Harvey Milk, George Moscone Remembered At San Francisco Memorial, 34 Years After Assassinations

Photo by Suzan Cooke

From Huffington Post:  http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/11/28/harvey-milk-george-moscone_n_2206107.html?ir=Gay+Voices

By
Posted: 11/28/2012

November 27 is a sensitive day for San Francisco.

Anyone who lived in this city in 1978 remembers that morning, four days after Thanksgiving, when Supervisor Dan White walked through City Hall with a revolver and shot and killed Mayor George Moscone and Harvey Milk, the city’s first openly gay supervisor.

So on Tuesday, 34 years after the tragic incident, city officials, the Milk and Moscone families, LGBT supporters and much of the San Francisco community gathered on the steps of City Hall in memory.

“Let’s get this straight: George and Harvey did not die heroically. It was a senseless act,” said Jonathan Moscone, George’s youngest son, according to SF Appeal. Jonathan was a 14-year-old freshman at St. Ignatius High School when his father was killed.

White was convicted of voluntary manslaughter instead of murder, a decision that led to the violent White Night riots at City Hall. The conviction was widely viewed as too lenient, and made famous the “Twinkie defense” that helped White in court.

Don’t think I didn’t smile when I heard Hostess was going under,” Jonathan said to the crowd on Tuesday.

Jonathan called on crowd members to live their lives like Milk and his father, both considered champions for equality and civil rights.

“We’re all agents of change like George and Harvey were,” he said. All of us have a voice.”

Other speakers expressed the same sentiment.

“Harvey Milk was a visionary whose life and death had a profound effect on the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender community,” said Anne Kronenberg, Milk’s former aide, per SF Weekly. “He is remembered for his passion and his perseverance in his quest for equality for all people.”

Continue reading at:  http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/11/28/harvey-milk-george-moscone_n_2206107.html?ir=Gay+Voices

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Gay Men Will Marry Your Girlfriends

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NOM Now Warning Against Young People Having Gay Friends

From Think Progresshttp://thinkprogress.org/lgbt/2012/11/26/1233911/nom-now-warning-against-young-people-having-gay-friends/

By Zack Ford
on Nov 26, 2012

The National Organization for Marriage has sunk to a new low of intolerance. In a “Thanksgiving Message” from Jennifer Roback Morse of NOM’s Ruth Institute, she warns that young people are being “pressured” to support LGBT equality because they have gay friends and peers. Morse relates a story of a Catholic resident assistant (RA) at a college who didn’t want to participate in the “drag party” being organized by her gay supervisor. The supervisor was supposedly “really leaning on her” and trying to “make her feel bad, make her look bad,” an example of a pro-LGBT strategy that Morse feels is a much more significant threat than the media:

MORSE: I think a lot of our students are encountering this type of situation in their dorms and on their college campuses… What I want to say to you, is that the other side has RAs in the dorm where your young people are going to school. There’s no TV message that is going to do the job of countering that type of influence. Somebody’s got to be there talking to young people one at a time in the places where they’re hanging out and doing the things that they’re doing. There’s no mass media strategy by itself that will solve this problem. […]

And this holiday season, when your young people come home from college, ask them about this. Ask them if they have a gay RA in their dorms… So please, talk to your young people about this and see what kind of pressure they may be under that maybe even they don’t realize how much it’s having an impact upon them.

Complete article at:  http://thinkprogress.org/lgbt/2012/11/26/1233911/nom-now-warning-against-young-people-having-gay-friends/By Zack Ford

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Abortion in Ireland: The Injustice and Day-to-Day Terror Faced by Countless Women

From RH Reality Check:  http://www.rhrealitycheck.org/article/2012/11/28/abortion-in-ireland-savita-halappanavar%E2%80%99s-death-and-day-to-day-terror-women

by Sarah Fisher, Abortion Support Network
November 28, 2012

As an organization that hears first-hand from the women who bear the burden of Ireland’s archaic abortion laws, the tragic death of Savita Halappanavar was shocking and sickening.

And yet not as surprising as you’d think.

Given that abortion laws in Ireland are among the strictest in the world, a tragedy of this kind wasn’t so much a matter of if, but when. The circumstances in which Savita died are truly abhorrent. Admitted to hospital experiencing a miscarriage at 17 weeks, despite being told that the fetus “wasn’t viable” she was made to suffer for days, left begging for an abortion that she was refused as long as there was a foetal heart beat.

