Interview of Wendell Barry with Bill Moyers

Interview of Wendell Barry with Bill MoyersWendell Berry, one of America’s most influential writers who has written more than 40 novels, books of poetry, short stories and essays, has become an outspoken advocate for revolution. He’s calling for immediate action to end industrial farming and return to the sustainable farming methods of years past. In his interview with Bill, Berry says: “People who own the world outright for profit will have to be stopped; by influence, by power, by us.”

In a rare television interview, environmental legend and writer Wendell Berry leaves his Kentucky farm for an inspiring conversation.

Wendell Berry: Poet and Prophet from BillMoyers.com on Vimeo.


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Declaration Of Independence & Government Purpose

Note: This is Doug’s original letter emailed to me. The title and editing may have been different when published in The Daily Item on the 17th or 18th of October.

October 11, 2013

I applaud Ben Marsh’s criticism of our regional congressmen for joining in the movement to crush the Affordable Care Act (Letters, Daily Item, Oct. 10), but would suggest that the underlying intent of that movement is far more cynical. It is to nullify the proper role of our government as articulated clearly in the Declaration of Independence.

That Declaration announces that, we as humans are equal and, as such, hold fundamental rights and that governments are created to advance these rights.

That simple, but profound, commitment came to play during the 20th century, when, directly following the defeat of fascist powers, we joined with nations across the world, to affirm and to develop this principle in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1948) as a standard “for all peoples and all nations.” That project was undertaken as a repudiation of the fascist ideology.

The Universal Declaration, which we ratified, articulates a range of human rights that, in effect, are the duty of governments to secure for their citizenry. They include rights to a fair trial and to participation in governance, as well as rights to work, to education and to sufficient income for one’s health and well being.

We seem nowadays to be struggling over the size of government, a quantitative question. But that detracts us from the far more central question, one that is qualitative: how well is our government advancing the basic rights of all our citizens?

Bluntly stated, we are failing badly on virtually all scores listed. Look hard at our skewed prison system, corporate influence in governance, poverty and unemployment, educational shortcomings, access to health care. We have fallen far short of our own Declaration of Independence.

The remedy is to reject destructive politics and to recommit to a constructive politics in which the principle of human rights is paramount.

Douglas Sturm
Lewisburg

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Victory! NJ High Court Allows Marriages to Proceed in Lambda Legal Case

NJ High Court Allows Marriages to Proceedby Lambda Legal
October 18, 2013

karenmarcye_392_0

Lambda Legal clients Karen and Marcye Nicholson-McFadden with their two children.

Today the New Jersey Supreme Court, agreeing with the lower court’s Sept. 27th ruling, denied the State’s motion to postpone allowing same-sex couples to marry. Lambda Legal had filed a brief on behalf of Garden State Equality, New Jersey’s statewide LGBT advocacy organization, and six same-sex couples who seek the freedom to marry, asking the Court to deny the motion for a stay.

In today’s decision, the Court wrote:

What is the public’s interest in a case like this? Like Judge Jacobson, we can find no public interest in depriving a group of New Jersey residents of their constitutional right to equal protection while the appeals process unfolds.

Hayley Gorenberg, Deputy Legal Director of Lambda Legal and the organization’s lead attorney on the case, said:

The long wait in New Jersey is finally over – the door is open for love, commitment and equality under the law! This is a huge victory for New Jersey’s same-sex couples and their families. Beginning October 21st, New Jersey’s same-sex couples will be able to marry and have the critically important rights, benefits, and protections they need for their families. Take out the champagne glasses – wedding bells will soon be ringing in New Jersey!

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The Sixth Annual Mid-Atlantic LGBTQA Conference at Bloomsburg University

LGBTQA Conference

ConferenceLogo

Unmasking Prejudice and Dispelling Myths in the LGBTQA World
November 1 – 2, 2013
Mid-Atlantic LGBTQA Conference

 

Registration

Registration is now open! Please complete the online registration form. Click here for form

Conference Schedule

The Sixth Annual Mid-Atlantic LGBTQA Conference, “Unmasking Prejudice and Dispelling Myths in the LGBTQA World”, will be held November 1-2, 2013 on the campus of Bloomsburg University. A draft of the conference program is available here.

Please contact the Bloomsburg University LGBTQA Resource Center at lgbt@bloomu.edu with any questions or concerns.

Keynote Speaker

William S. Meyer

ON THE DIAGNOSIS AND ‘TREATMENT’ OF HOMOSEXUALITY: WHEN PREJUDICE MASQUERADES AS SCIENCE

Meyer

William S. Meyer

Few people know the civil rights struggle of how the diagnosis of homosexuality evolved and was finally deleted from psychiatry’s official nomenclature. Over the years, many people suffered severe psychological injury by the very people who were ostensibly there to help them. Some of this tragic legacy continues today. This multi-media presentation begins in the 1950’s and takes the audience through the tumultuous 60’s and 70’s up to the present to demonstrate the legacy and implications of psychiatry’s once implacable position that “homosexuality is treatable psychopathology.” Attendees will see a scholarly but compelling power point presentation, view clips of once popular movies, and hear audio interviews from gay activists and establishment psychiatrists of that era, to see how internalized prejudicial attitudes affect everyone, including those who come asking for help and those who provide treatment.

Attendees will…

Learn how the diagnosis of homosexuality has evolved within psychiatry’s official nomenclature.
Understand how social activism compelled psychiatry to examine its reasoning and its methods.
Appreciate how internalized prejudicial attitudes affect everyone, including those who come asking for help and those who provide treatment.

William S. Meyer, MSW is the Director of Training for the Department of Social Work and is an Associate Clinical Professor in the Departments of Psychiatry and OB/GYN at Duke University Medical Center. He has been a supervisor and team leader of 3rd year psychiatry residents for over 25 years. He is a past-president of the American Association for Psychoanalysis in Clinical Social Work and is a former Secretary of the National Academies of Practice. He is on the faculty of the Psychoanalytic Education Center of the Carolinas and he holds faculty appointments at The University of North Carolina and Smith College. He has lectured and written extensively on mental health related topics.

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From Morris Dees SPLC

From Morris Dees SPLC
splc
October 14, 2013

Dear Dave,

The scene in our nation’s Capital took an ugly turn yesterday.

About 200 people, including Senator Ted Cruz and Sarah Palin, held a rally, promoting themselves as the true friends of our nation’s veterans. It was typical political theater — at least until one speaker urged the President to “put the Quran down” and others later waved the Confederate flag in front of the White House.

Harmless political theater still? Perhaps, but I worry.

Like the claim that President Obama wasn’t born in this country, the attempt to vilify him as a supposed Muslim is part of a long-running effort to suggest that he’s not a true American. It’s the kind of thing that’s fueled a meteoric rise in the number of radical antigovernment groups — including armed militias — in recent years. Frankly, it’s a dangerous trend.

It’s our job to track the rise in radical antigovernment groups and alert the country to the growing threat of violence from the far right. It’s everyone’s job to convince those in public life to tone down the divisive rhetoric. Sometimes political theater can go too far. Please join us in speaking out against the extremists.

morrisdeesSincerely,

Morris Dees

Founder, Southern Poverty Law Center

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From the desk of Doug Sturm

On Seemingly Unconscious DiscriminationCARE
October 11, 2013

homeOn Seemingly Unconscious Discrimination:
What’s to be done about it?

Explicit and implicit bias: Both inhumane, both deadly

In the Sepember 1 issue of The Washington Spector, a column by Maya Wiley briefly addresses the effects of both explicit and implicit bias on the life of African Americans nowadays. Wiley is the President of the Center for Social Inclusion, headquartered in NYC. The Center for Social Inclusion is a “national policy strategy organization that works to dismantle structural racial inequity and increase well-being for all.” The following quotations capture the character of Wiley’s column and give voice to an issue of high importance for members of CARE:

“Black people are upset. The killing of Trayvon Martin by George Zimmerman, and Zimmerman’s subsequent acquittal, are the most recent matches on a tinderbox of legitimate black anger and alienation in America today. Black men and boys are feared, followed and frisked based solely on their appearance. Black unemployment is double that of white unemployment. Civil rights protections as fundamental as the Voting Rights Act faced renewed attack. Meanwhile, we consciously and unconsciously fan the flames of persistent implicit bias and exclusion—and then blame black people for calling the fire department. Now is the time to hear the alarm bell and douse the flames….”

“Black people are feared, judged and, yes, killed in America today for no legitimate reason. All too often, this discrimination and violence is fed by the unconscious associations we make about black people whom we don’t even know. While we frown on old-fashioned explicit bigotry, our laws have not kept pace with advances in our understanding of the neurocognitive underpinings of ‘implicit bias’. Most of us behave based on stereotypes we do not even realize we are acting on….”

“A 2012 Associated Press poll found that both conscious and unconscious negative attitudes toward blacks have increased, 51 percent and 56 percent respectively, since we elected our first black president in 2008….”

Racial Bias in the US Prison System

The September 2013 issue of Civil Liberties, the national newsletter of the ACLU, includes a short article on “Incarceration’s Cost in Black and White” pertinent to concerns with explicit and implicit bias. Referring to an ACLU report on the topic, The War on Marijuana in Black and White (www.aclu.org/marijuana), the article declares that

“the tactics used to uphold marijuana laws are astoundingly racially biassed, so not only are they unnecessarily congesting the criminal justice system with nonviolent offenders, but they are also alienating people of color and doing little to make our communities safer.”

More generally, these effects mirror

“the entire criminal justice system—it’s racist, it overcriminalizes low-level offenses, it’s ineffective as a deterrent, it’s costly and it has resulted in the US notoriously being the world’s largest jailer.”

The article adds that

“Despite hopes we have entered a ‘post-racial’ era, racial bias infects the criminal justice system at every turn, from discriminatory laws on the books to biased enforcement and unfair sentences. People of color are vastly overrepresented in the criminal justice system. An estimated 32 million Americans—one in nine people—have been subjected to racial profiling, and a shocking one in fifteen black men over age 18 is behind bars. More black people are under correctional control today than were enslaved in 1850.

“Our marijuana report findings underscore this racial bias: across the nation, black people are more than four times more likely to be arrested for possession than their white neighbors despite comparable drug usage. In the worst counties, this disparity grows to as much as 30 times.”

Can any of us honestly declare that we “are totally without bias” in our treatment of other peoples if we are in any way complicit in sustaining judicial, political, economic, social systems that are clearly divisive, violating the principle of equal justice? That, however, seems to be the prominent American way.

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National cathedral held event in honor of LGBT youth

National cathedral held event in honor of LGBT youthBy Patrick Keough, Faith Initiatives Intern at GLAAD | October 7, 2013

natlcath.jogTo commemorate the death of Matthew Shephard, the National Cathedral teamed up with GLAAD to honor LGBT youth on the first weekend in October. The event featured the preimere of the documentary Matt Shepard is a Friend of Mine (view trailer below) and featured a panel which including Shepard’s mother as well as the mother of Tyler Clementi, a Rutgers student who died by suicide after being outed by his roommate.

The event culuminated on Sunday with a special Holy Eucharist given in honor of LGBT youth. The Dean of the Cathedral, the Very Reverend Gary Hall, preached a sermon in which he condemned homophobia as sinful. In a move quite uncharacteristic for us Episcopalians, the sermon was met with applause. In September, GLAAD published a blog post highlighting the event. A video of the service, including Dean Hall’s sermon, can be viewed by clicking HERE. The event is an example of ways in which communities of faith support LGBT individuals. If your interested in more, visit Believe Out Loud by clicking HERE. Believe Out Loud is an online network that empowers Christians to work for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) equality.



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HRC Remembers Matthew Shepard on the 15th Anniversary of His Attack

HRC Remembers Matthew Shepardby The Human Rights Campaign
October 7, 2013 by Maureen McCarty, HRC Senior Digital Strategist

Matthew Shepard

Matthew Shepard

Shortly after midnight on October 7, 1998, Matthew Shepard was attacked in a brutal hate crime in Laramie, Wyoming. Just five days later, on October 12 in Colorado, Matthew, who was just 21-years-old, died with his family by his side.

