays, the lesbians — they can do whatever they like.

Public-opinion polls indicate large majorities of Russians are hostile to homosexuality. At best, they want it to be kept hidden away from the public.  Anna, a lesbian marcher, says the Kremlin seeks to rally popular support by attacking internal enemies. "We are easy to kick, so they are kicking us," she said.

Source

My heart & hope is with you beautiful queer Russians. Fight for revolution & human dignity! Putin to the guillotine. 

Marriage is great, but many LGBTQ PoC need job safetyApril 11, 2013
As the Supreme Court weighed arguments on same-sex marriage, Chief Justice John Roberts wondered aloud from the bench whether action on the issue by the court was necessary, because “politicians are falling all over themselves” to bring the legal rights of gay and lesbian Americans in line with those of everyone else. If only this were true. In up to 34 states it’s still legal for employers to deny jobs to citizens simply because they are lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender.
The lack of legal protections in two-thirds of the states for members of the LGBT community means that more people live in poverty and have a harder time making it simply because their rights aren’t on an equal footing with other Americans. This is even more the case for LGBT women and people of color, where employment discrimination fuels an even broader economic crisis.
But these hardships can be rolled away, and we need not wait for members of Congress to finish “falling all over themselves” to make it happen. As a report released earlier this week by a coalition of non-discrimination organizations lays out, President Obama can take unilateral action right now to help more LGBT Americans secure jobs, improve living standards and live out their dreams.
As Tico Almeida, president of Freedom to Work, said to me recently, “Hopefully 2013 will be the year that President Obama fulfills his written 2008 campaign promise and signs an employment non-discrimination executive order.” A Freedom to Work online petition already has over a 185,000 signatures pressing the president to do just that.
The case for doing so is persuasive and the numbers are staggering. Contrary to the aspirational images wealthy white men in popular media, such as the gay-millionaire couple on NBC’s hit-comedy “The New Normal” or the upwardly mobile denizens of “Will & Grace,” LGBT Americans are more likely to be poor and less educated than their peers, and come from communities that have been historically, economically marginalized. More than half of LGBT people in the U.S. are women, and black Americans, Asian Americans and Latinos make up a greater proportion of those identifying as LGBT than do whites.
According to a Gallup Survey last year, LGBT Americans are 30 percent more likely to have low-income jobs than the general population. Correspondingly, LGBT Americans are less likely to have high paying jobs than workers as a whole, and have a greater sense of dissatisfaction with their living standards as a result.
Furthermore, lower levels of education, fed by the open hostility that many LGBT youth grapple with in school, creates yet another economic obstacle for the community. LGBT Americans have lower levels of education than the overall population.
The bottom line is that employment non discrimination measures are required. Too many people neither can get nor keep good jobs without them.
According to a report by the Center for American Progress, as many as two out of five gay and lesbian workers “have experienced some form of discrimination on the job” with up to one out of five of these having been “fired for their sexual orientation.”
For transgender workers, these astounding numbers become astronomical. Nine out of 10 transgender employees have encountered “some form of harassment or mistreatment” at work with almost half of those who encountered difficulty on the job reporting extreme hardship, such as losing employment “due to gender-identity discrimination.”
Extreme bigotry has dire economic consequences. In certain cities, as Queers for Economic Justice points out, the unemployment rate of the transgender community can be up to seven times higher than that of the muncipality as a whole.
Though the cruel truth is that all of this is perfectly legal, the overwhelming majority of Americans don’t think it should be. Public support for non-discrimination is 20 points higher than that for gay marriage, but you wouldn’t know it from the way things are moving in Washington.
A bill to end employment discrimination in all 50 states has been introduced in almost every Congress for the past two decades, but has never passed. Last year the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) received a hearing in the Senate’s Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee but not a vote—not in the committee, the Senate itself nor the full Congress.
Full article

Marriage is great, but many LGBTQ PoC need job safety
April 11, 2013

As the Supreme Court weighed arguments on same-sex marriage, Chief Justice John Roberts wondered aloud from the bench whether action on the issue by the court was necessary, because “politicians are falling all over themselves” to bring the legal rights of gay and lesbian Americans in line with those of everyone else. If only this were true. In up to 34 states it’s still legal for employers to deny jobs to citizens simply because they are lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender.

The lack of legal protections in two-thirds of the states for members of the LGBT community means that more people live in poverty and have a harder time making it simply because their rights aren’t on an equal footing with other Americans. This is even more the case for LGBT women and people of color, where employment discrimination fuels an even broader economic crisis.

But these hardships can be rolled away, and we need not wait for members of Congress to finish “falling all over themselves” to make it happen. As a report released earlier this week by a coalition of non-discrimination organizations lays out, President Obama can take unilateral action right now to help more LGBT Americans secure jobs, improve living standards and live out their dreams.

As Tico Almeida, president of Freedom to Work, said to me recently, “Hopefully 2013 will be the year that President Obama fulfills his written 2008 campaign promise and signs an employment non-discrimination executive order.” A Freedom to Work online petition already has over a 185,000 signatures pressing the president to do just that.