Haunted by the harrowing details of Savita’s death we’re left to wonder how many more women in Ireland may have lost their lives as a result of being denied a life-saving abortion.

If Savita’s family hadn’t bravely made the decision to go public, would her senseless death have come to light? Have the lives of more women been sacrificed because a fetus was deemed more important? Even when it was known that the fetus would not survive? When, technically in Ireland an abortion is permitted if there is a “real and substantial risk to the life of the mother?” These are questions that we cannot ignore and questions that demand answers.

Savita’s death is the worst illustration of what happens when abortion is highly restricted, and the worst way for the ‘pro-life’ lobby to be proved wrong. How often do we hear that abortion is never necessary to save the life of a woman? A protester at a vigil for Savita hit the nail on the head with a placard stating ‘Pro-Life beliefs killed Savita Halappanavar – Ireland needs abortion rights.’  So did Kartha Pollit in her compelling reflection on the case When ‘Pro-Life’ kills.

But what has been absent from the mainstream media coverage of Savita’s death has been the mass, day-in day-out misery and discrimination experienced by women as a result of the near-total ban on abortion in Ireland.

Continue reading at:  http://www.rhrealitycheck.org/article/2012/11/28/abortion-in-ireland-savita-halappanavar%E2%80%99s-death-and-day-to-day-terror-women

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300 Years of FOSSIL FUELS in 300 Seconds – Please read video comment!

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BP suspended from new US federal contracts over Deepwater disaster

From The Guardian UK:  http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2012/nov/28/epa-suspends-bp-oil-spill

Environmental Protection Agency accuses oil giant of a ‘lack of business integrity’ over its behaviour following 2010 Gulf spill

, US environment correspondent, and
The Guardian, Wednesday 28 November 2012

BP has been blocked from seeking new contracts with the US government because of the oil company’s “lack of business integrity” during the Gulf of Mexico oil disaster, the Environmental Protection Agency said Wednesday.

The temporary order bans BP from competing for new oil leases in the Gulf of Mexico – such as the auction of 20m acres taking place on Wednesday – or from bidding on new contracts to supply the Pentagon or other government agencies with fuel.

While the ban does not affect existing business, it raises wider questions about the company’s future in a crucial market.

The type of suspension imposed by the EPA typically does not last more than 18 months. But an official said that in this case the ban could be extended because of the ongoing legal proceedings. That could mean BP, the largest oil producer in the Gulf of Mexico, would remain under an extended moratorium until all criminal charges and law suits are resolved.

BP was clearly taken by surprise and struggled to explain the impact on its business. Its shares fell nearly 2% in London as investors reacted with dismay to the news which puts a major dent in the company’s already battered reputation.

The finance director of the London-based oil group warned investors at a recent presentation that any outright ban could “affect BP’s investment thesis in the US”.

The order was handed down just two weeks after BP agreed to plead guilty to manslaughter and other charges arising from the April 2010 explosion of the Deepwater Horizon oil rig, as well as pay a record $4.5bn in fines.

Continue reading at:  http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2012/nov/28/epa-suspends-bp-oil-spill

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Change Is Coming: Factory Farms’ Days May Be Numbered

From Common Dreams:  http://www.commondreams.org/view/2012/11/28-0

Animal welfare advocates, rejoice

by Ocean Robbins
Published on Wednesday, November 28, 2012 by Common Dreams

In one of history’s most stunning victories for humane farming, Australia’s largest supermarket chain, Coles, will as of January 1 stop selling company branded pork and eggs from animals kept in factory farms. As an immediate result, 34,000 mother pigs will no longer be kept in stalls for long periods of their lives, and 350,000 hens will be freed from cages.

Not to be outdone, the nation’s other dominant supermarket chain, Woolworths, has already begun phasing out factory farmed animal products. In fact all of Woolworth’s house brand eggs are now cage-free, and by mid-2013 all of their pork will come from farmers who operate stall-free farms.

Coles and Woolworths together account for a dominant 80 percent of all supermarket sales in Australia.

The move to open up the cages was fueled by “consumer sentiment,” and it has been synchronous with a major campaign against factory farming of animals led by Animals Australia. The campaign features a TV ad, titled “When Pigs Fly,” in which an adorable piglet tells the story of animals sentenced to life in cramped cages, and then flies to freedom.

