Respect & Equality For ALL
 

CARE Blog

News of (possible) interest to CARE members.

Print Friendly

In Rememberance of Niki Quasney

10363537_10153085216446703_5154294060034116954_n

We mourn the loss of our client, Niki Quasney, who passed away Thursday, February 5th, after more than five years of battling ovarian cancer.

Niki spent the last year of her life on earth very publicly fighting for her family and doing everything she could to make sure that her wife and daughters were protected. Although our hearts are heavy, we celebrate Niki’s life and take comfort in knowing that Niki and her family were able to know what equality feels like. We thank Niki and Amy for their courage to stand up for their family and lead the fight for marriage in Indiana.

Learn more on our blog: http://bit.ly/1EPQNA9

Print Friendly

America’s Newest Diplomat Will Defend LGBT People Around the World

LGBT people everywhere endure terrible discrimination. A new State Department envoy will try to fix that.

brodey80x95by Sam Brodey
Sam Brodey is an online editorial fellow at Mother Jones.
 
flag_1
LGBT communities around the world will soon have a powerful advocate in the State Department whose sole job is to watch out for their interests. Later this month, the State Department will name a special envoy to focus on the rights of LGBT people globally, a department official tells Mother Jones. In an emailed statement, the official said that Secretary of State John Kerry and his staff are in the final stages of selecting an openly gay Foreign Service officer as the United States’ first-ever diplomat to focus on LGBT issues. The position will not require Senate confirmation.

Congress has attempted to push for a special envoy on LGBT issues in the past: In 2014, Sen. Ed Markey (D-Mass.) introduced the International Human Rights Defense Act, which proposed establishing the position and taking steps to make the protection of LGBT individuals a foreign policy priority. Markey’s 2014 bill failed to become law. He reintroduced it last month, but the measure’s fate is uncertain—mostly because of opposition from congressional Republicans. Rep. Chris Smith (R-N.J.), the chairman of the House subcommittee on human rights, said last week in a hearing that he does “not construe homosexual rights as human rights,” and suggested that the White House’s public support of LGBT rights negatively affected the United States’ ability to work with Nigeria to combat terrorism. On the same day Smith made these remarks, Nigerian police arrested a dozen people for attending a same-sex wedding.

The State Department official called Markey’s bill a “very helpful vote of confidence” but said, “We wouldn’t want to wait for passage to do something we’ve long thought was the right thing to do and which has been in process.” Appointing a special envoy for LGBT rights has long been a priority for Kerry, who has tried to make defense of LGBT rights a hallmark of his tenure as secretary and was vocal on LGBT issues as a senator. In recent years, some foreign governments have taken harsh action against LGBT people, provoking outrage among human rights advocates globally. In 2014 alone, Gambia passed a law punishing homosexuality with life in prison, Kyrgyzstan moved to pass a “gay propaganda” bill even harsher than Russia’s, and the Ugandan government fought to reinstate a law that would punish homosexuality with a life sentence. LGBT people are criminalized to some extent in 76 countries, a group that includes countries like Pakistan and Iran as well as Jamaica and Singapore.

As secretary of state, Kerry has attempted to push back against anti-LGBT sentiment and law: He has spoken with some African heads of state about their countries’ policies, and has supported legal and media networks that support LGBT communities in Africa and Eastern Europe. Now, the United States will have a full-time diplomat committed to doing that work. “It’s been long in the making,” the official wrote in an email, “because the Secretary insisted the envoy be a career Foreign Service officer from inside the institution, someone who is part of the fabric of the institution, a diplomat by training.”

Advocates for appointing a special LGBT envoy had expressed concern that any action the State Department takes could potentially be undone when a new administration takes over in 2016. But precedent suggests that LGBT-oriented diplomatic progress is unlikely to be rolled back. In 1999, President Bill Clinton appointed the first openly gay US ambassador, James Hormel, as a recess appointment, bypassing deeply critical social conservatives in the US Senate.* President George W. Bush would go on to appoint an openly gay ambassador himself.

Madeleine Albright, Clinton’s secretary of state at the time, was the first State Department head to allow domestic partners, including same-sex partners, to accompany overseas staff, and require that foreign governments officially accredit them. Selim Ariturk, president of GLIFAA, an organization that represents LGBT individuals in the foreign service, is optimistic about the State Department’s latest step. The envoy, he says “will be uniquely situated at the intersection of human rights and gender rights issues, and will allow the State Department to make progress combating the violence that plagues LGBT communities around the world.”

Print Friendly

Pennsylvania law needs to bar discrimination against LGBT people

The Issue

54cc389141b3e.imageGov. Tom Wolf has called on lawmakers to pass legislation prohibiting housing and employment discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, and gender identity or expression. Current state law  prohibits discrimination on the basis of gender, age, race, religion or ethnicity. Twenty-one states and the District of Columbia already forbid employment discrimination based on sexual orientation, according to the National Conference of State Legislators.

Same-sex marriage has been legal in this commonwealth since last spring, but gay Pennsylvanians still have reason to worry.

They may marry on a Saturday and then be fired Monday just for being who they are.

It’s time to fix this.

It’s just the right thing to do.

The cause of gay rights has champions on both sides of the political aisle: Indeed, the fight to legalize same-sex marriage across the United States is led by Republican Ted Olson, President George W. Bush’s solicitor general.

In Pennsylvania,  House and Senate Bill 300, which would have barred discrimination against LGBT people, had  bipartisan support  and sponsorship last year. Then-Gov. Tom Corbett was willing to sign the legislation had it reached his desk.

It never did. It went to the House State Government Committee, where Rep. Daryl Metcalfe, the Butler County Republican who chairs the panel, refused to schedule a hearing on it. Democratic Rep. Mike Sturla was the only member of the Lancaster County delegation to sponsor the bill.

Its sponsors have signaled their intention to reintroduce the legislation soon. We’re hoping it fares better this year.

It would ensure that elderly gay couples no longer would have to lie about their relationships to live together in retirement communities and assisted living facilities.

It would mean that employees would be judged on merit; sexual orientation would not be a factor in promotion or hiring.

It would allow companies to assure prospective employees that their rights would be protected in Pennsylvania, no matter where in the commonwealth they would make their homes.

“Why would we cut ourselves off from a talent pool that is broad as it could possibly be?” the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette quoted Gov. Wolf saying last week. “Why would we cut ourselves off from people just because of who they love?”

Wolf was speaking at an Equality Pennsylvania event that was co-sponsored by Dow Chemical Co.

Other businesses that support the anti-discrimination legislation, according to Equality Pennsylvania, include Alcoa, The PNC Financial Services Group and American Eagle Outfitters. The chambers of commerce in Harrisburg, Philadelphia and Pittsburgh also support it.

Only 34 of Pennsylvania’s more than 2,500 municipalities have anti-discrimination ordinances that protect LGBT people.

So an employee of a company that has more than one location might find, for instance, that his rights are protected in the City of Lancaster — which is among those 34 municipalities — but not elsewhere in Lancaster County.

It’s time to amend the Pennsylvania Human Relations Act to include protections for those who are gay, bisexual or transgender.

They’re not asking for special protection. They’re asking for the same  housing and employment rights that should be accorded to every American, but sadly are not.

Pennsylvania is where American history began. We don’t want to be on the wrong side of history now.

 Read the text of Senate Bill 300:

bit.ly/SenateBill300

Print Friendly

Religion Should Be What Binds Us Together, Not What Justifies Killing Each Other

How many people have died, are dying now and will continue to die in the name of religion?

LivoniaKnightExtremely few religions can claim bragging rights that other religions have been more brutal. Look at history, even the tamest of religious followings have historically had their benighted moment of barbaric conquest.

Mark Morford of The San Francisco Chronicle recently spoke to how religion, which is revered by most societies (as long as it is the dominant religion of that nation or social order) will, according to Morford, “be the death of us”:

The main reason we’re on the fun train to self-extermination, and can’t/won’t get off.

It’s not climate change. Not overpopulation. Not war, or disease, or resource abuse. Those are all very real, but they’re also merely the consequence, the end result of centuries of blind, dogmatic adherence to, well, to God.

With this book I thee rule and control. Like, forever.

That’s right, the biggest problem humanity faces – and has faced for just about ever – is religion. Rabid tribalism, delusory moral laws and aggressive, antagonistic superstition that pits us against each other, against nature, against science, against anyone who might have invented a different god (or gods than ours).

Add race, tribalism, economic exploitation and nationality to religion and you’ve got a historical bloodbath that has left bodies in its wake that could probably be piled to the moon. The major form of population control on the earth is war and violence. Innumerable conflicts are based on people feeling superior because they belong to a group that bestows them with an omnipotent belief – or use that belief to justify the conquest of others who are deemed inferior, not chosen by the divine.

Religion tops the list of the basis for bloodshed on a massive scale (although that has slowly been shifting to nationalism, which is often tied to religion: just look at George W. Bush initially referring at the war against Afghanistan and Iraq as a “Crusade”). Yes, there is a great deal of monetary motive and economic dominance related to contemporary wars, but they are usually justified within the context of religion (or nationality in the current historical era).

Morford cogently argues: “Because it’s when you take that personal, existential longing and calcify it, codify it, strip it from its individual moorings and assign it to some ominous, vindictive ‘Almighty,’ then sell it back to the masses as some fixed ‘truth’ that everyone must obey and fight for – or else – that the real trouble begins.”

Uncompromising religious belief, the kind we kill for, appears hot wired into humanity. The essence of the way it works is that one’s life only has meaning if one’s belief in one’s God makes that God supreme, because that God otherwise doesn’t merit faith if another God exists. This is, in part, a legacy of the historical development of monotheism. The outlook is, in essence, “I cannot partake of divine meaning if your God is the real God and my God is a sham; therefore, you must convert or die.”

Just think of the inquisition or the slaughter of the crusades, if you want to get some historical perspective on today’s Judeo-Christian showdown with Islamic fundamentalists (who have their own internal warring religious splits between Islamic factions). The Christians invented mass religious slaughter in the modern era. In the name of Jesus, the “prince of peace,” uncounted non-Christians – primarily Muslims and Jews – were massacred in an effort to attempt to reclaim Jerusalem centuries ago in the name of Christ.

Of course, today’s clash of religious civilizations that has its epicenter in the Middle East is largely a conflict over oil (that is to say, the lubricant of wealth in the developed world), but is masked as a conflict between Judeo-Christian “civilization” (as it is euphemistically called) and Islam.

If one’s religious identity is welded to a faith that the God of one’s religion bestows a meaning to one’s life – without which one would be an empty husk – then the defense of that God amounts to the defense of oneself. Some would argue that God as mammon – as the dispenser of wealth – is now the true religion of the ruling elite who declare wars on behalf of the developed West. That is indeed true for many of the uber rich in developed nations for whom religion is merely a ritual, not a core belief. In this case, religion (Christian values) are a cover for wars that ensure profit (which some would argue has become a perverted modern Christian value; i.e., that the acquisition of wealth is a sign of divine preference, a concept that actually can be traced back to the Puritans).

One of the most baffling aspects of religion is that it is indeed based on faith, not facts. No one who believes in a God can prove the existence of that God. As Joseph Campbell – the brilliant late specialist on the commonality of religions noted – religion wouldn’t require faith if you could scientifically prove the existence of your preferred God.

As a result, one can argue that the history of the world is littered with carnage that resulted from battles waged on behalf of an abstract notion based on fables (or the religion of money, national identity or tribalism). Unfortunately, history doesn’t naturally flow down a river that unites people for the common good, a goal that would have immediate positive consequences – and be palpable, not an abstract belief in the divine.

One shouldn’t have disdain for those who believe in a faith; that would be tantamount to one religion exhibiting contempt for others. However, people without faith and people of all faiths should believe and practice the goal of enhancing the spiritual unity of those of us who share the earth – without regard to faith, background or economic status. They should take steps to ensure the survival of this glorious earth and the brief opportunity that we receive to fully partake of the magnificent privilege of life.

Wars over whose God is the real God are sacrilege to the glory of our being one among many – and many among one.

We do not need to look to sources outside ourselves for the divine; we need to look to the divine in each other.

Print Friendly

Pope invites anti-gay hate group leader to ‘traditional marriage’ summit

Pope Francis

Pope Francis

Pope Francis

Perkins

Perkins

The Pope has invited the head of listed anti-gay hate group the Family Research Council to his summit on ‘traditional marriage’.

Pope Francis will open the ‘Complementary of Man and Woman’ conference on November 17, which brings together religious leaders from across different faiths who oppose same-sex marriage.

As well as representatives from the Catholic Church and other forms of Christianity, speakers from 23 countries will purportedly represent the views of Judaism, Islam, Buddhism, Hinduism, Jainism, Taoism and Sikhism.

However, Right Wing Watch uncovered evidence that anti-gay activist Tony Perkins – whose group is listed as an active homophobic hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Centre – has been invited to the Pontiff’s gathering.

Mr Perkins is an extremist figure in the US, and has been repeatedly condemned by the Jewish Anti-Defamation League for comparing gay rights to the holocaust.

This year alone he has warned that Christian business owners who oppose gay rights are being sent to “concentration camps”, and called for the abolition of judges who rule in favour of same-sex marriage.