After more than a decade of advocacy, the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act, a federal law protecting LGBT individuals from against biased crimes, was signed into law by President Barack Obama.

With fifteen years between us and that brutal evening, we’re still reminded daily of the work that remains in the fight to end bigotry and hate: From the gay Mississippi college student who struggles to live as his open and authentic self to a son who is disowned by his mother after coming out to the proliferation of negative messages about being LGBT that teenagers hear from our elected leaders.

It is up to us all – LGBT and allied – to take up the mantle of the movement born in the dark hours following Matthew’s death, and to continue the fight to bring light and love to all corners of America.

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Immigration reform shouldn’t sacrifice human rights, civil rights of U.S. and foreign workers

Immigration reform shouldn’t sacrifice human rights, civil rights of U.S. and foreign workersSouthern Poverty Law Center

72As House Democrats introduced immigration reform legislation this week, the Southern Poverty Law Center urged lawmakers to protect the human and civil rights of vulnerable low-skill workers as they consider ways to bring 11 million immigrants out of the shadows.

“We are encouraged by the efforts of House Democrats to fix the nation’s broken immigration system,” said Naomi Tsu, senior SPLC staff attorney. “We strongly urge lawmakers to keep in mind the health, safety and wages of our nation’s vulnerable low-skill workers – both U.S. and foreign workers – during this reform process.

“We support immigration reform that offers a broad path to citizenship for current and future foreign workers. We are a nation of immigrants – not a nation of guest workers. Foreign workers should have the opportunity to put down roots in the communities they help build.”

Since 2004, the SPLC has represented thousands of guest workers in the United States whose lives have been devastated by unscrupulous employers and foreign labor recruiters who have stolen wages and harassed and retaliated against workers who stand up for their rights. These workers have few options to hold employers accountable.

The SPLC documented the abusive nature of the H-2 federal guest worker program for low-skill workers in its report, Close to Slavery. Despite a handful of modest reforms by the federal government in the past four years, the rampant exploitation of guest workers continues.

“Lawmakers should seize this opportunity to end the second-class treatment of workers,” Tsu said. “Any new worker programs must offer sufficient protections and stronger enforcement provisions that allow workers to hold abusive employers accountable. Reform legislation also must end incentives for foreign labor recruiters to gouge hard-working men and women with excessive recruiting fees instead of helping them achieve the American Dream.”

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Lambda Legal Files Lawsuit Seeking Freedom to Marry for West Virginia Same-Sex Couples

Lambda Legal Files Lawsuit Seeking Freedom to Marry for West Virginia Same-Sex Couples
392_wvLambda Legal
October 1, 2013

Today Lambda Legal filed a federal lawsuit in the US District Court for the Southern District of West Virginia on behalf of three same-sex couples seeking the freedom to marry, and the child of one of the couples. The case was filed on behalf of Casie McGee and Sarah Adkins and Justin Murdock and Will Glavaris, all of Huntington, and Nancy Michael and Jane Fenton and their son Drew, of St. Albans.

Nancy Michael, Lambda Legal plaintiff and a lifelong West Virginian, said:

West Virginia is home for us. Our family is here, our jobs are here, and our community here is a great support for us. Jane and I have been together for 16 years. We live and work together, and we are raising our son, Drew, together. We have done everything we can to protect and take responsibility for our family but we worry all the time that it isn’t enough. We need the protection that marriage affords.

Nancy Michael, 45, and Jane Fenton, 43, have been together for 16 years and their son, Drew, is 6. Of the other plaintiffs, Casie McGee, 30, and Sarah Adkins 32, have been together for more than three years, and Justin Murdock, 32, and William Glavaris, 31, have been together for more than two years.

Beth Littrell, Staff Attorney in Lambda Legal’s Southern Regional Office, said:

Every day that same-sex couples in West Virginia are denied the freedom to marry, the government sends a message that they are second class citizens and their families are not worthy of equal dignity and respect. West Virginia’s state motto “Mountaineers are Always Free” is hollow until all West Virginians—no matter who they love—have the freedom to marry. The fight for the freedom to marry has come south. We do not want a country divided by unfairness and discrimination. Same-sex couples are in loving, committed relationships in every region of our nation and should be treated the same way, whether they live in Maine or West Virginia.

In the lawsuit, Lambda Legal, joined by pro bono co-counsel from Tinney Law Firm and Jenner & Block, argues that West Virginia’s marriage ban unfairly discriminates against same-sex couples and their children and sends a purposeful message that lesbians, gay men, and their children are second-class citizens who are undeserving of the legal sanction, respect, protections, and support that different-sex couples and their families are able to enjoy through marriage.

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State House Committee Passes Prescription Surveillance Bill Hours After Introduction

PA Republicans want less intrusive government but, they want to be in your bedrooms and medicine cabinets.
GOP_Republicans_BedroomPA Republicans want less intrusive government but they want to be in your bedrooms and medicine cabinets.

ACLU PA

HARRISBURG (September 23)- Mere hours after introduction, the Pennsylvania House Human Services Committee passed legislation today to collect data on millions of prescription drug users in the commonwealth. The American Civil Liberties Union of Pennsylvania called House Bill 1694 “woefully inadequate” in protecting Pennsylvanians’ sensitive medical data.

“While there are legitimate public health concerns about prescription drug abuse, this bill goes too far in sacrificing the privacy rights of millions of Pennsylvanians,” said Reggie Shuford, executive director of the ACLU of Pennsylvania. “The privacy of the child who breaks his arm on his bike or who takes attention deficit medication is being sacrificed because someone across town is abusing these substances.”

The ACLU of Pennsylvania cited multiple privacy and consumer protections concerns with the legislation, which was introduced by Representative Matt Baker of Tioga County. Like a previous bill introduced by Representative Gene DiGirolamo, the Baker bill does not require law enforcement to receive approval from a court before obtaining information from the database. The legislation also allows the data to be stored for six years or even permanently, under certain conditions.

“In these days of mass data collection by the NSA, it’s hard to believe that any government official would propose more monitoring of our daily lives,” said Andy Hoover, legislative director of the ACLU of Pennsylvania. “But that’s exactly what this bill is. Without a significant tightening of privacy protections, House members should reject this bill, for the good of their constituents.”

Hoover cited a survey released this month by the Ponemon Institute that found that medical identity fraud increased by 20 percent over the last year and that Americans will spend $12 billion in expenses as a result. According to an NBC News report, experts reacted to the survey results by predicting that medical identity fraud will only increase with the increased use of electronic medical records.

In 2009, a hacker compromised a similar prescription surveillance program in Virginia, exposing the personally identifying information of eight million Virginians.

HB 1694 now heads to the floor of the House for further consideration.

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Gov. Corbett Compares Same-sex Marriage to Incest

Gov. Corbett Compares Same-sex Marriage to Incestl_cupid1200Equality PA Demands Apology from Gov. Corbett after His Remarks Comparing Same-sex Marriage to Incest
Posted on October 4, 2013

On Friday, October 4th Gov. Corbett compared marriage of same-sex couples to the marriage of a brother and sister in a televised interview.

Executive Director of Equality PA released the following statement in response to Gov. Corbett’s comments demanding an apology to all lesbian and gay couples in Pennsylvania:

“Gov. Corbett’s statements are shocking and hurtful to thousands of gay and lesbian couples who are doing the hard work of building strong families all across the commonwealth.

As poll after poll continues to affirm that the majority of Pennsylvanians support allowing same-sex couples to share in the freedom to marry — Gov. Corbett’s comments aren’t simply offensive; they’re out of touch.

We urge Gov. Corbett to immediately apologize for his irresponsible remarks. And we invite him to participate in a conversation with same-sex couples to talk about why marriage matters to all Pennsylvania families.”


mc-corbett-20130905HARRISBURG, Pa. — HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) — Republican Gov. Tom Corbett compared the marriage of same-sex couples to the marriage of a brother and sister during an appearance on a Friday morning TV news show.

The Pennsylvania governor was on WHP-TV in Harrisburg speaking about gay marriage when an anchor asked about a statement his lawyers made in a recent court filing, comparing the marriage of gay couples to the marriage of children because neither can legally marry in the state.

“It was an inappropriate analogy, you know,” Corbett said. “I think a much better analogy would have been brother and sister, don’t you?”

Corbett, a lawyer, former federal prosecutor and state attorney general, also said he does not think a pending legal challenge to Pennsylvania’s ban on same-sex marriage belongs in federal court.

“The Supreme Court left it up to the states to determine under their laws as to what is and isn’t a marriage,” Corbett said. “The federal court shouldn’t even be involved in this. But if they say they are, then they’re going to make a determination whether the state has the right to determine that a marriage is only between a man and a woman and not between two individuals of the same sex.”

Messages left Friday for a Corbett spokesman were not immediately returned.

State attorneys in August included a reference to children in a legal brief involving same-sex couples seeking marriage licenses. In the court filing opposing allowing same-sex couples to intervene in the state’s lawsuit to bar a suburban Philadelphia county from issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples, the lawyers made an analogy to a pair of 12-year-olds, saying if the children were issued a marriage license and tried to defend it in court, they wouldn’t be taken seriously because the license was never valid.

Corbett later rejected that analogy, saying the case revolved around the question of whether a public official had “the authority to disregard state law based on his own personal legal opinion about the constitutionality of a statute.”

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Native Americans in the Susquehanna River Valley

Stories of the Susquehanna Valley

photo.aspxNative Americans in the Susquehanna River Valley, Past and Present
David J. Minderhout

2013
244 pages
$75.00
ISBN 9781611484878
Stories of the Susquehanna Valley

This first volume in the new Stories of the Susquehanna Valley series describes the Native American presence in the Susquehanna River Valley, a key crossroads of the old Eastern Woodlands between the Great Lakes and the Chesapeake Bay in northern Appalachia. Combining archaeology, history, cultural anthropology, and the study of contemporary Native American issues, contributors describe what is known about the Native Americans from their earliest known presence in the valley to the contact era with Europeans. They also explore the subsequent consequences of that contact for Native peoples, including the removal, forced or voluntary, of many from the valley, in what became a chilling prototype for attempted genocide across the continent. Euro-American history asserted that there were no native people left in Pennsylvania (the center of the Susquehanna watershed) after the American Revolution. But with revived Native American cultural consciousness in the late twentieth century, Pennsylvanians of native ancestry began to take pride in and reclaim their heritage. This book also tells their stories, including efforts to revive Native cultures in the watershed, and Native perspectives on its ecological restoration.

While focused on the Susquehanna River Valley, this collection also discusses topics of national significance for Native Americans and those interested in their cultures.

About the author:

David J. Minderhout is Professor Emeritus of Anthropology at Bloomsburg University, Pennsylvania. In addition to his work with Native Americans in Pennsylvania, he has conducted research on creole languages in the southern Caribbean, African American English in the Washington, D.C., public schools, and Pennsylvania German traditional medicine. He is the coauthor of Invisible Indians: Native Americans in Pennsylvania and numerous scholarly articles.

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Immigrant Justice

Immigrant JusticeSouthern Poverty Law Center (SPLC)

Migrant Field Workers

Migrant Field Workers

Immigrants perform some of the hardest, most dangerous jobs in our economy – for the least amount of pay. But they are routinely cheated out of their wages and denied basic protections in the workplace. In their communities, they are subjected to racial profiling and harassment by law enforcement – and frequently forced to prove themselves innocent of immigration violations, regardless of their legal status. And they are, increasingly, targeted for violent hate crimes.

Politicians and media figures have only encouraged this environment by spreading false propaganda that scapegoats immigrants for our nation’s problems and foments resentment and hate against them. This discrimination against immigrants – primarily those from Latin America – constitutes a civil rights crisis.

The Southern Poverty Law Center is working to stop workplace exploitation and other human rights abuses – filing strategic lawsuits, exposing civil rights violations, educating the public and the media, and pressing the federal government to act.

We take on cases that few private lawyers will accept, seeking systemic reforms and representing victims of injustice, like these:

  • Migrant workers who went months without being paid while cleaning up and rebuilding New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina.
  • Welders and pipefitters from India who each paid up to $10,000 for jobs in Gulf Coast shipyards after being told falsely they would gain permanent U.S. residency – only to discover they would be forced into guarded labor camps.
  • A migrant bean picker who saw his life savings confiscated by police during a traffic stop in Alabama, even though he was never charged with a crime.
  • Farmworkers who were routinely cheated out of their pay by a subsidiary of one of America’s largest and best-known food companies.