Meanwhile, in the United States, egg factory farms cram more than 90 percent of the country’s 280 million egg-laying hens into barren cages so small the birds can’t even spread their wings. Each bird spends her entire life given less space than a sheet of paper. And in a reality that does not please fans of Wilber or Babe, between 60 to 70 percent of the more than five million breeding pigs in the United States are kept in crates too small for them to so much as turn around.

There are laws against cruelty to animals in the United States, but most states specifically exempt animals destined for human consumption. The result is that the animal agriculture industry routinely does things to animals that, if you did them to a dog or a cat, would get you put in jail.

Gene Baur, president of Farm Sanctuary, explains: “Most of the anti-cruelty laws exempt farm animals as long as the practices are considered to be normal by the agriculture industry. What has happened is that bad has become normal, and no matter how cruel it is, normal is legal.”

Continue reading at: http://www.commondreams.org/view/2012/11/28-0

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Marsha P. Johnson Case Reopened!

This is really wonderful.

Maybe now at least they are taking the murders of TS/TG people more seriously.

From The Village Voice Blog:  http://blogs.villagevoice.com/dailymusto/2012/11/narsha_p_johnso.php

By Michael Musto
Mon., Nov. 26 2012

Marsha P. Johnsonwas the transgender performer and activist whose body was found in the Hudson in 1992, the police deciding it was a suicide, as various observers reacted in deep suspicion, certain there was more to the story.

Well, the case has just been opened again!

A transsexual activist named Mariah Lopez tells me she got someone at the Manhattan D.A.’s office to assign someone to look more closely at what really happened.

Mariah feels it was a murder, and says that Sylvia Rivera–the late LGBT rights legend who was Mariah’s soul mother–felt the same way.

As the quest for justice rages on, Lopez told me she’s also pushing for a permanent tribute statue of Marsha by the Christopher Pier.

That’s a wonderful idea, and the authorities had better not react with Marsha’s favorite saying:

“Pay it no mind!”

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Spanning the Brooklyn Bridge to Remember Those Lost to Trans Violence

From The Edge NYC:  http://www.edgenewyork.com/news/local/features//139276/spanning_the_brooklyn_bridge_to_remember_those_lost_to_trans_violence_

by David  Perry
Tuesday Nov 27, 2012

With somber moments of silence and bursts of cautious enthusiasm, New Yorkers marked the 14th annual Transgender Day of Remembrance Nov. 20 with events throughout the city. Trans people, their friends, allies, and advocates came to remember those of the community who have passed on, and to steel their resolve for the continuing struggle in the courts and mainstream life for full equality.

“The challenges facing the transgender community have many faces,” says Brooklyn Community Pride Center Executive Director Erin Drinkwater, who organized a march across the Brooklyn Bridge and a vigil at City Hall for the TDoR vigil in Brooklyn. “They include discrimination manifesting itself in accessing housing, employment, credit, education and accessing adequate and culturally competent healthcare. The transgender community faces widespread transphobia simply because of who they are, and are more likely to be the victim of a violent crime.”

Springing from the efforts of Boston-based trans activist Gwendolyn Ann Smith, “TDoR” began as small vigil in response to the still-unsolved murder of Rita Hester, a transgender African American woman, in 1998. The day is now observed in over 185 cities in more than 20 countries, and is the culmination of Transgender Awareness Week.

While Chaz Bono, “Cloud Atlas” director Lana Wachowski, beauty-queen Jenna Talackova and “pregnant man” Thomas Beatie have shed more light than ever before on trans life, outside the spotlight, trans people continue to run the friendless gauntlet of discrimination, fear, misunderstanding, legal apathy and threats to their lives that gays and lesbians themselves faced 30 years ago.

Lourdes Hunter, the keynote speaker at the TDoR event held at Manhattan’s Audre Lorde Project, is blunter about the hardships trans people face.

“Many are ostracized by family and community and are forced to engage in survival activities, or are subjected to unsafe environments and relationships,” said Hunter. “As a consequence, homelessness, untreated health issues, higher rates of incarceration, drug use and abuse and street-based sex work are just a few of the challenges many trans folk, in particular, trans women of color, face everyday.”