He has previously warned that same-sex marriage could lead to a large-scale revolution across America.

Decrying Perkins this summer, the Anti Defamation League said: “There is no comparison between contemporary American political issues and the actions of Hitler’s regime during the Holocaust.

“Such inappropriate analogies only serve to trivialize the Holocaust and are deeply offensive to Jews and other survivors, as well as those Americans who fought valiantly against the Nazis in World War II.”

Representatives from the US Southern Baptist Convention and from the Mormon church – both of which fiercely oppose same-sex marriage – are also slated to attend, as part of a united front against marriage equality.

Print Friendly

Unified Progressive Platform

The Unified Platform (full text version)

Preamble: A New Progressive Alliance

“Those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it.”

– George Santayana (1863-1952)

Perpetual war. Rampant unemployment and under-employment. Environmental degradation. Self-interested corporatists run amok. The difficult times America now faces, though challenging, are hardly new.

Our nation’s first Progressive Era addressed and surmounted similarly daunting challenges. It won Americans the eight-hour workday; women’s suffrage; direct election of Senators; the federal income tax. Though entry into World War I ended this amazing era, the Progressive conscience lived on, and prompted enactment of Social Security, Medicare, Unemployment Compensation, Civil Rights, and Head Start.

Nonetheless, WWI – the supposed “war to end all wars,” was in fact anything but. Ever since, whether on foreign shores or here at home, we have unwisely and needlessly relied on war to prop up our economy. From foreign adventurism to the so-called “War on Drugs,” this ideology and its perpetual application has cost us dearly.

Those who nurtured the first Progressive Era ran the social and political gamut. They were Republicans, Democrats, Socialists, Independents, Anarchists, suffragists, farmers, immigrants, freed slaves, lawyers, teachers, trade unionists, physicians, ministers, and businesspeople. In short, Progressives were America’s working classes. In just 25 years – from 1892 to 1917 – the Populist Party and then the Progressive Party delivered a one-two punch that shook the federal government from its complicity with elites in the oppression of workers, families, farmers, and small businesses.

One hundred years later, our oppressors are re-entrenched. We must rise up again to put them in their place – and this time make our victory permanent. The New Progressive Alliance (NPA), is a completely volunteer organization of concerned Americans. We herewith propose a platform in hopes of uniting all who hold with Progressive values. With individual rights. With workers. With the poor and the unemployed. With non-intervention over imperialism and perpetual war. And with the belief that we must treat the earth as it truly is: Our only home.

The New Progressive Alliance (NPA) will endorse only those candidates who publicly sign the Unified Platform, which combines the ideals of four present-day and two foundational Progressive organizations. Any candidate or elected official who fails to uphold these tenets will be just as publicly exposed as a fraud and will lose the Alliance’s support.

This is politics as our nation’s Founders envisioned it: The people telling their public servants what they expect, and the public servants doggedly fighting for the people’s interests – not those of corporate benefactors.
____________________________________________________________________________________________
Context: Our Proud Heritage

From the Populist Party Platform (1892):

The conditions which surround us best justify our cooperation: we meet in the midst of a nation brought to the verge of moral, political, and material ruin. Corruption dominates the ballot-box, the legislatures, the Congress, and touches even the ermine of the bench.

The people are demoralized; most of the States have been compelled to isolate the voters at the polling-places to prevent universal intimidation or bribery. The newspapers are largely subsidized or muzzled; public opinion silenced; [small] business prostrated; our homes covered with mortgages; labor impoverished; and the land concentrating in the hands of the capitalists. The urban workmen are denied the right of organization for self-protection […] The fruits of the toil of millions are boldly stolen to build up colossal fortunes for a few, unprecedented in the history of mankind; and the possessors of these, in turn, despise the republic and endanger liberty. From the same prolific womb of governmental injustice we breed the two great classes—tramps and millionaires.

From the Progressive Party Platform (1912):

“The conscience of the people, in a time of grave national problems, has called into being a new party, born of the nation’s sense of justice. We of the Progressive party here dedicate ourselves to the fulfillment of the duty laid upon us by our fathers to maintain the government of the people, by the people and for the people whose foundations they laid.

“We hold with Thomas Jefferson and Abraham Lincoln that the people are the masters of their Constitution, to fulfill its purposes and to safeguard it from those who, by perversion of its intent, would convert it into an instrument of injustice. In accordance with the needs of each generation the people must use their sovereign powers to establish and maintain equal opportunity and industrial justice, to secure which this Government was founded and without which no republic can endure.

“This country belongs to the people who inhabit it. Its resources, its business, its institutions and its laws should be utilized, maintained or altered in whatever manner will best promote the general interest.

“It is time to set the public welfare in the first place.”

1. Peace First

A world of increasing population, diminishing resources, and unstable climate is a world poised for conflict.

To minimize military posturing that only exacerbates potential conflict, America must behave as a global citizen, just as we insist that other nations do. We therefore oppose war as an instrument of foreign policy, and support an overarching commitment to nonintervention in foreign lands.

We call for the complete and immediate withdrawal of all U.S. forces from combat operations in Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Libya, and all other regional conflicts; the immediate dissolution of private security contracts for these conflicts, and the immediate cessation of payments to private contractors who are in any way associated with these conflicts.

The United States must also reopen all its agreements concerning military bases in other countries and immediately vacate any where a host country requests that we do so, with the longer-term goal of closing all our bases abroad.

As we shrink our global military presence, we must also shrink our military budget and redirect spending toward a culture and economy rooted in scientific inquiry, peaceful technologies, sustainable industries and agriculture, education, and the arts, in order to address critical societal needs such as creating jobs, saving the environment, and developing a real social safety net.

2. Full Employment at a Living Wage

We hold that reordering our national priorities to make peace, the welfare of all people, and the protection of our planet our topmost concerns will result in long-term Economic Sustainability.
Peace + People + Planet = Economic Sustainability

Perpetual war simply has no place in the above equation. The costs of supporting our war-based economy, coupled with bailouts of unethical and in many cases lawbreaking for-profit institutions, preclude the possibility of investing in a new economic paradigm that does not profit on death and financial speculation.

We recognize that our national and global economic systems are embedded within and dependent upon the earth and its resources. We therefore support measures to restore a more broadly shared prosperity, to build a more equitable society, and to protect our planet.

As we work to make these changes, it is important to bear in mind that the biggest task before us is transitioning our economy from an unlimited growth model to a sustainable, or “steady state” model.

We therefore support, as the first critical step in advancing this new economy, a commitment to full employment with a living wage.

Full employment policy maintains that maximizing employment is the key to a healthy economy; that both the private sector and the public sector have a role to play in job creation; and that the best results are achieved when both sectors are committed to the policy.

In line with this thinking, we believe that where the private sector cannot provide enough jobs, the public sector must be the employer of last resort, through a combination of job banks and workforce development programs. We support a permanent, WPA-style jobs program wherein, when possible, public sector jobs are “green” jobs, or others which contribute to a more positive future for all. All work must pay at a minimum a local living wage that covers basic needs including food, shelter, clothing, healthcare, childcare, and transport.

Alternatively, a universal basic income or federal guaranteed livable income, implemented via an earned income credit or negative income tax, could be used to ensure a minimum standard of living.

Full employment at a living wage with price stability will be our national priority. The Federal Reserve must work harder to redress the imbalance between its inflation control and full employment mandates.

Trade policy must favor fair and balanced trade relationships that include universal labor and environmental standards. Banks must be required to create low-interest set-aside funding for small community businesses, workers cooperatives, and family farms.

Corporate tax policy should discourage and punish outsourcing and offshoring. Corporations seeking to exploit labor markets and circumvent environmental protections should be identified and penalized for their lack of corporate responsibility and citizenship.

To prevent our country from again allowing employment trends that have decimated the American workforce, including reduced wage scales, reduced benefit packages, increased job insecurity due to outsourcing, offshoring, contract labor, and part-time work, we support workplace democracy and the right to organize unions, to bargain collectively, and to strike when necessary — for both public and private employees. We further call for enactment of the Employee Free Choice Act.

3. Saving the Environment

We envision a sustainable society that recognizes our interdependence with the planet and utilizes resources such that future generations will benefit rather than suffer from the practices of past generations.

To this end, we support science-based policies to curb and mitigate the effects of climate change; carbon taxes on fossil fuels to reflect true environmental costs; elimination of subsidies for fossil fuels, nuclear power, waste incineration, and biofuels; clean fuel mandates; adoption of energy efficiency standards that reduce energy demand economy-wide; building an efficient low-cost public transportation system; adoption of a national zero waste policy.

A sustainable society needs clean, green jobs based on renewable energy, energy conservation, organic agriculture, local food production/distribution, mass transit, waste management/recycling, and other environment-sustaining practices.

Energy independence is essential to peace, security, and prosperity. We promote a planned transition away from fossil fuels, including nuclear energy, to a cleaner energy generation/distribution system based on solar, wind, geo-thermal, hydropower, and other renewable energy sources.

The strict comprehensive protections of the Clean Air and Water Acts must be maintained and enhanced. In particular, safe and adequate water supplies for all citizens must be maintained and privatization efforts must be vigorously resisted.

Land-use practices should honor the interconnected and interdependent nature of all life, respect ecosystems and other species, and at the same time provide for human needs in a responsible and sustainable way. The chemical treatment and genetic engineering of crops run counter to these criteria and should be prohibited.

Urban environments should limit sprawl, maximize green space, and their planning and construction should encompass light rail connecting downtown areas to pedestrian and bike-friendly neighborhoods which offer the full range of everyday services.

Rural land use policies should promote livable communities to minimize urban migration and favor small-scale farmers and ranchers. National parks, forests, and seashores are not for sale.

Oceans, forests, and biodiversity are indispensable to life on this planet and deserve special attention and protection.

4. A Real Social Safety Net

We stand firmly in support of strengthening, expanding, and protecting Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, and unemployment insurance by any means necessary.
Unemployment and home foreclosures, a lack of financial system protections, failure to collect revenue sufficient to fund government operations (including illegal wars), and failure to provide for America’s future have all but destroyed this country’s social fabric. Through the worst possible fiscal management, our social safety net hangs by a thread.

We propose to expand the real social safety net to the benefit of all Americans through raising taxes primarily on corporations and the wealthy, and by targeting public and private investment in education, research and development, and infrastructure.

We must also:

• Remove the income cap on Social Security withholding to increase revenue, and include previously excluded income masquerading as capital gains.

• Prohibit the use of Social Security funds for any purpose other than the purpose for which they were collected.

• Provide equal access to free, quality education from Pre-K through vocational schools or public universities; expand access to lifelong learning; and stop the privatization of public education.

Further, we favor a New Deal–style Home Owner’s Loan Corporation set up under existing federal home loan entities, to eliminate troubled loans and to resolve what is perhaps the most significant impediment to sustainable economic recovery. With this institution, however, must come the recognition that home ownership should be only one of many approaches to providing the safe, adequate, and affordable housing necessary to create and maintain strong, stable, sustainable, and inclusive communities.

Comprehensive housing policies that foster integrated community development, serve broad social, economic, and energy goals, and leverage federal, state, and local resources should be used to provide community-specific housing solutions, including shared ownership, supportive housing, transitional housing, cooperative housing, and rentals (conventional, affordable, and resident-controlled, as applicable).

We support pension reforms designed to safeguard retirement monies belonging to working Americans.

Current law provides a virtual monopoly over investment options to Wall Street and the financial industry. Not only is this hard-earned money placed at risk by a system that privileges and enriches some at the expense of less-sophisticated others, but the investment choices often work against workers’ best interests, by funding corporate mergers, acquisitions and leveraged buyouts that undercut workers’ rights, employment, and retirement.

Corporate-sponsored pension funds should be jointly controlled by management and workers. Federal law should be changed to allow funds to be securely invested both locally and in socially beneficial programs. Consideration should be given to the creation of a National Pension Authority with the power to hold assets and address pension fund deficits as they develop.

We must revise corporate and personal tax codes such that all businesses and citizens contribute their fair share toward the support of a more equitable society.

The need for financial industry reform is critical and cannot be overstated. In addition to reinstating the Glass-Steagall Act,curtailing speculation, outlawing derivatives outright or submitting them to review by an FDA-style financial products regulatory commission, and breaking down financial institutions of excessive size and influence, the entire Federal Reserve and central banking system should be converted to a public system which places the needs and interests of the country ahead of profits for a private cartel. In the interim, the Federal Reserve must be subject to continuous, fully transparent public audit.

5. Medicare for All

We support Medicare for All as the single most effective approach to cutting runaway healthcare costs, and providing high-quality health care for all Americans.

Americans spend far too much on health care and get far too little in return. Studies show we spend twice as much as other developed countries but consistently underperform them in quality of care, efficiency, and fairness.

The best solution to our overpriced, under-served situation is the simplest: we need to move to a universal, single-payer system: Medicare for All.

A bill supporting this change — H.R. 676, The American People’s Universal Health Care Bill — was first introduced in the U.S. House in 2003, and has been reintroduced in each Congress since, including during the healthcare reform debates of 2009, when it was actively refused consideration.

