Lesbian students threatened with suspension for holding hands on campus

From The South Florida Times: http://www.sfltimes.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=7111&Itemid=199

Written by Elgin Jones
Wed. May 18, 2011

POMPANO BEACH – The nation’s sixth largest public school district has cleared a high school principal accused of lecturing and threatening two female students with suspension for holding hands on campus. The students say the principal also “outed” them to their parents.

The South Florida Times is not identifying the students, who are an interracial couple, one a junior, the other a senior. Both have good grades and one is an honor student.

The two were holding hands while walking to class on May 3 at Blanche Ely High School in Pompano Beach. School Principal Karlton Johnson confronted and took them to his office.

“We were walking to class when he rolled up on his golf cart and said, ‘Didn’t I tell you two to stop doing do that?’ and then he took us to his office,” one of the girls told South Florida TImes. “He gave us a speech and then separated us before calling our parents, which was wrong. My mother already knew but my friend’s mom didn’t know she is into girls.”

One of the teens says Johnson had warned them about holding hands on previous occasions but they continued anyway because straight couples were allowed to do so without incident. The students reacted to Johnson’s action by complaining to school officials.

“There has been a situation in my upcoming [sic] school, Blanche Ely High, dealing with discrimination against the gay/lesbian community,” one of the students wrote in an e-mail complaining to school officials. “Our principal here has tried to suspend me and my friend for holding hands. And I would like to know if such actions are necessary for something so fragile.”

Continue reading at: http://www.sfltimes.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=7111&Itemid=199

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Leaving The Church of Free Market Miracles

From Common Dreams: http://www.commondreams.org/view/2011/05/17-6

Where does one find succor and seeds of renewal in times such as these?

by Phil Rockstroh
Published on Tuesday, May 17, 2011 by CommonDreams.org

“Everything that everyone is afraid of has already happened: The fragility of capitalism, which we don’t want to admit; the loss of the empire of the United States; and American exceptionalism. In fact, American exceptionalism is that we are exceptionally backward in about fifteen different categories, from education to infrastructure. But we’re in a stage of denial: we want to re-establish things as they used to be, to put the country back where it was.” — James Hillman

Most of the men I grew up with in Alabama and Georgia deny the veracity of climate change. They are unwilling to make the connection between their ownership (actually the bank’s) of SUVs and oversized pickup trucks and the super storms and massive floods that, now with alarming regularity, ravish the region.

Because their besieged sense of self is intermeshed with their motor vehicles, they hold fast to these symbols of the fading world they know. In their imaginings, these gruesome, noxious (and obnoxious) machines represent power and mobility — exactly the aspects of their lives that have been diminished by the demands and degradations of oligarchic capitalism.

By their self-imprisonment in these sorts of compensatory fantasies, they choose to risk their children’s future, rather than, as one victim of his own curdling testosterone expressed to me recently on FaceBook, “[give up his over-sized pick-up] and drive a 4-wheel vagina, algore-mobile.”

A deep-rooted, malignant anger regarding their diminished sense of manhood seethes at the core of pronouncements such as that, and the following, shared on my FaceBook scroll, this past Earth Day: “Happy Earhart day!!! How did you celebrate? I clubbed an adorable baby harp seal, dumped a barrel of waste oil down the storm drain, and started a giant tire fire!!! Good times….”

The sentiment expressed above is an imprecatory prayer, borne of uneasy submission i.e., the callow voice of deep denial, a manifestation of a culturally re-enforced, self-protective cynicism — a reflexive negation of novel ideas that masks a besieged psyche; it is the nihilistic rage appropriated by the powerless serving as a bulwark against the anxiety created by shifting circumstances and buffeted verities.

In the U.S., life keeps changing for the working class — and not for the better. Hence, an inner voice of doubt and despair falsely informs these men that the agents and effects of change will be of no help to them personally…that no one (especially smug, know-it-all liberals) can be of service to you, and, worse, what little you have amassed will be lost.

