Today in labor history: “Wobblies” founded in 1905

From People’s World:

June 27 2013

The Industrial Workers of the World, also known as the “Wobblies,” was founded at a 12-day convention in Chicago, June 27, 1905.

The “Continental Congress of the Working Class” established the industrial Workers of the World with cooperation of sections of the Socialist Labor Party/Socialist Trades & Labor Alliance, Socialist Party of America, Western Federation of Miners, and survivors of the International Working People’s Association.

Participants included the legendary William “Big Bill” Haywood, head of the Western Federation of Miners. Other prominent early IWW organizers included Lucy Parsons, Eugene Debs, “Mother” Mary Jones, Frank Little, and Elizabeth Gurley Flynn – whom Joe Hill dubbed the “Rebel Girl.” Flynn later became a leader of the Communist Party USA.

The IWW was a pioneer in labor and socialist organizing. It advocated industrial unionism and called for “one big union” that would overthrow capitalism through general strike action. However, it opposed political action, believing that transformation of society would stem from strikes and street protests.

The Wobblies advocated for equality. Its famous motto was, “An injury to one is an injury to all.”

At its peak, the IWW membership was about 40,000, with especial strength in the west. Its numbers declined in the 1920s and beyond due to a number of factors. These included splits in the organization, government suppression of “reds” and “agitators” in general, emergence of the Communist Party which championed political as well as labor organizing, and changes in the industries and labor force where it had its greatest strength.

The IWW had a major impact on the organization of America’s major mass production industries, on other later social struggles, and on American culture. The Wobbly movement produced famous songs still sung today, with the most famous being the union anthem “Solidarity Forever.”

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AFA: With DOMA Decision, America Is ‘Shaking Its Fist at God,’ Christians Will be ‘Crushed’

It there any further proof needed that fundamentalist religious convictions of any sort are a mental illness and should be treated as such?

Further is there any further proof needed that the AFA is a Neo-Nazi hate group?

Fight for Transgender Rights in NY Continues After Senate Fails to Take Up GENDA

From HRC:

Melissa Sklarz
June 24, 2013

The following is written by Melissa Sklarz, President of Stonewall Democrats in New York City who lobbied with HRC in Albany.

I went to Albany on Wednesday to try to add my voice to the final session of the New York State Senate in discussing the Gender Expression Non Discrimination Act (GENDA).  I have done this before as I was one of the creators of the bill in 2002.

When gays and lesbians got legal protection in 2002, a strong effort was made to change the language of the bill and add a clause and definition for Gender Identity and Gender Expression. But it failed, and we made a bill to go it alone.  This is our 11th campaign.

But this year was different. It was an off year, without state elections; we had support throughout the state, we had polling, funding, experienced lobbyists, a media campaign, testimony from families with trans people, police and union support, and funding and boots on the ground from HRC.

I was so excited to get started that I rushed to the Senate to join HRC before changing out of my travel clothes. I met with Kate Oakley, an HRC political staffer who grew up in the Albany area.  We bonded immediately and off we went to look for votes.

Being the President of Stonewall Democrats of New York City and a transgender political operative meant I knew all the Democrats and very few Republicans. But all the power for GENDA lay with the GOP. We hooked up with the other GENDA people, both insiders and activists.

We did our job, this is, we drove legislators crazy. We thanked our friends and grabbed anyone connected to the GOP conference. We reminded them over and over the narrative of community and added personal perspective to the struggle.  As Kate reminded me, all we needed was a glimmer, and it always kept us going.

We worked the Senate on Wednesday for 8 hours and then 14 hours on Thursday. We were in the gallery until after midnight.  We did everything two people could do to advance the cause of equality and justice.

In the end, it did not work. The GOP doesn’t see the need for a new bill and the Democrats are splintered. Perhaps you know it is a tough time to be a Democratic Senator from New York State? Nevertheless, I could not sleep at night knowing that I could have done more for our cause.  I think it is basic and essential and that is the message that I bring to elected officials, to other trans people, and all of our allies.

Trans people need more of everything.  We need more faces, more money, and more friends.  We need our successes to join the battle, here and elsewhere, and we need our strivers to find the courage, show up, and tell people what it is like to change your gender in public.