Medicare for All will cut the exorbitant cost paid by Americans for health care by eliminating the duplicative overhead and administration, underwriting, sales and marketing, CEO pay and bonuses, and profit margins of for-profit insurers; by improving leverage for product/service package negotiations; and by emphasizing preventive care.

That Medicare for All was not enacted long ago renders the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment to the Constitution a travesty and makes our lack of universal health care a national embarrassment.

6. Fair Trade

We support reformulation of all international trade relations and commerce practices in order to protect the labor, human rights, economy, environment, and domestic industry of this nation, and those of partner and recipient nations.
Trade policy, as currently defined by the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), the World Trade Organization (WTO), the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and World Bank (WB), and the nascent Free Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA), privileges capital and corporations at the expense of people and the planet. Recognizing this, we support trade policy reformulation that enables local industry and agriculture to take precedence over corporate domination. We must also:

• Evaluate and address trade imbalances through direct negotiation, currency management, business engagement, and consumer action.

• End tax breaks for corporations that ship jobs overseas (e.g., deductions for shutdowns, special depreciation on offshore plants, and deferral of foreign source income).

• Prohibit U.S. corporations from avoiding or evading payment of their taxes by banking abroad or locating their charters offshore.

7. Human Rights/Civil Liberties

We are dedicated to protecting, respecting, and expanding the rights and civil liberties of all people.
Our country was founded upon a set of principles and ideals that have their most eloquent expression in our Constitution and Bill of Rights. Based on these core values, we support equal rights for all citizens, regardless of ethnicity, gender, race, sexual orientation, religion, country of origin, or other status, including the right of same-sex couples to marry, and the right of all women to make decisions about their reproductive health.

We further support ending criminal prohibitions on the use and sale of marijuana and advocate its immediate legalization, and more broadly, an end to the so-called War on Drugs, an un-winnable war that has distracted us from our far more pressing responsibilities of caring for and expanding the chances of success of all our citizens.

We support the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights as an international standard that all nations should strive to meet.

With rights come responsibilities. We must remember that life is both individual and social, that freedom must be balanced with equality and justice. The Preamble to our Constitution lists “to promote the general Welfare” as one reason for its establishment. To an increasing degree over the past forty years — and particularly during economic crises — this charge has been ignored by both major political parties, which have instead seen fit to promote the special welfare of the rich and powerful.

We must, as the Progressive Party stated in its 1912 platform, “set the public welfare in the first place,” thereby returning the general welfare clause to its paramount place in government policy making, and making government good again. Our people have been wrongly taught that government is the enemy. Government can and should comprise people working together for their own collective benefit.

Further:

• The USA PATRIOT Act is an Orwellian abomination wrapped in a snide misnomer. It violates key privacy and due process protections and contains vast potential for the abuse of power. It must be repealed.

• We must close the Guantanamo Bay detention facility; try individuals accused of terrorizing the United States on our own soil; stop playing extra-jurisdictional and semantic games (e.g., using black sites and calling POWs “enemy combatants”); and end the U.S. government’s terrorizing of its citizens to justify imperialism.

• The right to a writ of habeas corpus must be restored immediately, and criminal investigations into all post-9/11 acts perpetrated in the name of “security” must be launched. These include warrantless wiretapping, torture, rendition, assassination, indefinite detention, obstruction of justice, and the twisting of legal advice by executive branch and DoD lawyers to justify such acts.

8. Election Reform

We support full public financing of elections in order to remove undue influence from political campaigns. Further, we recognize and are committed to ending the myriad opportunities for fraud which now exist in our electoral system.
Our democracy is at peril. In a system where money equals speech, the rich can afford to drown out the rest. They own mainstream media outlets, fund the Commission on Presidential Debates, bankroll think tanks and policy institutes, fund academic research, finance artificial grassroots (“astroturf”) organizations — in short, the wealthy have built a propaganda empire that manufactures consent for all things contrary to the public interest.

In addition, they underwrite influence factories like the American Legislative Exchange Council, institutionalizing and streamlining the quid pro quo process and matching corporate contributors with legislators-for-hire in a highly structured arrangement that leaves voters entirely out of the loop. The recent Citizens United ruling was the final blow to American democracy, which is now for sale to the highest bidder.

Therefore:

• In line with public financing, all qualifying candidates must have free and equal access to radio, television, and press coverage, and be included in any and all public debate forums.

• We support uniform ballot-access laws that make it easier for all political parties to include their candidates on the ballot.

• We support the adoption at local, state, and federal levels of ranked choice voting, as a mechanism to ensure that elections result in an intelligent exchange of varied perspectives.

• We endorse the use of auditable, hand-counted paper ballots in all local, state, and federal elections.

• We support the abolition of the Electoral College, such that the President of the United States would be elected solely through a direct popular vote.

• We support efforts to ensure that the membership of the United States House of Representatives is substantially increased in order to adhere to the original intent for that body to provide this country’s citizens with representation at a ratio that will allow citizens and representatives to know and communicate with one another.

• Corporate law must be rewritten to overturn Citizens United. In the absence of comprehensive campaign finance reform, legislation such as the DISCLOSE Act would impose transparency on the current system. A constitutional amendment would establish that money is not speech and that corporations are not persons.

9. Corporate Accountability/Reform

National and multinational corporations have become too powerful. We must reduce the economic and political clout of corporations, improve corporate citizenship, increase executive responsibility, and require corporations to serve society and democracy while safeguarding the environment.
Improved tax and regulation compliance, enhanced shareholder democracy and governance, and the abolition of corporate personhood will help us reach these goals.

We must also:

• Change corporate charters to reflect a “triple bottom line” orientation that measures social and ecological performance in addition to financial performance. Social responsibility requirements should be comprehensive, strict, and enforceable. Corporations that routinely violate their charters should face dissolution.

• Enforce and expand anti-trust laws at all levels.

• Increase legal jurisdiction over multinational for-profit entities, in accordance with the UN’s evolving “Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights.”

10. Infrastructure Investment/Ownership

We support the establishment of a publicly funded infrastructure bank to capitalize large-scale physical projects and direct funding toward associated research and development.
Forty years of defunding the public sector has saddled America with an outdated and crumbling infrastructure. In all that time, the private sector has not stepped forward to remedy this steadily worsening reality. Contrast that with our heritage. From the Erie Canal to the Pony Express to the transcontinental railroad to the telegraph system to public education to air mail to the airlines to airports to the interstate highway system to the Internet, we have always invested in our infrastructure, which has consistently resulted in handsome benefits for our economy.

Since 2007, Congress has floated proposals for public-private capitalization of a national “infrastructure bank” to invest in energy, environmental, educational, telecommunications, transportation, and water systems infrastructure projects. Infrastructure investment of this type offers immediate job growth and sets the stage for long-term economic expansion, and we fully support its immediate institution.

Along with natural resources and the public airwaves, public infrastructure like education, highways, railways, electrical grids, water systems, and the Internet rightly belong to the commons and should be managed and allocated in the public interest, free from interference by corporate agendas.

Print Friendly

David Brooks: Raising Money For Homophobia

David Brooks: Raising Money For Homophobia
by Michael Hulshof-Schmidt

david-brooksNew York Times contributor David Brooks has decided to give the keynote address for a right wing Christian money maker called The Gathering. I admit I have never been a fan of Brooks. While at times he is able to almost contain his arrogance and white privilege when he does his occasional spot with E.J. Dionne on NPR, his white, heteronormative, misogyny ekes out, as we saw in his book The Social Animal.

The Gathering is not some ecumenical group. The Gathering is more of a collection of white, right wing “Christians” that raise money to proselytize, which might not be so bad, save that much of the money they raise goes specifically to hate groups that target LGBT organizations. The Gathering has funded over 125 anti-gay organizations and ministries. This money includes funding such violently hateful groups such as Uganda and its anti-gay bill. Not a big surprise, but much of the money raised also goes to such nefarious hate groups such as the the National Organization for Marriage and the Family Research Council, both of whom have been recognized as hate groups by the Southern Poverty Law Center.

The irony is that Brooks purports to be in favor of same-sex marriage, a stand which clearly does not preclude violent homophobia. While I have never thought of Brooks as a self-aware human being, I am nonplussed by his decision to be the keynote speaker for an organization that does so much harm. I am also sad and confused as to why this is not getting more media coverage. Is it because there is a tacit agreement in major media that it is okay to be homophobic? Is Brooks the teflon man as so many Republicans are?

Print Friendly

We have won many battles, but will we win the war?

Oblique_facade_3,_US_Supreme_CourtSeeking a Same-Sex Marriage Case Fit for History

By ADAM LIPTAKSEPT. 22, 2014

WASHINGTON — The jockeying among the titans of the Supreme Court bar for a place at the lectern when the justices hear the next same-sex marriage case is as understated as it is unmistakable.

In a half-dozen briefs filed in recent weeks, some of the best lawyers in the nation spent many pages arguing that their case was the right one in which to establish a nationwide right to same-sex marriage. They pointed out the attractive features of their own cases and the shortcomings of others.

In legal jargon, streamlined cases without procedural pitfalls are said to be good vehicles. That made the fancy lawyers sound a little like car salesmen.

The case from Virginia, one brief said, is “an excellent vehicle.” The one from Wisconsin, said another, is “an ideal vehicle.” The one from Utah, perhaps the leading candidate, was said to be, with the swagger of understatement, “an appropriate vehicle.”

David Boies in July. Mr. Boies, who said he viewed education as a civil rights issue, is offering his services pro bono.
Celebrated Trial Lawyer to Head Group Challenging Teacher TenureAUG. 3, 2014
Supporters of the marriage ban gathered outside the courthouse in Norfolk, Va.
Arguments Heard in Federal Challenge of Virginia’s Same-Sex Marriage BanFEB. 4, 2014
David Boies, left, and Theodore B. Olson, the lawyers who successfully challenged California’s ban on same-sex marriage, want to do the same with appeals cases in Utah and Oklahoma.
Olson and Boies, Legal Duo, Seek Role in 2 Cases on Gay MarriageFEB. 3, 2014

The battle is for a place in the history books. Still, the sniping among the lawyers was a little unseemly, said James A. Campbell, a lawyer with Alliance Defending Freedom, which is defending the bans on same-sex marriage in Oklahoma and Virginia.

“As I would read their briefs,” Mr. Campbell said of his dueling adversaries, “I would write in the margin: ‘That’s an implicit dig at this case’ and ‘That’s a dig at that case.’ ”

Evan Wolfson, the president of Freedom to Marry and one of the architects of the political and legal push for same-sex marriage, said there would be plenty of glory to go around should his side prevail. A victory, after all, he said, would be the culmination of a joint effort that was decades in the making.

“Every attorney in the world, it seems, is now eager to be the one that stands before the court in the freedom to marry case, but what really counts is the compelling collective presentation we will all make, no matter which case it is,” Mr. Wolfson said.

The lawyers challenging the same-sex marriage bans are confident they will win in the Supreme Court, which is why they have all urged the justices to hear their cases even though they had won in the lower courts.

The justices will consider whether to hear one or more of the cases at their first private conference of the new term, next Monday, and they may announce their choice or choices in the following weeks. If they do, they could hear arguments this winter and announce a decision by June.

The arguments for and against same-sex marriage are by now familiar to the justices, who considered but sidestepped them in a case from California last year.

Theodore B. Olson, a former United States solicitor general in the administration of George W. Bush, argued that case for the challengers of the California ban, and he is now one of the lawyers challenging Virginia’s ban. As before, he is joined by David Boies, his adversary in Bush v. Gore, the 2000 decision that delivered the presidency to Mr. Bush.

On the phone the other day, Mr. Olson listed the reasons to pick his case. It includes a class action, he said. It presents not only the issue of the right to marry but also that of whether states must recognize same-sex marriages performed elsewhere.

Virginia, he pointed out, was home not only to several of the giants who wrote the Constitution but also to Mildred and Richard Loving, who successfully challenged the state’s ban on interracial marriage in Loving v. Virginia in 1967.

“It’s pretty potent stuff,” he said of his case’s connection to another civil rights movement.

Mr. Olson was quick to add that the ultimate goal was victory, whatever the vehicle. “We have great respect for the lawyers in the other cases,” he said, “and we would be quite supportive of them if that’s what the justices want to do.”

A second set of challengers is also involved in the Virginia case. Their lead lawyer is Paul M. Smith, who argued Lawrence v. Texas, the 2003 decision that struck down laws making gay sex a crime. That team also includes lawyers from the American Civil Liberties Union and Lambda Legal.

Mr. Smith told the justices that “the collective experience of counsel” in the two Virginia challenges mattered, as their groups “have litigated every major gay rights case decided by this court” from 1996 on.

Independent observers said a second case, from Utah, is the leading candidate. “Maybe if they want to be neutral they’ll pick Utah just because they were first,” said Roberta A. Kaplan, who successfully argued last year’s challenge to a key provision of the federal Defense of Marriage Act.

The Utah case, Herbert v. Kitchen, No. 14-124, was the first to strike down a state marriage ban after Ms. Kaplan’s victory. It is also much less complicated than the one from Virginia, which features three separate petitions from government officials seeking review of the appeals court’s ruling. One of the petitions, from the state’s attorney general, seeks to have the ban overturned. The others, from court clerks, seek to have it upheld.

