Archive for the ‘lgbt’ Category

June 26, 2007

Kissing gay teens getting kicked off busses, out of yearbooks
Posted by Mikhaela Reid

What is up with this bigoted nonsense and this bigoted nonsense? Leave the gay and bisexual teens to kiss in peace like their straight peers, people!

If I were a parent in Portland, I’d be horrified that two 14-year-olds girls were kicked off a bus and stranded in the street by a bigoted bus driver. Even more crazy, the girls were on their way to the LGBT youth center. MESSED UP.

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June 21, 2007

Alberto Gonzales’s Civil Rights Division Lite: Taking the “Justice” Out of Justice Department
Posted by Mikhaela Reid

Taste the new “Justice” Department’s Civil Rights Division Lite! Now with 99% less: hate crimes prosecution, voting rights enforcement and police brutality investigations! Super-Action-Packed with Loyal Bushies, Wiretapping and Religious Extremists! It’s a Yum-Tastic Justice Department makeover!

The Bush administration has laid waste to the Justice Department on a large scale, as the scandals over the replacement of high-performing federal prosecutors with “loyal Bushies” and that whole warrantless wiretapping nastiness have shown.

The Bush makeover of the Civil Rights Division is similarly extreme. The pre-Bush Justice Department Civil Rights Division was founded in 1957. The Division protected voting rights and enforced anti-discrimination laws, with a particular focus on discrimination based on race and national origin. From the Division website:

The Division enforces the Civil Rights Acts of 1957, 1960, 1964, and 1968; the Voting Rights Act of 1965, as amended through 1992; the Equal Credit Opportunity Act; the Americans with Disabilities Act; the National Voter Registration Act; the Uniformed and Overseas Citizens Absentee Voting Act; the Voting Accessibility for the Elderly and Handicapped Act; and additional civil rights provisions contained in other laws and regulations. These laws prohibit discrimination in education, employment, credit, housing, public accommodations and facilities, voting, and certain federally funded and conducted programs.

Or do they? Under Bush and Gonzales, Justice has shifting funding, focus and resources to more Dubyafied priorities. As the New York Times reported this week (“Justice Dept. Reshapes Its Civil Rights Mission”):

In recent years, the Bush administration has recast the federal government’s role in civil rights by aggressively pursuing religion-oriented cases while significantly diminishing its involvement in the traditional area of race.

Read the whole article, but here are some particular horrors:

DISCRIMINATION

The old Civil Rights Division (Civil Rights Clasic, if you will) fought discrimination in hiring. The Civil Rights Lite Division defends the right of religious groups like the Salvation Army to discriminate (see “Charity Cites Bush Help in Fight Against Hiring Gays” and “Court OKs Religious Hiring Bias by Federally Backed Charities”).

HATE CRIMES

Civil Rights Classic lent federal enforcement weight to the prosecution of hate crimes cases: KKK attacks, lynchings, and more. Civil Rights Lite has diverted that funding to a pet cause of the Christian Right. Again from the NYT, the Civil Rites Lite Division is…

Taking on far fewer hate crimes and cases in which local law enforcement officers may have violated someone’s civil rights. The resources for these traditional cases have instead been used to investigate trafficking cases, typically involving foreign women used in the sex trade, a favored issue of the religious right.

Certainly trafficking cases deserve funding–but not at the expense of victims of racism, hate crimes and police brutality. Trafficking cases used to and should be handled elsewhere.

VOTING RIGHTS

Civil Rights Classic defended the voting rights of people of color. Civil Rites Lite suppresses the voting rights people of color through new voter ID requirements and baseless “voter fraud” case–and has even pursued its first claim of voter intimidation against white people. As John Nichols writes in The Nation (“Curing the Rot at Justice”):

The Brennan Center for Justice and the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law have uncovered evidence of what they describe as “a much broader strategy on the part of the Administration to use federal agencies charged with protecting voting rights to promote voter suppression and influence election rules so as to gain partisan advantage in battleground states.” There is now a compelling case that the White House used the Justice Department’s Civil Rights and Criminal divisions and the Election Assistance Commission to create a false perception of widespread voter fraud to justify initiatives–stringent voter identification laws, crackdowns on voter registration drives and pre-election purges of eligible voters from the rolls–designed to disenfranchise the poor, minorities, students and seniors.

