Friday, November 23, 2012
Lincoln the Movie See It
Lincoln the movie wow! I must have been sick that day in social studies/history class, I totally forgot that President Abraham Lincoln was a Republican. A republican who believed in equality and justice. No one is equal until we are all equal, what a concept.
"As a nation, we began by declaring that "all men are created equal." We now practically read it, "All men are created equal, except Negroes." When the Know-Nothings get control, it will read, "All men are created equal except Negroes, and foreigners, and Catholics." When it comes to this I should prefer emigrating to some other country where they make no pretense of loving liberty - to Russia, for instance, where despotism can be taken pure, without the base alloy of hypocrisy." Abraham Lincoln 16th President of USA
Where have we gone as a people? We just go along to get along. Is there any courage displayed by anyone today to tackle the problems at hand?
Think of what we could do if someone would lead. How about the Equal Rights Amendment for starters for a quick recap of the ERA see this link. Why not have women be equal?
How about full equality for Lesbians, Gays, Bisexual and Transgender people? One of the most touching parts of the movie was when Republican Thaddeus Stevens went home to his biracial lover, and housekeeper and brought her the 13th amendment document for her to read to him in bed. Ah the secrets we humans keep?
How about stopping the military machine and have our service people come back to this country. Talk about years and years of senseless killing. Check out the arm to arm brutal battles of the Civil War, reenacted in the movie, maybe if we still fought like this we would stop. Let's stop funding the military machine. Stop funding the greed of war. Hey we are going broke funding this war machine, there are no more jobs, all the money is gone. We are still funding the Aghan war to the tune of 1 to 2 bil per week. Per week! Imagine this money here, where on earth is this money going? Does anyone else see a connection to our deficit?
Not to say that the 13th Amendment was the end all for equal rights for our African American citizens. Far far from it, the battle for equal rights for all continues well into the 21st century. When will the people who control all the power, which is old white men, let's face it, when will they give up some of their greed and power to other humans?
We need real leaders with real soul and spirit. We need to hold our elected leaders accountable NOW.
PS. Yes it is remarkable and showing of our progress as a people to have President Obama elected for his second term in 2012. But we learned in his first term that we have got to keep bearing pressure on him. He is partly the resulting dream of President Lincoln, now let President Obama be a leader for all of us. Lead the Congress, lead us out of our current wars, lead equality for all, lead the fight for all to be educated, lead the fight of our equal justice in this country. Lead the fight against greed.
Friday, November 09, 2012
Is Paul Pacheco "homo-phobic"? Let's have a conversation...
Guest Blog from Mary Ellen Capek:
Below are copies of posts from Paul Pacheco's FB page. Several people alerted me to these. When I tried to "comment" in response, they removed my first comment then "blocked" me. So I'm including their posts at the end of this email, assuming that whoever has been forwarding my Marci Blaze emails to the Pachecos will send this along as well (thanks for fostering dialogue, whoever you are). Like so many Republicans living in what has just been exposed as an alternate universe this election season, their ignorance and hypocrisy are breathtaking. Pacheco's flyers attacking Marci have been relentless and nasty, not to mention inaccurate. My several emails in support of Marci have been mild in comparison.
BUT... to my point of Paul's being "homo-phobic," I want to offer a conversation. One of the last flyers I saw attacking Marci pitched Pacheco as a "family values" candidate: that's CODE for "NO WAY are we going to let gays marry much less have equal rights." Right, Paul? You'd never vote to allow families like mine to marry in NM. Not even vote for domestic partnerships to give my family the same benefits yours gets, right, Paul? (My partner and I actually got married in Canada in 2003, celebrated our 25th anniversary this August, but neither our partnership nor our marriage is recognized in NM. Yet.) I betcha you wouldn't vote for legislation that would recognize my rights to determine care for my wife in the hospital. Or help pass laws that would assure that she, not the government, inherits my estate, right?
So I'm calling you out, saying, hey there, YOU, sir, are indeed "homo-phobic." This is 2012. We just had a watershed election. Marriage equality passed in three more states (Maine, Maryland, Washington) and Minnesota voted AGAINST enshrining hatred in their state constitution. So, you know what, CODE doesn't work like it used to. Based on the mailings that went out supporting your campaign, I'm calling you out: you're homophobic. BUT if you want to sit down over coffee, I'd be more than willing to continue this conversation in person. And if I'm too nasty for you, based on the "shocking language and disgusting emails" Tami claims I've sent, I'd be happy to set you up with other gay or lesbian families to meet and talk with. They might also be your constituents. No more nasty emails, no more nasty flyers, no more "code." How about having a conversation?