This type of exploitation is experienced by immigrants and migrant workers every day as they strive for opportunity in a country that welcomes their cheap labor but recoils at their presence and fails to protect their rights.

Reforming the Guestworker Program
The H-2 guestworker program, operated by the U.S. Department of Labor, results in the systematic abuse of foreign workers recruited to work in low-skill, temporary jobs in the United States.

In this program, the employer holds all the cards. Guestworkers frequently must pay exorbitant fees to unscrupulous labor recruiters, leaving them deeply in debt. They are prohibited from changing jobs if they are mistreated, putting them in a situation akin to indentured servitude as they work off their debt. Many are routinely cheated out of their wages. And many are held virtually captive by employers and labor brokers who confiscate their visas and identity documents. Meanwhile, the federal government has utterly failed to uphold their rights.

The SPLC has won justice for thousands of guestworkers and made substantial progress toward reforming this system by filing strategic class action lawsuits against abusive employers.

Since 2004, we have distributed nearly $2 million in settlement money to immigrant workers.

Photo by Sarah P. Reynolds

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New Jersey Court Rules That State Must Allow Gay Marriage

New Jersey Court Rules That State Must Allow Gay MarriageThe New York Times | BREAKING NEWS ALERT | Friday, September 27, 2013

image846234xA New Jersey judge ruled Friday that the state must allow same-sex couples to marry in light of the United States Supreme Court’s decision in June striking down the Defense of Marriage Act.
The ruling makes New Jersey the first state to react to the federal ruling by ordering a change in its laws.

Read More

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Russian sports minister calls anti-LGBT laws an “invented problem”

Russian sports minister calls anti-LGBT laws an “invented problem”08/19/2013 | CBS News | Guardian (London)

175086744The Russian sports minister Vitaly Mutko said in a news conference Sunday that the country’s new anti-LGBT “propaganda” laws will not infringe on the private lives of athletes and spectator during the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi. Mutko called widespread concern about the laws an “invented problem” spread by Western media, and compared homosexuality to substance abuse.

“We want to protect our children whose psyches have not formed from the propaganda of drug use, drunkenness and non-traditional sexual relations,”

Mutko said.


Chief: Anti-gay law seeks ‘to protect’
August 18, 2013 | Associated Press

mutkoMOSCOW — Russia’s law banning gay “propaganda” for minors won’t infringe on the private lives of athletes and spectators at next year’s Winter Olympics in Sochi, the country’s sports minister said Sunday.

But Vitaly Mutko’s comments on the final day of the athletics world championships leave it open as to whether Olympic athletes and fans could be subject to prosecution if they make statements that could be considered propaganda.

In a news conference on Sunday, Mutko appeared to liken homosexual relations to substance abuse.

“We want to protect our children whose psyches have not formed from the propaganda of drug use, drunkenness and non-traditional sexual relations,” Mutko said.

Homosexuality was decriminalized in Russia in 1993 and Mutko, along with other Russian officials, have been at pains to emphasize that the law does not penalize gay orientation or activity.

“I can say once again that the freedoms of Russian and foreign athletes and guests who come to Sochi will be absolutely protected,” Mutko said.

However, the law reflects widespread animosity toward homosexuals in Russian society and its vagueness troubles many. The law penalizes anyone who distributes information aimed at persuading minors that “nontraditional” relationships are normal or attractive, but does not define what would be considered information or distribution.

It appears possible that anyone wearing a rainbow flag on the street or writing about gay relationships on Facebook, for instance, could be accused of “propagandizing.”

The issue attracted attention at the world championships this week when Swedish high jumper Emma Green Tregaro painted her fingernails in the colors of the rainbow to support gays and lesbians.

Green Tregaro’s gesture, which she said was aimed at promoting tolerance, prompted a complaint from Russian pole vault star Yelena Isinbayeva that she was disrespecting Russia.

After officials from the IAAF, the sport’s governing body, said the gesture could be a violation of the competition’s code of conduct, Green Tregaro appeared in Saturday’s final round with red nails.

The law sparked a campaign in the United States to boycott Russian vodkas and calls from activists to boycott the Sochi Olympics. Mutko downplayed the controversy on Sunday.

“In my view, Western media, media outside Russia, give more attention to this than we do in Russia,” Mutko said.

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What to do if you are a LGBTQ Student and Bullied… Infographic

For a lot of LGBTQ students, those perceived to be LGBTQ and the friends of LGBTQ students, bullying is a serious reality. But that doesn’t mean it can’t be stopped. You have a legal right to be who you are and to be safe. If you or any of your friends are bullied, here’s a list of things you can do.

infographic_lgbtq_bullying_final_800

What to Do If You’re LGBTQ and Bullied

Protect yourself with these steps.

  1. Talk to someone you can trust: Friends, parents, a brother or sister. Let people know.
  2. Have a safety plan. Find a new way to walk home from school. Arrange for a ride home. Make sure you have a cell phone or money to make an emergency call.
  3. Write down what’s happening to you: Include details about what exactly happened, who was involved, where and when the incident took place and if there were any witnesses.
  4. Take it to the principal: Counselors and teachers aren’t always legally required to take action against bullying. The principal has more responsibility. Put your reports and complaints in writing, and keep copies of every document you send and receive.
  5. Go to the next level. If your school principal doesn’t respond fast enough, take your complaint to the superintendent or school board.
  6. Use your school’s complaint procedures. Public schools usually receive federal funds. If they do, they’re required by federal law to have complaint procedures.
  7. Tell the police. Serious threats and physical assault are AGAINST THE LAW. If these happen, don’t hesitate to file a report with the police.
  8. You can make an anonymous report. Send an anonymous report to the principal or ask a trusted adult, like a counselor, to tell the principal without using your name. Always keep copies of your reports or reports filed on your behalf. But bear in mind that the school is more likely to have a legal obligation and be able to protect you if top administrators know you have been mistreated.
  9. Report bullying even if you don’t know who the bullies are. It’s important that your principal know that bullying is taking place even if you’re unable to identify the harassers. As always, report incidents in writing, and keep a copy of the report for yourself.
  10. Don’t give up if your school’s first attempts to stop bullying don’t work. Talk to the principal and other adults at school about other ways they can respond.
  11. Contact Lambda Legal if your school does not respond in a helpful way. You can do so at lambdalegal.org/help or by calling 866-542-8336.
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Bucknell’s Multicultural Student Services… EVENTS

Bucknell’s Multicultural Student Services… EVENTSBucknell’s Multicultural Student Services is offering a few events that my be of interest to the BUEC Google Group:

  • Monday, September 23 — “Environmental Racism”: Carol Burnett and Frances Whittington, co-founding members of the DelCo Alliance, a grassroots environmental group in Chester, PA, will share their experiences in fighting environmental hazards in their under-resourced community. Lecture in Hunt Hall from 6 to 8 p.m.
  • Tuesday, September 24 — “Laid to Waste” is a 52-minute documentary that examines the impact of a group of waste processing facilities on the Chester, PA, neighborhood in which they are located. Residents question the repeated selection of their neighborhood as a destination for trash and infectious waste. Film showing from 6 to 7:30 p.m. in the IEA Multipurpose Lounge (ELC 045) on the ground floor of the ELC. The film trailer: http://www.ejnet.org/chester/
  • Monday, September 30 — “Food Justice”: Scholar Dorceta Taylor (University of Michigan) and community organizer Malik Yakini (Detroit Black Community Food Security Network) will present a panel discussion on the topic of food security in Walls Lounge from 6 to 8 p.m.
  • Thursday, October 3 — “Fruitvale Station” is a dramatic film written based on the true story of Oscar Grant, a young man who was killed by BART police officer Johannes Mehserle at the Fruitvale Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) Station in Oakland, CA. Film showing at 7:30 p.m. at the Campus Theatre. Discussion with Professors Dave Ragland (Education) and Anthony Stewart (English) will follow immediately after the film. Presented by the Center for the Study of Race, Ethnicity and Gender, Multicultural Student Services, and the Political Science Department. The film trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ceVVVils8z4


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People of faith calling for employment nondiscrimination

TAKE ACTION: People of faith calling for employment nondiscriminationby Patrick Keough, Faith Initiatives Intern at GLAAD

ENDA-FC-icon-4509 out of 10 Americans are unaware that people can be fired from their job simply for being LGBT. The majority of Americans are shocked because they realize that sexual orientation and gender identity in no way reflect an individual’s job performance. Since 1996, the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA), has been introduced at every session of congress, but has yet to pass. This fall, ENDA will once again come before congress and this time it has a greater chance of passing then in any other previous congressional session.

The bill has garnered 53 senators as co-sponsors and 177 co-sponsors in the House of Representatives. Yet, the amount of congressional support for passing ENDA still does not accurately reflect the views of the majority of Americans. 73% of Americans support ending workplace discrimination. As a body, it is the role of congress to reflect and execute the will of its constituents.

In order to propel congress towards an affirmative vote, faith based groups across the country have organized a telethon. The event, titled “FaithsCalling”, urges people of faith to call their senators on September 17, and tell them to end workplace discrimination by voting yes on ENDA.

One participating group is ReconcilingWorks, a Lutheran group whose goal is to promote the inclusion of LGBT people in the life of the church, Tim Fisher, ReconcilingWorks’ Communication / Legislative Assistant says that callers should tell their senators:

“As a person of faith, I believe that all hardworking people, including transgender, gay, lesbian and bisexual people, should have a fair chance to earn a living and provide for themselves and their families. Nobody should have to live in fear that they can be legally fired for reasons that have nothing to do with their job performance.”

ENDA was passed in committee and now must be passed in the Senate before going to the House of Representatives. President Obama has already said that he supports the bill and if passed, will sign it into law. At GLAAD we recognize that people have a powerful voice in the public sphere and urge and urge all those who wish to end work place discrimination to pick up the phone on September 17, to urge their legislator to help make our society more equitable.

To learn more about the call-in day, you can visit FaithsCalling’s website. For more information on ENDA, visit www.glaad.org/enda.

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Bucknell lecture series ‘Understanding Place’

Understanding PlaceThis semester the Place Studies Initiative of the Bucknell University Environmental Center will host “Understanding Place,” a series of discussions about various concepts we use to define and comprehend “place.”

Everyone is welcome to attend; all talks will take place on Bucknell’s campus in the new Academic West building, room 211.
The talks will begin at noon with a 20-minute opening presentation about a specific concept and then will move on to a discussion.

On Sept. 11, Chris Martine, associate professor of biology, David Burpee Professor in Plant Genetics and Research and Director of the Manning Herbarium, “Rarity”
10/9 – Alf Siewers, associate professor of English and affiliated faculty environmental studies, “Headwaters”
10/23 – Duane Griffin, associate professor of geography, “Natural”
11/6 – Jason Cons, assistant professor of international relations, “Boundary”
11/20 – Clare Hinrichs, professor of rural sociology at Penn State and coordinator of PSU’s rural sociology graduate program, “Local”

If you have questions, please contact Brandn Green, Director of the Place Studies Initiative, at bgreen@bucknell.edu.
To read more about PSI events, visit www.bucknell.edu/psi.

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Congressional Gold Medal Ceremony – Remembering the Birmingham Bombing

Congressional Gold Medal Ceremony
photo450
Friends of Southern Poverty Law Center,

MEMORIALSThis afternoon, I had the privilege of attending the Congressional Gold Medal Ceremony honoring Addie Mae Collins, Denise McNair, Carole Robertson, and Cynthia Wesley (Cynthia Diane Morris) — the four little girls who were killed in the Birmingham church bombing by Klansmen 50 years ago this month.

The ceremony, coming just two weeks after the nation commemorated the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington and Dr. King’s “I Have a Dream” speech, was a poignant reminder that great progress often comes at great cost.

