Debunking the Myth That Same Sex Marriage Lost Anthony Weiner's Seat to a Tea Party Candidate

There is a quiet effort to pin the failings of Democrats to beat a Tea Party candidate in the 2011 special election to fill Anthony Weiner’s House seat in NY District 9 on the passage of the same-sex marriage law in NY State. However though a small number of voters may have voted on this as their prime issue, the history of previous Congressional elections in that district prove that support of LGBT issues including marriage do not jeopardize Democratic candidates.

 

 

In 1998, Congressional-member Charles Schumer beat incumbent Senator Al D’Amato and a special election was held to fill Schumer’s seat in the 9th district. As Democrats have held the seat since the 1920’s the Democratic Primary was seen as the de-facto election to fill the seat. The Democratic primary contenders were city council-member Anthony Weiner who previously served as Schumer’s Chief of Staff, former NY Assemblywoman and City Council Member Melinda Katz from the Queens portion of the district (also a strong record on LGBT issues) and Noach Dear, a NY City Council-member from the Brooklyn side a former City Council-member and ultra-Orthodox Jew who has been a very outspoken anti-LGBT bigot.

What happens when we give up the ideals that define us?

From the Restore Fairness blog-

Incidents around the country continue to undermine the principles of equality, justice and dignity for all that have played an important role in making America the strong nation it is today. In a story reported by the New York Times, a Brazilian man, Genesio Oliveira, is facing deportation and separation from his husband, Tim Coco, an American citizen and resident of Massachusetts, soon after federal officials allowed him to be reunited with his husband earlier this year.

The current situation is reminiscent of the ordeal the couple went through 3 years ago when they were forced to live apart after Genesio was denied asylum on claims of being raped as a teenager in Brazil. The judge deciding the case said he found Genesio’s fear of returning to Brazil “genuine” but denied him asylum on the grounds that he was never physically harmed by the rape. This ruling received a lot of attention from civil rights and immigrant rights groups around the world who criticized U.S. officials for separating a couple that was legally married. Following a request from Senator Kerry in June this year Genesio Oliveira was allowed back into the country on humanitarian grounds. He fervently hoped that this would induce the Attorney General to reverse the initial ruling that forced him back to Brazil, but even on Sen. Kerry’s urging, Eric Holder is refusing to reverse the earlier decision in a way that would allow Genesio to apply for permanent residency and stay with his husband.

Laws that interfere with civil rights and liberties are making their presence felt on a national level, as is evident in the constantly evolving TSA (Transportation Security Administration) regulations regarding security screenings in airports around the country. Three of the largest Sikh advocacy groups in the country are opposing screening measures at airports that require hand searches of all people wearing turbans, even if they agree to undergo full body scans using Advanced Imaging Technology. Representatives from the Sikh Coalition, United Sikhs and the Sikh American Legal Defense and Education Fund announced their opposition to screening policies that they say unfairly target members of the Sikh community.

Hansdeep Singh, a senior staff lawyer for United Sikhs based in New York, told the New York Times about a meeting that took place with TSA officials some weeks ago, in which members of Sikh groups had hoped to hear that with the introduction of Advanced Imaging Technology, there would be less hand and wand searches of turbans in airports. Instead, what they were met with was news of the development of “a patchwork of airport security policies… in which all turbans are searched.” Amardeep Singh, the Sikh Coalition’s director of programs, told the Associated Press, “The TSA told us, point blank, that turbans will now be screened 100 percent of the time.” Referring to the racial profiling and hate crimes that Sikh Americans have been faced with post September 11, 2001, Singh said, “Sikh Americans are already looked at differently in this country. Once you start pulling Sikhs aside for extra screening, it sends a message that the government is suspicious of them for the same reasons [other passengers] are suspicious of them.”

While TSA officials have not confirmed the introduction of a blanket policy, they reiterated Security procedures introduced in 2007 that included provisions for all “bulky” headwear to be searched. National Sikh organizations are urging their constituents to lobby Congress to overturn a blanket TSA policy that calls on all Sikhs wearing turbans to undergo a hand search of their turbans in spite of the Advanced Imaging Technology screening that screens metallic, plastic and ceramic through items of clothing.