Continue reading at:  http://www.edgenewyork.com/news/local/features//139276/spanning_the_brooklyn_bridge_to_remember_those_lost_to_trans_violence_

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Community Demands Justice for Young Woman Attacked on Thanksgiving in Alabama

From GLAAD:  http://www.glaad.org/blog/community-demands-justice-young-woman-attacked-thanksgiving-alabama

by Ross Murray
Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Mallory Owens visited her girlfriend’s family for Thanksgiving, but was brutally attacked by her girlfriend’s brother, leaving her with multiple fractures, a broken nose, and eyes swollen shut. Mallory was treated and released from the hospitalon Monday.

Family members have claimed, and history has demonstrated, that Travis Hawkins Jr. was very unhappy that his sister, Ally, was in a relationship with a woman. The two had previous altercations. Hawkins attack on Mallory allegedly happened as they were leaving after dinner. Some reports say that Hawkins continues to threaten Mallory and her family.

Hawkins has been charged with second degree assault. Many in the family and in the LGBT community have called those charges too light for such a serious crime. According to Mobile County District Attorney Ashley Rich, Alabama law doesn’t allow for any stricter charges under these circumstances.

Currently, Alabama’s hate crime law does not include sexual orientation. District Attorney Rich said, “It’s a horrific crime, and unfortunately because of the laws in the state of Alabama, we can’t charge assault first because for assault first you have to have used a deadly weapon and Alabama courts have said a fist is not a deadly weapon.”

Equality Alabama Chair Patricia Todd released the following statement, “Tonight our prayers go to Mallory Owens as she returns home to family. Equality Alabama has called for a full investigation and swift justice for her senseless beating. While the investigation continues one fact is clear: nothing warrants the violence she witnessed. By living her life honestly, Mallory is deserving of no less than the love of family and admiration of peers.”

Ralph Young, the Vice Chair of Equality Alabama, stated that what happened to Mallory should never have to happen to anyone else again. “State law doesn’t adequately protect Mallory nor the 11,000 gay and lesbian families across Alabama. We must work together to create laws and a culture that guards against such a horrific attack ever happening again, to Mallory or anyone.”

There is currently a Change.org petition directed toward Alabama leaders to bring Travis Hawkins Jr. to justice, which has already garnered nearly 75,000 signatures.

Continue reading at:  http://www.glaad.org/blog/community-demands-justice-young-woman-attacked-thanksgiving-alabama

See also:

The New Civil Rights Movement:  Family Of Lesbian Brutally Beaten Demands Hate Crime Charges, DA Refusing

Raw Story:  Savage on Thanksgiving lesbian attack: ’2nd Amendment applies to queers, too’

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‘Homophobia’ and ‘Islamophobia’ are the right words for the job

From The Guardian UK:  http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2012/nov/27/homophobia-islamophobia-right-words-associated-press

Ascribing phobias in political and social contexts is wrong, says the Associated Press. But fear is what drives anti-gay behaviour


guardian.co.uk, Tuesday 27 November 2012

Noon, on a dirt track in Helmand province, Afghanistan. A soldier sees something on the ground and kneels down for closer inspection. Mercifully, it is not an explosive device but a spider. The soldier screams and jumps back, despite it not being poisonous. If you saw this you would likely conclude that he has arachnophobia. A reporter would say the same. Though not a psychiatrist, you would deem yourself fit to label the soldier thus. But the world-famous news agency Associated Press (AP) yesterday deemed the attributing of other phobias – in particular homophobia and Islamophobia – inappropriate. Their new style guide warns reporters against using phobic terms in “political or social contexts”.

The AP’s deputy standards editor Dave Minthorn explained:

“Homophobia especially – it’s just off the mark. It’s ascribing a mental disability to someone, and suggests a knowledge that we don’t have. It seems inaccurate. Instead, we would use something more neutral: anti-gay, or some such … We want to be precise and accurate and neutral in our phrasing.”

It is commendable to strive for accurate, neutral reporting and “homophobia” or “Islamophobia” are not ideal, as they denote solely the fear motivating prejudice. But they are the best we have. While fear may not be the only force behind such attitudes, it is invariably a chief component. AP’s assertion that these words are inaccurate isn’t remotely neutral or precise; it reveals a banquet of their own assumptions about what governs prejudice. It illustrates the chasm of understanding between an onlooker struggling to read a situation and a victim who, through jabbing repetition, comprehends it only too well.