There are two sets of plaintiffs, too. Mr. Olson represents two gay couples. Mr. Smith represents a class of gay couples who seek to marry.

By contrast, lawyers in the Utah case told the court, their case has “just one set of plaintiffs and one set of respondents.”

But Mr. Olson’s brief, in Rainey v. Bostic, No. 14-153, said the complications in his case were a virtue, as “all sides of this important issue would be vigorously represented.” The class-action aspect of the case, he added, would mean “there is no risk that this case would become moot — due, for instance, to the unforeseen end of a couple’s relationship — during the pendency of this appeal.”

The lead lawyer in the Utah case is Peggy A. Tomsic of Salt Lake City, and her team includes Neal K. Katyal, a former acting United States solicitor general; Mary L. Bonauto, who argued the 2003 case that established same-sex marriage in Massachusetts; and lawyers for the National Center for Lesbian Rights.

“The obvious thing about the Utah case is that it is being defended by state officials,” said Shannon P. Minter, a lawyer with the lesbian rights center. “It’s a very clean vehicle.”

Still, he added, “we’re long past the point where it would matter which case or which lawyer.”

Ms. Bonauto agreed. “Our case is an appropriate case,” she said. “All of the cases are appropriate cases.”

The justices will also consider cases from Indiana, Oklahoma and Wisconsin. In the Oklahoma case, the challengers are represented by Jeffrey L. Fisher, a law professor at Stanford who won a unanimous ruling in June requiring the police to get warrants to search the cellphones of people they arrest.

Mr. Fisher devoted 11 of his brief’s 32 pages to showing that his case was the right choice — or at least that it should be in the mix.

His case, Mr. Fisher wrote, presented only the straightforward question of whether Oklahoma must allow same-sex marriages to be performed in the state. “Some of the plaintiffs from the Utah and Virginia cases, by contrast, raise another claim,” he wrote, that of whether states must recognize marriages performed elsewhere.

Mr. Fisher assured the justices that they would receive “full and focused briefing and argument” on the core issue if they picked his case, Smith v. Bishop, No. 14-136.

Mr. Olson drew the opposite conclusion from the same set of facts. Hearing the Virginia case, he told the justices, would “enable the court to resolve all aspects of the marriage-equality question in a single opinion without leaving lingering questions and uncertainty for lower courts, states and the American public.”

On this, at least, the lawyers in the Utah case agreed. “Piecemeal review risks that litigation will drag on for years,” they wrote.

Print Friendly

Iceland grieves after police kill a man for the first time in its history

It was an unprecedented headline in Iceland this week — a man shot to death by policeRTR23TP6

“The nation was in shock. This does not happen in our country,” said Thora Arnorsdottir, news editor at RUV, the Icelandic National Broadcasting Service.

She was referring to a 59-year old man who was shot by police on Monday. The man, who started shooting at police when they entered his building, had a history of mental illness.

It’s the first time someone has been killed by armed police in Iceland since it became an independent republic in 1944. Police don’t even carry weapons, usually. Violent crime in Iceland is almost non-existent.

“The nation does not want its police force to carry weapons because it’s dangerous, it’s threatening,” Arnorsdottir says. “It’s a part of the culture. Guns are used to go hunting as a sport, but you never see a gun.”

In fact, Iceland isn’t anti-gun. In terms of per-capita gun ownership, Iceland ranks 15th in the world. Still, this incident was so rare that neighbors of the man shot were comparing the shooting to a scene from an American film.

The Icelandic police department said officers involved will go through grief counseling. And the police department has already apologized to the family of the man who died — though not necessarily because they did anything wrong.

“I think it’s respectful,” Arnorsdottir says, “because no one wants to take another person’s life. ”

There are still a number of questions to be answered, including why police didn’t first try to negotiate with man before entering his building.

“A part of the great thing of living in this country is that you can enter parliament and the only thing they ask you to do is to turn off your cellphone, so you don’t disturb the parliamentarians while they’re talking. We do not have armed guards following our prime minister or president. That’s a part of the great thing of living in a peaceful society. We do not want to change that. ”

Update, August 20, 2014: We checked back in with the Icelandic Police to get an update on this shooting in December. The superintendent says the police have not used firearms since.

Print Friendly

Stop the Hate/Unity Rally

Please help us show this is a community who cares by attending. We promise this event will be kept to under an hour.
Stop the Hate/Unity Rally
Hufnagle Park Gazebo
Tuesday October 7, 2013
6:00 pm

Rain location: CAMPUS THEATRE

indexPlease join CARE, the CommUnity Zone and Bucknell University for a program of spoken word and musical performances by students and staff from Bucknell and the Lewisburg community! Special guest speaker, Susan Mathias, Chief Executive Officer of Transitions, will speak about Human Trafficking including recent legislation and what Transitions is doing locally concerning the issue.

Stop the Hate is part of a national effort calling for people of good will to act nonviolently as agents of healing in their communities, to speak up for the victims of hatred and intimidation, and to raise a united voice against hate-inspired violence. The national rallies began the year after the hate crimes and killings of James Byrd and Matthew Shepard in 1998.

At the end of the rally, for those who are interested, we will march to the Campus Theatre to view the film entitled “Bully.”

Over 13 million American kids will be bullied this year, making it the most common form of violence experienced by young people in the nation. The new documentary film BULLY, directed by Sundance and Emmy-award winning filmmaker, Lee Hirsch, brings human scale to this startling statistic, offering an intimate, unflinching look at how bullying has touched five kids and their families.

BULLY is a beautifully cinematic, character-driven documentary. At its heart are those with huge stakes in this issue whose stories each represent a different facet of America’s bullying crisis. Filmed over the course of the 2009/2010 school year, BULLY opens a window onto the pained and often endangered lives of bullied kids, revealing a problem that transcends geographic, racial, ethnic and economic borders. It documents the responses of teachers and administrators to aggressive behaviors that defy “kids will be kids” clichés, and it captures a growing movement among parents and youths to change how bullying is handled in schools, in communities and in society as a whole.

Parents play a vital role in supporting their kids, promoting upstander rather than bystander behavior, and teaching and modeling empathy in the home.

Print Friendly

Douglas Sturm, 85, Lewisburg

May 5, 2014
Doug

The Daily Item

— LEWISBURG — Douglas Sturm, 85, of 418 S. 22nd St., passed away Sunday, April 27, 2014, at RiverWoods, Lewisburg.

He was born April 22, 1929, in New York, moving with his family many times given the effects of the Great Depression. In his philosophical and theological orientation, Sturm has been deeply influenced by process thought, particularly its principle of internal relations. That principle led him to stress the interconnectedness of all forms of existence, and the responsibility each agent bears for the welfare of the evolving community of life. As a result, he has allied himself with the traditions of democratic socialism, nonviolence, and justice as solidarity.

On Sept. 13, 1953, he married the former Margie Jean Anderson, who survives. Together they celebrated 60 years of marriage.

Sturm graduated as valedictorian from LeRoy High School in 1947, after which he attended the Crane Hall of Music in Potsdam, N.Y. for one year. A change in career interest led him to transfer to Hiram College in Ohio from which he graduated in 1950 with a major in religion and philosophy. He went to the University of Chicago Divinity School for graduate work, receiving a D.B. in 1953 and a Ph.D. in the interdisciplinary field of ethics and society in 1959.

His graduate work was interrupted for 18 months in 1954-56 while he served as executive secretary of a national advocacy association, Christian Action, generated in reaction to the negative impact of Joseph McCarthy’s anti-Communist crusade on Protestant social action agencies and, more generally, on U.S. politics.

After receiving his doctorate in 1959, he joined the faculty of Bucknell University in Pennsylvania, from which he retired as Presidential Professor of Religion and Political Science in 1995, although he continued to teach part-time until 2000. At Bucknell, Sturm’s teaching career was, in large measure, interdisciplinary. Over the years, he collaborated with others in developing several endeavors, including an Institute for the Study of Human Values, a Medical Ethics Study Group, a Professional Ethics Program, a Social Theory Program, a Social Justice College, and a Peace Studies Curriculum.

Sturm received a fellowship from the American Council of Learned Societies to participate in a Law and Liberal Arts program at Harvard Law School as a Fellow in Law and Philosophy, where he studied with Harold Berman, Lon L. Fuller and others. Later, with a fellowship from the Society for Values in Higher Education, he did research at the British Museum on constitutional theory. In 1983-84, at the University of Chicago, he held an appointment at the Institute for the Advanced Study of Religion for research and writing on religion and public life.

Sturm has authored/edited three books, Community and Alienation: Essays on Process Thought and Public Life (1988); Solidarity and Suffering: Toward a Politics of Relationality 1998); and Belonging Together: Faith and Politics in a Relational World (2003). In addition, he has published over 150 journal articles, book chapters, book reviews, and other miscellaneous writings. He also was a columnist for Christianity and Crisis, and, was a columnist for Creative Transformation.

While at Bucknell, Sturm served at various times as chair of the Department of Religion and acting chair of the Departments of Political Science and of Geography. He received two awards for his teaching in the sixties, and was elected an honorary member of the local chapter of Phi Beta Kappa in 1972. Among other honors he received over the years, he was selected as Alumnus of the Year of the University of Chicago Divinity School and received a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Journal of Law and Religion.

On the local level, Sturm was given the Virginia Travis Lectureship Award for Social Justice, the Heilman Award for Social Justice of the Central PA MFSA, and the Peacemaker Award of the Center for Nonviolent Living. On his retirement, colleagues established a continuing series of Sturm Dialogues on Ethics and Social Justice at Bucknell. On the national level, Sturm was executive director and, later, president of the Society of Christian Ethics. He served as chair of the Council on the Study of Religion. He was among the founders and was the initial editorial board chair of the Journal of Law and Religion. Sturm has served on the editorial boards of the Journal of Religious Ethics, Soundings: An Interdisciplinary Journal and the Journal of Religion.

Surviving, in addition to his wife, are two sons and daughters-in-law, Hans Sturm and wife, Jackie Allen, of Lincoln, Neb., and Rolf Sturm and wife, Leese Walker, of North Bergen, N.J.; one sister-in-law, Kathy Sturm, of Albuquerque, N.M.; and one grandson, Wolfgang Sturm.

In addition to his parents, Sturm was predeceased by a brother, Ted Sturm.

Douglas was an original founder of the non-profit organization called Community Alliance for Respect and Equality (CARE). If so desired memorial contributions can be sent to CARE, online by visiting: http://care4equality.org or make checks payable to CARE and send to P.O. Box 250 Lewisburg, PA 17837.

A memorial celebration for Douglas will be held on July 12, 2014 at Rooke Chapel on the campus of Bucknell University in Lewisburg. Times will be announced in the near future and listed on the CARE website.

The family is being assisted by Cronrath-Grenoble Funeral Home, S. Second and St. Louis streets, Lewisburg.

Expressions of sympathy may be shared at www.cronrathgrenoblefuneralhome.com.

Print Friendly

Kerry Walters on Doug Sturm

Yesterday (Sunday), shortly before sunset, Lewisburg lost a man who for decades had been in the forefront of the struggle for peace and justice, both in our own little neck of the woods and the world at large. The town already seems strangely empty without him. As I mourn and celebrate you, Doug Sturm, I think of this passage from Nikos Kazantzakis’ Report to Greco.

“But now the day’s work is done; I collect my tools. Let other clods of soil come to continue the struggle. We mortals are the immortals’ work battalion. Our blood is red coral, and we build an island over the abyss.

“God is being built. I too have applied my tiny red pebble, a drop of blood, to give Him solidity lest He perish – so that He might give me solidity lest I perish. I have done my duty.

Farewell!”
Doug

Print Friendly

Bucknell’s Douglas Sturm dies

From The Daily Item, Tuesday April 29, 2014
By Evamarie Socha

Prof remembered as social activistDoug
Bucknell’s Douglas Sturm dies

Lewisburg – Friends and colleagues around Lewisburg are remembering Douglas Sturm, 85, who died Sunday, as a compassionate, steadfast champion for social justice and a mentor who loved peace and equality, wanted them to flourish and inspired others to make a difference.

“There are volumes anyone could write about him and what he means to the community,” said Cynthia Peltier, co-founder of the CommUnity Zone in Lewisburg, who called Sturm her mentor. “There are a lot of hearts broken today. We’ve lost a brilliant light.”

Sturm’s activism for social issues runs long and deep in Lewisburg. Peltier recalled Sturm’s first group, Alliance for a Better Lewisburg, founded in January 1993 as a forum to discuss and stimulate projects. The group ended in 1994 but soon was followed by CARE, the Community Alliance for Respect and Equality, which continues. Committed to equality, CARE supports diversity in the Valley through community activities, resources and advocating for people and groups with particular concerns.

“I’ve never met someone more committed to peacemaking,” said Father Kerry Walters, of Holy Spirit American National Catholic Church in Lewisburg, who worked with Sturm at the Center for Nonviolent Living and in Peaceway, a ministry of Christian pacifism, both in Lewisburg. “He was an extraordinary guy.”