In the midst of these incidents and policies that strike at the heart of this nation’s diversity, we did get wind of a heartening story that evidences a positive stance towards minority communities. Today, New Haven officials announced their plans for New Haven Promise, a new program that grants college tuition to high school students from public and charter school, provided that they maintain a 3.0 grade point average and 90% attendance rate.  The program, financed by Yale University, will pay up to 25% of the tuition for qualifying seniors who go on to public colleges or universities in Connecticut next year, up to 50% for the class after that, up to 75%for the following class; and up to 100% for the Class of 2014. According to Mayor John DeStefano, Jr., the program is like a “contract that says to kids: If you work hard, you demonstrate academic achievement and display appropriate behaviors, we’ll give you the tools to go to college and therefore inject choice and opportunity in your lives.”

Most importantly, the Promise will be open to all New Haven residents irrespective of their immigration status, and that includes those young adults who are undocumented and would be eligible for the DREAM Act, were it to be passed. Right now, students have to be legal residents or citizens in order to be eligible for in-state tuition rates and undocumented students are charged out-of-state tuition, which is about $10,000 at the state universities and $24,500 at University of Connecticut.

This is just one more step in the right direction for New Haven officials who are supportive of the immigrant communities that are an integral part of the city. From the New Haven Independent-

State legislators, including New Haven Sen. Martin Looney, have been pushing for a statewide version of the DREAM Act that would allow Connecticut residents who are undocumented immigrants to get in-state tuition. DeStefano said he will urge the state legislature to pass such a bill; he also said he’s working with various in-state colleges to work out an arrangement concerning the issue. Until such a change is made, he said, Promise will pay “full tuition” for each eligible student, even if that student is an immigrant who must pay out-of-state tuition.

It is important that we work together to honor the diversity that is the strength of this nation. As long as we continue to deny equality, justice, dignity and liberty to some, we cannot guarantee human rights for anyone.

Photo courtesy of blogs.cnn.com

Learn. Share. Act. Go to restorefairness.org

 

 

 

'No Drama Obama' Needs a Strong Second Act

by Walter Brasch

           The Obama administration is a welcome change from the Bush–Cheney years. Against severe Republican opposition, President Obama has kept campaign promises to reform health care, curb Wall Street excesses, create a federally-funded stimulus program to help bring the nation out of the recession, and to remove American troops from the needless Iraq war, which has already cost Americans more than $740 billion and 4,400 lives. He has also pledged to eliminate the Bush–Cheney tax cuts for the rich, while not raising taxes on the middle- and lower-classes.

           However, much of what the President is doing appears to be little more than an extension of Bush–Cheney values. And that is not what the Americans voted for when they elected him to office.

           Candidate Obama ran, and won office as an anti-war politician. President Obama has increased American presence in Afghanistan. In July, 66 American soldiers were killed, the highest number for any month during the war.

           Candidate Obama pledged to end the PATRIOT Act, which has done little to protect American safety and much to destroy American Constitutional rights, including freedom of expression, due process, and protection against unreasonable governmental invasion of privacy. However President Obama signed legislation to extend the Act for yet another year.

           During the 2008 campaign, both candidates Barack Obama and John McCain promised to close the prison at Guantanamo Bay. However, President Obama, apparently scared by the right wing paranoids, hasn't transferred any prisoners to maximum federal security prisons in the U.S., any one of which should have little difficulty dealing with suspected enemy combatants among the general population of killers and rapists.

           President Obama had failed to clean up the corrupt Minerals Management Service of the Department of Interior, which under the Bush–Cheney administration had become little more than feckless advocates for Big Oil. About a year into the Obama administration, the MMS exempted BP from filing a full environmental impact statement. Against the advice of environmentalists, and his own statements while a candidate, President Obama allowed continued deep water drilling in the Gulf, claiming that safety concerns were met. About a month later, the BP oil rig ruptured, killing 11 workers and leading to the worst oil spill in U.S. history. It took five weeks before President Obama finally placed a six month moratorium on deep well drilling, only to have that moratorium overturned by a Louisiana judge with financial ties to the oil industry. The Obama administration appealed that order and issued a broader moratorium. By then, more about 200 million gallons of oil had spilled into the gulf, killing wildlife, the fishing industries, and tourism.