Yesterday's Posts from People for Paul Pacheco's Facebook Page:
Paul Pacheco: To everyone who has supported us during this trying time, I want to thank each and everyone of you. We won't know for a couple days until the recount is final. My opponents supporters are still sending nasty emails, the lastest one today accusing me of being homo-phobic. I can't tell you how weary I am of their constant, relentless lies about my character and I am hopeful that this will be over soon. Thanks again and we will keep you updated, your thoughts and prayers have kept us going!
Tami De-Nio Pacheco: I love you! I'm sorry you've had to go through all this nastiness. Maybe I'll put together all of MaryEllen Capek's emails and let the world know who she really is. From dirty language to ugliness unrivaled, she has really has shown who they really are. I was shocked at the language and disgusting emails she sent throughout the campaign and continues to today. Very sad...
Thursday, October 11, 2012
Real ID is Dead. New Mexico IDs Will Continue to be Valid.
The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of New Mexico debunks Governor Martinez’s Real ID Scare Tactic
On Oct. 10th Governor Martinez released a statement informing the public that the state practice of issuing drivers’ licenses to undocumented residents could prevent New Mexico licenses from complying with REAL ID standards by the deadline of January, 2013. This statement is misleading at best.
REAL ID is dead. Americans have already rejected large parts of this ill-conceived attempt to unite state drivers’ licenses into a national ID card. Thirty-six states—including New Mexico—currently do not fully comply with this unpopular, unfunded mandate. In fact, twenty-five states have passed resolutions rejecting REAL ID, and in fifteen states (more than 20% of the U.S. population), it is illegal for state officials to comply with the law.
Just as we saw in 2008, 2009, and then 2011—all previous deadlines for compliance—the Department of Homeland Security will almost surely kick the can further down the road and extend the deadline again. The government cannot afford to ban 20 percent of the total population from entering a federal building or boarding a plane back home from winter holidays.
Today’s statement from the Governor is a scare tactic meant to advance her agenda of dismantling New Mexico’s drivers’ license law. The Governor should not use the practically defunct REAL ID law to make baseless accusations about a drivers’ license law our legislature passed to improve public safety.
This statement may be attributed to Peter Simonson, Executive Director of the ACLU of New Mexico.
Local Leaders Respond to Permanent Injunction Against Driver's License Residency Certification Program
On 10/4/12 the following was released from Somos Un Pueblo Unido.
Local Latino and religious leaders hailed the permanent injunction finalized yesterday against New Mexico's "Foreign National Residency Certification Program." The program, enacted in July 2011, was successfully challenged by four state legislators and Marisela Morales, a long-time New Mexico resident of Silver City and Legal Permanent Resident. Ms. Morales was summoned, based on her national origin, to a special Albuquerque office to resubmit papers proving her identity and residency in New Mexico or face cancellation of her driver's license. To see permanent injunction, click here.
"This discriminatory program was clearly intended to fuel an anti-immigrant political agenda in New Mexico, and we are relieved that it did not prevail." said María Cristina López, Founding Board Member of Somos Un Pueblo Unido, a statewide immigrants' rights organization. "We're all for fighting fraud and abuse, but the state should not be wasting tax payer money by targeting people solely based on their race and national origin. It's simply unacceptable in New Mexico."
The plaintiffs were represented by MALDEF, a national Latino rights organization, and Albuquerque-based law firm Freedman Boyd Hollander Goldbert Urias & Ward, PA (Freedman Boyd).
David Urias, lead attorney for the plaintiffs said on Thursday "No one, of course, supports fraud in the driver's license application process, but there are other legal ways to ensure that fraud is prevented - implementing unconstitutional programs which target people solely on the fact that they weren't born in the United States, isn't one of them. The demise of this unlawful program will hopefully open up a dialogue that will result in lawful policies and procedures that address real problems, not make scapegoats out of immigrants for political gain."
The driver's license re-verification program was created and funded by the Taxation and Revenue Department and MVD at the height of a contentious legislative debate regarding the current policy that requires immigrant drivers, regardless of immigration status, to be licensed, registered and insured. The Governor pushed unsuccessfully for a full repeal of the law, while the majority of legislators supported reforming the law to strengthen identity and residency requirements, including fingerprinting of foreign nationals, and toughen penalties for fraud.