Charles Sackrey, owner of Mondragon Bookstore, said Sturm was just in three weeks ago with his annual $365 donation: a dollar a day that gave for about five years to a used bookstore he loved. “Doug had a powerful belief in equality of life,” Sackrey said. “He was an endless defender of diversity. I know he was one of the most highly respected persons at Bucknell.”

Sturm was an emeritus professor of religion at Bucknell University and served there for more than 35 years as a teacher and scholar in political science and religion. Bucknell honored him with a forum, the Douglas Sturm Dialogue on Ethics and Social Justice.

“Doug was very much a social activist and wanted the church to be on the forefront of public policy,” said the Rev. John Dromazos, who served 14 years at Beaver Memorial United Methodist Church in Lewisburg. Sturm, in fact was pivotal in Beaver Memorial becoming a “reconciling congregation,” Dromazos said. He was very involved in a yearlong study before the vote was taken that the church go in that direction.
“He was instrumental in helping people deal with scripture passages that seemingly were prohibitive of homosexuality,” Dromazos said. “His legacy would be that he wanted people to stand for basic rights. … It might be that he really wanted the proclamation of the gospel of Christ to be effective in environment, war and peace, race relations.”
“He was a deeply compassionate man who saw life, was very realistic about life, but wanted people to live up to ideals that we all should have,” he said.

Dromazos knew in recent years Sturm hadn’t been that involved because he deeply cared for his wife, Margie, who has been under care for dementia at RiverWoods Nursing Care for several years. Walters said Sturm visited her daily to read to her and talk. “He told me once in a way that made it anything but maudlin, ‘we married till death do us part,’” Walters said.

When Sturm’s own condition recently became terminal, friends rallied to have him put in the same room as Margie. He died there Sunday with her there and with sons Rolf and Hans at his side.

Doug’s family have asked that in lieu of flowers, contributions to CARE in Doug’s name be made. They can be mailed to CARE, PO Box 250, Lewisburg, PA 17837 or you may go to the CARE website, http://care4equality.org/ and use the donate button at the bottom of the “welcome” page to make Credit card contributions. The family will be notified of your gift.

Print Friendly

Jim Crow Lingers in Education

Sad news from the Southern Poverty Center

I hope you saw the news today about the important new Department of Education data on the crisis that’s playing out in our public schools.

Here’s the bottom line: African-American children are three times more likely to be suspended and expelled from school than their white peers.

Of course, this comes as no surprise. We’ve been fighting the “school-to-prison pipeline” for years, bringing case after case to reform “zero tolerance” policies that amount to a war on our nation’s children.

Outrageously, many children pushed out of school are sent into juvenile lockups for trivial offenses. Too often, they’re traumatized, brutalized, isolated, and neglected in these facilities.

The message we send to them is that no one cares.

And for what? In a great number of cases, they’ve done nothing but violate school rules.

In one of our cases, a student in Mobile County, Alabama, was suspended for 50 days because his shirt was untucked. In another, a 14-year-old in Meridian, Mississippi, spent several days locked up because he had too many pockets on his pants.

We need to do better for our children – and for our country’s future.

We must keep children in the classroom and stop criminalizing typical adolescent behavior. We must work harder to create safe, nurturing learning environments. And, yes, we must recognize and combat the insidious role of racial bias in school discipline.

On May 17, our nation will mark the 60th anniversary of Brown v. Board, the landmark Supreme Court decision that outlawed school segregation.

There’s much to celebrate.

But, as this data shows, even after six decades, traces of Jim Crow segregation continue to linger. And it’s devastating to African-American communities, who see their children’s futures cast aside as they are earmarked for dropout and incarceration.

We can do better. For all of our children’s sake, we must.

Morris Dees Sincerely,
Morris Dees
Founder, Southern Poverty Law Center
Print Friendly

Tales From Tel Aviv and Upper West Side Molly Antopol Looks to Old World in ‘UnAmericans’

http://www.nytimes.com/2014/03/19/books/molly-antopol-looks-to-old-world-in-unamericans.html?smid=fb-share&_r=0

If this impressive book sometimes makes the sound of a writer still figuring it all out, Ms. Antopol’s soulfulness and wit make even holding actions memorable and promising. When a man asks a younger woman how she knows he’s divorced, she stares at him and says: “You have that look about you. Like you just ran out of a burning building.”

Molly Antopol Credit Debbi Cooper

Print Friendly

“When money is the most salient measurement in cultural life, we all end up impoverished.”- Michelle Goldberg

http://www.thenation.com/article/178821/columbia-university-fired-two-eminent-public-intellectuals-heres-why-it-matters

Columbia University Fired Two Eminent Public Intellectuals. Here’s Why It Matters.

The fate of Carole Vance and Kim Hopper should worry everyone who wants academics to play a larger role in public debates.

Print Friendly

Visibility of Black LGBT Women

Black lesbian, gay, bisexual, queer and transgender women represent a vibrant and visible portion of the LGBTQ community.

In addition to the legends of the Harlem Renaissance and the decades of groundbreaking activism spearheaded by women like Audre Lorde, Barbara Smith and Angela Davis, many of the most prominent coming out stories of the past two years have been black women like Brittney Griner, Raven-Symonè, Diana King and Robin Roberts. Meanwhile, Laverne Cox and Janet Mock have become the most visible transgender women in media. For more info press link below.

100 Black-lesbian-queer and transgendered women you should know.

Print Friendly

Honoring Septima Clark

For full article click on the link below:
http://cdf.childrensdefense.org/site/MessageViewer?dlv_id=33461&em_id=35761.0

During this Black History Month I was deeply honored to be inducted into the South Carolina Hall of Fame at the same time as Mrs. Septima Clark—the woman Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. called the “Mother of the Movement.” by Marian Wright Edelman.

Ms. Edleman is President of the Children’s Defense Fund whose Leave No Child Behind® mission is to ensure every child a Healthy Start, a Head Start, a Fair Start, a Safe Start and a Moral Start in life and successful passage to adulthood with the help of caring families and communities. For more information go to www.childrensdefense.org.Mrs. Edelman’s Child Watch Column also appears each week on The Huffington Post.

 

Print Friendly

“Justification” of Theft of Native American Lands

1960357_10203356222730584_2033803639_n“If” you are in doubt as to the claimed “ownership” of all Lands across the world, by title and domination (by Vatican, and the Nations that follow them and their Gregorian calendar), just look up “doctrine of discovery” and lay you doubts to rest… to everyone else who already knows about this… We are the new revolution/renaissance ~ May all beings be liberated from suffering… so the World can at last be at peace… Bye bye hierarchical domination, your time is up!”

Print Friendly

Southern States Push Anti-Gay Jim Crow Laws

Over the past few weeks, Republicans in various state legislatures have been advancing bills that target gay Americans for Jim Crow style discrimination. These laws represent an imminent and grave threat to not only the entire gay community but to the entire idea of a secular society.

Click the “The Progressive Cynic” link to the right to see the full article The Progressive Cynic

Print Friendly

Black History Month 2014: Audre Lorde

audre_mit_Kaffeeby Michael Hulshof-Schmidt

I would like to honor and pay tribute to Audre Lorde. Today would have been her 80th birthday.  Lorde was a native New Yorker who grew up in Harlem. Her parents both immigrated to the United States from the Caribbean. Among her many career moves, Lorde was a librarian and a social worker. In fact, she received her Master’s in Library Science from Columbia University.

Although she was married to a man, Edwin Rollins and had two children, Lorde identified as a lesbian. The self-described “black-lesbian feminist mother lover warrior poet,” became a well recognized voice for women, lesbians, blacks, mothers, and poets; let us not forget her anti-war activism. Her fight for equality and peace was rather inclusive, as she was able to see the connections and ties amongst them all. Lorde was one of the first to acknowledge and point to how connected racism, sexism, and homophobia are — what I would call the intersections of oppression. Lorde addressed this intersectionality and how her work at that time dealt with oppression from the dominant discourse:

My sexuality is part and parcel of who I am, and my poetry comes from the intersection of me and my worlds. . . . [White, arch-conservative senator] Jesse Helms’s objection to my work is not about obscenity . . .or even about sex. It is about revolution and change. . . . Helms represents. . . . white patriarchal power. . . .[and he] knows that my writing is aimed at his destruction, and the destruction of every single thing he stands for.”

What is lovely about this quote is that Lorde was not only inspiring and was practicing good social work, but her legacy is on the right side of history, unlike Helms who left a legacy of hate and racism. It seems odd to me that anyone could not see how connected racism, misogyny, and homophobia are.  Our silence about any of these forms of bigotry will not protect or help us.  Happy Birthday, Audre Lorde!

Print Friendly

Remember This Lady

In Memory of
Irena Sendlerowa
1910-2008

Irena Sendler passed away on Monday May 12th, 2008 at 8:00 am CEST in Warsaw, Poland. A funeral service was held on Thursday, May 15th at noon CEST in Warsaw. Memorial services were held in numerous places around the world, including Fort Scott, KS.

The life of Irena Sendler was one of great testimony, one of courage and love, one of respect for all people, regardless of race, religion and creed. She passed away peacefully, knowing that her message goes on. Our hearts and prayers go out to her worldwide family. She is gone, but will never be forgotten. Born in Warsaw, Poland, she lived most of her young life in Otwock.  Irena Sendlerowa led the rescue of 2,500 Jewish children from the Warsaw Ghetto and those hiding in the Warsaw area, during the Holocaust in World War II. She was recently nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize. Her legacy of repairing the world continues, as good continues to triumph over evil.  Irena Sendlerowa was 98 years old.

The www.irenasendler.org web site tells more about Irena’s life (under home page and additional information). The Life in a Jar students, who brought worldwide attention to her story, continue to share her legacy and the play (Life in a Jar) to people all over the world.

Following are tributes:

Megan Stewart, project founder: “My life has been forever touched by her testimony for good winning out over evil. Irena was more than a close friend, she was a role model for my life. Playing Irena Sendler in ‘Life in a Jar’ was the most powerful expression I could ever have.”

Elizabeth Cambers, student founder, “Irena touched my life in so many ways, at so many times.”

Life in a Jar cast and Irena Sendler Project: “Irena always told us to continue bringing light to the world. Our love and great admiration for her will cause us to never stop ‘repairing the world.”

Local Jewish man in Kansas City: “She took on the Third Reich and was victorious. I salute her and remember the quote about Lincoln, upon his death, ‘she now belongs to the ages.”

Jacek Leociak, historian and author: “She was a light, a light in the terrible darkness of the Warsaw Ghetto.”

From California: “Irena Sendler is a true hero and I thank God for her life and all the other brave people who risked their lives to help others.”

November 13, 2003 – from POPE JOHN PAUL II – TO IRENA SENDLEROWA. “Honorable and dear Madam, I have learned you were awarded the Jan Karski prize for Valor and Courage. Please accept my hearty congratulations and respect for your extraordinarily brave activities in the years of occupation, when – disregarding your own security – you were saving many children from extermination, and rendering humanitarian assistance to human beings who needed spiritual and material aid. Having been yourself afflicted with physical tortures and spiritual sufferings you did not break down, but still unsparingly served others, co-creating homes for children and adults. For those deeds of goodness for others, let the Lord God in his goodness reward you with special graces and blessing. Remaining with respect and gratitude I give the Apostolic Benediction to you.” POPE JOHN PAUL II

Terri Stern: “I find it impossible for anyone to hear your story and be untouched or unchanged.”

Brooklyn, New York: “Thank You Irena for your humanity and love. I just hope that in my life I have a little of what you have. You are loved by more people than you will ever know and so are your friends who also risked they’re lives for the love of life. Thank You!”

Middle School student from Missouri: “Thank you for sharing your amazing story. Because of it, many more people know the value of one. I have always loved learning about World War II, but I never thought studying it would teach me about bravery. I knew there were heroes of World War II, but I didn’t ever hear about any heroines. Your courageous acts of compassion have touched my heart and encouraged me to be all I can be.”

Norman Conard, former teacher. “We have lost a giant of the human race. She represented and still represents the best about our world. Also, we have lost a family member.”

From Boston: “I have tremendous respect for Irena and how she devoted her life to this and other similar causes. Tikkun Olam is something that was taught to me as a young boy by my parents who share your determination in passing this lesson on. A great rabbi, however, put it all together for me with a simple metaphor. He said ” for darkness to take over, it must completely fill a room. But one little flicker of light, a single lit match, can bring light to the whole room. Irena lit the first match.”

Irena’s comment and the connection with the kids from Kansas, “My emotion is being shadowed by the fact that no one from the circle of my faithful coworkers, who constantly risked their lives, could live long enough to enjoy all the honors that now are falling upon me….  I can’t find the words to thank you, my dear girls….  Before the day you have written the play ‘Life in a Jar’ — nobody in my own country and few in the whole world knew about my person and my work during the war …”

Print Friendly

Utah is Ending Homelessness

Utah is Ending Homelessness by Giving People Homes

Earlier this month, Hawaii State representative Tom Bower (D) began walking the streets of his Waikiki district with a sledgehammer, and smashing shopping carts used by homeless people. “Disgusted” by the city’s chronic homelessness problem, Bower decided to take matters into his own hands — literally. He also took to rousing homeless people if he saw them sleeping at bus stops during the day.