I’ve spent 30 years understanding homophobia. When you can feel its breath on your face, spitting, threatening, bullying and abusing you, one tends to be rather more adept at analysing its motives than, say, the policeman who plods in with his or her notebook. Given this, I can report with a certainty rarely enjoyed by straight journalists that being anti-gay is, without exception, at least partly fuelled by fear. Fear of the unknown, fear of unwanted sexual attention, fear of gender roles being flouted, fear of humanity being wiped out by widespread bumming, fear of a plague of homosexuals dismantling marriage, the family, the church and any other institution held vaguely dear. And, of course, never forget: fear of what lurks repressed and unacknowledged in the homophobe. Irrational fear. It’s a phobia, people.

Of course, those in the throes of this phobia are in denial. They never recognise it as such. Instead, they cling to their “deeply held convictions” that, for example, allowing people of the same sex to marry each other will ruin it for everyone else. They cling to their rosary beads or the backs of their trousers insisting it is a moral objection. But a glance at those objections unfailingly reveals an unwarranted belief that something bad will happen if you grant gay people the same rights as their heterosexual counterparts.

Continue reading at:  http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2012/nov/27/homophobia-islamophobia-right-words-associated-press

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Christians Fundamentalists Creationists Bush -Bill Hicks

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Gay ‘Conversion Therapy’ Faces Test in Courts

From The New York Times:  http://www.nytimes.com/2012/11/28/us/gay-conversion-therapy-faces-tests-in-courts.html

By
Published: November 27, 2012

Gay “conversion therapy,” which claims to help men overcome unwanted same-sex attractions but has been widely attacked as unscientific and harmful, is facing its first tests in the courtroom.

In New Jersey on Tuesday, four gay men who tried the therapy filed a civil suit against a prominent counseling group, charging it with deceptive practices under the state’s Consumer Fraud Act.

The former clients said they were emotionally scarred by false promises of inner transformation and humiliating techniques that included stripping naked in front of the counselor and beating effigies of their mothers. They paid thousands of dollars in fees over time, they said, only to be told that the lack of change in their sexual feelings was their own fault.

In California, so-called ex-gay therapists have gone to court to argue for the other side. They are seeking to block a new state law, signed by Gov. Jerry Brown in September and celebrated as a milestone by advocates for gay rights, that bans conversion therapy for minors.

In Sacramento on Friday, a federal judge will hear the first of two legal challenges brought by conservative law groups claiming that the ban is an unconstitutional infringement on speech, religion and privacy.

Since the 1970s, when mainstream mental health associations stopped branding homosexuality as a disorder, a small network of renegade therapists, conservative religious leaders and self-identified “life coaches” has continued to argue that it is not inborn, but an aberration rooted in childhood trauma. Homosexuality is caused, these therapists say, by a stifling of normal masculine development, often by distant fathers and overbearing mothers or by early sexual abuse.

An industry of “reparative therapy” clinics and men’s weekend retreats has drawn thousands of teenagers and adults who hope to rid themselves of homosexual urges, whether because of religious beliefs or family pressures.

But leading scientific and medical groups say that the theories of sexuality are unfounded and that there is no evidence that core sexual urges can be changed. They also warn that the therapy can, in the words of the American Psychiatric Association, cause “depression, anxiety and self-destructive behavior” and “reinforce self-hatred already experienced by the patient.”

Continue reading at:  http://www.nytimes.com/2012/11/28/us/gay-conversion-therapy-faces-tests-in-courts.html

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SPLC files groundbreaking lawsuit accusing conversion therapy organization of fraud

From The Southern Poverty Law Center:  http://www.splcenter.org/get-informed/news/splc-files-groundbreaking-lawsuit-accusing-conversion-therapy-organization-of-frau

11/27/2012

The Southern Poverty Law Center filed a first-of-its-kind lawsuit today accusing a New Jersey organization of consumer fraud for offering conversion therapy services – a dangerous and discredited practice that claims to convert people from gay to straight.

The lawsuit, filed in the Superior Court of New Jersey, charges that Jews Offering New Alternatives for Healing (JONAH), its founder, Arthur Goldberg, and counselor Alan Downing violated New Jersey’s Consumer Fraud Act by providing conversion therapy claiming to cure clients of being gay.

It is the first time a conversion therapy provider has been sued for fraudulent business practices. The lawsuit describes how the plaintiffs – four young men and two of their parents – were lured into JONAH’s services through deceptive practices.