"MVD already has many tools that it can legally employ to fight fraud without discriminating against immigrants or punishing honest people who have gone through the proper steps to apply for a license," said Allen Sanchez, Director of the New Mexico Catholic Conference of Bishops. "Still, we support driver's license reform that would create even more tools to fight fraud, but safeguard the families who live in New Mexico and who have complied with state law."
Somos Un Pueblo Unido spearheaded a campaign in 2003 with law enforcement officials, victims rights agencies, and faith and civil right group to enable qualified immigrant drivers to apply for licenses, obtain insurance, and register their vehicles.
Monday, September 03, 2012
Labor Day! Labor Day! Break Free, Break Through the Walls of the Status Quo Criminal ClassBelow is a great post that Barb did for May Day 2010. It is totally still right on for Labor Day 2012!
Just watch it
My forebears came in from Poland, Germany and Norway through Ellis Island when there were no immigration quotas. They worked like dogs at the jobs Americans didn't want, like almost all immigrants do. I am the beneficiary of their courage and hard labor. And so is our nation.
I grew up in Chicago, a city built by immigrants of every ethnicity. Most of today's America was built by immigrants, not the descendants of the Mayflower Pilgrims. We built on what was built for centuries by slaves and indentured servants, not the ancestors of the Mayflower Pilgrims. Immigrants and racial, ethnic and other minorities have always been our strength and our salvation. They work hard and they unite to stand up to the corrupt forces of the status quo. Think unions, think every civil rights and liberation and reform movement that ever emerged in the U.S.
Now the forces of the status quo and their frightened and misguided followers want to stop all this. They always do, whether it's been freed slaves or immigrants from Ireland or Italy or Eastern Europe or the Caribbean or Africa or Mexico or wherever. The very word 'conservative' means to keep things as they are because I am the beneficiary of power, position and wealth by my very bloodline and/or longstanding connections. The irony is that today's right wingers and teabaggers are often victims of the greedy, insular forces of the status quo, yet they defend the very forces that oppress them, convinced that it's immigrants or minorities or liberals or unions or a government that serves the needs of ordinary people that's to blame for their penury.
Today, on May Day, a day for celebrating the labor movement, a day when immigration reform marches are taking place all over the land, I say fuck the forces of White only and English only. Fuck the forces that scapegoat people willing to take risks and work hard to provide for their families. Fuck the forces that use vile propaganda to stir up hatred and reward ignorance.
Fuck the forces that defend the status quo ruling class so huge blobs of money can keep flowing to those who sit on their asses and "invest" in scams and manipulate and steal and deregulate oil drilling so that our entire Gulf coast -- including all its wildlife, its working people, its entire ecosystem and economic infrastructure -- is going to be devastated and entire ways of life destroyed so BP could save the money it would take to employ technologies to help prevent that. Fuck the forces that keep arms flowing all over the world and eternal wars going to feed the war profiteers and enable the usurping of natural resources all over the globe. Fuck the forces that destroy native cultures and whole communities and huge parts of the world so they can keep themselves and their "investors" in the money.
Immigrants, whether documented or not, and minorities of every kind are not the enemy, are not the terrorists. Our real enemies and terrorists are in power either upfront or behind the scenes in connection with -- or bought off by -- every "deregulated" financial and corporate undertaking that is raping our nation and nations around the globe for obscene profits. They kill and maim and torture people. They kill ecosystems. They kill education. They kill health care. They kill children. They bankrupt governments and homeowners. They kill wildlife and plant life. They poison the seas and the groundwater and the very air we breathe. It is they who must be arrested and jailed and convicted and stopped in their tracks, not families fleeing from utter poverty caused by all the "free" trade and monetary policy scams that have made slave labor the preferred option for the corporate and banking interests who call all the shots.
Today, on May Day, let's start pointing the finger in no uncertain terms at our real enemies. Let's work towards uniting all the hated minorities - the black and brown and yellow ones, the gay and bi and trans ones, the people who care about the earth and human dignity and the animals and justice -- and use our union to go after the bloodsuckers who are causing the horrors that are erupting and spreading each and every day. If we don't, we know the dark forces will win. They've got the guns but we've got the numbers -- only if we unite. We all know in our hearts that's what this era will be about. Can the united forces of progress overcome the stultifying forces of greed and privilege? Only time will tell.