The case for doing so is persuasive and the numbers are staggering. Contrary to the aspirational images wealthy white men in popular media, such as the gay-millionaire couple on NBC’s hit-comedy “The New Normal” or the upwardly mobile denizens of “Will & Grace,” LGBT Americans are more likely to be poor and less educated than their peers, and come from communities that have been historically, economically marginalized. More than half of LGBT people in the U.S. are women, and black Americans, Asian Americans and Latinos make up a greater proportion of those identifying as LGBT than do whites.

According to a Gallup Survey last year, LGBT Americans are 30 percent more likely to have low-income jobs than the general population. Correspondingly, LGBT Americans are less likely to have high paying jobs than workers as a whole, and have a greater sense of dissatisfaction with their living standards as a result.

Furthermore, lower levels of education, fed by the open hostility that many LGBT youth grapple with in school, creates yet another economic obstacle for the community. LGBT Americans have lower levels of education than the overall population.

The bottom line is that employment non discrimination measures are required. Too many people neither can get nor keep good jobs without them.

According to a report by the Center for American Progress, as many as two out of five gay and lesbian workers “have experienced some form of discrimination on the job” with up to one out of five of these having been “fired for their sexual orientation.”

For transgender workers, these astounding numbers become astronomical. Nine out of 10 transgender employees have encountered “some form of harassment or mistreatment” at work with almost half of those who encountered difficulty on the job reporting extreme hardship, such as losing employment “due to gender-identity discrimination.”

Extreme bigotry has dire economic consequences. In certain cities, as Queers for Economic Justice points out, the unemployment rate of the transgender community can be up to seven times higher than that of the muncipality as a whole.

Though the cruel truth is that all of this is perfectly legal, the overwhelming majority of Americans don’t think it should be. Public support for non-discrimination is 20 points higher than that for gay marriage, but you wouldn’t know it from the way things are moving in Washington.

A bill to end employment discrimination in all 50 states has been introduced in almost every Congress for the past two decades, but has never passed. Last year the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) received a hearing in the Senate’s Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee but not a vote—not in the committee, the Senate itself nor the full Congress.

Full article

Missouri man arrested at hospital for refusing to leave gay partner
April 11, 2013

A gay man was arrested at a hospital in Missouri this week when he refused to leave the bedside of his partner, and now a restraining order is preventing him from any type of visitation.

Roger Gorley told WDAF that even though he has power of attorney to handle his partner’s affairs, a family member asked him to leave when he visited Research Medical Center in Kansas City on Tuesday.

Gorley said he refused to leave his partner Allen’s bedside, and that’s when security put him in handcuffs and escorted him from the building.

“I was not recognized as being the husband, I wasn’t recognized as being the partner,” Gorley explained.

He said the nurse refused to confirm that the couple shared power of attorney and made medical decision for each other. “She didn’t even bother to look it up, to check in to it,” the Lee’s Summit resident recalled.

In a 2010 memorandum, President Barack Obama ordered hospitals that receive Medicare or Medicaid funding to allow visitation rights for gay and lesbian partners.

Research Medical Center pretends that it does not discriminate based on sexual orientation: “We believe involving the family is an important part of the patient care process,” the hospital said in a statement. “And, the patient`s needs are always our first priority. When anyone becomes disruptive to providing the necessary patient care, we involve our security team to help calm the situation and to protect our patients and staff. If the situation continues to escalate, we have no choice but to request police assistance.”

Gorley cannot currently visit his partner at all due to a restraining order issued after his arrest on Tuesday.

Source

This upset me so much that I’m tearing up at work.

