LGBTI News and Politics


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Roy Moore (Fox News)

 | Raw Story | April 21, 2015

Alabama Supreme Court Justice Roy Moore compared marriage equality to state-imposed segregation after a group of black pastors compared him to the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.

The Coalition of African-American Pastors honored Moore on Friday with the group’s “Letter from the Birmingham Jail Courage Award” for his efforts to fight marriage equality, reported Left In Alabama.

Moore said the U.S. Supreme Court ruling in Plessy v. Ferguson – recognized as one of the worst in American history – could be applied to the same-sex marriage case the court will consider later this month.

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LGBT rights march

LGBT rights advocates march on Washington in 2009 (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)

Nan D. Hunter | The Nation | April 21, 2015

A win for LGBT advocates would be historic, but uncertainty over religious exemptions and the status of domestic partnerships and civil unions remains.

Next Tuesday, the Supreme Court will hear one of the most eagerly awaited arguments in its history: the claim by same-sex couples to a constitutional right to marry that is enforceable in every state. Though none of the LGBT advocacy groups wants to jinx the outcome with a triumphalist claim that victory is certain, it is difficult to make a convincing case that Justice Anthony Kennedy, the perennial swing vote, will balk at extending his prior gay rights rulings to encompass nationwide access to marriage. Justice Antonin Scalia, his most vocal opponent on the issue, has been predicting the inevitability of such a ruling for 12 years, since the Court struck down a sodomy law as unconstitutional. On this, if nothing else, Justice Scalia seems almost certain to be vindicated.

Even the most intense optimists, however, realize that although the social conservative base is diminishing judicially as well as demographically, it is hardly dead. When the Court announces its ruling, due by the end of the current term in late June, the decision will mark a new baseline for state regulation of sexuality and the family, but the debates will not end.

On the progressive side of the register, one hopes that there will be space for concerns that have been sidelined in the heat of the marriage contests. Prime among them is the need by the great majority of same-sex households, like all other households, for more egalitarian economic policies. Researchers such as Lee Badgett and Gary Gates at UCLA’s Williams Institute have documented with Census data just how urgent those needs are. LGBT households, for example, widely and wrongly believed to be especially affluent, have higher than average poverty rates and would benefit enormously from an increase in the minimum wage. And if one measures anti-gay subordination by its intensity, the greatest attention should turn to transgender and racial minorities and youth (see the work of Bianca Wilson). (Disclosure: I hold the title of Distinguished Scholar at the Williams Institute, but did not work on these studies.)

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Earth Day in 1970

Some of the estimated 20,000 people who attended Philadelphia’s Earth Day observance on April 23, 1970. (AP Photo/Bill Ingraham)


Zoë Carpenter | The Nation | April 21, 2015


Louisiana is not a place that usually inspires hope for the environment. Nearly a century of oil and gas activity has cut the state’s swamps and bayous into vanishing ribbons. Hundreds of millions of gallons of oil have been spilled into the Gulf of Mexico. Underground caverns hollowed out by petrochemical companies are collapsing and creating sinkholes, some swallowing entire communities. Industry has fouled state politics, too, such that elected leaders reward corporations with $1.8 billion a year in subsidies and tax breaks, while starving healthcare, education, and other public services.

Several months ago I had a surprising conversation with a Louisianan named Mike Schaff. He identifies himself as a Tea Party Republican, and won’t call himself an environmentalist, but he’s angry enough about what petrochemical companies have done to the land he loves that he joined a coalition called the Green Army, which is mounting localized challenges to the dominance of the industry in the state. “Our state is kind of looking the other way, saying that’s the cost of doing business in Louisiana,” he told me. “We say ‘bullshit’ to that. It doesn’t need to happen.”

The American people, the journalist Gene Marine argued in The Nation in 1970, “are waiting for someone to notice that ecology is an issue that brings us all together.”

Marine was reporting from year zero of the modern environmental movement. Four months after his article appeared, twenty million Americans poured into the streets for the first Earth Day. Today, the 45th anniversary of the event, it’s hard to imagine a spontaneous green spirit sweeping the country, not to mention Congress taking a day off in support, or The Today Show giving 10 hours of airtime to it. Still, the existence of people like Schaff suggests that the potential for movement-building that Marine perceived is not gone, just unrealized.