Monday, August 27, 2012
GOP Push Poll in House District 30 by Mary Ellen Broderick
Earlier this week it was reported by many voters in House District 30 that they received a push poll regarding my race against Republican Nate Gentry.
The topic of the push poll – Mary Ellen Broderick is a lesbian!
Voters heard questions such as “Would you vote for Mary Ellen Broderick if you knew she was a lesbian?” and “Would you vote for Mary Ellen if you knew that she is going to try to get Gay Marriage passed?”
Earlier this year, as I was mulling my run for the House, knowing full well that there was a good chance that the Republican smear machine would come after me, I decided to be a candidate because the problems we face as a state and as a community are too great to sit on the sidelines. My decision was and still is “the time is now.”
Think of all the issues that are so critical to make progress on right now, this is my platform:
- People out of work and the jobs they lost are not returning
- Big tax giveaway’s to out of state corporations while local small businesses get a cold shoulder
- Education spiraling continually downwards, underfunded, and with reform ideas that simply don't work.
- Protecting and preserving our natural environment
- Providing affordable healthcare for children and seniors
- A woman’s right to choose what is best for her is being challenged and a redefinition of rape by the GOP is happening right now.
- Working families are under attack
Whether or not we solve these problems as a state with forward-looking vision is what this election is about. I have the fresh perspective of an average person that the Roundhouse absolutely needs as we work towards the solutions to these issues.
But let’s talk about my sexual orientation. Yes I am gay, I am a lesbian. I had a wonderful soul mate for 23 years who passed away in December of last year after a short 3 month battle with colon cancer. We were never married, but I am a widow. Would I have loved to have been married to Barb and share all the same rights as heterosexual married couples? You bet. Did I live the vows we were never able to speak in front of our peers and community? Yes I did. I helped Barb with the hardest part of the traditional marriage vows taken – “ In sickness and in health til death do us part.” We were together longer than many married couples and it hurt deeply to pick up Barbs remains and have the words “Never Married” on the death certificate.
So, it is with the inspiration of my life experience that I am running for House District 30 exactly because there are many more urgent matters facing us as women and men, girls and boys.
Barb worked til her dying day trying to affect some outcome of all the troubles facing us now and I hope that I will be able to do so as well in my own way. I am doing what I think is right and what I have every right to do. To whomever is responsible for this push poll, listen up - I am ready for the onslaught of disparaging remarks and fliers because I loved another woman. I run for this NM House of Representatives seat with a deep seeded worry about many issues and matters facing all of us.
To my friends and supporters - I need your help right now. Don't let the Republicans define my candidacy. I am ready for whatever comes my way.
Please visit my website, http://www.electmaryellenbroderick.com/, and sign up to volunteer or make a contribution on my actblue page to show those who wish to run a campaign of misinformation and bigotry that this is not what New Mexico stands for.
Tuesday, August 07, 2012
Respect – We Are ALL Made in God's Image the Central Message of Christianity
Guest Blog by Nick Rimmer, Esq.
Respect –this is a central message of Christianity. We are all made in God’s image, and we must treat our neighbors with the respect that each of us deserves. Whether you’re a Christian or not, this seems to be a pretty good message.
This is what makes Hope Christian School’s decision to deny admission to a 3-year-old boy because he comes from a same-sex family all the more disappointing. The fact that the school also receives tax-payer dollars makes the decision really troubling.
Like many private schools, Hope Christian’s application form reflects an understanding of changing family dynamics in the modern age. For instance, the application includes a section that allows four different parents and guardians at different addresses, recognizing that the definition of family in modern America is evolving.
Our children face so many more challenges, including coming from homes where both parents may have to work two-or-three jobs just to make ends meet, than the generations before them.
We know that those fortunate enough to have a family are far more likely to overcome those challenges. After reviewing decades of study, psychologist C.J. Patterson concluded “not a single study has found children of lesbian or gay parents to be disadvantaged in any signiﬁcant respect relative to children of heterosexual parents.” 
New Mexico already has enough challenges when it comes to raising our children. More than 30% of our children live in poverty, the second highest rate in the nation . And more than six out of 10, like the boy denied admission to Hope Christian, who are eligible for preschool are not enrolled. Our abysmal graduation rates are well documented and often discussed.