I am not a fortune teller and it is too soon to think of next year. Kate worked great to keep me in the moment, but I have an idea.

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Statement on SCOTUS Voting Rights Ruling

From Transgender Law Center:

June 26, 2013

LGBT Advocacy Groups Stand With Civil Rights Counterparts in Disappointment at Voting Rights Ruling

Today, the Supreme Court struck down a central part of the Voting Rights Act, invalidating crucial protections passed by Congress in 1965 and renewed four times in the decades since. The sharply divided decision will significantly reduce the federal government’s role in overseeing voting laws in areas with a history of discrimination against African-Americans.

We, America’s leading LGBT advocacy organizations, join civil rights organizations – and indeed, all Americans whom this law has served to protect – in expressing acute dismay at today’s ruling. Not only had Congress repeatedly reaffirmed the need for this bedrock civil rights protection, but authoritative voices from across America had filed amicus briefs urging the court not to undermine the law: the NAACP; the American Bar Association; the Navajo Nation; the states of New York, California, Mississippi and North Carolina; numerous former Justice Department officials charged with protecting voting rights; dozens of U.S. senators and representatives; and many others.

These varied and powerful voices attest to the self-evident reality that racial protections are still needed in voting in this country. As recently as last year’s elections, political partisans resorted to voter suppression laws and tactics aimed at reducing the votes of people of color.

Voting rights protections, which have long served our nation’s commitment to equality and justice, should not be cast aside now. The court has done America a grave disservice, and we will work with our coalition partners to undo the damage inflicted by this retrogressive ruling.

Center for Black Equity

CenterLink: The Community of LGBT Centers

The Consortium of Higher Education LGBT Resource Professionals

Equality Federation

Family Equality Council

Freedom to Marry

Freedom to Work

Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders

Gay Men’s Health Crisis (GMHC)


Human Rights Campaign

Immigration Equality Action Fund

Lambda Legal

National Black Justice Coalition

National Center for Lesbian Rights

National Center for Transgender Equality

National Gay and Lesbian Task Force

National Queer Asian Pacific Islander Alliance

Out & Equal Workplace Advocates

PFLAG – Parents, Families, & Friends of Lesbians and Gays

Pride at Work, AFL-CIO

Transgender Law Center

Trevor Project


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Scalia the Mullah

From Slate:

The justice’s misunderstanding of morality, and how it leads him astray in cases about homosexuality.

Posted Tuesday, June 25, 2013

In a speech last week titled “Mullahs of the West: Judges as Moral Arbiters,” Justice Antonin Scalia told the North Carolina Bar Association that the court has no place acting as a “judge moralist” in issues better left to the people. Since judges aren’t qualified—or constitutionally authorized—to set moral standards, he argued, the people should decide what’s morally acceptable.


But does Scalia, whose quarter-century on the bench has marked him as the court’s moral scold for his finger-wagging views on social issues, have a coherent understanding of what it means to say something is or isn’t moral, and of morality’s proper role in the law?


Scalia would have you believe it’s liberal, pro-gay sympathizers who are imposing their own brand of moral laxity on the nation, and unconstitutionally using the courts to do it. His angry dissent in the 2003 Lawrence v. Texas case ending sodomy bans—decided 10 years ago this week—blasted the court for embracing “a law-profession culture that has largely signed on to the so-called homosexual agenda [which is] directed at eliminating the moral opprobrium that has traditionally attached to homosexual conduct.”


Ever since, Scalia has been railing against the loss of “moral opprobrium” as a legitimate basis for passing laws. Scalia implies that whatever the people feel should rule the day, constitutional rights be damned. “Countless judicial decisions and legislative enactments,” he wrote, “have relied on the ancient proposition that a governing majority’s belief that certain sexual behavior is ‘immoral and unacceptable’ constitutes a rational basis for regulation.” A long string of state laws, he argued, are “sustainable only in light of” the court’s “validation of laws based on moral choices,” including bans on incest, prostitution, masturbation, adultery, fornication, bestiality, public indecency and selling sex toys.

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The Death of DOMA and the Transformation of America on Gay Marriage

From Huffington Post:


It’s amazing to witness the most powerful court in the land strike down a law that made you a second-class citizen. I found myself getting emotional this morning, something I didn’t expect but which attested to how long a struggle this has been.