Article image

Bower’s tactics were over the top, and so unpopular that he quickly declared “Mission accomplished,” and retired his sledgehammer. But Bower’s frustration with his city’s homelessness problem is just an extreme example of the frustration that has led cities to pass measures that effective deal with the homeless by criminalizing homelessness.

  • City council members in Columbia, South Carolina, concerned that the city was becoming a “magnet for homeless people,” passed an ordinance giving the homeless the option to either relocate or get arrested. The council later rescinded the ordinance, after backlash from police officers, city workers, and advocates.
  • Last year, Tampa, Florida — which had the most homeless people for a mid-sized city — passed an  ordinance allowing police officers to arrest anyone they saw sleeping in public, or “storing personal property in public.” The city followed up with a ban on panhandling downtown, and other locations around the city.
  • Philadelphia took a somewhat different approach, with a law banning the feeding of homeless people on city parkland. Religious groups objected to the ban, and announced that they would not obey it.
  • Raleigh, North Carolina took the step of asking religious groups to stop their longstanding practice of feeding the homeless in a downtown park on weekends. Religious leaders announced that they would risk arrest rather than stop.

This trend makes Utah’s accomplishment even more noteworthy. In eight years, Utah has quietly reduced homelessness by 78 percent, and is on track to end homelessness by 2015.

How did Utah accomplish this? Simple. Utah solved homelessness by giving people homes. In 2005, Utah figured out that the annual cost of E.R. visits and jail stays for homeless people was about $16,670 per person, compared to $11,000 to provide each homeless person with an apartment and a social worker. So, the state began giving away apartments, with no strings attached. Each participant in Utah’s Housing First program also gets a caseworker to help them become self-sufficient, but they keep the apartment even if they fail. The program has been so successful that other states are hoping to achieve similar results with programs modeled on Utah’s.

It sounds like Utah borrowed a page from Homes Not Handcuffs, the 2009 report by The National Law Center on Homelessness & Poverty and The National Coalition for the Homeless. Using a 2004 survey and anecdotal evidence from activists, the report concluded that permanent housing for the homeless is cheaper than criminalization. Housing is not only more human, it’s economical.

Print Friendly

Parents of Transgender Children

Wayne Maines was in a meeting when he got the call. His daughter, a transgender teenager who had been fighting the state of Maine for years over her right to use the girls’ bathroom at school, had finally won.

“I just broke down right then and there,” he said.

In tears, he called his wife, who texted their daughter, Nicole. She was in a school assembly, and immediately ran to the front of the room to announce the victory. “The whole school got up and cheered,” he recounted.

On Thursday, Maine’s Supreme Court made history when it ruled that officials from the public school violated state anti-discrimination law by not allowing Nicole to use the girls’ bathroom. It was the first time that a state court has ruled it unlawful to deny transgender students access to the bathroom of the gender with which they identify.

The case stemmed from an incident that occurred when Nicole was in fifth grade. She is now 16 and attends a different school, which is private.

Born a biological male, Nicole was identifying as a female at the age of 2. By the time she was in fifth grade, she had a female name and used the girls’ bathroom, with her school’s full support.

But that all changed after a male student followed her into the girls’ bathroom on multiple occasions, charging that if she had the right to be in there, so did he. Sensing trouble, the school banned her from using the girls’ bathroom. Using the boys’ bathroom was out of the question, so she was required to use the faculty bathroom that was isolated from the other students.

“Our daughter just wanted to go to school, be with her girlfriends, get a good education and be accepted by her peers. In other words, Nicole wanted the same things that most other girls her age want,” Maines wrote in a blog post for The Huffington Post. “The school acknowledged that it was critical to Nicole’s development that she be treated like the girl she has always known herself to be. Instead, she was made an outcast, separated from her peers. She was bullied and harassed simply because she is transgender.”

Her family and the Maine Human Rights Commission filed a discrimination lawsuit.

In 2012, a lower court ruled in the school’s favor. But last Thursday, Maine’s Supreme Court ruled that Nicole’s rights were violated under Maine’s Human Rights Act.

“A tremendous amount of weight is coming off my shoulders,” Maines told The Huffington Post. “It’s still sinking in.”

Nicole took to Twitter to respond to the verdict. “Hey y’all, I wanted to let everyone know that after a long struggle (5 years o_O) we finally have received the ruling: WE WON THE CASE!!!!!!!” she wrote. “And thank you so much to everyone who has supported me and my family for the past years! Thank you all so much!”

Transgender activist Janet Mock applauded the decision. “As someone who has navigated the same spaces as Nicole and other trans students, I understand intimately what it means to be able to have equal access to facilities my peers had access to,” she said. “To walk into gender-segregated spaces and be affirmed in your identity is a visible step of equality, access and affirmation.”

Jennifer Levi, director of GLAD’s Transgender Rights Project, who argued the case in court, called the decision momentous.

“It sends a message to transgender students that their lives are valuable, that their education needs are important, and that schools have to provide them with equal educational opportunities,” Levi said. “No court in the country before has ever allowed a transgender person access to the bathroom based on the existence of a non-discrimination law.”

The lawyer defending the school district also praised the ruling.

She said the district would take every step to comply with the law, and said the court “provided helpful guidance about how to handle this issue that is becoming more and more common in schools around the state and the country.”

The landmark ruling is reverberating across the country as many schools struggle to develop policies for transgender students.

“This sends a strong message to schools that transgender students have to be treated just like other students,” said Michael D. Silverman, executive director of the Transgender Legal Defense & Education Fund.

He noted that schools are in a special position to teach children about tolerance and respect. “We’ve seen tremendous willingness in many school districts to address the challenges that their transgender students face,” he said. “By ensuring that their transgender students are treated equally, they can make the most of that opportunity.”

Massachusetts, Connecticut, Washington and Colorado all have policies protecting transgender students’ rights, and in 2013, California passed a law allowing transgender students to use the bathroom of the gender with which they identify.

But in many states, there is a burgeoning backlash.

In California, a conservative group has mounted an effort to repeal the new law. In Utah, a state legislator filed a bill that would only allow students to use bathrooms matching their biological “male or female phenotype.” “We are just trying to make sure people are comfortable,” state Rep. Mike Kennedy, the Republican who introduced the bill, told a local newspaper.

Zachary Heiden, legal director of ACLU Maine, said he has witnessed attempts to deny transgender rights spring up all over the country.

“They grow out of this fear of the unknown, and a fear of transgender people,” he said.

In Nicole’s case, he explained, the court ruled that fear was not a good enough reason to discriminate. “The law protects everyone, even and especially when it’s politically controversial,” he said. “People who are transgender are not dangerous, and people who are transgender need to go to the bathroom.”

Heiden said he expects the ruling, which he called “elegant and straightforward,” to influence litigation nationwide.

“The heart of this ruling is the recognition that this is a case about a girl. She knows she’s a girl. Her parents know she’s a girl. The school recognizes she’s a girl,” he said. “The court said, you can’t discriminate against a girl just because she’s a transgender girl. That in itself is incredibly important and will hopefully be a precedent that will guide other courts across the country.”

For Wayne Maines, he’s just happy that his daughter can get back to being a normal kid.

“I hope it’s a wakeup call and schools understand that all parents want our kids to go to school and have the opportunity to have a good education and be with their friends,” he said. “It doesn’t have to be that hard. We just want them to go to school and be normal.”

Print Friendly

Why This Transgender Teen’s Big Victory Matters

Wayne Maines was in a meeting when he got the call. His daughter, a transgender teenager who had been fighting the state of Maine for years over her right to use the girls’ bathroom at school, had finally won.

“I just broke down right then and there,” he said.

In tears, he called his wife, who texted their daughter, Nicole. She was in a school assembly, and immediately ran to the front of the room to announce the victory. “The whole school got up and cheered,” he recounted.

On Thursday, Maine’s Supreme Court made history when it ruled that officials from the public school violated state anti-discrimination law by not allowing Nicole to use the girls’ bathroom. It was the first time that a state court has ruled it unlawful to deny transgender students access to the bathroom of the gender with which they identify.

The case stemmed from an incident that occurred when Nicole was in fifth grade. She is now 16 and attends a different school, which is private.

Born a biological male, Nicole was identifying as a female at the age of 2. By the time she was in fifth grade, she had a female name and used the girls’ bathroom, with her school’s full support.

But that all changed after a male student followed her into the girls’ bathroom on multiple occasions, charging that if she had the right to be in there, so did he. Sensing trouble, the school banned her from using the girls’ bathroom. Using the boys’ bathroom was out of the question, so she was required to use the faculty bathroom that was isolated from the other students.

“Our daughter just wanted to go to school, be with her girlfriends, get a good education and be accepted by her peers. In other words, Nicole wanted the same things that most other girls her age want,” Maines wrote in a blog post for The Huffington Post. “The school acknowledged that it was critical to Nicole’s development that she be treated like the girl she has always known herself to be. Instead, she was made an outcast, separated from her peers. She was bullied and harassed simply because she is transgender.”

Her family and the Maine Human Rights Commission filed a discrimination lawsuit.

In 2012, a lower court ruled in the school’s favor. But last Thursday, Maine’s Supreme Court ruled that Nicole’s rights were violated under Maine’s Human Rights Act.

“A tremendous amount of weight is coming off my shoulders,” Maines told The Huffington Post. “It’s still sinking in.”

Nicole took to Twitter to respond to the verdict. “Hey y’all, I wanted to let everyone know that after a long struggle (5 years o_O) we finally have received the ruling: WE WON THE CASE!!!!!!!” she wrote. “And thank you so much to everyone who has supported me and my family for the past years! Thank you all so much!”

Transgender activist Janet Mock applauded the decision. “As someone who has navigated the same spaces as Nicole and other trans students, I understand intimately what it means to be able to have equal access to facilities my peers had access to,” she said. “To walk into gender-segregated spaces and be affirmed in your identity is a visible step of equality, access and affirmation.”

Jennifer Levi, director of GLAD’s Transgender Rights Project, who argued the case in court, called the decision momentous.

“It sends a message to transgender students that their lives are valuable, that their education needs are important, and that schools have to provide them with equal educational opportunities,” Levi said. “No court in the country before has ever allowed a transgender person access to the bathroom based on the existence of a non-discrimination law.”

The lawyer defending the school district also praised the ruling.

She said the district would take every step to comply with the law, and said the court “provided helpful guidance about how to handle this issue that is becoming more and more common in schools around the state and the country.”

The landmark ruling is reverberating across the country as many schools struggle to develop policies for transgender students.

“This sends a strong message to schools that transgender students have to be treated just like other students,” said Michael D. Silverman, executive director of the Transgender Legal Defense & Education Fund.

He noted that schools are in a special position to teach children about tolerance and respect. “We’ve seen tremendous willingness in many school districts to address the challenges that their transgender students face,” he said. “By ensuring that their transgender students are treated equally, they can make the most of that opportunity.”

Massachusetts, Connecticut, Washington and Colorado all have policies protecting transgender students’ rights, and in 2013, California passed a law allowing transgender students to use the bathroom of the gender with which they identify.

But in many states, there is a burgeoning backlash.

In California, a conservative group has mounted an effort to repeal the new law. In Utah, a state legislator filed a bill that would only allow students to use bathrooms matching their biological “male or female phenotype.” “We are just trying to make sure people are comfortable,” state Rep. Mike Kennedy, the Republican who introduced the bill, told a local newspaper.

Zachary Heiden, legal director of ACLU Maine, said he has witnessed attempts to deny transgender rights spring up all over the country.

“They grow out of this fear of the unknown, and a fear of transgender people,” he said.

In Nicole’s case, he explained, the court ruled that fear was not a good enough reason to discriminate. “The law protects everyone, even and especially when it’s politically controversial,” he said. “People who are transgender are not dangerous, and people who are transgender need to go to the bathroom.”

Heiden said he expects the ruling, which he called “elegant and straightforward,” to influence litigation nationwide.

“The heart of this ruling is the recognition that this is a case about a girl. She knows she’s a girl. Her parents know she’s a girl. The school recognizes she’s a girl,” he said. “The court said, you can’t discriminate against a girl just because she’s a transgender girl. That in itself is incredibly important and will hopefully be a precedent that will guide other courts across the country.”

For Wayne Maines, he’s just happy that his daughter can get back to being a normal kid.

“I hope it’s a wakeup call and schools understand that all parents want our kids to go to school and have the opportunity to have a good education and be with their friends,” he said. “It doesn’t have to be that hard. We just want them to go to school and be normal.”

Print Friendly

Illinois will become the 15th state in the nation that will provide same-sex couples the freedom to marry.

Illinois will become the 15th state in the nation that will provide same-sex couples the freedom to marry.From Lambda Legal

536967_10151997897251703_2122011033_nWedding bells will ring in the Land of Lincoln! Illinois will become the 15th state in the nation that will provide same-sex couples the freedom to marry. Across Illinois, same-sex couples and their children can celebrate a new era of equality.