Here at the SPLC, we remember Addie Mae, Denise, Carole, and Cynthia every day because their names are carved in the granite stone of the Civil Rights Memorial in front of our office. And though we take some solace in the fact that we filed a lawsuit that put the Klan group behind the church bombing out of business, we know that much remains to be done.

We honor their memories by serving those in our country who are victims of unfairness, those who are still judged by the color of their skin, rather than the content of their character. Thank you for standing with us and for all that you do to keep Dr. King’s dream alive.

Richard Cohen

Richard Cohen

Sincerely,

Richard Cohen
President, Southern Poverty Law Center

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Pennsylvania’s legal tab to defend gay marriage lawsuit to run $400/hour

outrageThe Morning Call Article By Steve Esack, Call Harrisburg Bureau

mc-corbett-20130905HARRISBURG — Taxpayers will spend $400 an hour — and possibly a lot more — for Gov. Tom Corbett to hire an outside law firm to fight a federal lawsuit challenging the state’s 1996 ban on gay marriage.

The Corbett administration said Thursday it is hiring the law firm of William H. Lamb, a former state Supreme Court justice, because state Attorney General Kathleen Kane withdrew from the lawsuit in July.

Kane’s refusal to handle the case means the state does not have access to the attorney general’s legal expertise on constitutional claims, Pennsylvania General Counsel James Schultz said in a statement.

“The Office of General Counsel provides comprehensive legal services to numerous state agencies and executives, but we do not typically defend cases that solely challenge the constitutionality of a statute,” Schultz said.

In a joint statement, Schultz and Lamb said their job is to defend the state’s Defense of Marriage Act while respecting the interests and dignity of all the parties involved in this case. The law defines marriage as a union between a man and a woman.

“Our mission is to present a thorough legal argument in the hope that a definitive ruling from the court will bring clarity to this issue,” Schultz said.

Lamb will be paid $400 an hour, and associates from his Chester County firm, Lamb McErlane, will earn $325. That does not include the regular salaries taxpayers will also cover for state lawyers to work on the case.

Kane’s first deputy Adrian King Jr. said the rules of professional conduct called for Kane to withdraw from the case because she had a fundamental legal disagreement with her client, the state.

But Kane’s withdrawal does not mean the state lacks qualified in-house attorneys to handle the federal lawsuit, King said. He cited Schultz’s own legal prowess in arguing an antitrust lawsuit against the NCAA and that of one of his top deputies, Gregory Dunlap, who on Wednesday argued a lawsuit in Commonwealth Court to stop a county official from issuing marriage licenses to gay couples.

“We are very surprised [the Office of General Counsel’s] leadership team lacks confidence in its ability to present the governor’s position on gay marriage,” King said.

Schultz’s spokesman, Nils Hagen-Frederiksen, said the attorney general’s office has some of the best constitutional lawyers in the country because they deal with those type of claims more regularly than any other state agency. The Commonwealth Court case Dunlap is involved in is not as complicated as the federal lawsuit that Schultz’s agency now must handle.

Nonsense, King said. It’s not the first time Schultz has hired outside counsel, King said, citing the private lawyers he brought in to help defend the state in a voters rights lawsuit earlier this summer.

Lamb, a Republican, served as Chester County district attorney from 1972 to 1980. He also served as a special prosecutor for the county from 1981-84.

Republican Gov. Mark Schweiker nominated Lamb to serve the remainder of Democratic Chief Justice Stephen Zappala’s term in 2002. Schweiker’s successor, Democratic Gov. Ed Rendell, concurred and Lamb was approved by the state Senate the next year.

“We look forward to offering our insights to this serious constitutional question,” Lamb said. “We are honored to once again have the opportunity to serve the commonwealth.”

On July 9, the American Civil Liberties Union and others filed a federal lawsuit challenging Pennsylvania’s Defense of Marriage Act in U.S. District Court in Harrisburg.

The ACLU’s 53-page complaint claims it is unconstitutional not to recognize same-sex marriages. It cites violations of the equal protection and due process clauses that protect against discrimination and infringement on liberties.

The state has until Sept. 16 to file a legal response to the lawsuit. The court also has set a Sept. 30 meeting to try to establish a time frame for the lawsuit given all the plaintiffs, defendants, lawyers and issues involved in it.

The federal suit is not related to the Commonwealth Court lawsuit Corbett’s administration filed to try to stop a Montgomery County clerk from issuing marriage licenses to gay couples. President Judge Dan Pellegrini is expected to rule on that lawsuit in coming days.

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PA Same-Sex Marriage License Case Heads to Court

r-PENNSYLVANIA-GAY-MARRIAGE-LAWSUIT-large570

A state court hearing in Harrisburg will address the actions of a suburban Philadelphia court clerk who has been handing out marriage licenses to same-sex couples since late July, despite a Pennsylvania law defining marriage as between a man and a woman.

Montgomery County Register of Wills D. Bruce Hanes

Montgomery County Register of Wills D. Bruce Hanes

Oral arguments before Commonwealth Court on Wednesday involve a lawsuit filed by Gov. Tom Corbett’s Health Department against the courthouse official, Montgomery County Register of Wills D. Bruce Hanes. By the close of business Tuesday, Hanes had issued 164 licenses, and 98 of them have been completed, returned and filed.

The Health Department wants the court to stop Hanes, an elected official who handles the licenses in his role as orphan’s court clerk.

In bringing the suit, the Health Department said its role includes making sure marriage registrations are “uniformly and thoroughly enforced throughout the state,” and that Hanes’ actions have interfered with the proper performance of the agency’s powers, duties and responsibilities.

Pennsylvania is the only northeastern state that does not sanction same-sex marriages or have a system of civil unions. Hanes began issuing state marriage licenses after the U.S. Supreme Court threw out portions of the federal Defense of Marriage Act this summer.

A similar scenario is playing out in New Mexico, where a county clerk concluded the law did not prevent him from issuing same-sex licenses, and about a half-dozen others in that state have followed suit.

If the court sides with the Corbett administration, it’s unclear what that will mean to those who have already received a license.

The court has narrowed the topics of the hearing, asking lawyers to address whether they have jurisdiction, given Hanes’ status as a judicial officer; if handing out the licenses is considered a judicial act; and whether Hanes can argue in his own defense that the marriage law is unconstitutional.

Also at issue is what role should be played by Attorney General Kathleen Kane, who said she did not think the law was constitutional. Corbett is a Republican, while Kane and Hanes are both Democrats.

In an exchange of letters over the weekend, lawyers under Corbett asked for and received written approval from Kane to pursue the case, as she had already done in a separate federal challenge to the same-sex marriage law.

Corbett’s lawyers have said Hanes’ actions could create chaos. Hanes has argued there is a conflict between the same-sex marriage ban and his constitutional duties.

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Military Same-Sex Spouses Eligible for Benefits Today (September 3, 2013)

September 3, 2013 by HRC staff

deptdefense_263Today the same-sex spouses of military service members become eligible to receive a range of federal benefits, thanks to a Department of Defense policy change that was announced last month implementing the U.S. Supreme Court ruling striking down a key provision of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA). Starting today, spousal and family benefits will be available to all legally-married military spouses.

“Today the U.S. military is one step closer to righting the wrong of inequality in our armed forces,” said Human Rights Campaign (HRC) president Chad Griffin. “The sacrifices our nation’s gay and lesbian service members and their families make every day should be valued and recognized, and this country owes these heroes every possible measure of support.”

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Petty Officer 2nd Class Jerrel Revel proposes to his boyfriend upon the return to Groton, Conn. of the Virginia-class fast attack submarine New Mexico from a scheduled six-month deployment on Aug. 12, 2013. (Petty Officer 2nd Class Kristina Young | U.S. Navy)

Among the benefits available to same-sex spouses are military I.D. cards, healthcare coverage, housing allowances and survivor benefits. Spouses can claim the entitlements retroactively, going back to the day of the Supreme Court’s DOMA ruling – June 26, 2013. Last month the Pentagon announced another new policy, allowing gay and lesbian service members to take up to 10 days of leave in order to travel to a state where same-sex couples can legally marry. Prior to the Supreme Court ruling, HRC urged former Secretary Leon Panetta and the Pentagon to extend every possible benefit not specifically barred by DOMA to gay and lesbian service members, and HRC continues to push for full equality in the armed forces.

Recently other federal agencies have issued similar rulings or guidance regarding the invalidation of Section 3 of DOMA, including Department of the Treasury, Office of Personnel Management, Department of Health and Human Services, and Department of Homeland Security. Other agencies are expected to announce decisions on how benefits will flow to same-sex couples.

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Lend Labor Day Love to These Striking Workers

Kevin Mathews
Kevin Mathews | care2 | 9/1/2013

The United States Department of Labor heralds Labor Day as a:

“Dedication to the social and economic achievements of American workers. It constitutes a yearly national tribute to the contribution of workers have made to the strength, prosperity, and well-being of our country.”

Funny how we still have a holiday devoted to the labor movement, while modern day politicians and media figures relentlessly try to vilify such organizations. Let’s refuse to buy into this propaganda and continue to support the unions that have pushed for better living and working conditions for all Americans.

Fast Food Workers

The labor dispute gaining the most attention currently is between fast food workers and their management. Unions have organized sporadic strikes at assorted restaurants across the country, including McDonalds, Taco Bells and KFCs, though there are currently mobilization efforts to turn the strike into a nationwide action.

Workers are demanding both the ability to unionize and a living wage. The $200 billion fast food industry is hardly short on profits to pay its employees fairly, but it may require the companies to stop paying their executives more than twice as much in a single day than their average worker makes in a year.

Show your support by signing this petition!

Rebloged from http://www.care2.com

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SPLC lawsuit ends with landmark ruling that is first to decide same-sex spouses’ rights to benefits

tracy_cooper_harris_and_partner_maggie.peg_

Tracy and Maggie

SPLC client Tracy Cooper Harris and partner Maggie after hearing about landmark ruling (Photo: Tracy Cooper Harris)

An SPLC lawsuit has resulted in a historic ruling that has declared unconstitutional sections of a statute that prevented the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) from granting benefits to a disabled veteran and her same-sex spouse.

The case, Cooper-Harris v. USA, is the first to declare that veterans benefits must be provided to a married veteran no matter the sex of the veteran’s spouse. The SPLC brought the case in 2012 on behalf of Tracey Cooper-Harris, a disabled U.S. Army veteran, and her wife, Maggie. The ruling was issued yesterday.

“We asked the court to declare these laws unconstitutional so that the federal government can honor Tracey’s service and Maggie’s sacrifice by providing them the same benefits other married veterans and their spouses routinely receive,” said Caren Short, staff attorney for the SPLC. “Our nation has a proud history of honoring service members and their families for their sacrifices; all who have served honorably must be treated fairly by our government when their service is complete. We are gratified that the court agreed.”

Tracey is a veteran of both Operations Enduring Freedom and Iraqi Freedom. In 2010, she was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis – a disabling disease that attacks the brain and central nervous system, for which there is no known cure. The VA determined her multiple sclerosis, as well as post-traumatic stress disorder, to be connected to her military service. As a result, Tracey receives disability compensation from the VA.

SPLC attorneys asked U.S. District Judge Consuelo B. Marshall on May 17 to block portions of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) and the statute Title 38. Both laws defined “spouse” as “a person of the opposite sex who is a man or a woman.” Title 38 specifically governed veterans benefits, preventing veterans in legal same-sex marriages and their spouses from receiving benefits they would otherwise receive if they were married to someone of a different sex.

The court declared the Title 38 sections unconstitutional, finding there is no military purpose that could justify discriminating against veterans with same-sex spouses. It also found that Title 38 is not rationally related to the military’s commitment to caring for veteran families. The U.S. Supreme Court struck down DOMA in a separate case earlier this year.

Because of the court’s ruling on Title 38, Tracey and Maggie are now eligible for a number of benefits, including additional disability compensation and the right to be buried together in a state or national veterans cemetery. These benefits, and many others, are routinely provided to heterosexual married veterans and their spouses.

The couple is a working-class family on a limited budget. Maggie is an apprentice at an electricians union, and Tracey is a graduate student who only recently got a job with the local VA. As a result of this ruling, the additional benefits earned through Tracey’s years of military service will help offset some of the economic strain resulting from Tracey’s medical condition and enable the couple to pay for measures Tracey’s doctor has recommended to slow the progression of her multiple sclerosis.