           Although Candidate Obama  promised better transparency in government—and to a certain extent has succeeded—as President he allowed BP and his own government to place severe restrictions upon the media that were trying to give full coverage to the spill. 

           The transparency credibility issue surfaced again this month when the Defense Department rejected the application for Rolling Stone reporter Michael Hastings to accompany troops in Afghanistan. Hastings had accurately reported the political statements by Gen. Stanley McChrystal that led the President to fire him for the nature of his comments that "undermines the civilian control of the military that is at the core of the democratic system."

           Illinois State Sen. Barack Obama had said he believed in gay marriages. However, President Obama, although extending the rights of gay couples, has yielded to the fears of irrational conservatives and says he opposes same-sex marriages, but believes in civil unions. Unlike President Obama, supporters of same-sex marriage include Bill Clinton, Laura Bush, and Cindy McCain.

           The Republican leadership tried to block extending unemployment benefits during the Recession; it was weeks until President Obama spoke forcefully against the Republicans, which has earned its label as the "Party of 'No.'" Hopefully, President Obama will be quicker to denounce the prattle of Republican leaders who are mounting a campaign to reduce Social Security benefits.

           Solely for political reasons, the Bush–Cheney administration took gray wolves off the endangered species list one week before Barack Obama became president. Slightly more than a year after taking office, President Obama officially continued the Bush–Cheney policy. The action by both administrations allowed the killing large numbers of the 1,600 wolves in the Rocky Mountains of Idaho and Montana, often by state officials from helicopters and often into the dens that housed pups. No matter what the federal government said about wolves not being endangered, there were two realities. First, the Cattle Industry lobby wanted wolves removed, although federal subsidies reimburse ranchers for any livestock killed by wolves. The second issue is that wolves are competition for hunters, a majority of whom tend to be conservatives or supporters of Republican philosophies. While wolves kill for food or to protect their pack, human hunters may claim they hunt for food, but go to extraordinary lengths and expense to stuff and display their "trophy kills," and often will kill animals, such as bears, prairie dogs, and coyotes that have no food value. Unlike their human competitors, wolves usually don't use guns with telescopic sights, buy all kinds of whistles and electronic calls that mimic the cries of other animals, use elevated shooting stands, send out decoys, or even create elaborate steel-jaw traps. They never take their prey back to a cabin, consume 6-packs, and tell stories with other wolves. A federal court this week ruled that gray wolves in the Rockies were not only an endangered species, but stopped state-supported wolf hunts in Idaho and Montana.

           Franklin D. Roosevelt and Lyndon Johnson, against severe opposition, pushed through some of the most critical social legislation in the nation's history. Harry Truman stood up for his principles and for the benefit of the people when he lashed out at a "do-nothing Congress." Candidate Obama was elected on a forceful campaign mantra of "Change you can believe in," and not "A slight variation of present policies that you can maybe live with."

           President Obama is known as "No Drama Obama" because of his quiet intellectualism.  He needs to be more forceful, both in fully supporting social legislation he and his base believe in as well as attacking the vicious smears, lies, and distortions from the extreme Right Wing. If President Obama continues to pandering to the conservatives, and continues a slide into compromise that dilutes necessary social justice legislation instead of trusting the millions who voted for that change he promised, especially when he has both the power of the presidency and the votes in Congress, he will be a one-term president, hated by both the right and the left.

 [Assisting on this column was Rosemary Brasch. Walter Brasch's latest books are the witty and probing Sex and the Single Beer Can, a look at American culture and the mass media; and 'Unacceptable': The Federal Response to Hurricane Katrina, which discusses governmental neglect that magnified both the damage from the hurricane and the BP oil spill. Both books are available at amazon.com, and other stores. You may contact Brasch at brasch@bloomu.edu.]

 

 

 

 

Voting Out the Constitution

People usually remember the 1960s as a time of great strife over civil rights. If you were alive back in the day, the images of police dogs ripping into lines of civil rights marchers or white-sheeted thugs dancing around a burning cross is still a chilling thing and proof that America was indeed going through wrenching social change.