“JONAH profits off of shameful and dangerous attempts to fix something that isn’t broken,” said Christine P. Sun, deputy legal director for the SPLC. “Despite the consensus of mainstream professional organizations that conversion therapy doesn’t work, this racket continues to scam vulnerable gay men and lesbians out of thousands of dollars and inflicts significant harm on them.”

The lawsuit describes how the underlying premise of conversion therapy – that a person can “convert” to heterosexuality – has no basis in scientific fact. Conversion therapy has been discredited or highly criticized by all major American medical, psychiatric, psychological and professional counseling organizations. It is the longstanding consensus of the behavioral and social sciences that homosexuality is a normal and positive variation of human sexual orientation.

Customers of JONAH’s services typically pay a minimum of $100 for weekly individual counseling sessions and another $60 for group therapy sessions. The lawsuit describes sessions that involved clients undressing in front of a mirror and even a group session where young men were instructed to remove their clothing and stand naked in a circle with the counselor, Downing, who was also undressed. Another session involved a subject attempting to wrest away two oranges, which were used to represent testicles, from another individual.

“Sadly, there is no accountability for those who practice conversion therapy,” said Michael Ferguson, a conversion therapy survivor and plaintiff in the lawsuit. “They play blindly with deep emotions and create an immense amount of self-doubt for the client. They seize on your personal vulnerability, and tell you that being gay is synonymous with being less of a man. They further misrepresent themselves as having the key to your new orientation.”

Downing and other counselors at JONAH also use techniques that leave clients alienated from their families. These techniques encourage clients to blame their parents for being gay. Clients even participate in violent role play exercises where they beat effigies of their mothers.

“These counselors are skilled at manipulating you into believing just about anything,” said Benjamin Unger, another plaintiff in the case. “During my time with JONAH, they told me constantly that my mom had made me gay. I was so convinced that I refused to have any contact with her for several months, which caused a great deal of damage to our relationship.”

JONAH, formerly known as Jews Offering New Alternatives for Homosexuality, was founded by Goldberg, a former Wall Street executive and attorney. Before founding JONAH, Goldberg was convicted of three counts of mail fraud and one count of conspiracy to defraud the federal government. He was ultimately disbarred from being an attorney.

“People who are told repeatedly that they are innately defective are being abused and traumatized,” said Laura Booker, a licensed clinical social worker who helps people recover from conversion therapy’s devastating effects. “The cost of conversion therapy to gay men and lesbians may be nothing less than emotional devastation. They may spend years recovering from the trauma inflicted upon them.”

Conversion therapy also promotes the idea that gay men and lesbians choose their sexual orientation, a position that encourages a climate of anti-gay bigotry.

The American Psychological Association has expressed concern that the positions espoused by some of the leading advocates of conversion therapy, such as the National Association for Research Therapy of Homosexuality (NARTH), “create an environment in which prejudice and discrimination can flourish.” JONAH’s practices include so-called scientific methods invented by NARTH co-founder Joseph Nicolosi.

The law firms of Cleary, Gottlieb, Steen & Hamilton LLP and Lite DePalma Greenberg LLC are serving as the SPLC’s co-counsel on the case. The SPLC has previously filed complaints against conversion therapists with the American Psychiatric Association and the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation.

More information about the SPLC’s campaign to end conversion therapy, including an interactive map showing the location of therapists who advertise conversion therapy, can be found here.

See also Truth Wins Out:  Truth Wins Out Applauds SPLC Consumer Fraud Lawsuit Against Ex-Gay Industry

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Gay Women Will Marry Your Boyfriends

Right Wing Extermist Rand Paul Doubles Down on Women Hating as Plan for Republican Resurgance

Geez… Just when you though the misogynistic right wing extremist Republicans might have learned a lesson…  Here’s Rand Paul to prove they haven’t learned dick all about how pissing women off might be suicide at the ballot box.

From The New Civil Rights Movement:  http://thenewcivilrightsmovement.com/rand-paul-calls-for-personhood-law-to-end-abortion-once-and-for-all/politics/2012/11/26/54644

Rand Paul Calls For Personhood Law To End Abortion ‘Once And For All’

by David Badash
on November 26, 2012

Republican U.S. Senator Rand Paul is calling for a so-called “personhood” law to “end abortion on demand once and for all.” Sen. Paul, a Tea Party Libertarian Republican and the son of Congressman Ron Paul, has recorded a message for the National Pro-Life Alliance. Paul is attacking the U.S. Supreme Court as “nine unelected men and women” who have “invented laws” and “played God with innocent human life” because of the Roe v. Wade decision legalizing abortion.