LGBT equality must go beyond marriageMarch 27, 2013
It is undoubtedly unconstitutional to exclude any couple from the institution of marriage in the 21st century. Any justification for doing so relies on the Bible, an illegitimate basis for interpreting the Constitution, or on some false conception of what marriage and procreation actually are in America today (and possibly a false conception on what marriage and procreation ever were, in the history of humanity). We’re asking ourselves the wrong questions, though, if we think that asserting the unconstitutionality of a same sex marriage ban is the same thing as fighting for a more just, equal, and free world.
Whether you agree with Catharine MacKinnon that a ban on same sex marriage is really just sex discrimination (Rick can’t marry John because Rick is a man; Rick could marry John if Rick was a woman), or that sexual orientation should be a protected class under the Equal Protection Clause in its own right, meaning that the government must have a narrowly tailored compelling interest in distinguishing based on sexual orientation, or that even without being a suspect class, distinguishing couples on the basis of sexual orientation fails even a rational basis test because there is no reasonable justification for the distinction (as Massachusetts’ high court found in Goodridge), DOMA’s unconstitutionality seems obvious. The same Constitution, however, purportedly ended slavery in the 1860s and segregation in the 1950s. But walk through any prison or down any urban block in America and you won’t be convinced those holdings led to racial equality.
The right to marry has been called the civil rights issue of our era, but we should be disturbed by this, and ashamed that in an era of economic inequality rivaling only the booming ‘20s right before the crash, an era when the resources of entire continents are extracted for the enjoyment of a tiny handful of the super rich elsewhere, that the civil rights battle of our time is to gain entry for gay men and lesbians into an institution originally meant to protect wealth, social structure, and male dominance. 
As Michael Warner argues in his book The Trouble With Normal, the gay rights movement has lost the transformative vision held by the Stonewall Inn patrons of the late 1960s—drag queens, queers, male prostitutes, and homeless youth who wanted not to assimilate to the oppressive and homophobic mainstream culture but to be left alone by the NYPD—or the ACT UP (AIDS Coalition to Unleash Power) activists of the 1980s, who wanted not compromise, rhetoric, or meaningless reform, but a revolution in the way the government, the healthcare industry, and society in general understood and addressed the AIDS pandemic and its victims.
Queer communities, despised by mainstream culture with their radical tolerance, their embrace of stigma and their rejection of repressive societal norms, have much to teach society. The cultural and sexual revolution embodied by the Stonewall riots, in which gay pride meant refusing to assimilate, refusing to have the right kind of sex with the right kind of people at the right time and in the right place, refusing to marry and have children and move to the suburbs and quiet down, and especially refusing to go to Washington in a suit and ask for permission to do so, has been corporatized and sanitized. 
Now, the “movement” is nothing more than a distraction from the extreme inequality and injustice experienced by the gay and transgender homeless youth, who make up 40 percent of all homeless youth, 58 percent of whom are sexually assaulted (as opposed to 33 percent of their straight counterparts), and 62 percent of whom commit suicide (as opposed to 29 percent of their heterosexual peers). It is also a distraction from the inequality and injustice felt by trans people and AIDS patients, who still struggle to find employment, healthcare, housing, physical safety, and acceptance. 
To me, the struggle for gay marriage feels like a cop-out, an admission that this is the best we can or should want. Of course the Supreme Court should strike down DOMA as unconstitutional. But we should not fail to recognize that it is merely a struggle for formal equality for white, wealthy, well-behaved gays and lesbians and not a transformative movement for a better world. When the Supreme Court issues its decision announcing the Constitutional right to marry for all, as I believe it will, we should not celebrate too hard for too long. We should get back, as quickly as possible, to fighting for a fairer, queerer, more tolerant and less well-behaved world.
- The Lone Pamphleteer

LGBT equality must go beyond marriage
March 27, 2013

It is undoubtedly unconstitutional to exclude any couple from the institution of marriage in the 21st century. Any justification for doing so relies on the Bible, an illegitimate basis for interpreting the Constitution, or on some false conception of what marriage and procreation actually are in America today (and possibly a false conception on what marriage and procreation ever were, in the history of humanity). We’re asking ourselves the wrong questions, though, if we think that asserting the unconstitutionality of a same sex marriage ban is the same thing as fighting for a more just, equal, and free world.

Whether you agree with Catharine MacKinnon that a ban on same sex marriage is really just sex discrimination (Rick can’t marry John because Rick is a man; Rick could marry John if Rick was a woman), or that sexual orientation should be a protected class under the Equal Protection Clause in its own right, meaning that the government must have a narrowly tailored compelling interest in distinguishing based on sexual orientation, or that even without being a suspect class, distinguishing couples on the basis of sexual orientation fails even a rational basis test because there is no reasonable justification for the distinction (as Massachusetts’ high court found in Goodridge), DOMA’s unconstitutionality seems obvious. The same Constitution, however, purportedly ended slavery in the 1860s and segregation in the 1950s. But walk through any prison or down any urban block in America and you won’t be convinced those holdings led to racial equality.

The right to marry has been called the civil rights issue of our era, but we should be disturbed by this, and ashamed that in an era of economic inequality rivaling only the booming ‘20s right before the crash, an era when the resources of entire continents are extracted for the enjoyment of a tiny handful of the super rich elsewhere, that the civil rights battle of our time is to gain entry for gay men and lesbians into an institution originally meant to protect wealth, social structure, and male dominance.

As Michael Warner argues in his book The Trouble With Normal, the gay rights movement has lost the transformative vision held by the Stonewall Inn patrons of the late 1960s—drag queens, queers, male prostitutes, and homeless youth who wanted not to assimilate to the oppressive and homophobic mainstream culture but to be left alone by the NYPD—or the ACT UP (AIDS Coalition to Unleash Power) activists of the 1980s, who wanted not compromise, rhetoric, or meaningless reform, but a revolution in the way the government, the healthcare industry, and society in general understood and addressed the AIDS pandemic and its victims.

Queer communities, despised by mainstream culture with their radical tolerance, their embrace of stigma and their rejection of repressive societal norms, have much to teach society. The cultural and sexual revolution embodied by the Stonewall riots, in which gay pride meant refusing to assimilate, refusing to have the right kind of sex with the right kind of people at the right time and in the right place, refusing to marry and have children and move to the suburbs and quiet down, and especially refusing to go to Washington in a suit and ask for permission to do so, has been corporatized and sanitized.