“Maggie and I have waited so long to receive the same benefits other married veterans and their spouses receive,” Tracey said. “We are overjoyed that the court has ended the federal government’s discrimination against gay and lesbian veterans and their spouses. Judge Marshall’s ruling confirms that the service of gay and lesbian veterans and the sacrifices of their spouses are valued equally in the eyes of the law.”

The law firm WilmerHale served as co-counsel on the case.

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HHS Announces First Guidance Implementing Supreme Court’s Decision on the Defense of Marriage Act

Posted on August 29, 2013

HHS_Logo

Today, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) issued a memo clarifying that all beneficiaries in private Medicare plans have access to equal coverage when it comes to care in a nursing home where their spouse lives. This is the first guidance issued

by HHS in response to the recent Supreme Court ruling, which held section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act unconstitutional.

“Today, Medicare is ensuring that all beneficiaries will have equal access to coverage in a nursing home where their spouse lives, regardless of their sexual orientation,” said Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) Administrator Marilyn Tavenner. “Prior to this, a beneficiary in a same-sex marriage enrolled in a Medicare Advantage plan did not have equal access to such coverage and, as a result, could have faced time away from his or her spouse or higher costs because of the way that marriage was defined for this purpose.”

Under current law, Medicare beneficiaries enrolled in a Medicare Advantage plan are entitled to care in, among certain other skilled nursing facilities (SNFs), the SNF where their spouse resides (assuming that they have met the conditions for SNF coverage in the first place, and the SNF has agreed to the payment amounts and other terms that apply to a plan network SNF). Seniors with Medicare Advantage previously may have faced the choice of receiving coverage in a nursing home away from their same-sex spouse, or dis-enrolling from the Medicare Advantage plan which would have meant paying more out-of-pocket for care in the same nursing home as their same-sex spouse.

Today’s guidance clarifies that this guarantee of coverage applies equally to all married couples. The guidance specifically clarifies that this guarantee of coverage applies equally to couples who are in a legally recognized same-sex marriage, regardless of where they live.

Questions or Concerns? Contact HHSIEA@hhs.gov.

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Doug Sturm Letter to the Editor of The Daily Item

August 30, 2013
A dream worthy of commitment

Daily Item

Over the past few days, I have been inspired with public events marking the 50th anniversary of the historic March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom (1963). In that connection, I was pleased with your editorial (Aug. 28) remarking on the continuing pertinence of Martin Luther King Jr.s’ “dream.”

However, apart from a one-sentence reference to the latest edition of the National Urban League’s “State of Black America,” your dominant concern seems to be directed toward attitudes of civil rights leaders.

A close study, however, of King’s overall mission reveals that his dominant concern was three-fold: racial and ethnic equality, economic justice for all, and the use of nonviolence as the only acceptable means of resolving conflicts, even on the international scene.

Along with all those who designed the 1963 March, he insisted on the rights of all peoples to full employment, decent wages, affordable housing, adequate education, health care. Moreover, he was, in principle, opposed the employment of all forms of violence, military and otherwise, for any and all purposes, even defensive.

In short, his dream of a “beloved community” called for a radical transformation of the ways in which peoples throughout the world relate to each other. His was a dream not for personal social advancement, nor for personal economic wealth, nor for national power, but for justice. Moreover he viewed this dream as a mission not merely for individual action, but, in addition. for political and economic policy and practice.

Against that measure, it is evident we have fallen far short of the impetus underlying the properly famed March on Washington in 1963 even though it retains its valance as a dream worthy of our full commitment.

Douglas Sturm,

Lewisburg

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IRS Ruling On Same-Sex Marriage Federal Tax Law

IRS-logoTreasury and IRS Announce That All Legal Same-Sex Marriages Will Be Recognized For Federal Tax Purposes; Ruling Provides Certainty, Benefits and Protections Under Federal Tax Law for Same-Sex Married Couples

IR-2013-72, Aug. 29, 2013
 
 

bnewsWASHINGTON — The U.S. Department of the Treasury and the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) today ruled that same-sex couples, legally married in jurisdictions that recognize their marriages, will be treated as married for federal tax purposes. The ruling applies regardless of whether the couple lives in a jurisdiction that recognizes same-sex marriage or a jurisdiction that does not recognize same-sex marriage.

The ruling implements federal tax aspects of the June 26 Supreme Court decision invalidating a key provision of the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act.

Under the ruling, same-sex couples will be treated as married for all federal tax purposes, including income and gift and estate taxes. The ruling applies to all federal tax provisions where marriage is a factor, including filing status, claiming personal and dependency exemptions, taking the standard deduction, employee benefits, contributing to an IRA and claiming the earned income tax credit or child tax credit.

Any same-sex marriage legally entered into in one of the 50 states, the District of Columbia, a U.S. territory or a foreign country will be covered by the ruling. However, the ruling does not apply to registered domestic partnerships, civil unions or similar formal relationships recognized under state law.

Legally-married same-sex couples generally must file their 2013 federal income tax return using either the married filing jointly or married filing separately filing status.

Individuals who were in same-sex marriages may, but are not required to, file original or amended returns choosing to be treated as married for federal tax purposes for one or more prior tax years still open under the statute of limitations.

Generally, the statute of limitations for filing a refund claim is three years from the date the return was filed or two years from the date the tax was paid, whichever is later. As a result, refund claims can still be filed for tax years 2010, 2011 and 2012. Some taxpayers may have special circumstances, such as signing an agreement with the IRS to keep the statute of limitations open, that permit them to file refund claims for tax years 2009 and earlier.

Additionally, employees who purchased same-sex spouse health insurance coverage from their employers on an after-tax basis may treat the amounts paid for that coverage as pre-tax and excludable from income.

How to File a Claim for Refund

Taxpayers who wish to file a refund claim for income taxes should use Form 1040X, Amended U.S. Individual Income Tax Return.

Taxpayers who wish to file a refund claim for gift or estate taxes should file Form 843, Claim for Refund and Request for Abatement. For information on filing an amended return, see Tax Topic 308, Amended Returns, available on IRS.gov, or the Instructions to Forms 1040X and 843. Information on where to file your amended returns is available in the instructions to the form.

Future Guidance

Treasury and the IRS intend to issue streamlined procedures for employers who wish to file refund claims for payroll taxes paid on previously-taxed health insurance and fringe benefits provided to same-sex spouses. Treasury and IRS also intend to issue further guidance on cafeteria plans and on how qualified retirement plans and other tax-favored arrangements should treat same-sex spouses for periods before the effective date of this Revenue Ruling.

Other agencies may provide guidance on other federal programs that they administer that are affected by the Code.

Revenue Ruling 2013-17, along with updated Frequently Asked Questions for same-sex couples and updated FAQs for registered domestic partners and individuals in civil unions, are available today on IRS.gov. See also Publication 555, Community Property.

Treasury and the IRS will begin applying the terms of Revenue Ruling 2013-17 on Sept. 16, 2013, but taxpayers who wish to rely on the terms of the Revenue Ruling for earlier periods may choose to do so, as long as the statute of limitations for the earlier period has not expired.

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Of Turing and Bigotry

Bigotry or “my right to believe what I want, but not you” is irrelevant. If you read this on a computer, you need to thank Alan Turing.
Posted by Shripathi Kamath , June 26, 2012

4afe1cac5ad821e0454dd0fedf69d441Those of you who use the popular search engine Google might have noticed their latest doodle for the Turing machine last week—a tribute to Alan Turing, widely acknowledged as the father of modern computing. Before there were Jobs (or jobs in a discipline known as computer science), and Gates (or gates in silicon), or any of the other household names like that Facebook guy, or even the misplaced ridicule of Al Gore as the putative inventor of the Internet, there was Turing.

2012 is being celebrated as “The Turing Year”, marking the hundred year anniversary of his birth. Born to parents of meager means, he and his brother spent Harry Potteresque lives in foster homes. Only, there was no Hogwart’s. His father worked for the Indian Civil Service, which was a low paying if prestigious government job in British India.

Alan-TuringA brilliant mind even as he entered his teens, he was recommended for specialized education by his school headmaster who figured that a public education was wasted on someone so gifted in the sciences.

Oh, he was also a homosexual, a born one.

So yes, he was a homosexual, and his first crush was a young man by the name of Christopher Morcom, his teenage friend, one who died just as Turing was entering adulthood. Morcom’s death devastated Turing, but also made him more resolute and driven in his scientific pursuits. “My most vivid recollections of Chris are almost entirely of the kind things he said to me sometimes,” he’d recall later in his life. He, as many others who are shattered by a personal loss, struggled, trying to undo what life teaches us we cannot.

He wanted to place immaterial thoughts of the human mind in matter so that they could be immortalized. Thus was sown the seed of replicating the human mind in a machine, the foundation of the computer. Now, bear in mind that even early 20th century science fiction did not envision computers in any modern sense of the world, even if time machines are rather ubiquitous in that genre.

Coincidentally, as Turing was entering adulthood, a power was rising in Germany: Hitler. This is quite the coincidence because about a decade later, Turing would turn out to be responsible for fighting and eventually thwarting Hitler’s Nazis.

It is hard to put a value of Turing’s contributions, but in terms of human lives saved, the bombe was probably Turing’s lasting legacy. By 1938, the German navy had created a hard-to-break cipher (The Enigma Cipher), against which the earlier deciphering devices pioneered by Polish scientists were proving increasingly ineffective. Turing’s bombe code-named Ultra, overcame those limitations, and in the words of Sir Winston Churchill, “It was thanks to Ultra that we won the war.” Not metaphorically, but literally, Turing saved millions of lives.

It was after WW II that Turing advanced the first principles of modern computing, and for what he is now famous for.

But hey, he was still a homosexual, and unfortunately for him, homosexuality was a crime in mid-century Britain, and when Turing professed his homosexuality, he was eventually charged and convicted of ‘indecent behavior’. Cruel irony, when you consider that the charge was a result of a police investigation conducted during a break-in at Turing’s residence!

So what did the great nation of Britain do for someone who indubitably saved millions of lives? Stripped him of his dignity, his secret clearance (because the Soviets were obviously gay magnets <-- sarcasm), and offered him a fair and just choice between prison and chemical castration. Yes, castration, the more severe form of praying away the gay. Turing opted for the latter, but could not endure the effects on the estrogen treatments on his body and mind all that comfortably, and died of cyanide poisoning, likely a suicide. A half-eaten apple was found beside his bed, reminiscent of the wicked queen from Snow White immersing one in poison. The apple was never tested for any poisons. No, Steve Jobs denies using that motif in the logo for his company. In an interview in the late 1970s, when asked about a possible connection, he said "It isn't true, but God, we wish it were". Once, just once, Jobs should not have backed off from taking undue credit. As an aside, I credit myself for doing my part. Having read this, every time you see the Apple logo, you'll be reminded of Turing. The Brits finally got around to apologizing for their deeds (three years ago), but have not yet cleared Turing of his 'sin'. I suppose in a world when the Catholic Church rehabilitates Galileo for being right a few centuries later, does not apologize, and is still hailed as the moral beacon, this should come as no surprise. Bigotry, especially that bred by ignorance, takes a long time to die, or even to kill, because ignorance is still useful for intelligent bigots to inculcate. This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

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Another Letter to the Daily Item

August 20, 2013
Defense of DOMA

Daily Item

I am always suspicious of “organizations” with names like Family Institute, Family Council, Focus on the Family, Family Research (put any word here you like).

Often they appear to be religious right organizations on the fringes of being hate groups (see Southern Poverty Law Center listings of such groups).

Attorney General Kathleen Kane decided to not defend Pennsylvania’s Defense of Marriage Act for a very good reason, which Randall Wenger seems to have missed.

A very similar section of the Federal DOMA was struck down as unconstitutional by the U.S. Supreme Court. California’s Proposition 8 disallowing same-gender marriage was struck down by an appellate court and the Supreme Court refused to overturn that decision.

In reading positions by our esteemed senator and representative, the only rational for denying same-gendered couples equal protection is that they “believe marriage is only between a man and a woman.”