The New York Times reports on this as well. Civil Rights Lite is:

Sharply reducing the complex lawsuits that challenge voting plans that might dilute the strength of black voters. The department initiated only one such case through the early part of this year, compared with eight in a comparable period in the Clinton administration.

Trouble is, only the federal government has the resources to deal with these voting dilution cases. Oh well–it’s not like black voters get disenfranchised anymore, right? Too bad, but they’ve got a new kind of case to focus on:

The civil rights division also brought the first case ever on behalf of white voters, alleging in 2005 that a black political leader in Noxubee County, Miss., was intimidating whites at the polls.

RELIGIOUS FREEDOM TRUMPS ALL OTHER FREEDOMS

But back to the Salvation Army. If you visit the Justice Department website, you’ll read very little about racist discrimination and the ongoing disenfranchisement of voters of color. Instead, you read about this exciting “special initiative” from Alberto “Geneva Conventions Are Quaint” Gonzales, “The First Freedom Project”:

Religious liberty is often referred to as the “First Freedom” because the Framers placed it first in the Bill of Rights. Yet it is not merely first in order: it is a fundamental freedom on which so many of our other freedoms rest.

Forget freedom of speech, forget freedom of the press and freedom of assembly, and most especially freedom from unreasonable search and seizure: the first and most important freedom is the freedom of religious organizations to receive government funding for firing gay people.

Some of the other evidence of Civil Rights Lite cited by the New York Times:

Supporting groups that want to send home religious literature with schoolchildren; in one case, the government helped win the right of a group in Massachusetts to distribute candy canes as part of a religious message that the red stripes represented the blood of Christ.

Conservative religious groups who love the taste of Civil Rights Lite say that the weight of the federal government is no longer needed to combat racism and discrimination–silly stuff like that can be left up to local authorities. Of course, local authorities often lack the resources, will or perspective to fight racism. Historically, local authorities in the South often deliberately turned their backs on racist attacks and civil rights violations, and I’m not so sure those days are totally behind us. And that whole federal ignoring of civil rights and the issues of black people worked out great during Katrina, didn’t it?

HIRING LOYAL BUSHIES

Oh, and then there’s the hiring thing. We all remember sweet little Monica “I crossed the line” Goodling, trying so hard to make everything harmonious at Justice by hiring only “loyal Bushies”. The NYT analyzed department statistics and found that Civil Rights Classic hired lawyers with impressive backgrounds and qualifications. Civil Rights Lite hires lawyers from religious law schools (like Pat Robertson’s academically questionable Regent Law) who play up their conservative and religious credentials as much as possible.

Finally, while we’re on the topic of Civil Rights, I figured I’d close with Bush channeling his role model Martin Luther King, Jr.:
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Cross-posted at Boiling Point Blog.

P.S. Have you bought Attack of the 50-Foot Mikhaela! Cartoons by Mikhaela B. Reid (with foreword by Ted Rall) yet? Why not?

June 15, 2007

Take That, Bigots!: Massachusetts Defeats Anti-Gay Constitutional Amendment
Posted by Mikhaela Reid

My home state kicks ass! From Bay Windows:

In the June 14 constitutional convention, state lawmakers defeated the proposed amendment to the constitution that would have taken away the civil right to marry from same-sex couples. The final tally on the measure was 45 in favor and 151 against. The amendment needed just 50 votes to pass. The vote came just five months after the first vote by lawmakers on the amendment in which 62 lawmakers backed it.

The Democratic presidential candidates may be too wimpy to stand for marriage equality, but Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick and House Speaker DiMasi aren’t! From the Boston Globe:

The vote came without debate after House Speaker Salvatore F. DiMasi, Senate President Therese Murray, and Governor Deval Patrick conferred this morning and concluded that they have the votes to kill the proposal.

“Today’s vote was not just a victory for marriage equality, it was a victory for equality itself,” Patrick told reporters as cheers echoed in the State House. “Whenever we affirm the equality of anyone, we affirm the equality of everyone.”

The three leaders – along with gay rights activists – spent the last several days intensely lobbying a dozen or more state representatives and state senators who had previously supported the amendment but signaled that they were open to changing their positions.