By all accounts, the child at the center of this recent discussion is on track to avoid becoming one of those statistics. From outward appearances, his parents have given him all of the advantages—a loving home and a commitment to education. Sadly, the school is imposing an unnecessary punishment on this child, and we – as New Mexicans – can’t look the other way.
The 2010 Kids Count report estimates that 11% of children in New Mexico – a full one in 10 – are living with two moms or two dads. That is the same percentage of those living only with one dad. Combined with children living only with mom, a full 40% of our children live in family types virtually unheard of just 50 years ago.
Children today will encounter peers from a wide range of backgrounds and families, and we must teach them the principles of treating other with respect. Like the school’s own application recognizes, the family dynamic is changing. We will do well to remember that each family matters in the life of a child.
Footnotes for above article:
 Patterson, C.J., 2005. Lesbian and gay parents
and their children: summary of research ﬁndings. In: Lesbian and Gay Parenting.
American Psychological Association, Washington, DC.
 Annie E. Casey Foundation, 2010, Kids Count Report, http://datacenter.kidscount.org/data/acrossstates/Rankings.aspx?loct=2&by=v&order=d&ind=43&dtm=322&tf=133
Friday, July 13, 2012
Community Members Announce Racial Profiling Complaints in San Juan County
From Somos Un Pueblo Unido:
IMMIGRANT GROUP CALLS ON SAN JUAN COUNTY TO STOP ARIZONA-STYLE LAW ENFORCEMENT POLICIES Community Members File Racial Profiling Complaints Against City, County, and Federal Agencies. Photo above from Somos
On Wednesday July 11, 2012, residents of San Juan County and members of Somos Un Pueblo Unido (Somos) announced the filing of several racial profiling complaints against local and federal law enforcement agencies. In the complaints made to the City of Farmington and San Juan County, six individuals alleged that the Farmington Police Department and the San Juan County Sheriff's Department changed the scope of investigation based on race, national origin, and language in order to inquire about immigration status-a violation of New Mexico's Prohibition of Bias Based Policing Act of 2009.
"We have lived in this area for many years, contributing to the local economy and paying taxes. Like most families, we want a better future for our children," said Veronica Perez, a spokesperson for Families United for Justice a recently formed group of immigrants and allies in Farmington. "We used to live in peace, but in the last year, many of our families have been victims of racial profiling and discrimination as result of the collaboration between the local law enforcement, jail and immigration officials. We live in constant fear and no longer feel safe calling the police. How is that good for public safety?"
Somos also submitted a complaint to the Department of Homeland Security's Office of Inspector General and its Office for Civil Rights claiming that local DWI checkpoints have become de facto immigration checkpoints. The complaint stated "It is our understanding that ICE should not be conducting immigration checkpoints beyond 100 miles from the border and local law enforcement shouldn't be questioning individuals about immigration status at a DWI checkpoint, the purpose of which is to prevent and apprehend drunk drivers."
The complaint also alleged that area ICE agents were disregarding ICE's own policies by placing ICE Detainers an individuals in order to hold them at the San Juan County Detention Center despite these individuals not having been arrested for a criminal violation and at the County's expense.
"We are working with these brave community members in Farmington to stand up for civil rights and public safety," said Rayos Burciaga, Board Member of Somos Un Pueblo Unido. "Based on eye witness accounts, it seems that ICE agents are colluding with local law enforcement officials and the local jail to racially profile individuals and violate their constitutional rights. New Mexico is better than that."
"My parishioners deserve to live without fear and intimidation," said Father Vigil, pastor of St. Mary Parish in Farmington. "We live in a country where due process rights should be respected. We should be integrating Latino families, not separating children from their parents."
"In the past year, I have witnessed the devastating effects of this country's broken immigration system and the violation of immigrants' civil rights in the Farmington community," said Iris Calderon, an immigration attorney from the Calderon Law Firm based in Albuquerque. "US citizen children are separated from their fathers only for failing to provide evidence of legal status at a DWI checkpoint. DREAMers have been put into deportation proceedings for speeding tickets and other minor traffic violations. When the civil rights of immigrants are violated, the consequences are dire."
Residents also complained that the Farmington, Bloomfield, and Aztec Police Departments, as well as the San Juan County Sheriff's Department, do not have written policies and complaint forms that are updated and compliant with the bias-based policing ban, as is required by the 2009 law.
"These agencies need to take the community's concerns about racial profiling more seriously," added Perez, "It's the only way that trust can be restored."