Now, the “movement” is nothing more than a distraction from the extreme inequality and injustice experienced by the gay and transgender homeless youth, who make up 40 percent of all homeless youth, 58 percent of whom are sexually assaulted (as opposed to 33 percent of their straight counterparts), and 62 percent of whom commit suicide (as opposed to 29 percent of their heterosexual peers). It is also a distraction from the inequality and injustice felt by trans people and AIDS patients, who still struggle to find employment, healthcare, housing, physical safety, and acceptance.

To me, the struggle for gay marriage feels like a cop-out, an admission that this is the best we can or should want. Of course the Supreme Court should strike down DOMA as unconstitutional. But we should not fail to recognize that it is merely a struggle for formal equality for white, wealthy, well-behaved gays and lesbians and not a transformative movement for a better world. When the Supreme Court issues its decision announcing the Constitutional right to marry for all, as I believe it will, we should not celebrate too hard for too long. We should get back, as quickly as possible, to fighting for a fairer, queerer, more tolerant and less well-behaved world.

- The Lone Pamphleteer

Interest in ethnic studies jumps after Arizona ban, underground Chicano libraries begin to pop upMarch 24, 2013
Arizona lawmakers passed a law to dismantle a Mexican American studies program in Tucson schools, but the legislation has had an unintended effect: The controversy is renewing interest in the state and nationwide in ethnic studies and Chicano and Latino literature.
Some Tucson students have found new ways to study the subject while receiving college credit to boot. Others who had no interest on the topic say they are now drawn to the material.
"Underground" libraries with Chicano literature are popping up across the Southwest and are set to open soon in unexpected places such as Milwaukee and Louisville.
"I guess the irony is … that we have banded together and created a new civil rights movement, a renaissance in Latino literature. Now there are people in Louisville, Ky., who will be enjoying Chicano literature," said Tony Diaz.
Diaz heads Librotraficante, a group that raises money to buy books and open libraries to keep Mexican American studies alive. The state ban was the impetus for Librotraficante — whose name is Spanish for “book smuggler.”
A federal judge this month upheld the law banning the program, which critics said sowed discontent and promoted resentment against non-Latinos. Supporters said the program focused on long-neglected aspects of American history and inspired Latino students to excel in school. The supporters said they would appeal the ruling to the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals.
Facing financial penalties if they continued the program in defiance of the new state law, trustees of the Tucson Unified School District killed the program last year.
Before the ban, interest in ethnic studies was minimal across the nation, says Sean Arce, who used to head the program.
"After the ban it really has grown exponentially," he said.
Arce, who was dismissed when the program was discontinued a year ago, says he’s now in demand as a speaker, receiving invitations from various colleges — including Harvard and UCLA — to talk about the importance of ethnic studies. He said a few urban school districts have contacted him about consulting and collaborating on building a curriculum similar to the one outlawed in Tucson.
"We are happy and fortunate to collaborate with these folks because it really is a national issue," Arce said. "It’s because Latinos are the fastest-growing demographic."
Raquel Velasquez, a student at Prescott College in Prescott, Ariz., is among the students who say the controversy over the program has drawn them to ethnic studies.
"It was only until it was banned that I really took this seriously and recognized the need," said Velasquez, a 19-year-old originally from Tucson. She is one of 14 students at Prescott College taking a pedagogy class to help train them to become ethnic studies teachers.
Curtis Acosta, who used to teach mostly Mexican American studies at Tucson High Magnet School and now is relegated to teaching a mainstream English curriculum, says he now looks forward to Sundays. That’s when he teaches a Chicano literature class at John Valenzuela Youth Center in South Tucson.
The idea for a course outside the confines of the school district came to him right before the Mexican American studies program was done away with in his school.
"I couldn’t sit back and watch that happen," Acosta said. "So right away, the wheels were in motion. I had to do something."
Now 10 students are enrolled in the Chicano literature class, and Prescott College offers college credit for those enrolled. Acosta and his colleagues also raised enough money to offset all of the students’ tuition costs.
Bianca Sierra said Acosta’s class may be one of the few silver linings to the ban. The 18-year-old is a senior at University High School in Tucson, where Mexican American studies was never offered. Although she had taken a slew of Advanced Placement courses, she’d never had the opportunity to attend a class on Chicano literature.
She says she likes her Sunday class better than her classes at school because she can relate to its subject matter on a personal level. For example, books she reads in her Chicano literature class have characters with names similar to those of her mother and grandmother or mention foods similar to those prepared in her home.
"You can put yourself in their shoes and relate to it more," she said.
She also enjoys the relaxed atmosphere and format of her Sunday literature class. Instead of simply listening to the teacher lecture, the students gather in a circle and, along with Acosta, discuss and debate the subject matter.
"I like it because it makes me feel more invested in it, because they are asking you, ‘What is your opinion?’ I was never asked what my opinion was on an issue [in class]. You’re just not asked that in regular school," she said.
SourcePhoto
Watch El Librotraficante talk about bringing truckloads of banned Latino history & literature books back into Arizona on Democracy Now here. 

Interest in ethnic studies jumps after Arizona ban, underground Chicano libraries begin to pop up
March 24, 2013

Arizona lawmakers passed a law to dismantle a Mexican American studies program in Tucson schools, but the legislation has had an unintended effect: The controversy is renewing interest in the state and nationwide in ethnic studies and Chicano and Latino literature.