Lambda Legal has been working hard to get to this day: From the day we filed our lawsuit in 2012, to all the legislative visits and testimony that our courageous clients provided for legislative hearings, to all the hours of drafting, preparation and technical support that our expert attorneys provided to legislators — this victory for same-sex couples and their families is sweet!

This was an enormous group effort, and Lambda Legal was proud to play a lead role in forming Illinois Unites for Marriage with our partners at the ACLU of Illinois and Equality Illinois, and many other advocates and allies who called, wrote letters and made visits to their elected officials. We all raised the voices of equality across the state — and we were heard.

Lambda Legal congratulates and thanks the bill’s sponsors — including Rep. Harris, Representatives Cassidy and Mell and Sen. Steans—along with co-sponsors Senators Koehler, Hutchinson, Harmon and Delgado. We also thank Gov. Quinn, Mayor Emanuel and other elected officials for their strong support.

Equality has momentum: On Oct. 21, New Jersey became the 14th state with the freedom to marry, following Lambda Legal’s victory after 11 years of litigation. Yesterday, the U.S. Senate voted to advance the Employment Non-Discrimination Act. And soon, we hope Hawaii will approve a marriage equality law in the state where Lambda Legal litigated its first marriage case and the modern marriage equality movement began.

History keeps moving forward — because we all keep pushing it in the direction of fairness. Thank you for all your support.

Sincerely,

Kevin Cathcart.
Executive Director
Lambda Legal

Print Friendly

Climate Change Seen Posing Risk to Food Supplies

Climate Change Seen Posing Risk to Food SuppliesA United Nations panel of scientists says that globally, rising temperatures will make it harder for crops to thrive.
By JUSTIN GILLIS
Published in The New York Tikmes, November 1, 2013

02climate-articleLarge

Josh Haner/The New York Times

Climate change will pose sharp risks to the world’s food supply in coming decades, potentially undermining crop production and driving up prices at a time when the demand for food is expected to soar, scientists have found. In a departure from an earlier assessment, the scientists concluded that rising temperatures will have some beneficial effects on crops in some places, but that globally they will make it harder for crops to thrive — perhaps reducing production over all by as much as 2 percent each decade for the rest of this century, compared with what it would be without climate change.

And, the scientists say, they are already seeing the harmful effects in some regions.

The warnings come in a leaked draft of a report under development by a United Nations panel, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. The document is not final and could change before it is released in March.

The report also finds other sweeping impacts from climate change already occurring across the planet, and warns that these are likely to intensify as human emissions of greenhouse gases continue to rise. The scientists describe a natural world in turmoil as plants and animals colonize new areas to escape rising temperatures, and warn that many could become extinct.

The warning on the food supply is the sharpest in tone the panel has issued. Its previous report, in 2007, was more hopeful. While it did warn of risks and potential losses in output, particularly in the tropics, that report found that gains in production at higher latitudes would most likely offset the losses and ensure an adequate global supply.

The new tone reflects a large body of research in recent years that has shown how sensitive crops appear to be to heat waves. The recent work also challenges previous assumptions about how much food production could increase in coming decades because of higher carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere. The gas, though it is the main reason for global warming, also acts as a kind of fertilizer for plants.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change is the principal scientific body charged with reviewing and assessing climate science, then issuing reports about the risks to the world’s governments. Its main reports come out every five to six years. The group won the Nobel Peace Prize, along with Al Gore, in 2007 for its efforts.

Hundreds of billions of dollars are being spent every year to reduce emissions in response to past findings from the group, though many analysts have said these efforts are so far inadequate to head off drastic climatic changes later in the century.

On the food supply, the new report finds that benefits from global warming may be seen in some areas, like northern lands that are now marginal for food production. But it adds that over all, global warming could reduce agricultural production by as much as 2 percent each decade for the rest of this century.

During that period, demand is expected to rise as much as 14 percent each decade, the report found, as the world population is projected to grow to 9.6 billion in 2050, from 7.2 billion today, according to the United Nations, and as many of those people in developing countries acquire the money to eat richer diets.

Any shortfall would lead to rising food prices that would hit the world’s poor hardest, as has already occurred from price increases of recent years. Research has found that climate change, particularly severe heat waves, was a factor in those price spikes.

The agricultural risks “are greatest for tropical countries, given projected impacts that exceed adaptive capacity and higher poverty rates compared with temperate regions,” the draft report finds.

If the report proves to be correct about the effect on crops from climate change, global food demand might have to be met — if it can be met — by putting new land into production. That could entail chopping down large areas of forest, an action that would only accelerate climate change by sending substantial amounts of carbon dioxide into the air from the destruction of trees.

The report finds that efforts to adapt to climate change have already begun in many countries. President Obama signed an executive order on Friday to step up such efforts in the United States. But these efforts remain inadequate compared with the risks, the report says, and far more intensive — and expensive — adaptation plans are likely to be required in the future.

The document also finds that it is not too late for cuts in emissions to have a strong impact on the future risks of climate change, though the costs would be incurred in the next few decades and the main benefits would probably be seen in the late 21st century and beyond.

The leak of the new draft occurred on a blog hostile to the intergovernmental panel. In a brief interview, a spokesman for the panel, Jonathan Lynn, did not dispute the authenticity of the document.

“It’s a work in progress,” Mr. Lynn said. “It’s likely to change.”

Several scientists involved in drafting the document declined on Friday to speak publicly about it. In the Internet era, the group’s efforts to keep its drafts secret are proving to be a failure, and some of the scientists involved have called for a drafting process open to the public.

A report about the physical science of climate change leaked in August, then underwent only modest changes before its final release in Stockholm in late September. The new report covers the impact of climate change, efforts to adapt to it, and the vulnerability of human and natural systems.

A third report, analyzing potential ways to limit the rise of greenhouse gases, is due for release in Berlin in April.

Print Friendly

Stop the Hate/Unity Rally – Lewisburg, PA 2013

html>Stop the Hate/Unity Rally – Lewisburg, PA 2013StopthehatemainA beautiful early evening gathering once again brought members of the Bucknell community and local participants together to raise a united voice. On October 8 at 6 pm the 2013 Stop the Hate / Unity Rally sponsored by CARE, the CommUnity Zone, and Bucknell University and its Residential College of Social Justice was held at Hufnagle Park in Lewisburg. The one-hour program of remarks, spoken word and musical performances included appearances by poet Lakiyra Williams, the This is Me Project, Beyond Unison acappella group, Dr. John Bravman~ President of Bucknell University, Judy Wagner~ Mayor of Lewisburg, William McCoy~ Director of Bucknell’s Office of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Queer Awareness, and Tammy Simpson~ a local anti-bullying activist whose son committed suicide in response to bullying several years ago. In a fitting ending to the evening, We Shall Overcome was sung by Beyond Unison with participation by all those gathered, acknowledging that continuing action must support sentiment.

Stop the Hate is part of a national effort calling for people of good will to act nonviolently as agents of healing in their communities, to speak up for the victims of hatred and intimidation, and to raise a united voice against hate-inspired violence. The national rallies began the year after the hate crimes and killings of James Byrd and Matthew Shepard in 1998.
1385998_10151954109362340_327447816_n

Print Friendly

Bridegroom – A Love Story. Unequaled

Bridegroom – A Love Story. UnequaledmainLogo6
About the Film
“It’s a pitched battle, but love blindingly outshines hate in BRIDEGROOM.” – Charles McNulty, Los Angeles Times

BRIDEGROOM is a documentary directed by Linda Bloodworth-Thomason that tells the emotional journey of Shane and Tom, two young men in a loving and committed relationship — a relationship that was cut tragically short by a misstep off the side of a roof. The story of what happened after this accidental death– of how people without the legal protections of marriage can find themselves completely shut out and ostracized– is poignant, enraging and opens a window onto the issue of marriage equality like no speech or lecture ever will.

On May 7, 2012, the anniversary of Tom’s death, after a year of documenting his own grief, Shane decided to make a video tribute to his partner entitled “It Could Happen To You.” This film, posted on YouTube, received over 3.4 million views and has been translated into over 20 different languages. The impact of Shane’s YouTube video and the raw nerve it touched, tells us this is an important story that needs to be told.

With the incredible support from influential people like Brad and George Takei and Neil Patrick Harris, Bridegroom was successfully funded on July 19, 2012 by over 6,500 people on Kickstarter.com becoming the most funded documentary in the history of crowd funding, and released in the fall of 2013.


Print Friendly

Gay Bucknell University soccer player answers those who disapprove of homosexuality

klug9413_3.0_standard_783.0

Jesse Klug – Photo by Marc Hagemeier

By Outsports on Oct 28 2013, 12:36p 24
The Bucknell University player writes an open letter to people who still see being gay as wrong, a choice or immoral.
Editor’s note: Jesse Klug is a sophomore soccer player at Division I Bucknell University in Pennsylvania.

 

By Jesse Klug

An open letter to those who disapprove of homosexuality:

I respect you. I respect your opinion, although it differs from mine. I have listened to, digested, and have decided to thoughtfully respond to your arguments. I truly hope you do the same. If you choose to read this, proceed to think critically, and ultimately decide that you maintain your current opinion, I will respect that. Not everyone can agree, and I accept that as well. But I will try my absolute hardest to help you see homophobia through my perspective. I am simply attempting to write my personal opinion as plainly as I can, hoping that you can understand. I sincerely hope that this does not offend or insult anyone. As I write, I will use the word homophobia with no intention of hidden connotation. To me, it means the general opinion that does not approve of homosexuality. And I ask as earnestly as I can: please think critically. I beg that you do not simply disagree above the surface. Ask questions, dig deeper. Make sure of what you believe.

I feel compelled to write this letter with the intent of opening a dialogue. I am out to my team, family, friends, and now to you. I chose not to write the traditional “coming out story,” because although I certainly see the value of providing an emotional, personally supportive message, it does not actively target the larger problem. Being gay is still a divisive issue for many people. Too often I have been frustrated by seeing emotional and disdainful arguments that are completely useless and ultimately detrimental, because they only alienate and divide us further. Both parties usually listen simply to counter, rather than to understand, and no progress is made. It takes mutual courage, strength, and discipline, but we all must acknowledge that the only way forward is together. My hope is that this dialogue will allow both sides to understand the other, even if they do not agree.

Speaking from personal experience, almost all of the homophobia I have witnessed in our society is fueled by one simple notion — being gay is a choice. As soon as this notion is dismantled, all angles on homophobia crumble. I am a gay man. I have always been gay. And I firmly believe I will always be gay. But I promise you, I tried not to be. We all have. We all tried to fight it, to convince ourselves that we weren’t. We tricked our friends and ourselves that we were straight until it was too much to bear. But then we realized that we are who we are, and that we shouldn’t be ashamed of that. Society sometimes agrees, but it also often tells us otherwise.

I have heard of people talk about curing homosexuality. And of those who have claimed to have been “cured,” they often discuss having the urges, but knowing how to resist them. That is not curing homosexuality. That is a gay man living a straight lifestyle. Sexual orientation is not defined by the behavior; it is defined by the desire. If, hypothetically, a heterosexual man were to be forced by society into a homosexual relationship, that man has not suddenly “turned” gay. He is still innately straight, with an internal sexual and emotional desire for the opposite sex. Nothing has changed, except for the fact that society now views that man as gay.

If you are straight, and someone sat you down and tried to turn you into a homosexual, could they? Do you think your sexual orientation could be changed? Or is it such a concrete part of your being that no matter what treatment they tried, you would still be attracted to the opposite sex? I firmly believe the latter.

When straight people are asked, “When did you choose to be straight?” they usually can’t answer. They say what we say: that it is just the way they are. Just like heterosexual people do not consciously decide to be straight, I did not choose to be gay. Why would I ever choose that? LGBT youth are more likely than their straight counterparts to be bullied, harassed, and kicked out of their homes. They are the highest at-risk population for suicide. So to those who believe it is a choice, I ask for an explanation as to why those children felt so trapped that they believed their only escape was to take their own life. No one chooses their sexual orientation. Search within yourself, and individually, you will most likely find that this is true.

A primary reason why LGBT youth are so troubled is because of harassment and the rampant incidence of gay slurs. Yes, I’ve heard them. And that is not specific to me being a gay man. We’ve all heard them: at school, at work, at home, with friends, online, everywhere. And at least for me, they sting. They are hateful words and phrases that are used to make a group of people feel inferior for something that they have no control over. And that is never OK. I will respect your opinion if you disapprove of homosexuality, but I will absolutely not respect you if you intentionally insult another human being or attempt to make them feel inferior if they have done nothing to hurt you. No matter what belief system you have, that remains the same. Treat others with love and respect.

Whether the slurs are intentionally discriminatory or absent-minded, it honestly doesn’t matter all that much. The end result is the same. I usually try to politely ask them not to say that, and people sometimes respond just as politely and say “sorry it slipped,” or “it’s just habit, I didn’t mean anything by it”. However, to me, those are just excuses. People often have a habit of using the term “that’s so retarded” as well, which is equally as degrading to that particular group of people. If you were in a situation where you were with a mentally disabled person, you would know not to say that. There is no difference. You control what you say, and therefore you should be held accountable for it. Don’t wait for someone to ask you to stop using gay slurs, or any slurs for that matter. When it comes to sexual orientation, there is no way to know who overhears whom, or whom you could be hurting. There is no need to degrade anyone. Build yourself up by building up the people around you. Once again, treat others with love.