Many would also like to believe that the country has made great strides in the interim, and we have. But, there’s more to accomplish and the nation now finds itself spending much of its energy on fighting to simply hold onto the advances already made. Civil rights advancement is now threatened by organizations and morally dishonest politicians bent on carrying us back to 1864.

Yesterday’s decision to strike down California’s Prop 8 anti-gay marriage law was sound. The judge did an impressive job of listing all the factual and legal reasons – 80 in all – showing that the law is unconstitutional. A improvement to celebrate, but also an event that highlights anti-civil rights crudaders’ thinking.

Tim Wildmon of the sarcastically named American Family Association reacted with shocking vitriol, calling the court’s decision, “a tyrannical, abusive and utterly unconstitutional display of judicial arrogance.”

Wildmon Is Has a Queer Notion
Wildmon believes one of the principles at stake is ignoring the California voters, which he sees as unconstitutional. In doing so, Wildmon – who uses the 10th Amendment as a fig leaf himself – introduces the queer notion that the Constitution is up for a vote whenever you don’t like what it says.

Similar to the rabble rousing for amending the 14th Amendment in the immigration battle, what Wildmon is proposing is that the Constitution – designed to be difficult to amend – should change to bend to the will of the latest ideological blowhard to come on the scene.

Mr. Wildmon, I ask you…if Californians voted to outlaw heterosexual marriage would you express the same fondness to the validity of their vote?

Wildmon also believes the “tyrannical and abusive”, Bush-the-Elder-appointed, judge should have recused himself from the case.

“It’s also extremely problematic that Judge Walker is a practicing homosexual himself, ” Wildmon said. “He should have recused himself from this case, because his judgment is clearly compromised by his own sexual proclivity.”

What I find “problematic” about Wildmon’s charge is that he is exhibiting his  own “proclivity” to act as a heterosexual, homophobic, quasi-religious leader. In other words – or more correctly Wildmon’s – “[Wildmon] should have recused himself from this case, because his judgment is clearly compromised by his own sexual [and religious] proclivity.”

I suspect the only judge Wildmon would find acceptable is an ordained Christian minister with a demonstrated track record of ignoring the Constitution in favor of a Christian Sharia-like theocracy – or a teabagger – whichever pinhead stepped forward first.

Americans are becoming increasingly unfamiliar with the basic tennents of the Constitution.They apparently believe that any hot head’s cause can simply be enacted by a simple vote. The Constitution is not the “McConstitution”. You can’t vote cheeseburgers off the menu because you don’t like them.

They believe that if there is a “war” on, the President, under no one’s authority other than his own, is permitted to suspend the Constitution’s guarantees against warrantless search or to hold prisoners indefinitely without charge.

Many Americans believe that the Constitution guarantees them freedom of religion, but also support depriving anyone other than Christians (they’re aren’t too hot on the Catholics either) of their similar freedom. Don’t like mosques too close to your shrine? Protest and file suit as Pat Robertson’s minions have done, but don’t be honest enough to mention that if it had been a Christian church you would’ve been praising the idea like it came from, well, God.

From Constitutional Ignorance, Instability Flows
From Constitutional ignorance, great instability flows. Unfortunately, those with such beliefs fail to see the unintended blow back from their muddled position.

Teabaggers and their similar-thinking ilk, like to wear tri-cornered hats and screech about keeping Big Gummint off their backs. If allowing someone to marry the person of their choosing is too much government involvement, then why isn’t government being on a gay person’s back equally bad?

Bush the Lesser did much to chip away at many civil rights during his reign and in areas like the conduct of our misbegotten wars and gay rights,  The Messiah™ continues walking the same swampy path.

One day, the blow back from their actions will come to haunt them and the people who cheered them. One day an administration will take office that isn’t so tolerant of their cavalier positions and decides to warrantlessly tap their phones, close their churches, or collect deep background on twerps like Wildmon.

And when they do, they’ll claim the same Constitutional protections because they changed the Constitution to allow it.

Cross posted at The Omnipotent Poobah Speaks!

 

 

Voting Out the Constitution

People usually remember the 1960s as a time of great strife over civil rights. If you were alive back in the day, the images of police dogs ripping into lines of civil rights marchers or white-sheeted thugs dancing around a burning cross is still a chilling thing and proof that America was indeed going through wrenching social change.