They can believe as they wish, but this is not a rational reason for denying a significant sector of the population basic rights.

Beliefs and majority votes should never deny citizens basic rights given them in the US Constitution.

The religious right rails against government interference only when it suits their “beliefs.” They are very willing to have the government interfere with the privacy and basic rights if it doesn’t suit their beliefs.

They constantly use the Constitution similarly.

I have yet to hear a cogent reason why marriage needs to be defended in response to same-gender marriages. Opposite-sex marriage seem to fail at greater rate in states that do not allow same-gender marriages for wholly unrelated reasons.

David Ambrose,

Lewisburg

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Where Do We Go From Here?

Marian Wright Edelman is President of the Children’s Defense Fund

In a sense we’ve come to our nation’s capital to cash a check. When the architects of our republic wrote the magnificent words of the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence, they were signing a promissory note to which every American was to fall heir. This note was the promise that all men, yes, black men as well as white men, would be guaranteed the ‘unalienable Rights of Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness.’ It is obvious today that America has defaulted on this promissory note insofar as her citizens of color are concerned. Instead of honoring this sacred obligation, America has given the Negro people a bad check, a check which has come back marked ‘insufficient funds.’ But we refuse to believe that the bank of justice is bankrupt. We refuse to believe that there are insufficient funds in the great vaults of opportunity of this nation.

–Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., address at the March on Washington, August 28, 1963

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Marian Wright Edelman

As the nation celebrates the fiftieth anniversary of the March on Washington, many are discussing what Dr. King would say to the nation and world today and tell us to do. But his message to us today is as clear as it was fifty years ago if only we could hear, heed, and follow his warnings about what we need to do to make America America.

Just as Biblical Old and New Testament prophets were rejected, scorned, and dishonored in their own land in their times, so was Dr. King by many when he walked and worked among us. Now that he is dead, many Americans remember him warmly but have sanitized and trivialized his message and life. They remember Dr. King the great orator but not Dr. King the disturber of unjust peace. They applaud the Dr. King who opposed violence but not the Dr. King who called for massive nonviolent demonstrations to end war and poverty in our national and world house. They recite the “I Have a Dream” part of his August 1963 speech but ignore its main metaphor of the promissory note still bouncing at America’s bank of justice, waiting to be cashed by millions of poor and minority citizens. And while we love to celebrate his dream and great oratorical skills, we ignore his fears and repeated warnings about America’s misguided priorities and values. He worried that we were missing God’s opportunity to become a great and just nation by sharing our enormous riches with the poor and overcoming what he called the “giant triplets” of racism, materialism, and militarism.

In his last Sunday sermon at Washington National Cathedral, Dr. King retold the parable of the rich man Dives who ignored the poor and sick man Lazarus who came every day seeking crumbs from Dives’ table. Dives did nothing. Dives went to hell, Dr. King said, not because he was rich but because he did not realize his wealth was his opportunity to bridge the gulf separating him from his brother and allowed Lazarus to become invisible. He warned this could happen to rich America, “if we don’t use her vast resources to end poverty and make it possible for all of God’s children to have the basic necessities of life.”

At Dr. King’s death in 1968 when he was calling for a Poor People’s Campaign there were 25.4 million poor Americans, including 11 million poor children, and our Gross Domestic Product (GDP) was $4.13 trillion. Today there are 46.2 million poor people, including 16.1 million poor children, almost half living in extreme poverty, and our GDP is three times larger, and shamefully the younger children are the poorer they are. One in three Black and Latino children are poor. National wealth and income inequality are at near record levels while hunger, homelessness, illiteracy, fear, and hopelessness stalk millions of children and adults across our land who have been left behind in our economy. Isn’t it time to ask ourselves again with urgency whether America is missing once again the great opportunity and mandate God has given us to be a beacon of hope and justice for the least among us, beginning with our children, who are the poorest Americans?

The day he was assassinated in Memphis Dr. King called his mother to give her the title of his next Sunday’s sermon. It was “Why America May Go to Hell.” In his 1967 book Where Do We Go From Here: Chaos or Community?, Dr. King stated that America hadn’t yet committed to paying the real price—in actual dollars and cents—of equality: “The practical cost of change for the nation up to this point has been cheap. The limited reforms have been obtained at bargain rates. There are no expenses, and no taxes required, for Negroes to share lunch counters, libraries, parks, hotels, and other facilities with whites.” But, he said, “the real cost lies ahead . . . The discount education given Negroes will in the future have to be purchased at full price if quality education is to be realized. Jobs are harder and costlier to create than voting rolls. The eradication of slums housing millions is far beyond integrating lunch counters.” He said the price would be great but so would the rewards. It would all come down to our will: “The great majority of Americans…are uneasy with injustice but unwilling yet to pay a significant price to eradicate it.” That is the overarching issue our nation and every citizen must face today as we leave millions of children unprepared to become the competitive workers and military, education, economic, and diplomatic leaders of tomorrow.

In his last week of life Dr. King said to a group of close friends: “We fought hard and long, and I have never doubted that we would prevail in this struggle. Already our rewards have begun to reveal themselves. Desegregation…the Voting Rights Act…But what deeply troubles me now is that for all the steps we’ve taken toward integration, I’ve come to believe that we are integrating into a burning house.” “What would you have us do?” one shocked friend asked. Dr. King answered: “I guess we’re just going to have to become firemen.”

Dr. King knew then as we must know or learn today that our work was not done and that the successes of the Civil Rights Movement and integration were not alone doorways into a Promised Land. We were gaining access to a society riddled with poverty, inequality, violence, militarism, materialism, and greed. Dr. King made it very clear that he saw America and the world at a dangerous crossroads. A Civil Rights Movement stalled short of true equality without a parallel opening up of economic opportunity. Poverty at home and around the world that led Dr. King to call for nothing less than a national and worldwide revolution of values:

“When machines and computers, profit motives and property rights are considered more important than people, the giant triplets of racism, materialism, and militarism are incapable of being conquered. A civilization can flounder as readily in the face of moral and spiritual bankruptcy as it can through financial bankruptcy . . . A true revolution of values will soon cause us to question the fairness and justice of many of our past and present policies. We are called to play the Good Samaritan on life’s roadside; but that will only be an initial act. One day the whole Jericho road must be transformed so that men and women will not be beaten and robbed as they make their journey through life.”

In our nation and world desperately hungering for moral example, change, and hope and leaders who put national and community good ahead of personal and political gain, Dr. King gave Americans a special charge: “A nation that continues year after year to spend more money on military defense than on programs of social uplift is approaching spiritual death. America, the richest and most powerful nation in the world, can well lead the way in this revolution of values . . . There is nothing except shortsightedness to prevent us from guaranteeing an annual minimum—and livable—income for every American family. There is nothing, except a tragic death wish, to prevent us from reordering our priorities, so the pursuit of peace will take precedence over the pursuit of war. There is nothing to keep us from remolding a recalcitrant status quo with bruised hands until we have fashioned it into a brotherhood”—and sisterhood.

Fifty years later we must not give up on building a just America that ensures a level playing field for every child and person. We must not let anyone tell us that our rich nation’s vaults of justice and opportunity are bankrupt. And we must not tolerate any longer any resistance to creating jobs, jobs, jobs which pay enough to escape poverty, public and private sector, and providing the education and early childhood development supports every human being needs to survive and thrive. I hope we will commit ourselves on this fiftieth anniversary to building and sustaining a powerful transforming nonviolent movement to help America live up to its promises and forge the will to translate America’s dream into reality for all. Let’s honor Dr. King and save America’s future and soul by hearing, heeding, and following our greatest American prophet.

Click here to share your comments and find out what others are saying.

Marian Wright Edelman 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.

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Doug Sturm for CARE on the 50th Anniversary of The March on Washington

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March on Washington for Jobs & Freedom (1963):

Its Continuing Significance Half a Century Later

Douglas Sturm

Fifty years ago, some 300,000 people from across America marched in the nation’s capital with determination yet demonstrable joy from the Washington Monument to the Lincoln Memorial–marking one of the key events in the modern civil rights struggle. Taken in its particular historical context, it is usually viewed, not improperly, as a force leading to the critical Civil Rights Act of 1964. As such, however, its more radical significance has been too often neglected.

The civil rights leaders calling for and organizing this dramatic happening were A. Philip Randolph (President of the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters and Vice President of the AFL-CIO), Martin Luther King, Jr. (President of the Southern Christian Leadership Council), and Bayard Rustin (activist leader in both the Fellowship of Reconciliation and the Congress on Racial Equality).

Twenty one years earlier (1941), as the United States was on the cusp of entering World War II, Randolph, with the collaboration of Rustin, had called for such a massive march by African-Americans to demand the full desegregation of both the armed services and war industries. In response, President Franklin D. Roosevelt, fearful of the prospect of that kind of demonstration, immediately outlawed discrimination in defense contracts on his own. While that action deterred the march, Randolph retained his yearning for full economic equality among black citizens, indeed among all citizens of America.

Subsequently, in 1962, as the “Freedom Movement” beginning in the fifties had expanded its activities—through sit-ins, freedom rides, local marches, demonstrations—Randolph instructed Rustin to prepare detailed plans for a large march on Washington focussed specifically on job discrimination. Very shortly thereafter in the Spring of 1963, during the notorious SCLC Birmingham campaign, Martin Luther King, Jr., declared, “We shall need a mass protest…to unite in one luminous action all of the forces along the far flung front.”

At that point, Randolph, Rustin, and King collaborated in a plan leading to the event in August. They brought together leaders of other black activist groups—the press naming them as the “Big Six”–who met strong resistance from President John F. Kennedy when they met with him about their intent. But they remained undaunted in their determination.

The Big Six, not without serious differences among themselves, nonetheless joined in framing a singular set of ten demands as the overarching goal of the march, ranging from effective civil rights legislation and banning racial discrimination in all federally supported housing to guaranteed jobs for all citizens with a living wage, and an end to discrimination in and by governments at all levels—federal, state, and municipal. In short, the aim of the March melded together concerns for racial justice and economic justice in its drive not merely for an end to racial discrimination, but toward genuine and full fledged equality in the economic sphere as the genuine meaning of democratic citizenship. It was therefore called “The March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom.”

Reluctantly, the Kennedy administration supported the March, but stipulated conditions to forestall potential disorder: the march must occur on a weekday; it must begin and end during daylight hours; only approved signs can be displayed; liquor stores and bars are to close; federal employees are permitted to remain home; hospitals were required to be on alert in case of violent clashes.

The event itself, by far the largest mass demonstration in the capitol’s history to that point, belied the President’s fears. While wildly enthusiastic, the marchers were overall peaceful and orderly. About 75% were people of color from all sectors of the nation. In its day-long program, speeches—each limited to less than 10 minutes–were interspersed with musical renditions by well-known artists, appearances by notables, and also energetic singing of the anthems and hymns of the civil rights movement by all those gathered .

As well recognized, the most notable moment of the event was its final speech, Martin Luther King Jr’s “I Have a Dream” address. King’s rhetorical style was unsurpassed. In its articulation of the sufferings of people of color, the unmet promises of American democracy, his vision of a thoroughly just and humane future, and the urgency of full-fledged social change, his address inspired the hundreds of thousands who heard him, unifying them in their determination to make equal freedom a reality for each and all. He invoked the words of the Declaration of Independence and of the ancient Hebrew prophet, Amos, to legitimate his call.

Among phrases repeatedly quoted from King’s address over subsequent decades most gave voice to a dream of racial harmony, e.g., “I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character….I have a dream that one day in Alabama…little black boys and black girls will be able to join hands with little white boys and white girls as sisters and brothers.” In sum, King’s address together with the March itself have been popularly construed as an insistence on the need to surmount the strictures and miseries of racial discrimination. As a consequence, the demand for full and inclusive economic justice with which the originators of the March were equally concerned. has been largely ignored or dismissed.