Somos Un Pueblo Unido: is a statewide civil and immigrants' rights organization that worked along side the NAACP and other groups to pass the Prohibition of Bias-based Profiling Act in 2009 at the State Legislature. Somos is also part of a national campaign called "Restoring Trust" that will host events nationwide on Wednesday to call attention to the public safety hazards of collaboration between local jails and ICE.
Friday, June 15, 2012
DREAM Act Realized Finally for Some
Image to the right is from Lalo Alcaraz; artist, cartoonist, writer.
The DREAM Act (Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors) is an American legislative proposal first introduced in the Senate on August 1, 2001. To read the history of the DREAM Act please see this wikipedia link.
This new direction will affect nearly 800,000 humans who live with fear of deportation from the US. In 2011 ICE deported 396,906 people and is exceeding that record high this year. While researching how many young immigrants have been deported since 2008 I came across this website; We Dream, We act with this article Undocumented Youth Sit-In at OFA Denver Office. Their demand was finally heard: "We need the strength of an executive order to stop our deportations. Prosecutorial discretion has not stopped them."
Thank God for elections so some of these injustices can be acted on finally. Obama is addressing the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials' annual conference next week. The hispanic/latino vote is critical to Obama's re-election. For whatever reason the President's administration decided to act on this sensible legislation and pass an executive order, he is to be commended. Just imagine the joy running through so many hearts today that their DREAM now can be realized.
Image above from We Dream We Act by J. Valas
Below is the press release from the DHS:
Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano today announced that effective immediately, certain young people who were brought to the United States as young children, do not present a risk to national security or public safety, and meet several key criteria will be considered for relief from removal from the country or from entering into removal proceedings. Those who demonstrate that they meet the criteria will be eligible to receive deferred action for a period of two years, subject to renewal, and will be eligible to apply for work authorization.
“Our nation’s immigration laws must be enforced in a firm and sensible manner,” said Secretary Napolitano. “But they are not designed to be blindly enforced without consideration given to the individual circumstances of each case. Nor are they designed to remove productive young people to countries where they may not have lived or even speak the language. Discretion, which is used in so many other areas, is especially justified here.”
DHS continues to focus its enforcement resources on the removal of individuals who pose a national security or public safety risk, including immigrants convicted of crimes, violent criminals, felons, and repeat immigration law offenders. Today’s action further enhances the Department’s ability to focus on these priority removals.
Under this directive, individuals who demonstrate that they meet the following criteria will be eligible for an exercise of discretion, specifically deferred action, on a case-by-case basis:
1.) Came to the United States under the age of sixteen;
2.) Have continuously resided in the United States for a least five years preceding the date of this memorandum and are present in the United States on the date of this memorandum;
3.) Are currently in school, have graduated from high school, have obtained a general education
development certificate, or are honorably discharged veterans of the Coast Guard or Armed Forces of the United States;
4.) Have not been convicted of a felony offense, a significant misdemeanor offense, multiple misdemeanor offenses, or otherwise pose a threat to national security or public safety;
5.) Are not above the age of thirty.
Only those individuals who can prove through verifiable documentation that they meet these criteria will be eligible for deferred action. Individuals will not be eligible if they are not currently in the United States and cannot prove that they have been physically present in the United States for a period of not less than 5 years immediately preceding today’s date. Deferred action requests are decided on a case-by-case basis. DHS cannot provide any assurance that all such requests will be granted. The use of prosecutorial discretion confers no substantive right, immigration status, or pathway to citizenship. Only the Congress, acting through its legislative authority, can confer these rights.
Thursday, June 07, 2012
Gay Marriage; Guest Blog by Bill McCamley
“These people who are making a big deal out of gay marriage?... Why not? We're making a big deal out of things that we shouldn't be making a big deal out of... Just give everybody the chance to have the life they want.” Clint Eastwood.
Love between two people is wonderful and recognizing that love for all people should be legal.
That being said, I have an admission to make. I really don't know why, but as a straight guy I get very uncomfortable seeing two men together showing affection. Something about it, until recently, made me feel downright squeamish. Many straight friends have admitted similar strong feelings, and they are so powerful that we use them instead of reason to make marriage laws.
In discussing this subject for years, three arguments become clear when denying gay people the right to marry. However, when examined closely each fails to hold up.