Continue reading at:  http://www.commondreams.org/view/2011/05/17-6

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International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia

From The US Department of State: http://www.state.gov/secretary/rm/2011/05/163529.htm

Press Statement

Hillary Rodham Clinton
Secretary of State
Washington, DC
May 17, 2011

In every part of the world, men and women are persecuted and attacked because of who they are or whom they love. Homophobia, transphobia and the brutal hostility associated with them are often rooted in a lack of understanding of what it actually means to be lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender (LGBT). So to combat this terrible scourge and break the cycle of fear and violence, we must work together to improve education and support those who stand up against laws that criminalize love and promote hate. As we mark the International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia this May 17, let us resolve to redouble our efforts.

On behalf of President Obama and the people of the United States, I am proud to reaffirm our support for LGBT communities at home and abroad, and to call for an end to discrimination and mistreatment of LGBT persons wherever it occurs. Whether by supporting LGBT advocates marching in Belgrade, leading the effort at the United Nations to affirm the human rights of LGBT persons, or condemning a vile law under consideration in Uganda, we are committed to our friends and allies in every region of the world who are fighting for equality and justice. These are not Western concepts; these are universal human rights.

Despite these gains and hard work, there is more to do to turn the tide of inequality and discrimination against the LGBT community. If you are lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender, know that the United States stands with you and we are unwavering in our commitment to ending this cycle of hate.

In Final Marriage Push, Cuomo Faces Increased Pressure

From Gay City News:  http://www.gaycitynews.com/articles/2011/05/17/gay_city_news/news/doc4dd2fb6b0a020769400009.txt

As advocates of every stripe join Albany battle, governor’s words given careful scrutiny

May 17, 2011

With just five weeks left in the state legislative calendar –– and Governor Andrew Cuomo committed to getting a marriage equality bill enacted before senators and assemblymembers head home on June 20 –– advocates are stepping up their efforts to move at least six senators from the undecided or no column to a yes.

On May 17, Mayor Michael Bloomberg and out lesbian City Council Speaker Christine Quinn traveled to Albany to lobby on behalf of the legislation (see related story by Simon Garron-Caine), which was introduced last week in the Assembly by out gay Upper West Side Democrat Daniel O’Donnell but has yet to be submitted to the Senate.

The governor’s response to O’Donnell filing his bill –– which has passed the Assembly on three occasions since 2007 –– created a stir, with some questioning whether Cuomo was qualifying his insistence all year that he wanted to get the job done during the Legislature’s regular session.

“This has never been about a vote in the Assembly, primarily,” Cuomo said, when asked why a bill had not yet been filed in the Senate. “The Assembly has passed it before; we expect they will pass it again. The question really is what’s going to happen in the Senate.”

Alluding to a group of advocates, including the Empire State Pride Agenda, the Human Rights Campaign, Freedom to Marry, and Marriage Equality New York, that he and his top aides have been meeting with regularly since early March, the governor added, “The discussions that I’ve had with the collective group that is working on this in a unified way is we want to pass a bill. We don’t want to bring a bill up in the Senate that would fail. Nobody wants to have an instant replay of last year. We’re not having a vote for the sake of a vote.”

In December 2009, out gay Chelsea Democratic Senator Tom Duane’s bill was debated on the floor, but defeated 38-24

Since then, the number of committed supporters of the legislation has increased to 26 out of the 32 needed. All but four of the Democrats are in the yes column, but no Republican has yet endorsed the bill. The GOP currently holds a razor-thin 32-30 majority in the Senate.

Continue reading at:  http://www.gaycitynews.com/articles/2011/05/17/gay_city_news/news/doc4dd2fb6b0a020769400009.txt

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Jobs disappear as America “races to the bottom.”

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Republi-Nazi Gov, Scott Walker seeks to stop defense of state’s domestic partner registry

From the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: http://www.jsonline.com/news/statepolitics/121956273.html

By Patrick Marley of the Journal Sentinel
May 16, 2011

Madison – Gov. Scott Walker believes a new law that gives gay couples hospital visitation rights violates the state constitution and has asked a judge to allow the state to stop defending it.