Senator Paul, whom some thought might be softening his positions when it became clear Mitt Romney was going to lose the November election, clearly has not.

“Will you help me in a bold and aggressive campaign to end abortion on demand once and for all?” Paul asks.

Paul claims “Congress has the power to legislatively end Roe v. Wade,” which is stunning, since no law can overrule a Supreme Court verdict; only a constitutional amendment can — but that’s not what Paul is advocating.

U.S. Senator Rand Paul, a Tea Party favorite, is advocating for Congress to make a new law, a “personhood” law, called the LIfe at Conception Act,” establishing that human life begins at conception, and extending the 14th Amendment to all fetuses.

Continue reading at:  http://thenewcivilrightsmovement.com/rand-paul-calls-for-personhood-law-to-end-abortion-once-and-for-all/politics/2012/11/26/54644

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Will Senate Republican Women Support the Paycheck Fairness Act?

From RH Reality Check:  http://www.rhrealitycheck.org/article/2012/11/20/will-senate-republican-women-support-paycheck-fairness-act

by Sheila Bapat, RH Reality Check
November 20, 2012

A record 98 women will serve in the 113th Congress—20 women in the Senate, and 78 in the House. And in this new Congress, the gender chasm between both major parties is even more stark: Of the 20 women set to serve in the U.S. Senate come 2013, 16 are Democrats; of the 78 women in the House, 58 are Democrats. But Democratic women have indicated a desire to collaborate with their female colleagues across the aisle: Missouri Senator Claire McCaskill recently indicated this, as did New York Senator Kirsten Gillibrand.

Is cooperation possible with respect to the Paycheck Fairness Act, an amendment to the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938 that was rejected by the Senate this past June? So far, all signs point to a resounding “No.” All Democratic women in the Senate supported the Paycheck Fairness Act, while all five Republican women in the Senate rejected it. There is clear evidence that party affiliation, not just gender, are the driving forces behind whether a legislator supports tougher policy to ensure fair pay. The Senate’s heavily partisan vote count on the Paycheck Fairness Act when it was under consideration earlier this year reveals this. Chances of passing the law are a bit better since Democrats have increased their lead in the Senate by two votes—though the law failed by eight votes.

Why did Republican women in the Senate join their party in opposing the Paycheck Fairness Act? The general consensus among Republicans is that the law is simply too tough on employers and that it would pave the way to excessive litigation. Specifically, the Paycheck Fairness Act would restrict an affirmative defense allowed by 1963’s Equal Pay Act. Known as the “factor other than sex” defense, a defense heavily criticized by women’s rights attorneys,  this affirmative defense has enabled employers to withstand liability when they pay male employees more than their female employees based on higher earnings at previous jobs, without evaluating whether the higher earnings are actually rooted in qualifications or higher education. In other words, this defense makes it easier to discriminate. Discrimination is found to be a major cause of the wage gap, along with career and life choices.

The Paycheck Fairness Act would restrict this defense, putting a tougher burden on employers by requiring them to prove that pay disparities are rooted in education, experience or other qualifications. The law gives teeth to the Equal Pay Act which, despite being on the books for 40 years, has not been able to resolve wage discrimination.

Continue reading at:  http://www.rhrealitycheck.org/article/2012/11/20/will-senate-republican-women-support-paycheck-fairness-act

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GOP on post- election course correction

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Despite Election Victories, Escalating Poverty and Inequality Remain Largely Ignored

From Truth Out:  http://truth-out.org/opinion/item/12938-despite-election-victories-poverty-and-inequality-remain-huge-problems

By Ted Morgan
Tuesday, 27 November 2012

Probably the most striking feature of the recent election was that it appeared to be a clear victory for multicultural America. The long-running, right-wing Republican strategy of attacking women and the nation’s many minorities collided with a multicultural electorate, symbolized by the re-election of an African-American president. The question is: What are the longer term implications of this victory?