Unfortunately, this diminishment of the fully radical significance of the March has been echoed, as well, in a narrowing of the overall mission of Martin Luther King, Jr. That King, along with many others, occupied a dominant role in transforming the shape of racial divisions in the United States during the civil rights struggle is to be granted. The Civil Rights Acts of 1964 and 1965 testify to that. However, his overall dream was far more extensive in its reach; it entailed no less than an extensive revolution of human relations—social, economic, and political—across the entire world.
King often cited the “triple evils” that beleaguer the world of his time (and ours): racism, poverty, and violence. On the issue of poverty, he proposed, unsuccessfully, that the 1964 platform of the Democratic Party adopt an extensive Bill of Rights for the Disadvantaged including the right of all to full employment, advanced education, decent income, affordable housing, health care—all as a matter of plain justice. Later he launched a Chicago campaign focused on housing, employment, and education. In 1967, King initiated plans for a Poor People’s Campaign, entailing once again a massive march on Washington, this time by all suffering the indignities of poverty whatever their racial heritage. Because of his assassination in April 1968, King was deprived of participating in that march, but it nonetheless occurred, despite his tragic death, in August of that year.

On the issue of violence, King long opposed our nation’s deep engagement in the war against North Vietnam. Despite efforts by others in the Civil Rights Struggle to deter King from expressing his opposition to the war in the public forum as detracting from that struggle, he nonetheless did so in a lengthy address, “A Time to Break Silence,” in New York City (April 1967), affirming that racism and the Vietnam War were inextricably linked. Indeed, not to be neglected in representing King’s mission is his unqualified commitment to nonviolence as the only morally acceptable method of resolving conflict in all arenas of human interaction, personal and political.

In sum, in King’s mind, racial equality, economic justice, and peaceable relations constitute essential qualities of the “beloved community”–a concept he constantly invoked over the years as the overarching vocation of all our endeavors. The “beloved community,” I suggest, is the centerpiece of his overall dream—his vision of a new tomorrow for the United States, even more, for the world. And, I propose, it is indicative of the continuing significance of the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom in 1963. In celebrating that March now in 2013, we are called to recommit ourselves to that encompassing dream. May it come to be.

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Bucknell University’s Film/Media Center Studies Series

Each semester, as part of Bucknell University’s Film/Media Studies
Series, the Environmental Center presents four films with topics that
are broadly connected to the environment at the Campus Theatre in
downtown Lewisburg. Admission is $2 per person, and Campus Dollars are
accepted. This year, CARE (Community Alliance for Respect & Equality) and the CommUnity Zone are co sponsoring the following film.

Tues., Sept. 17, @ 7:30 p.m. — “In My Lifetime: A Presentation of
The Nuclear World Project” (2011) The filmmaker, Robert Frye, will be
on hand for this screening.

Reviewed by Andrew Jenks, California State University, Long Beach

nucPeople often say we live in the “nuclear age,” but what that means is never entirely clear. This documentary captures the spirit, or rather spirits, of that era – from its beginnings in Hiroshima and Nagasaki to the present. Inspired by the late Cold War, when Mikhail Gorbachev and Ronald Reagan initiated a process of disarmament in Iceland in 1986, the producer hopes to make viewers believe that eliminating nuclear weapons can happen – despite the growing fatalism and relative inattention to the problem in the post-Cold War era. Indeed, what seemed like a great opportunity for disarmament – the end of the Cold War – ushered in a new era of proliferation (North Korea and Pakistan). And even as the real threat had arguably grown, the perception of that threat since the Cold War’s end paradoxically diminished. My own in-class surveys bear this out: I begin most of my classes by asking students how many fear the possibility of nuclear annihilation. In contrast to my own student experience in the early 1980s, when most of us periodically imagined the terrifying prospect of the mushroom cloud, few hands go up.

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6-Year-Old Sells Lemonade to Spread Love, Becomes Global Event

3034470.largeIn class discussions, my students often bring up the Westboro Baptist Church as an example of the epitome of hate and the opposite of tolerance. When I told them last year about the Equality House, a rainbow-painted LGBTQ resource center across the street from the WBC compound in Topeka, Kansas, they all but cheered. They thought it was so cool that a group could so outwardly combat the WBC’s messages of hate with peace, love and tolerance.

Unfortunately, school ended before I could tell them about Jayden Sink, the 6-year-old girl who started a pink lemonade stand outside of the Equality House and decided to donate all of the money toward Planting Peace, the group behind the Equality house. Cute, right?

Amazingly, this lemonade stand became much more than cute. As of June 18, she had raised $15,000. Her campaign went viral, she was named one of MSNBC’s Melissa Harris-Perry’s “Foot Soldiers of the Week,” and her last lemonade stand of the season — set up on August 10 – became a global event. More than 70 kids signed up to set up lemonade stands around the world, and all of them promised to donate their funds to Planting Peace’s anti-bullying initiatives.

According to CrowdRise, the site Jayden used to fundraise, Jayden and her pink lemonade posse were able to raise $25,265. Though that is a few thousand dollars short of her $30,000 goal (and you can still donate via the website to help her reach it), the results of her fundraising are nothing short of incredible.

Jayden told the Huffington Post: “We’re giving [the money] to the rainbow house to help people who are sick, and to help people be nice to each other.” How wonderful is that? This whole thing started with a child who didn’t understand how people like the members of the WBC could hate other people. She asked her parents about it, and they told her what was going on, and she wanted to find a simple way to help. Her lemonade stand was so popular that she was able to raise more money than I made yearly at my first full-time teaching job in a matter of months, all because she wanted to spread love and peace and make the world a better place.

Though it is a simple goal and a simple message, there are a few things about this story that warm my heart and give me hope for humanity. First, it took some great parents to explain to their 6-year-old daughter about hate, love and LGBTQ rights. Second, it takes an awesome 6-year-old to come up with an idea to make a difference and follow through with that plan. Third, it takes a stellar community — both local and global — to donate money to make sure not only that a little girl can reach her goals, but that Planting Peace and the Equality House can continue to do their great and important work.

Take that, Westboro Baptist Church!

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National Organization for Marriage (NOM) Facing Ethics Investigation in Iowa

August 9, 2013 by Dan Rafter, HRC Online Campaigns Manager

nomexposed_blogThe Iowa Ethics & Campaign Disclosure Board is looking into whether the anti-gay National Organization for Marriage (NOM) violated state law by refusing to disclose the identities of its donors during its efforts to oust state Supreme Court justices in 2010 and 2012. NOM launched an aggressive campaign to interfere with the state’s independent judiciary in response to a 2009 unanimous ruling finding a ban on marriage equality in Iowa unconstitutional.

Specifically, NOM sent an email in September 2012 soliciting money to oust Justice David Wiggins. According to the Des Moines Register, NOM claims it is not required to release the names of donors who gave via phone or email. But the Iowa Ethics & Campaign Disclosure Board’s director says that’s just not true.

“This is just the latest example of how NOM doesn’t believe laws apply to them,” said Human Rights Campaign (HRC) Vice President of Communications Fred Sainz. “NOM has a penchant for portraying themselves as a grassroots organization, but their own tax returns tell a different story. Brian Brown and his anti-gay cohorts went into Iowa with the goal of intimidating justices all across the country, and they did so with a reckless disregard for state law. We welcome this investigation and look forward to seeing the truth about NOM’s ongoing attempts to conceal their few, well-coiffed extremist donors again brought to light.”

The investigation follows a complaint brought by Fred Karger earlier this year. Karger is an equality advocate with a long history of taking on NOM. HRC invested $145,000 in the successful effort to retain Justice David Wiggins in 2012.

In May, the Maine Supreme Judicial Court ruled that NOM must comply with subpoenas issued by the state’s Commission on Governmental Ethics and Election Practices demanding information from NOM and its president, Brian Brown, including the names of donors. Maine authorities allege that, in 2009, NOM violated the state’s campaign finance laws by failing to disclose contributors to its ballot measure efforts.

More information about NOM’s anti-equality work is available at NOM Exposed


Top NOM Staffer Abruptly Ends Radio Interview

On the day that the Supreme Court rulings came down, NOM’s Comm. Director, Thomas Peters, went on KABC radio’s “McIntyre in the Morning,” where he wanted to talk about marriage and how it is supposedly about kids. But then, when host Doug McIntyre raises a 100% fair and focused point based around the information that Thomas had just presented to him, Thomas just, well, um—listen for yourself. It is almost too unbelievable for words:

Aspiring pundits, this is an example of what not to do during an interview. Seriously. Media trainers should use it to teach class.

And we should also note that the interviewer wasn’t even in gay activism mode. I mean, he even said he personally believes hetero-headed homes are better! His pushback was straightforward (in more ways than one) and mild. But Thomas, breathless already, just didn’t want to to hear someone challenge his talking points. And that, my friends, is precisely why his side loses in court.

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Gay Minnesota Teen Hangs Self in Response to Anti-Gay Bullying

Unfinished Lives

Remembering LGBT Hate Crime Victims

Justin Aaberg, 15, courtesy of his mother, Tammy

Anoka-Hennepin School District, Minnesota – A 15-year-old gay teen hanged himself after being continually hounded for his sexuality on July 9.  The story of Justin Aaberg, which was regional before the explosion in national consciousness on gay teen suicide in public schools and universities, has grabbed the country’s attention.  His mother Tammy Aaberg describes her son as “a very sweet boy who seemed to always have a smile on his face; he didn’t have a mean bone in his body…He was always a shoulder [friends] could cry on and would help them with their problems. He was also an extremely good cello player who even composed a few of his own songs.”  Justin was a student at Anoka High School, and a member of the school orchestra.  His mom told WCCO in Anoka, the CBS affiliate, “I actually thought he had the perfect life. I thought out of anybody I knew that he had the perfect life.  But I guess he didn’t think so.”  She found his lifeless body hanging in his room.  Justin’s friends related to her how severely he was harassed by anti-gay bullies in school, and how he had recenctly broken up with his boyfriend from the stresses he was facing. Mrs. Aaberg testified to the Anoka-Hennepin School Board that her son was harassed mercilessly by bullies at Anoka High School because of his sexual orientation.   “I’m not asking you to accept this as a lifestyle for you,” she told the Board according to The Colu.mn, an LGBT online newspaper in Minnesota. “I’m only asking that you please make the school safe for GLBT students still alive and in this district today they are people just like us and deserve to be treated like the rest of us. Suicide should not feel like the only way to take away the pain and shame.”  Mrs. Aaberg has been joined by Minnesota LGBTQ activists who are calling for the school district, the largest in the United States, to change its policies explicitly to protect students who are members of the sexual minority.  As EDGE reports, the district is finding it hard to deny there is a problem for its LGBTQ students, since this past year there were two other LGBTQ teen suicides in area schools in addition to Justin, besides the scandal of two district teachers who conspired to torment a teen because they knew he was gay.  The district has defended its responses as adequate, and tauted its “neutrality” policy that mandates no one in the employ of the schools will speak in favor or in opposition to the “LGBT lifestyle.”  Gay Equity Team members have criticized district officials for a policy of “neutrality” they believe is in place because of the conservative, disapproving attitudes of politically powerful citizens who loathe gay people.  Officials admit that their vaunted policy is hardly neutral when it comes to LGBTQ teens and their orientation.  The Minnesota Independent reports that Dale Schuster, a former student of the district, criticized the way district policy speaks openly their support of heterosexuality and opposite sex marriage, but only remains mum when gay concerns are at stake. “There is no way to be neutral on this issue, he said. “Either we support the GLBT students as we do their straight peers or we don’t. It’s impossible to explain why hateful rhetoric is wrong with a neutrality policy in place.  How do you stop the anti-gay rhetoric without explaining why it’s wrong in the first place?” Drawing a bead squarely at the School Board, Schuster added, “The time to remain neutral while our GLBT students are taking their own lives needs to end.”  Tammy Aaberg agrees that the policy of the School Board contributed to the death of her son, and she is not going to rest until the policy changes for the better, so that LGBTQ students like Justin can be safe at school, and no other family will have to endure the loss hers has faced because of unreasoning hatred and harassment.

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Study: Gay and lesbian teachers fear retaliation in face of homophobia at school

Thursday, August 1, 2013 – 2:48pm by Hannah Kreider, Faith Initiatives Intern at GLAAD

A recent study shows that teachers that identify as gay or lesbian are actually less likely to challenge homophobic language and behavior in the classroom and break room because of the fear of unwanted attention being brought to their sexual orientation.