Some Tucson students have found new ways to study the subject while receiving college credit to boot. Others who had no interest on the topic say they are now drawn to the material.

"Underground" libraries with Chicano literature are popping up across the Southwest and are set to open soon in unexpected places such as Milwaukee and Louisville.

"I guess the irony is … that we have banded together and created a new civil rights movement, a renaissance in Latino literature. Now there are people in Louisville, Ky., who will be enjoying Chicano literature," said Tony Diaz.

Diaz heads Librotraficante, a group that raises money to buy books and open libraries to keep Mexican American studies alive. The state ban was the impetus for Librotraficante — whose name is Spanish for “book smuggler.”

A federal judge this month upheld the law banning the program, which critics said sowed discontent and promoted resentment against non-Latinos. Supporters said the program focused on long-neglected aspects of American history and inspired Latino students to excel in school. The supporters said they would appeal the ruling to the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals.

Facing financial penalties if they continued the program in defiance of the new state law, trustees of the Tucson Unified School District killed the program last year.

Before the ban, interest in ethnic studies was minimal across the nation, says Sean Arce, who used to head the program.

"After the ban it really has grown exponentially," he said.

Arce, who was dismissed when the program was discontinued a year ago, says he’s now in demand as a speaker, receiving invitations from various colleges — including Harvard and UCLA — to talk about the importance of ethnic studies. He said a few urban school districts have contacted him about consulting and collaborating on building a curriculum similar to the one outlawed in Tucson.

"We are happy and fortunate to collaborate with these folks because it really is a national issue," Arce said. "It’s because Latinos are the fastest-growing demographic."

Raquel Velasquez, a student at Prescott College in Prescott, Ariz., is among the students who say the controversy over the program has drawn them to ethnic studies.

"It was only until it was banned that I really took this seriously and recognized the need," said Velasquez, a 19-year-old originally from Tucson. She is one of 14 students at Prescott College taking a pedagogy class to help train them to become ethnic studies teachers.

Curtis Acosta, who used to teach mostly Mexican American studies at Tucson High Magnet School and now is relegated to teaching a mainstream English curriculum, says he now looks forward to Sundays. That’s when he teaches a Chicano literature class at John Valenzuela Youth Center in South Tucson.

The idea for a course outside the confines of the school district came to him right before the Mexican American studies program was done away with in his school.

"I couldn’t sit back and watch that happen," Acosta said. "So right away, the wheels were in motion. I had to do something."

Now 10 students are enrolled in the Chicano literature class, and Prescott College offers college credit for those enrolled. Acosta and his colleagues also raised enough money to offset all of the students’ tuition costs.

Bianca Sierra said Acosta’s class may be one of the few silver linings to the ban. The 18-year-old is a senior at University High School in Tucson, where Mexican American studies was never offered. Although she had taken a slew of Advanced Placement courses, she’d never had the opportunity to attend a class on Chicano literature.

She says she likes her Sunday class better than her classes at school because she can relate to its subject matter on a personal level. For example, books she reads in her Chicano literature class have characters with names similar to those of her mother and grandmother or mention foods similar to those prepared in her home.

"You can put yourself in their shoes and relate to it more," she said.

She also enjoys the relaxed atmosphere and format of her Sunday literature class. Instead of simply listening to the teacher lecture, the students gather in a circle and, along with Acosta, discuss and debate the subject matter.

"I like it because it makes me feel more invested in it, because they are asking you, ‘What is your opinion?’ I was never asked what my opinion was on an issue [in class]. You’re just not asked that in regular school," she said.

Source
Photo

Watch El Librotraficante talk about bringing truckloads of banned Latino history & literature books back into Arizona on Democracy Now here. 