Sadly for the rest of the country, Mitt Romney–the Massachusetts governor that Deval Patrick replaced–is trying to out-gay-bash his fellow Republicans in his bid for the White House.

June 14, 2007

Legacies, or Some Day, They’re Really Going to Feel Like Fools
Posted by Mikhaela Reid

Marriage equality: yet another arena in which the Democrats are missing a spine.

40 years ago yesterday, the Supreme Court ruled in Loving vs. Virginia that anti-miscegenation laws were unconstitutional. The Loving decision invalidated the “Racial Integrity Act” that allowed Virginia cops to bust into the bedroom of Richard and Mildred Loving, arrest them for “illegal cohabitation” and sentence them to a year in jail.

Can you imagine the leading Democratic candidates getting up at a campaign stop today and hemming and hawing out the following nonsense?

I believe in full equality of benefits, nothing left out…From my perspective there is a greater likelihood of us getting to that point in interracial civil unions or domestic partnerships and that is my very considered assessment.

or

It’s a jump for me to get to interracial marriage. I haven’t yet got across that bridge.

or how about

I would not support the Defense of Racial Integrity Act today, if there were a vote today. But the part I agree with is the states should not be required to recognize interracial marriages from other states.

Those are all paraphrases of actual statements on gay marriage from Hillary Clinton and John Edwards. Obama has similar views. (found via Pam’s House Blend, an excellent LGBT issues blog that regularly checks in on all the candidate’s positions on marriage equality).

Some folks say the Democrats have no choice but to tone down their support of gay rights to appeal to religious voters or values voters. But is that the kind of visionary progressive leadership we want to promote?

Decades from now, the people who were too afraid to support full equality for gay Americans are going to look like spineless sheep, and rightly so. I can see the history books now “The Democrats bravely passed non-binding resolutions, courageously voted to fund an illicit war they claimed to oppose, did nothing of any note to remove an Attorney General with a serious torture fetish and tentatively supported domestic partnership benefits while opposing real marriage equality.” Now that’s a legacy we can all be proud of! As Susan Ryan-Vollmar wrote in her Bay Windows editorial last week (regarding a possible constitutional ban on gay marriage in Massachusetts):

Twenty years from now, when their time in office has long since ended, those lawmakers who back the anti-gay amendment June 14 will still be asked about their vote by their grandchildren, their neighbors and even reporters writing anniversary pieces. Trying to explain that they supported marriage equality but believed the civil marriage rights of same-sex couples should be decided by popular vote will sound even more disingenuous several decades from now than it does today.

Note: I think Ted’s turned commenting off while he’s away–if you want to comment, I’ve cross-posted this at The Boiling Point Blog.

June 7, 2007

Ted Rall is Finalist in Lambda Legal Cartoon Award; Online Voting Open to Public
Posted by Mikhaela Reid

Cartoonist Mikhaela Reid here. I’m supposed to be one of Ted’s guest bloggers, but I’ve been ill with strep my entire guest blog tenure so far and won’t be posting until I get better.

However, I wanted to quickly let everyone know that Ted’s cartoon “Explaining the Supreme Court” is one of five finalists in Lambda Legal’s Life Without Fair Courts cartoon contest. Lambda Legal is a national organization committed to achieving full recognition of the civil rights of lesbians, gay men, bisexuals, transgender people and those with HIV through impact litigation, education and public policy work.

Check out all the finalists and cast your vote.

Here’s the contest info:

Lambda Legal has teamed up with Prism Comics (an organization for the LGBT graphic artist community), and media sponsor, The Advocate, to launch a nationwide contest to find the best representation of what life would look like without fair courts. First prize in the contest is exposure in The Advocate and on Advocate.com. Second and third prize include donated shopping sprees from Diamond Comics Distributors. Contest judges include Joan Hilty, Editor at DC Comics; Phil Jimenez, Freelance Illustrator and Comic Book Artist; Mikhaela Reid, creator of the original series, Life Without Fair Courts; and George Stoll, Art Director for The Advocate.

(Disclaimer: I was on the panel of judges who picked the finalists since I drew the original “Life Without Fair Courts” series that came before the contest, so I can’t take sides, but figured Ted’s fans should know about the contest since he’s trekking through the Stans and unable to post about this himself.)