First, it should be noted that this was a watershed election for the gay community. Not only were openly gay candidates elected more often than not (US Senator-elect Tammy Baldwin, six out of seven openly gay or bisexual US representatives, seven states electing their first openly gay state legislators, and voters in four states supporting same-sex marriage). Rather clearly, too, the repulsive Republican comments regarding rape and abortion helped to mobilize the strong Democratic vote by women. And of course, huge majorities of the black and Latino population voted for Obama.

As Jon Stewart tweaked a Bill O’Reilly lament, with tongue firmly in cheek, it was the “moment when the family from the 1950s sit-com, ‘Leave it to Beaver,’ ceased to be real.”

I would argue that the spread of consumer capitalism and popular culture throughout the mass media makes it increasingly difficult for attacks on these populations to produce electoral success, especially as people of color continue to increase their share of the populace. That’s the upside.

On the other hand, however, race may be the exception to this rule – in part, because white racism commonly sees lower class when imagining or encountering people of color, and in part, because this perception gains credence from the fact that huge, impoverished minority populations have been trapped in our inner-city ghettos for decades. Class inequality, in short, gets reinforced by racism, and racism gets reinforced by class inequality. With the exception of a few years in the 1960s, the federal government has done more to create this condition than it has to remedy it, largely because the government designs federal policy around market incentives that predominantly benefit the better off. And racially coded attacks on poor populations have buttressed right wing campaigns all the way back to Barry Goldwater’s 1964 presidential campaign, producing what historian Michael Flamm has called the “Southernization” of American politics.

Which brings me back to the election. There is one very important sense in which social class became significant in this election. With its 99% / 1% symbolism, the Occupy Wall Street movement created broad public awareness of the grotesque degree to which the extremely wealthy have for decades benefited at the expense of everyone else. Unfortunately for the Republicans, they nominated a candidate who could readily be identified with the 1%, and the Obama campaign made the most of this opportunity. Given the intransigent recession, it’s unlikely Obama would have been elected if there hadn’t been an Occupy movement.

Continue reading at:  http://truth-out.org/opinion/item/12938-despite-election-victories-poverty-and-inequality-remain-huge-problems

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Walmart Strikers Challenge Culture of Threats, Fear

From In These Times:  http://inthesetimes.com/working/entry/14227/walmart_strikers_challenge_culture_of_threats_fear/

By David Moberg
Monday Nov 26, 2012

On the seventh anniversary of working at a Walmart store in a Chicago suburb, Charmaine Givens-Thomas nervously spoke into a bullhorn to explain why she was standing outside a Walmart parking lot so early on this cold morning of the day after Thanksgiving — Black Friday to bargain hunters and merchants alike.

“I’m standing up for all Walmart workers around the country so Walmart will give us a living wage and so Walmart will stop retaliating against us when we speak up,” she told the cheering crowd of around 250 supporters, drawn from an assortment of community and labor groups. “I want them to understand we just want to be able to pay our bills from one paycheck to the next and for them to respect us.”

Across the country, in more than 1,000 actions, Walmart workers and supporters from the broader public delivered the same message last Friday, according to Organization United for Respect Walmart. More commonly known as OUR Walmart, it is an association of Walmart workers launched in June 2011 with support from Making Change At Walmart, a community-labor coalition previously initiated by the United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) union.

The actions ranged from the embryonic to the fully grown: A lone worker in Maryland went out on strike against illegal retaliation and threats by Walmart management, then handed out to customers leaflets she had made while carrying her homemade picket sign. Meanwhile, at the Paramount store in southern California, more than 1,00 workers and, primarily, sympathizers protested. There were successful rallies in big cities all over the country–such as Dallas, Los Angeles, the Bay Area, Milwaukee, Washington D.C., and Miami.

Workers and allies even protested in Little Rock, Ark., in the shadow of the Bentonville, Ark., behemoth. Cayt Lawley joined the protest there, not the suburban Walmart where she worked until she was fired. She has charged Walmart with an unfair labor practice, arguing they dismissed her because she was a leading spokesperson for an organizer of workers in her store, not–as Walmart says–for the minor slip-up that her supervisor initially said was no problem.

“Now my co-workers are afraid to talk with me. They fear retaliation, for their jobs. It’s really sad,” she says. “But the strikes were phenomenal. I know there’s a buzz in the stores. Seeing workers who struck walking back in is really empowering. I think membership will go up.”

Continue reading at:  http://inthesetimes.com/working/entry/14227/walmart_strikers_challenge_culture_of_threats_fear/

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