Many would also like to believe that the country has made great strides in the interim, and we have. But, there’s more to accomplish and the nation now finds itself spending much of its energy on fighting to simply hold onto the advances already made. Civil rights advancement is now threatened by organizations and morally dishonest politicians bent on carrying us back to 1864.

Yesterday’s decision to strike down California’s Prop 8 anti-gay marriage law was sound. The judge did an impressive job of listing all the factual and legal reasons – 80 in all – showing that the law is unconstitutional. A improvement to celebrate, but also an event that highlights anti-civil rights crudaders’ thinking.

Tim Wildmon of the sarcastically named American Family Association reacted with shocking vitriol, calling the court’s decision, “a tyrannical, abusive and utterly unconstitutional display of judicial arrogance.”

Wildmon Is Has a Queer Notion
Wildmon believes one of the principles at stake is ignoring the California voters, which he sees as unconstitutional. In doing so, Wildmon – who uses the 10th Amendment as a fig leaf himself – introduces the queer notion that the Constitution is up for a vote whenever you don’t like what it says.

Similar to the rabble rousing for amending the 14th Amendment in the immigration battle, what Wildmon is proposing is that the Constitution – designed to be difficult to amend – should change to bend to the will of the latest ideological blowhard to come on the scene.

Mr. Wildmon, I ask you…if Californians voted to outlaw heterosexual marriage would you express the same fondness to the validity of their vote?

Wildmon also believes the “tyrannical and abusive”, Bush-the-Elder-appointed, judge should have recused himself from the case.

“It’s also extremely problematic that Judge Walker is a practicing homosexual himself, ” Wildmon said. “He should have recused himself from this case, because his judgment is clearly compromised by his own sexual proclivity.”

What I find “problematic” about Wildmon’s charge is that he is exhibiting his  own “proclivity” to act as a heterosexual, homophobic, quasi-religious leader. In other words – or more correctly Wildmon’s – “[Wildmon] should have recused himself from this case, because his judgment is clearly compromised by his own sexual [and religious] proclivity.”

I suspect the only judge Wildmon would find acceptable is an ordained Christian minister with a demonstrated track record of ignoring the Constitution in favor of a Christian Sharia-like theocracy – or a teabagger – whichever pinhead stepped forward first.

Americans are becoming increasingly unfamiliar with the basic tennents of the Constitution.They apparently believe that any hot head’s cause can simply be enacted by a simple vote. The Constitution is not the “McConstitution”. You can’t vote cheeseburgers off the menu because you don’t like them.

They believe that if there is a “war” on, the President, under no one’s authority other than his own, is permitted to suspend the Constitution’s guarantees against warrantless search or to hold prisoners indefinitely without charge.

Many Americans believe that the Constitution guarantees them freedom of religion, but also support depriving anyone other than Christians (they’re aren’t too hot on the Catholics either) of their similar freedom. Don’t like mosques too close to your shrine? Protest and file suit as Pat Robertson’s minions have done, but don’t be honest enough to mention that if it had been a Christian church you would’ve been praising the idea like it came from, well, God.

From Constitutional Ignorance, Instability Flows
From Constitutional ignorance, great instability flows. Unfortunately, those with such beliefs fail to see the unintended blow back from their muddled position.

Teabaggers and their similar-thinking ilk, like to wear tri-cornered hats and screech about keeping Big Gummint off their backs. If allowing someone to marry the person of their choosing is too much government involvement, then why isn’t government being on a gay person’s back equally bad?

Bush the Lesser did much to chip away at many civil rights during his reign and in areas like the conduct of our misbegotten wars and gay rights,  The Messiah™ continues walking the same swampy path.

One day, the blow back from their actions will come to haunt them and the people who cheered them. One day an administration will take office that isn’t so tolerant of their cavalier positions and decides to warrantlessly tap their phones, close their churches, or collect deep background on twerps like Wildmon.

And when they do, they’ll claim the same Constitutional protections because they changed the Constitution to allow it.

Cross posted at The Omnipotent Poobah Speaks!

 

 

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