Democrats who controlled the Legislature in 2009 changed the law so that same-sex couples could sign up for domestic partnership registries with county clerks to secure some – but not all – of the rights afforded married couples.

Wisconsin Family Action sued last year in Dane County circuit court, arguing that the registries violated a 2006 amendment to the state constitution that bans gay marriage and any arrangement that is substantially similar.

Republican Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen refused to defend the lawsuit, saying he agreed the new law violated the state constitution. Then-Gov. Jim Doyle, a Democrat, hired Madison attorney Lester Pines to defend the state.

Walker, a Republican, replaced Doyle in January and fired Pines in March. On Friday, Walker filed a motion to stop defending the case.

“Governor Walker, in deference to the legal opinion of the attorney general that the domestic partner registry…is unconstitutional, does not believe the public interest requires a continued defense of this law,” says the brief, filed by Walker’s chief counsel, Brian Hagedorn.

Hagedorn told Dane County Circuit Judge Daniel Moeser that if he could not withdraw from the case, he would like to amend earlier filings to reflect Walker’s belief that the registries conflict with the state constitution.

Continue reading at:  http://www.jsonline.com/news/statepolitics/121956273.html

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The People vs. Goldman Sachs

From Rolling Stone: http://www.rollingstone.com/politics/news/the-people-vs-goldman-sachs-20110511

A Senate committee has laid out the evidence. Now the Justice Department should bring criminal charges

By Matt Taibbi
May 11, 2011 9:30 AM ET

They weren’t murderers or anything; they had merely stolen more money than most people can rationally conceive of, from their own customers, in a few blinks of an eye. But then they went one step further. They came to Washington, took an oath before Congress, and lied about it.

Thanks to an extraordinary investigative effort by a Senate subcommittee that unilaterally decided to take up the burden the criminal justice system has repeatedly refused to shoulder, we now know exactly what Goldman Sachs executives like Lloyd Blankfein and Daniel Sparks lied about. We know exactly how they and other top Goldman executives, including David Viniar and Thomas Montag, defrauded their clients. America has been waiting for a case to bring against Wall Street. Here it is, and the evidence has been gift-wrapped and left at the doorstep of federal prosecutors, evidence that doesn’t leave much doubt: Goldman Sachs should stand trial.

The great and powerful Oz of Wall Street was not the only target of Wall Street and the Financial Crisis: Anatomy of a Financial Collapse, the 650-page report just released by the Senate Subcommittee on Investigations, chaired by Democrat Carl Levin of Michigan, alongside Republican Tom Coburn of Oklahoma. Their unusually scathing bipartisan report also includes case studies of Washington Mutual and Deutsche Bank, providing a panoramic portrait of a bubble era that produced the most destructive crime spree in our history — “a million fraud cases a year” is how one former regulator puts it. But the mountain of evidence collected against Goldman by Levin’s small, 15-desk office of investigators — details of gross, baldfaced fraud delivered up in such quantities as to almost serve as a kind of sarcastic challenge to the curiously impassive Justice Department — stands as the most important symbol of Wall Street’s aristocratic impunity and prosecutorial immunity produced since the crash of 2008.

To date, there has been only one successful prosecution of a financial big fish from the mortgage bubble, and that was Lee Farkas, a Florida lender who was just convicted on a smorgasbord of fraud charges and now faces life in prison. But Farkas, sadly, is just an exception proving the rule: Like Bernie Madoff, his comically excessive crime spree (which involved such lunacies as kiting checks to his own bank and selling loans that didn’t exist) was almost completely unconnected to the systematic corruption that led to the crisis. What’s more, many of the earlier criminals in the chain of corruption — from subprime lenders like Countrywide, who herded old ladies and ghetto families into bad loans, to rapacious banks like Washington Mutual, who pawned off fraudulent mortgages on investors — wound up going belly up, sunk by their own greed.

Continue reading at:  http://www.rollingstone.com/politics/news/the-people-vs-goldman-sachs-20110511