Dr. Tiffany Wright of Millersville University in Pennsylvania surveyed 350 educators and administrators about how they deal with homophobic incidents at their schools. Many that were interviewed expressed that they did not feel comfortable coming out at school, with 62 percent reporting that they feared losing their jobs. Administrators were found to be particularly reluctant to come out as gay.

59 percent said that they had heard homophobic language in the staff room at work, and subsequently two-thirds reported that they have rarely or never seen other teachers intervene when such language is being used. Around half of gay teachers reported that they didn’t intervene or challenge homophobic language when they encountered it.

Wright emphasized that the people being interviewed grew up in an era where being called gay meant that you were bad. She even cited a situation she encountered in her teaching career where a teacher used the phrase, “this is so gay,” to mean, “this is so stupid.”

The study follows extensive research in the UK that aimed to stamp out homophobia in the educational environment, and these findings are significant in the effort to end bullying.

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Pennsylvania’s Largest Employer Changes Policies

equalitypaA letter from Ted Martin of Equality Pennsylvania to Members

Greg had worked at UPMC (University of Pittsburgh Medical Center) for years when his partner got sick and needed surgery. And he was heartbroken when UPMC denied his request to take leave to care for his partner of 17 years.

When he reached out to us to tell his story, Greg didn’t expect us to spring into action. But we immediately reached out to UPMC to learn more about their family leave policy.

After we alerted them to the hurtful gaps in their leave policy, the UPMC team immediately got to work examining all their policies and updating them to ensure that committed same-sex couples were given the same measure of protection as all families.

As the largest employer in the state, UPMC is often a leader in creating an inclusive workplace for all its employees. Their new family leave policy is one of several steps they’ve taken to ensure that UPMC is a safe and welcoming place for LGBT people.

But UPMC’s commitment to fairness and equality isn’t confined to their walls. They’ve also pledged their support to HB/SB300, the bill to protect LGBT people from discrimination in employment, housing, and public accommodations.

UPMC is sending a clear message to our lawmakers: we believe in treating all people fairly and equally. It’s time Pennsylvania laws protect all its citizens.

Thanks for supporting Equality PA. It’s because of folks like you that we’re creating real change in Pennsylvania.

Ted Martin
Executive Director
Equality Pennsylvania

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CARE Thanks Susquehanna Valley United Way

careheading PO Box 250 | Lewisburg | Pennsylvania | 17837

July 24, 2013

Greater Susquehanna Valley United Way
Keri Albright, CEO
335 Market Street
Sunbury, PA 17801

Dear Ms. Albright,

We write to commend The Greater Susquehanna Valley United Way, under your leadership, for its courage, compassion and advocacy for the many diverse groups in this area. We are particularly citing the article that appeared in The Daily Item dated June 19, 2013, Boy Scouts and The United Way’s Response To Funding Cuts, with its eloquent statement, “When we think about the kids who have been alienated by policies, it’s just not something the United Way wants to associate with or support.” We thank you and your organization for taking a stand against blatant discrimination faced by gay individuals in our community.

We admire the United Way’s focus on education, income and health. Your organization looks to create a better life for all, with an appreciation for the diversity of the human experience. The Community Alliance for Respect and Equality (CARE) shares The United Way’s goal of educating the community to embrace diversity and reduce discrimination through respect and equality for all (http://www.care4diversity.org/).

Once again, we extend our gratitude to you and your organization for such an outstanding act of principled decision making about resource distribution in the community. The world benefits from leaders like you who stand up against social injustice. Thank you!

Respectfully yours,
CARE Steering Committee Members

David Ambrose
Coralynn Davis
Dave Deibler-Gorman
Ann Longanbach
Iris Rifkin-Gainer
Cindy Peltier
Margie Torres

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Seneca Falls Convention Anniversary

July 19-20, 2013 marks the 165th anniversary of the Seneca Falls Convention.
Elizabeth MacNamara, President of the LWVUS, wrote this blog in honor of that anniversary. Janice

“We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men
and women are created equal.”

–Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Declaration of Sentiments, Seneca Falls Convention

stampOne-hundred sixty-five years ago this week on July 19-20 1848, 300 women and men met in Seneca Falls, New York, to discuss “the social, civil and religious condition and rights of Woman.” The gathering, called the Seneca Falls Convention, produced one of the nation’s most important historical documents advocating women’s rights – the monumental “Declaration of Sentiments” – planting the seed for the fight for women’s suffrage in America, and indirectly for the formation of the League of Women Voters, which would later champion the issue.

Written primarily by Elizabeth Cady Stanton, the Declaration of Sentiments parodies the Declaration of Independence, which Congress had passed over 70 years earlier. But instead of arguing for America’s freedom from the “tyranny” of British control, the Declaration of Sentiments argues for women’s freedom from the “tyranny” of patriarchy. Whereas the Founding Fathers wrote in the Declaration of Independence that it is self-evident that “all men are created equal,” the Declaration of Sentiments boldly asserts that “all men and women” are equal. The document points out the “patient sufferance” not of “men” or “mankind,” but of American women, who were oppressed by an undemocratic government that failed to allow them to possess property rights, speak in public, file for divorce, manage their own wages and attend college.

The most controversial part of the Declaration of Sentiments, which delineated 11 resolutions on women’s rights, was its call for the right to vote for women. Even among women’s rights leaders, the notion of women’s suffrage was perceived as deeply controversial at the time. Elizabeth Cady Stanton’s husband, Henry, refused to continue helping her draft the Declaration if she included women’s suffrage, believing the addition would put the rest of the document in jeopardy. Even Lucretia Mott, who organized the Seneca Falls Convention with Stanton, begged Stanton not to include women’s suffrageamong the resolutions. “Why, Lizzie, thee will make us ridiculous!” Mott worried. But Cady Stanton refused to back down. “I persisted,” she later wrote, “for I saw clearly that the power to make the laws was the right through which all other rights could be secured.”

Mott and Henry’s fears were almost proven correct when the time came to vote upon passage of the Declaration of Sentiments on the second day of the convention, July 20, 1848. All 11 resolutions were unanimously passed with the exception of the resolution on suffrage, which produced a long and heated debate. But following a moving speech made by abolitionist Frederick Douglass, the convention agreed to pass the resolution.

The Seneca Falls Convention thereby resulted in the first formal demand for women’s suffrage in America. The convention laid the framework for the women’s suffrage movement, also leading to the founding of the National American Woman Suffrage Association (NAWSA) in 1890. The NAWSA championed the successful passage of the 19th amendment granting women the right to vote in 1919, followed by the formation of the League of Women Voters by Carrie Chapman Catt in 1920.

Today, the League honors the women and men who gathered in New York 165 years ago in efforts to end barriers that denied American citizens their rights and equality. The anniversary of the Seneca Falls Convention reminds us of the power of activism and mobilization — that even a small group of people can join together to create a transformative mass movement.

“We do not expect [that] our path will be strewn with the flowers of popular applause, ” Stanton stated in her address to the Seneca Falls Convention on July 19, 1848, “…but our banners will beat the dark storm.” Today, these words ring true for the men and women inour 800 state and local Leagues across the country who – like those of the Seneca Falls Convention- tirelessly fight against obstacles in the path to securing democracy and equality for all.

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Helen Nunn’s Letter to the Editor of The Daily Item

Published July 17, 2013

The time is now

— Sputtering, I left the breakfast table on Thursday morning after reading the paper’s editorial instructing me to sit back and wait. After all, momentum is on my side for same-gender marriage to — someday — arrive at my Pennsylvania doorstep! I have waited a lifetime already and that doesn’t count the fruitless waiting of those who came before me and who, each passing day, lose the time to wait any longer for “giving peace a chance”.

Borrowing from Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., “The time is always right to do what is right.” On the issue of same-gender marriage, the time is now.

I am proud of the ACLU’s action on behalf of what is right. I applaud our Attorney General Kathleen Kane for standing up for what is right. Let’s move forward and let’s do it now!

Helen Nunn

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Doug Sturm’s Letter to The Editor of The Daily Item

Published in The Daily Item on 7/14/2013

I was deeply offended by your editorial, “ACLU needs to give peace a chance” (July 11) for two reasons.

First, the editorial declares that the ACLU in its current legal action in Pennsylvania on the subject of “gay marriage” constitutes “a bit of self-indulgence from a group known to grab headlines at the expense of achievement.”

The central mission of ACLU, founded nearly a century ago, is to assure that all citizens are extended the rights and liberties to which they are entitled according to the US Constitution, particularly the Bill of Rights.

Pursing that mission vigorously often captures the headlines of the media given the import the issues to which it attends. Gay marriage is precisely such an issue in our time, and how it plays out is critical in how thoroughly we are committed to those constitutional rights.

Second, the editorial, in opposing court action by the ACLU, promotes instead to allow a “gradual” approach to social change. That is reminiscent of those who, while uneasy with racial segregation in the US, promoted a policy of “gradualism.”

About that tack, I remember the insistent words of Martin Luther King, Jr., in his “I Have a Dream Speech” fifty years ago: “This is no time to engage in the luxury of cooling off or to take the tranquilizing drug of gradualism. Now is the time to make real the promises of democracy; now is the time to rise from the dark…valley of segregation to the sunlight path of racial justice.” Surely that same sentiment pertains to the issue of “gay justice.”

The ACLU has taken that advice in its action regarding the rights and liberties of our gay brothers and our lesbian sisters.

Douglas Sturm

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2013 Sidewalk Chalk Festival Photo Gallery

Click on a below thumbnall photo to see it full sized.

The CARE winners are:

Under six~ Joseph Savarese #7

7 – 12~ Taylor Farrow #123

13 – 18~ Willow, Sarrah, & Lyra Bechdel #205 – see “Bullying is not Training” photo above

19 and up~ Joy Rzeszotarski #306

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Whitewood, et al. v Corbett, et al.

US District Court, Middle District of Pennsylvania

The American Civil Liberties Union of Pennsylvania, the American Civil Liberties Union, and volunteer counsel from the law firm of Hangley Aronchick Segal Pudlin & Schiller filed a federal lawsuit on July 9, 2013, on behalf of 21 Pennsylvanians who wish to marry in Pennsylvania or want the commonwealth to recognize their out-of-state marriages.

The lawsuit alleges that Pennsylvania’s Defense of Marriage Act and refusal to marry lesbian and gay couples or recognize their out-of-state marriages violates the fundamental right to marry as well as the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. This lawsuit comes in the wake of the ACLU’s victory before the U.S. Supreme Court in U.S. v. Windsor, which requires federal recognition for lesbian and gay couples who are married in their home states. Plaintiffs argue that the court should closely scrutinize this discriminatory treatment because the state’s Defense of Marriage Act burdens the fundamental right to marry and because it discriminates based on sex and sexual orientation.

Our plaintiff Maureen Hennessey recently lost
her wife Mary Beth McIntyre after 29 years together.
Because Pennsylvania doesn’t recognize their marriage,
Maureen faces finanacial challenges that wouldn’t exist
if they had been an opposite-sex couple.

To see the other clients in the suit: Click Here

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Explore what the nonprofit community here in the Central Susquehanna Valley has to offer!

The Central Susquehanna Valley is blessed to have a wealth of knowledge and opportunity. We here at the CommUnity Zone are in the process of compiling this information to make it easy to locate services, events, trainings, and other volunteer opportunities in and around town.

We are excited to connect you with valuable resources that will allow you to learn, grow, and expand your knowledge about the richness of your community. As the connection point to the nonprofit community, our hope is that all nonprofit organizations in the central Susquehanna Valley will use us as a resource to find talented nonprofit volunteers, find musicians, and learn about how bartering with talented folks and opportunities for sharing your own expertise. We are committed to sharing our resources to learn from each other, become more efficient, and reap the benefits of working together. We believe when people connect synergy happens.

Become a partner and share our space, meet our current list of 13 partners and learn about all the fantastic work they do and what they bring to our community. For more information, call us at 238-1818, join us on facebook at  Facebook and visit us on our website at  Website or email me directly at peltier@bucknell.edu.

Cynthia Peltier

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