Again, I ask you to think critically. To those who use religion to condemn homosexuality: blind faith is dangerous. Please do not simply accept what you hear. Question, educate yourself, criticize, and dive below the surface. I do not wish to criticize religion. But I do disagree with people who use religion to justify homophobia. I do not consider myself a Christian, but I do consider myself a moral and spiritual person.

The Bible states that homosexuality is an abomination. I agree. It does say it, black and white. And I will not criticize the Bible either; your faith is up to you. But look closely. The Bible also condemns divorce, round haircuts, tattoos, working on the Sabbath, wearing garments of mixed fabrics, eating pork or shellfish, getting your fortune told, and playing with the skin of a pig. It states that a marriage is only valid if the woman is a virgin, and she should be executed if she is not. It states that women should have their heads covered and that adulterers should be stoned to death. It states that slavery is natural state of being, and therefore that it is okay. It clearly says those things as well, black and white. So my question is: How do you choose which sections of the Bible to take literally, and which ones to overlook? The Bible is a book that can be interpreted in a multitude of different ways. All I ask is that you actively interpret it. You decide for yourself what you believe.

Religion is organic. The specific practices and beliefs change with the time, but the core principles generally remain the same. And from my understanding, a core principle of Christianity is love. Yet somehow, the few passages that condemn homosexuality are viewed by some as more important than the fundamental principle of love. The Bible was written millenniums ago. Religion has been used to support segregation and slavery, because race was something that society did not completely understand. Now our society looks back at that history and feels shame, because we know they let prejudice guide their policies and religious beliefs. We now understand much more about sexual orientation, and I hope you can recognize that. We are who we are, and we love who we love. I do not see why there is anything wrong with that, and why we have laws that intentionally discriminate based on sexual orientation.

Sexual orientation should not be a defining characteristic of a person. It can certainly be important and should not be ignored, but it should not be overemphasized either. One perk of being an gay soccer player is that my teammates don’t really have the option to see me any differently. While being gay could have a larger impact on friends outside of the team (who aren’t by nature forced to spend copious amounts of time with me), most of the time I spend with my teammates is on the field. In that context, sexual orientation holds absolutely zero significance. My teammates view me as an athlete; as part of their team working towards the same goals. We struggle and succeed together. And although this might be specific to teams (athletic or otherwise), the notion doesn’t need to be. Being gay is part of who I am; it is not what I am. Too often we see people as their labels. Try see beyond that flat impression, to the parts of their being that truly define them. What are their interests, fears, worries, and hopes? What is their perspective? Recognizing everyone as an individual person worthy of love is a vital step in treating people equally and respectfully.

So I ask you one last time. Think about it. Try to listen to my perspective, digest what I have just written, and think critically about your own beliefs and values. What opinion forms after that is entirely up to you, and I will respect it. Just as I hope you can respect mine.

Lastly, I would like to extend a message of hope and motivation to those who are fighting in favor of equal rights and acceptance. Nothing happens overnight. I think we are all aware of that. But we must all remember that everyone, on all “sides” of this conversation, deserve to be treated with respect. Because calling people heartless bigots does not accomplish anything.

Forcing opinions on other people is remarkably unsuccessful. I think we are all aware of that. We must recognize that everyone is entitled to their own educated opinion, regardless of whether or not we agree with it. Arguments get nowhere unless both parties are willing to listen and respect one another. Conversations create change. Yelling at people for being hateful makes us just as bad as them. We often preach love but then hate those preaching hate. We must love our enemies like our friends because that gives us strength, and because it forces them to acknowledge us as equals.

We can’t demand respect unless we give it. And we can’t demand acceptance unless we manifest it in everything we do. Speak loudly but kindly. Give them no excuse not to listen.

With love and respect,
Jesse Klug

Jesse Klug, 19, is a sophomore (class of 2016) playing Division I soccer at Bucknell University in Pennsylvania. He is pursuing a major in the School of Management. “I came out to my team when I first arrived on campus, simply by saying that I had a boyfriend when they asked me if I was in a relationship. They reacted splendidly, and I have received an incredible amount of support from the team and from the program as a whole,” he says. He is originally from Seattle and played on the Seattle Sounders FC Academy Team in high school. He can be reached via email at jesseklug12@gmail.com.

Print Friendly

Federal Budget Priorities

Federal Budget PrioritiesSenator, Pat Toomey, is one of a few who will represent the entire Senate in negotiations with the House over the shape of the federal budget.

federalbudget101_mediumThese senators could make key decisions that will either protect the Pentagon from spending cuts that are scheduled to take place in January or protect money for programs that build communities, support people in need and provide a path out of poverty.

This joint House-Senate conference committee could begin meeting as early as tomorrow. Several of these senators are already soliciting the views of their communities on budget priority issues, scheduled meetings or organizing conference calls.

Your senator needs to hear from you now, as these negotiations begin. To make sure your voice gets all the way to the top, write a letter to the editor of your local paper that mentions your senator by name. If your local newspaper has published a story about the budget, we encourage you to refer to the story in your letter to increase the chances it will be published.
 

Here are some talking points to help you write your letter:

  • In the upcoming budget negotiations, Sen. Pat Toomey has a choice to make.
  • People in Pennsylvania are feeling the effects of deep cuts to the programs we rely on for food, heat and housing.
  • Tell a story about your community and why you need federally-funded programs.
  • At the same time, Pentagon contractors are raking in high profits — even higher than expected.
  • I hope Sen. Toomey chooses Pennsylvania communities over profits for Pentagon contractors.

Thank you! Let us strive for a just budget.

Print Friendly

PORTRAIT OF JASON A film by Shirley Clarke | 1967 |

PORTRAIT OF JASON A film by Shirley ClarkeTuesday October 29, 7:30pm @ The Campus Theatre
Co-Sponsored by the Samek Gallery, Bucknell University

portraitofjasonEmbraced now as a cornerstone of LGBT filmmaking, this hybrid performance/vérité documentary by Oscar nominee Shirley Clarke startled viewers in 1967 with its innovative style and groundbreaking presentation of a gay African-American man. Clarke shot 12 hours of interview footage overnight at New York’s storied Hotel Chelsea to create this profile of an engaging, self-described hustler who called himself Jason Holliday. Poet Allen Ginsberg wrote, “Jason reaches brilliant moments in a total run-down of his soul history/an all-night monologue breaking the barrier between private humor and public discourse,” while Ingmar Bergman reportedly called it “the most extraordinary film I’ve seen in my life.” An Academy Film Archive and Milestone Films Restoration.

“Portrait of Jason is debated as an example of cinema verite because Clarke so tacitly indulges Holliday’s drama queen instincts, letting him turn a documentary into a one-man show. After a while you begin to wonder how much you’re being hustled here, and whether Holliday might not see Clarke the same way he does the rich whites he doted on as a houseboy: ‘They think you’re just a dumb, stupid little colored boy and you’re trying to get a few dollars, and they’re gonna use you as a joke. And it gets to be a joke sometime as to who’s using who.’ The blurred line between truth and fiction, between portrait and self-portrait, makes Jason a fascinating experience long after he and Clarke went their separate ways.” – J.R. Jones, The Chicago Reader

“Dancer, bride, runaway wife, radical filmmaker and pioneer — Shirley Clarke is one of the great undertold stories of American independent cinema. A woman working in a predominantly male world, a white director who turned her camera on black subjects, she was a Park Avenue rich girl who willed herself to become a dancer and a filmmaker, ran away to bohemia, hung out with the Beats and held to her own vision in triumph and defeat. She helped inspire a new film movement and made urgently vibrant work that blurs fiction and nonfiction, only to be marginalized, written out of histories and dismissed as a dilettante. She died in 1997 at 77 and is long overdue for a reappraisal.” – Manohla Dargis, New York Times

Please like us on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/BucknellFilmSeries

Print Friendly

CARE and the Griot Institute

CARE and the Griot Institute

Griot with Me, Carmen & Doug

Left to right: Cindy, Carmen, Doug

Back in September, Cindy Peltier and Doug Sturm had lunch with Carmen Gillespie and her staff as a celebration of a gift from CARE to the Griot Institute on BU campus: a historical poster featuring Paul Robeson and a biography of his life.

The Traveling Poster: A CARE-ing Gift to the Griot Institute for Africana Studies

We ask for nothing that is not right, and herein lies the great power of our demand.
~Paul Robeson

This is the story of a traveling poster. And it’s one of those stories—the kind that is a single story, inside a different story, attached to another story.
On May 17 2013, the Griot Institute of Africana Studies at Bucknell University received a unique gift from the Community Alliance for Respect and Equality (CARE)—a framed poster of Paul Robeson and an accompanying biography for the institute’s growing library. The poster features a black and white photo of a man whose presence and power are palpable even though his eyes are downcast and his posture’s contemplative. Paul Robeson: Bearer Of A Culture is spelled out above the iconic figure, and clearly he was.

JC68paul-robesonBorn in New Jersey in 1898, Paul Robeson became a star of stage and film, a superior athlete, an intellectual powerhouse, and a celebrity of international renown. But Robeson was not content merely to enjoy the advantages his myriad talents provided, instead he used his position to promote his belief in human equality. Risking both career and personal freedom (Robeson was blacklisted and lost his passport) Robeson continued his “‘extreme advocacy on behalf of the independence of the colonial peoples of Africa,” 1 and “his frequent criticism of the treatment of blacks in the United States” which, according to the US State Department of the time “should not be aired in foreign countries.”2

Given Robeson’s diverse career and unfailing efforts to end racial injustice, it’s not difficult to see the appropriateness of his image and legacy gracing the walls of an office that not only serves as home to the Griot, but also to the University’s Presidential Arts Initiative. But as I said, this is the story of a traveling poster, and as such, the relevancy of the gift increases exponentially.

Since the May afternoon when the poster first arrived at the Griot, I have learned that the original photograph was taken during a 1928 production of Showboat at Drury Lane in London, that the poster was produced and sold by the New-York Historical Society and that Paul Robeson: Bearer Of A Culture is the title of a book commemorating what would have been his 100th birthday in 1998. I have also learned that the Griot’s new poster first hung in the home of long-time Lewisburg resident, Beatrice Spielman.

Mrs. Spielman’s life could easily be described as one dedicated to the service of others. Despite her roles as faculty wife (her husband, Ralph, was a professor of sociology at Bucknell for twenty years), mother and working-woman, Mrs. Spielman was well-known for her extensive community service and devotion to causes promoting social justice. Over the years, she was appointed by Governor Rendell to the Union County Board of Assistance and had places on the boards of Union County Citizens for Diversity and the Lewisburg Prison Project. Additionally, Mrs. Spielman volunteered at Susquehanna Valley Women in Transition, Prison Visitors Service, The American Red Cross and many others. At age 70 she joined the Peace Corps and was sent to the Micronesian Island of Yap where she taught English to middle school children for nearly two years.

When the time came for Mrs. Spielman to “downsize” from her long time family residence to something smaller, she donated many things to family, friends and the community at large. One of those pieces was the Paul Robeson poster, which she entrusted to her friend Douglas Sturm. Sturm is a retired professor of religion and political science at Bucknell University and a life-long campaigner for human equality. In support of this mission, in 1994 he co-founded the Community Alliance for Respect and Equality or CARE, an organization committed to increasing “awareness of and respect for people of all races, ethnicity, gender, religions and sexual orientation.” CARE provides diverse services to the Central Susquehanna River Valley including: community education programs and sensitivity workshops, resources for local schools, advocacy and consultancy, and representation of social justice in the media. Once again, the Robeson poster had found a fitting home.

But true to CARE’s mission statement to provide “resources to local schools that will promote positive relations, increase respect, and improve cultural understanding,” Doug Sturm decided to present the poster (along with a Robeson biography and a detailed history of the poster’s past) to the Griot Institute on behalf of CARE. The Griot is delighted to have received this wonderful gift and to have the opportunity to promote the missions common to our traveling poster’s many stories–education, arts, equality, and social justice.

1. Von Eschen, Penny M. (1994). Race Against Empire: African Americans and Anti-colonialism, 1937–1957. Ithaca: Cornell University Press.
2. Duberman, Martin Bauml (1988). Paul Robeson. New York: New Press.

Print Friendly

Doug Sturm’s CARE Essay Goes International

Doug Sturms CARE Essay Goes InternationalCongratulations and thanks to Doug.

Since the publication of Doug Sturm’s essay, “March on Washington for Jobs & Freedom (1963): Its Continuing Significance Half a Century Later,” in CARE’s Newsletter (September 2013), it has been republished twice.

First, in the blog of the national Fellowship of Reconciliation under the title, “The continuing significance of the 1963 March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom,” September 2013 [http://forusa.org/blog/8052}

Second, in German translation in Sinnrad: Forum fur aktive Gewaltfreiheit [Spinning Wheel: Forum for Active Nonviolence], Nr. 3, Oktober 2013 (5-7), under the title, “Marsch auf Washington.”

Print Friendly
Top