Arizona’s law banning Mexican-American studies curriculum is constitutional, judge rulesMarch 11, 2013
A court upheld most provisions of an Arizona state law used to prohibit a controversial Mexican-American Studies curriculum in Tucson on Friday.
The ruling dealt a blow to supporters of the suspended classes, who had hoped the courts would overturn a 2010 law championed by Arizona conservatives determined to shut down the unconventional courses.
“I was really surprised at the decision,” Jose Gonzalez, a former teacher of Tucson’s suspended Mexican-American Studies classes, told The Huffington Post. “But as a student and teacher of history, I know in civil rights cases like this there’s always setbacks.”
The experimental Tucson curriculum was offered to students in different forms in some of the local elementary, middle and high schools. It emphasized critical thinking and focused on Mexican-American literature and perspectives. Supporters lauded the program, pointing to increased graduation rates, high student achievement and a state-commissioned independent audit that recommended expanding the classes.
But conservative opponents accused the teachers of encouraging students to adopt left-wing ideas and resent white people, a charge the teachers deny. Aiming squarely at Tucson’s Mexican-American Studies program, the Arizona legislature passed HB 2281 — a law banning courses that promote the overthrow of the U.S. government, foster racial resentment, are designed for students of a particular ethnic group or that advocate ethnic solidarity.
Federal Judge Wallace Tashima said the plaintiffs failed to show the law was too vague, broad or discriminatory, or that it violated students’ first amendment rights.
The news wasn’t all bad for supporters of the suspended classes. Tashima ruled that the section of the law prohibiting courses tailored to serve students of a particular ethnicity was unconstitutional.
Originally filed in October of 2010 on behalf of the program’s former teachers, who lost standing because they are public employees, the case is currently brought by former Mexican-American Studies student Nicholas Dominguez and his mother Margarita Dominguez. They will likely appeal the ruling to the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals within the next 30 days, their lawyer Richard Martinez told The Huffington Post.
“This case is not over,” Martinez said. “It’s not only important to Arizona, but to the country as a whole that this statute be addressed.”
Arizona Attorney General Tom Horne began a campaign to eliminate the Mexican-American Studies program from Tucson Unified School District in 2006, when he was serving as the state’s Superintendent of Public Education.
Angered that Mexican-American civil rights leader Dolores Huerta had said that “Republicans hate Latinos” in a speech to Tucson students, Horne sent Deputy Superintendent Margaret Dugan, a Latina Republican, to give an alternate view. But the intellectual exercise turned confrontational when students, who said they were not allowed to ask Dugan questions, sealed their mouths with tape and walked out of the assembly room.
“As superintendent of schools, I have visited over 1,000 schools and I’ve never seen students be disrespectful to a teacher in that way,” Horne said in an interview last year.
The final product of his efforts was House Bill 2281, which then-State Sen. John Huppenthal (R) helped pilot through the Arizona legislature. Huppenthal, who succeeded Horne as state superintendent of schools, then found Tucson out of compliance with the new law and ordered the district to shut Mexican-American Studies down or lose 10 percent of its annual funding — some $14 million over the fiscal year. In January of 2012, the school board complied, voting 4 to 1 to discontinue the classes.
The decision drew national attention as administrators plucked Latino literature that once belonged to the curriculum from classrooms, explicitly banning seven titles from instruction.
Tashima wrote in Friday’s ruling that Horne’s anti-Mexican-American Studies zeal bordered on discrimination.
“This single-minded focus on terminating the MAS (Mexican-American Studies) program, along with Horne’s decision not to issue findings against other ethnic studies programs, is at least suggestive of discriminatory intent,” Tashima wrote.
But the federal judge stopped short of invalidating the law on those grounds.
"Although some aspects of the record may be viewed to spark suspicion that the Latino population has been improperly targeted, on the whole, the evidence indicates that Defendants targeted the MAS program, not Latino students, teachers or community members who participated in the program," the judge wrote in the ruling.
Not everyone agrees.
Writer and activist Tony Diaz — who along with independent journalist Liana Lopez and multimedia artist Bryan Parras launched a “librotraficante” caravan to “smuggle” books banned from Tucson classrooms into Arizona — said the court had “failed our youth, our culture and freedom of speech” by upholding the Arizona ethnic studies law.
“But we remain inspired by the youth of Tucson, the teachers, the families, the activists who will appeal this unjust ruling and continue the struggle to the Supreme Court,” Diaz said.
SourcePhoto: Save Ethnic Studies by Julio Salgado

Arizona’s law banning Mexican-American studies curriculum is constitutional, judge rules
March 11, 2013

A court upheld most provisions of an Arizona state law used to prohibit a controversial Mexican-American Studies curriculum in Tucson on Friday.

The ruling dealt a blow to supporters of the suspended classes, who had hoped the courts would overturn a 2010 law championed by Arizona conservatives determined to shut down the unconventional courses.

“I was really surprised at the decision,” Jose Gonzalez, a former teacher of Tucson’s suspended Mexican-American Studies classes, told The Huffington Post. “But as a student and teacher of history, I know in civil rights cases like this there’s always setbacks.”

The experimental Tucson curriculum was offered to students in different forms in some of the local elementary, middle and high schools. It emphasized critical thinking and focused on Mexican-American literature and perspectives. Supporters lauded the program, pointing to increased graduation rates, high student achievement and a state-commissioned independent audit that recommended expanding the classes.

But conservative opponents accused the teachers of encouraging students to adopt left-wing ideas and resent white people, a charge the teachers deny. Aiming squarely at Tucson’s Mexican-American Studies program, the Arizona legislature passed HB 2281 — a law banning courses that promote the overthrow of the U.S. government, foster racial resentment, are designed for students of a particular ethnic group or that advocate ethnic solidarity.

Federal Judge Wallace Tashima said the plaintiffs failed to show the law was too vague, broad or discriminatory, or that it violated students’ first amendment rights.

The news wasn’t all bad for supporters of the suspended classes. Tashima ruled that the section of the law prohibiting courses tailored to serve students of a particular ethnicity was unconstitutional.

Originally filed in October of 2010 on behalf of the program’s former teachers, who lost standing because they are public employees, the case is currently brought by former Mexican-American Studies student Nicholas Dominguez and his mother Margarita Dominguez. They will likely appeal the ruling to the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals within the next 30 days, their lawyer Richard Martinez told The Huffington Post.

“This case is not over,” Martinez said. “It’s not only important to Arizona, but to the country as a whole that this statute be addressed.”