Religion. The Bible has many deep, worthwhile lessons. Loving your neighbor, unbounded forgiveness, and care of the less fortunate are so important to any community. But if laws were only based on strictly Biblical teachings, bad things would happen. For instance, divorce for any reason other than cheating would be forbidden (Matthew 19:9) and tattoos would be illegal (Leviticus 19:18). So, wouldn't you expect that people who use the Bible to deny marriage for gays and lesbians argue as forcefully for these and other Biblical messages? They don't, and their use of the Bible as an argument for lawmaking loses its strength.
The Gay Agenda. Many fear that gay people will use politics to force their ways on those who disagree with them. They view the marriage debate as an assault on a personal view of natural order. But this happens any time people fight for equality and those exact arguments have been used for years against issues like women getting the right to vote, racial integration of the military, and allowing black and white people to marry. Today, most everyone recognizes that these changes created a better, more vibrant, and tolerant country. Gay marriage will too.
Children. The most consistent argument against equality is that commitment and love are not sufficient reasons to alter the definition of marriage; it should only be about raising children. If this is true, then should women past menopause be allowed to marry? What about sterile men? Or straight couples who choose not to have children? I personally know couples in each of these categories and the positive effect that marriage, with the love and support it signifies, has had on their lives. Most Americans agree. So howccan it be used to deny that same right to gay couples?
There is another, bigger reason to support legalizing gay marriage: the definition of a person.
For two summers, I worked at a camp called Seeds of Peace.Teenagers from the Middle East came to the US and talked about the problems in their areas with kids from the other side. It led to a deep understanding about how people justify horrible actions.
Often in these conflicts, the only thing many on one side know about the other is what they hear from other people or the news. So to many Israelis, Palestinians are not “people”; they are terrorists who blow up buses. To many Palestinians, Israelis are not “people”; they are jack-booted thugs who destroy homes. This substitution makes it easier to accept anger and violence. People weren't being harmed, only “thugs” or “terrorists.” The camp's whole point is to get these kids to look at each other as humans. Doing so makes dialogue easier and violence less justifiable.
The same problem exists with gay people. For better or worse our laws reflect our community's views, and the message we send by denying gay marriage is simple: Your love defines you. Our society's definition of an evolved love involves marriage. Therefore gay people, who cannot get married, are not people; they are “queers”, “abominations”... or worse.
The effect of this is obvious as debate over gay marriage has taken center stage. For instance, preachers have been seen all over the news and the Internet, calling for parents to punch their children if they act effeminate, advocating for confinement of all gay people in concentration camps, and, even asking the government to simply execute gays. To them, discrimination and violence against gays and lesbians is not only acceptable, but good. Yes, these people are extremists. But their calls for hate trickle down, and the consequences are horrific to kids.
Gay teenagers and lesbians who come out are at a much higher risk of being kicked out of their home, being abused, and committing suicide then straight teens. Recent high-profile suicides in California, Iowa, and New Jersey of gay teens bullied and threatened by classmates and roommates only serve to give a gruesome face to these statistics and illustrate the intolerance and fear which many gay Americans experience on a daily basis.
So if you are straight when you consider this issue, you may feel like I do – an initial repulsion. But when that happens I ask only one thing. Think. Understand that base reactions are not good enough to make or justify laws. If you do, I am confident you will come to the same conclusion I did.
Life is tough. If you are lucky enough to find true love with someone, whatever gender, who gives it back; if you want to to support that person so you can cherish life's good times and help them get through the bad together; if you want to get married, committing those values to each other; then you shouldn't be stopped.
All of us should support you with everything we've got.
Thursday, May 31, 2012
ACLU Hails Federal Court Decision Knocking Down Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA)
The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of New Mexico praised today’s ruling by the First Circuit Court of Appeals that the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) is unconstitutional because it denies married LGBT couples the same federal benefits available to other married couples. The decision, Gill v. Office of Personnel Management, was reached unanimously by the three-judge panel.
“The First Circuit clearly made the right call here,” said ACLU-NM Executive Director Peter Simonson. “LGBT couples are valued members of our communities. They work, pay taxes and contribute to the common good just like the rest of us. They’re part of loving, committed relationships. As the court held today, there is simply no permissible federal interest that justifies passing a discriminatory law like this.”
DOMA was enacted in 1996. Last year, President Obama said the Department of Justice would stop defending the constitutionality of the law. A few weeks ago, Obama made the historic announcement that, after giving the topic serious thought, he now supports marriage between same-sex couples.