But let’s remember that today’s big win on marriage equality comes at the end of a term in which the Supreme Court gutted the Voting Rights Act and punted on affirmative action. That a court could curtail rights one day and expand them the next, based on the opinion of one justice, underscores all that is troubling about this court. Let’s be clear about one thing: The overturning of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) after this week’s other major court decisions is not indicative of this court’s embrace of civil rights as much as it reveals the precariousness of all our rights. It would be at our own peril not to keep in mind how rights can be rolled back on a whim.

The overturning of DOMA is monumental, ending almost 20 years of discrimination that was at the heart of unequal treatment of gay and lesbian Americans. The venomous arguments that members of Congress spewed as they passed the bill, which President Clinton signed in 1996, are still vivid in my mind. I’m enthralled to see DOMA dead and buried. But we must keep it in perspective. Contrary to those who claim the gay movement has “arrived” and that we’re at the precipice of “victory,” the truth is that we don’t have any federal protections of any kind — no employment protections, no protections in housing or public accommodations or credit.

Until recently, with the end of “don’t ask, don’t tell” (DADT) and now DOMA, we had laws that were put in place solely to prevent us from attaining rights and keep us as second-class citizens. Those federal laws are now gone, and we start with a clean slate. Now we can go about the process of getting full equality, actually attaining rights, in the states — where over 30 have bans on marriage for gays and lesbians — and federally, which will be the beginning of another long slog.

On Prop 8, it was a win, though not the mega-win that many, including power attorneys Ted Olson and David Boies, had hoped for. But the fight itself transformed the debate. Taking Prop 8 to the Supreme Court was a highly criticized prospect that was always risky, as the justices very well could have upheld Prop 8 rather than rule that marriage is a constitutional right for gays and lesbians. Going by their questions at oral arguments, it didn’t seem that the justices were anywhere near ready to do the latter. Some would say we got lucky that they decided not to rule on the merits and decided that the Prop 8 proponents didn’t have standing to bring Prop 8 to federal court. It means that Judge Vaughn R. Walker’s ruling stands and gay marriage returns to California. With the Golden State, the number of people in the U.S. who live in a marriage equality state expands dramatically, to almost one third of the U.S. population, and more than 25 percent of the states.

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Two victories for marriage equality in Supreme Court decisions

From Liberation:


June 26, 2013


The author is an attorney, author, and professor at the George Washington University. He is author of the legal treatise Hate Crimes Law (Westlaw), periodically revises the First Amendment chapter in Sexual Orientation and the Law (Westlaw), and authors briefs to the U.S. Supreme Court on behalf of various human and civil rights organizations.


The movement for equality scored two major victories on June 26, as different 5-4 majorities in the U.S. Supreme Court struck down the Defense of Marriage Act as unconstitutional and let stand the original Federal District Court decision that struck down California’s Proposition 8.


Justice Kennedy wrote the majority opinion in the DOMA case, U.S. v. Windsor, and announced his decision from the bench. He spoke eloquently about the nature of DOMA in attempting to undermine the dignity of same-sex couples, concluding that this was an unconstitutional law that served no legitimate purpose. His description of the discriminatory effect of the law was so moving that many courtroom viewers sniffled and choked back tears, including even a sizable portion of people sitting in the section of the room reserved for members of the Supreme Court bar, who are normally very careful about decorum.


This ruling reflects a judicial variation on the change in attitudes and understanding that the political struggle, inside and outside courtrooms around the country, has won very recently. Anti-equality forces had success in early stages by asking for a simple show of hands on “who wants gay marriage?” as evident in the early “Let the People Vote Coalition,” funded by the National Organization for Marriage.


Issue of equality


But as the debate moved beyond the initial, knee-jerk response to the idea of same-sex marriage, people began to see this as an issue of equality and denial of the rights and dignity of others. The last election cycle showed that people in many states (including ones that formerly voted against marriage equality) realized that there was no reason, other than bare bigotry, to deny marriage rights. Today, the majority of the Supreme Court recognized this truth, and affirmed that our Constitutional principles of due process and equal protection of the laws prohibit such baseless discrimination.

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