Arizona Attorney General Tom Horne began a campaign to eliminate the Mexican-American Studies program from Tucson Unified School District in 2006, when he was serving as the state’s Superintendent of Public Education.

Angered that Mexican-American civil rights leader Dolores Huerta had said that “Republicans hate Latinos” in a speech to Tucson students, Horne sent Deputy Superintendent Margaret Dugan, a Latina Republican, to give an alternate view. But the intellectual exercise turned confrontational when students, who said they were not allowed to ask Dugan questions, sealed their mouths with tape and walked out of the assembly room.

“As superintendent of schools, I have visited over 1,000 schools and I’ve never seen students be disrespectful to a teacher in that way,” Horne said in an interview last year.

The final product of his efforts was House Bill 2281, which then-State Sen. John Huppenthal (R) helped pilot through the Arizona legislature. Huppenthal, who succeeded Horne as state superintendent of schools, then found Tucson out of compliance with the new law and ordered the district to shut Mexican-American Studies down or lose 10 percent of its annual funding — some $14 million over the fiscal year. In January of 2012, the school board complied, voting 4 to 1 to discontinue the classes.

The decision drew national attention as administrators plucked Latino literature that once belonged to the curriculum from classrooms, explicitly banning seven titles from instruction.

Tashima wrote in Friday’s ruling that Horne’s anti-Mexican-American Studies zeal bordered on discrimination.

“This single-minded focus on terminating the MAS (Mexican-American Studies) program, along with Horne’s decision not to issue findings against other ethnic studies programs, is at least suggestive of discriminatory intent,” Tashima wrote.

But the federal judge stopped short of invalidating the law on those grounds.

"Although some aspects of the record may be viewed to spark suspicion that the Latino population has been improperly targeted, on the whole, the evidence indicates that Defendants targeted the MAS program, not Latino students, teachers or community members who participated in the program," the judge wrote in the ruling.

Not everyone agrees.

Writer and activist Tony Diaz — who along with independent journalist Liana Lopez and multimedia artist Bryan Parras launched a “librotraficante” caravan to “smuggle” books banned from Tucson classrooms into Arizona — said the court had “failed our youth, our culture and freedom of speech” by upholding the Arizona ethnic studies law.

“But we remain inspired by the youth of Tucson, the teachers, the families, the activists who will appeal this unjust ruling and continue the struggle to the Supreme Court,” Diaz said.

Source
Photo: Save Ethnic Studies by Julio Salgado

Georgia man with intellectual disability scheduled to be put to death on TuesdayFebruary 18, 2013
A Georgia prison inmate found by doctors to have a mild intellectual disability is scheduled to receive lethal injection on Tuesday, despite constitutional protections that exist to prohibit the execution of the mentally disabled.
More than 20 years after being convicted of murdering a fellow inmate while already behind bars, Warren Hill, 52, is slated to be killed on Tuesday. Now with only hours left to live, attorneys for Mr. Hill and human rights activists are demanding a last-minute intervention.
Back in 1991, the judge overseeing the murder case against Mr. Hill said the defendant was “mentally retarded” by a“preponderance of the evidence,” contradicting testimonies from physicians who examined the inmate. Decades later, though, those doctors who examined Hill say they acted in too much of a hurry to reach that conclusion and today agree that the inmate is unfit for execution.
"The whole process, including my evaluation of Mr. Hill, was rushed … my previous conclusions about Mr Hill’s mental health status were unreliable because of my lack of experience at the time," one of the doctors, neuropsychiatrist Thomas Sachy, now claims.
All three physicians that gave their original evaluation 12 years ago say today that their decision was rushed and ill-conceived, reports The Guardian. Additionally, the jurors involved in his murder trial and the family of the man he was convicted of killing while in prison has stated that they would not like to see Hill put to death.
“Several jurors who sat on Warren’s original jury have since stated under oath that they would have sentenced him to life without the possibility of parole had that been an option at the time of his 1991 trial, particularly after learning of the evidence of his intellectual disability and history of childhood abuse,” Amnesty International reported last year.
Brian Kammer, a Georgia lawyer who has worked close to the case, tells the Guardian that with the latest testimonies in the case, "There is now no daylight between any of the experts who have evaluated Mr Hill – in an innocence context this would now be a clear case for exoneration.”
Mr. Hill was expected to be killed last July, but a last minute hold was granted to reassess the method of execution only an hour-and-a-half before he was scheduled to die. Now just a few months later, the state of Georgia is once again readying to make the kill.
One day before he is scheduled to die, Judge Thomas Wilson said on Monday that he would not consider a request for habeas relief, essentially leaving just the US Supreme Court as the only available option to save him from execution. Attorneys for Mr. Hill had asked Judge Wilson to see testimonies from the doctors who initially examined the inmate, but according to the Associated Press, he has refused it on the basis that the request for reconsideration is procedurally barred and that the new evidence doesn’t establish a miscarriage of justice.
Attorneys for Mr. Hill have submitted a petition with the US Supreme Court, asking for intervention due to the 2002 federal ruling that found executing a person considered “mentally disabled” was in violation of the Eighth Amendment to the US Constitution: the provision that prohibits cruel and unusual punishment. In lieu of federal law, however, individual states can determine their own definition of “mental disability.”
Eric Jacobsen, a columnist for Huffington Post, says that the state-wide requirement for what is and isn’t mental disability in Georgia is “a powerful legal concept that does not translate into the way individuals are assessed to determine if they have an intellectual disability. So, while Georgia never contested Mr. Hill’s intellectual disability or I.Q. of 70, he was not able to meet the burden of proof.”
In 2002, the Eleventh US Circuit Court of Appeals said they couldn’t touch the case because national law ”mandates that this federal court leave the Georgia Supreme Court decision alone — even if we believe it incorrect or unwise.”
Source
Note: To address people with disabilities with dignity & respect, I’ve changed all the “retarded” references to people first language - referring to the person and then their disability.
Calling someone a retard or saying something is retarded is ableist, derogatory, offensive & exclusive language. 
Many people use “mentally retarded” because it’s believed to be the official terminology for someone with a disability, but as of 2010, the phrase was removed from federal health, education & labor policies in what is known as Rosa’s Law. 
So… stop saying “retarded.” Ableism is discrimination. Thanks.