“We’re living in an exciting moment in history,” said Simonson, “in which the general public, the courts and even the President of the United States are recognizing that the government has no business intruding into people’s personal sexual lives. Times have changed. Here in New Mexico family is important, and LGBT individuals and couples are valued parts of our families. They’re our sons and daughters, brothers and sisters. This case is additional evidence that the nation is moving toward a more tolerant, accepting future.”
Read the 1st Circuit Court of Appeals decision here.
The American Civil Liberties Union has filed a similar case in federal court on behalf of a woman who was forced to pay over $300,000 in taxes after the death of her spouse. Edie Windsor and Thea Spyer had spent for 44 years together as a committed couple. Edie nursed her wife through a long battle with multiple sclerosis, but Thea passed away in 2009.
Edie would not have had to pay the $300,000 if she had been married to a man. The ACLU expects a decision in the case shortly.
And this from Freedom to Marry: Federal Court Unanimously Rules Defense of Marriage Act is Unconstitutional; First Circuit Court panel, including two Republican appointees, finds “no precedent exists for DOMA's sweeping general ‘federal’ definition of marriage for all federal statutes and programs.”
Today a federal three-judge panel, including two Republican appointees, unanimously ruled that Section Three of the so-called Defense of Marriage Act, which discriminates against the marriages of same-sex couples performed in the states, is unconstitutional. Below is a statement from Evan Wolfson, founder and President of Freedom to Marry, and the architect of the Hawaii marriage case cited in the unanimous opinion:
“Today’s unanimous decision issued by the First Circuit Court of Appeals is a powerful affirmation that the so-called Defense of Marriage Act is an unconstitutional and unjust law whose days are numbered. This ruling will return the federal government to its historic role of respecting marriages performed in the states, without carving out a ‘gay exception’ that denies thousands of protections.
“As more loving same-sex couples commit their lives to one another in marriage, the harms of this unjust law become more clear – from service members, risking their lives to protect ours, being denied the ability to protect their own families through military medical insurance or survivor benefits to senior citizens having to move out of their homes after their partners of many decades pass on because they cannot access Social Security protections afforded any other legally married couple.”
Tuesday, May 15, 2012
New Mexican Attitudes On Marriage Evolving With President’s
From ProgressNow New Mexico:
Recent polling shows that New Mexican opinions on marriage equality are evolving much like those of President Barack Obama who today courageously announced his support for endinging marriage discrimination in the United States.
Polling shows a consistent increase in support for marriage equality, particularly in New Mexico. In 2010, a Bendixen & Amandi poll found that 74% of Hispanics (a group that comprises 46% of New Mexico’s population) support either marriage or marriage-like legal recognition for gay and lesbian couples. According to a 2012 PEW poll, a full 63% of young Americans say they favor same-sex marriage.
A December 2011 poll of New Mexicans found that support for same-sex marriage had increased 8 points over six-months and was nearing a majority. From the poll:
New Mexico joins its northern neighbor Colorado and nearby Nevada in a growing list of Southwestern states in favor of same-sex marriage. When PPP last polled the state in June, voters were against legalizing it by a 42-48 margin. In the intervening half-year, opinion has moved eight points, with 45% now wanting gay couples to be able to legally marry in the state, and 43% still against it. The reason for the shift is that Democrats (from 34% to 28%) and independents (44% to 37%) have lowered their opposition by six or seven points. Further, two-thirds of New Mexicans also still favor these relationships being recognized with at least the legal equality of civil unions. That includes 78% of Democrats, 71% of independents, and 41% of Republicans.
Since late last year, two cabinet members (HUD Secretary Shaun Donovan and Education Secretary Arne Duncan) and Vice President Joe Biden have publicly endorsed ending marriage discrimination. Today, President Obama threw his support behind what is perhaps the most important civil rights issue in a generation, becoming the first sitting president ever to do so.
Speaking to ABC News’ Robin Roberts, President Obama said that, “for me personally it is important for me to go ahead and affirm that I think same sex couples should be able to get married."
With his statement today, President Obama has shown that he is in-touch with America’s changing attitudes on this issue.
“All families matter, plain and simple,” said Pat Davis, Executive Director of ProgressNow New Mexico. “Nobody should be discriminated against because of who they love or how they choose to live their private lives. President Obama’s statement affirms the American values of equality and mutual respect and the families of New Mexico applaud this final step in his evolution on this issue.”