Georgia man with intellectual disability scheduled to be put to death on Tuesday
February 18, 2013

A Georgia prison inmate found by doctors to have a mild intellectual disability is scheduled to receive lethal injection on Tuesday, despite constitutional protections that exist to prohibit the execution of the mentally disabled.

More than 20 years after being convicted of murdering a fellow inmate while already behind bars, Warren Hill, 52, is slated to be killed on Tuesday. Now with only hours left to live, attorneys for Mr. Hill and human rights activists are demanding a last-minute intervention.

Back in 1991, the judge overseeing the murder case against Mr. Hill said the defendant was “mentally retarded” by a“preponderance of the evidence,” contradicting testimonies from physicians who examined the inmate. Decades later, though, those doctors who examined Hill say they acted in too much of a hurry to reach that conclusion and today agree that the inmate is unfit for execution.

"The whole process, including my evaluation of Mr. Hill, was rushed … my previous conclusions about Mr Hill’s mental health status were unreliable because of my lack of experience at the time," one of the doctors, neuropsychiatrist Thomas Sachy, now claims.

All three physicians that gave their original evaluation 12 years ago say today that their decision was rushed and ill-conceived, reports The Guardian. Additionally, the jurors involved in his murder trial and the family of the man he was convicted of killing while in prison has stated that they would not like to see Hill put to death.

“Several jurors who sat on Warren’s original jury have since stated under oath that they would have sentenced him to life without the possibility of parole had that been an option at the time of his 1991 trial, particularly after learning of the evidence of his intellectual disability and history of childhood abuse,” Amnesty International reported last year.

Brian Kammer, a Georgia lawyer who has worked close to the case, tells the Guardian that with the latest testimonies in the case, "There is now no daylight between any of the experts who have evaluated Mr Hill – in an innocence context this would now be a clear case for exoneration.”

Mr. Hill was expected to be killed last July, but a last minute hold was granted to reassess the method of execution only an hour-and-a-half before he was scheduled to die. Now just a few months later, the state of Georgia is once again readying to make the kill.

One day before he is scheduled to die, Judge Thomas Wilson said on Monday that he would not consider a request for habeas relief, essentially leaving just the US Supreme Court as the only available option to save him from execution. Attorneys for Mr. Hill had asked Judge Wilson to see testimonies from the doctors who initially examined the inmate, but according to the Associated Press, he has refused it on the basis that the request for reconsideration is procedurally barred and that the new evidence doesn’t establish a miscarriage of justice.

Attorneys for Mr. Hill have submitted a petition with the US Supreme Court, asking for intervention due to the 2002 federal ruling that found executing a person considered “mentally disabled” was in violation of the Eighth Amendment to the US Constitution: the provision that prohibits cruel and unusual punishment. In lieu of federal law, however, individual states can determine their own definition of “mental disability.”

Eric Jacobsen, a columnist for Huffington Post, says that the state-wide requirement for what is and isn’t mental disability in Georgia is “a powerful legal concept that does not translate into the way individuals are assessed to determine if they have an intellectual disability. So, while Georgia never contested Mr. Hill’s intellectual disability or I.Q. of 70, he was not able to meet the burden of proof.”

In 2002, the Eleventh US Circuit Court of Appeals said they couldn’t touch the case because national law ”mandates that this federal court leave the Georgia Supreme Court decision alone — even if we believe it incorrect or unwise.”

Source

Note: To address people with disabilities with dignity & respect, I’ve changed all the “retarded” references to people first language - referring to the person and then their disability.

Calling someone a retard or saying something is retarded is ableist, derogatory, offensive & exclusive language. 

Many people use “mentally retarded” because it’s believed to be the official terminology for someone with a disability, but as of 2010, the phrase was removed from federal health, education & labor policies in what is known as Rosa’s Law. 

So… stop saying “retarded.” Ableism is discrimination. Thanks.