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(Andrew Bossi, CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)

George Zornick | The Nation | April 21, 2015

Several top congressional Democrats will embrace on Tuesday a loose plan to make public colleges a debt-free proposition—and will receive an immediate boost from progressive activists who are hoping to shape the 2016 Democratic agenda.

In the House and Senate, legislators will simultaneously introduce two resolutions calling for “all students [to] have access to debt-free higher education.” In the Senate, Brian Schatz, Chuck Schumer, and Elizabeth Warren will attach their names to the resolution. Representatives Keith Ellison and Raul Grijalva, co-chairs of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, are leading the House effort along with several members, including Representatives Chris Van Hollen, Steve Israel, Donna Edwards, Katherine Clark, and Alan Grayson.

The Progressive Change Campaign Committee is helping to organize the push, and released a short paper along with the think tank Demos about how to make public higher education achievable without debt. It briefly outlines how increased federal aid to states for higher education and expanded Pell Grants, along with other smaller reforms, might eliminate the debt burden at public institutions.

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Domestic Terrorism, Youth and the Politics of Disposability

(Image: Youth silhouette, blurred crowd via Shutterstock; Edited: JR/TO)

Henry A. Giroux | Truthout | April 21, 2015

“The danger is that a global, universally interrelated civilization may produce barbarians from its own midst by forcing millions of people into conditions which, despite all appearances, are the conditions of savages.”

– Hannah Arendt, The Origins of Totalitarianism

Following Hannah Arendt, a dark cloud of political and ethical ignorance has descended on the United States. (1) Thoughtlessness has become something that now occupies a privileged, if not celebrated, place in the political landscape and the mainstream cultural apparatuses. A new kind of infantilism now shapes daily life as adults gleefully take on the role of unthinking children and children are taught to be adults, stripped of their innocence and subject to a range of disciplinary pressures designed to cripple their ability to be imaginative. (2)

Under such circumstances, agency devolves into a kind of anti-intellectual cretinism evident in the babble of banality produced by Fox News, celebrity culture, schools modeled after prisons and politicians who support creationism, argue against climate change and denounce almost any form of reason. The citizen now becomes a consumer; the politician, a slave to corporate money and power; and the burgeoning army of anti-public intellectuals in the mainstream media present themselves as unapologetic enemies of anything that suggests compassion, a respect for the commons and democracy itself.

Education is no longer a public good but a private right, just as critical thinking is no longer a fundamental necessity for creating an engaged and socially responsible citizenship. Neoliberalism’s disdain for the social is no longer a quote made famous by Margaret Thatcher. The public sphere is now replaced by private interests, and unbridled individualism rails against any viable notion of solidarity that might inform the vibrancy of struggle, change, and an expansion of an enlightened and democratic body politic.

Listen to an interview with Henry A. Giroux on “Disposable Youth” at CBC Radio.

One outcome is that we live at a time in which institutions that were designed to limit human suffering and indignity and protect the public from the boom and bust cycles of capitalist markets have been either weakened or abolished. (3) Free market policies, values and practices, with their now unrestrained emphasis on the privatization of public wealth, the denigration of social protections and the deregulation of economic activity, influence practically every commanding political and economic institution in North America. Finance capitalism now drives politics, governance and policy in unprecedented ways and is more than willing to sacrifice the future of young people for short-term political and economic gains, regardless of the talk about the need to not burden future generations “with hopelessly heavy tuition debt.” (4) It gets worse.

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Colorado Springs police officer Andrew Genta and his dog Vader demonstrate a narcotic search on a vehicle in August 2013. (photo: Matthew Staver/Bloomberg News)
Colorado Springs police officer Andrew Genta and his dog Vader demonstrate a narcotic search on a vehicle in August 2013. (photo: Matthew

Orin Kerr | The Washington Post | Reader Supported News | April 22, 2015

he Supreme Court handed down a notable Fourth Amendment ruling this morning in Rodriguez v. United States, holding that the Fourth Amendment does not allow the police to extend the duration of a traffic stop without reasonable suspicion, even for just a “de minimis” amount of time, for reasons unrelated to vehicle and driver safety. The vote was 6-3, with Justice Ginsburg writing for the majority and Justices Kennedy, Thomas, and Alito dissenting. I’m pleased with the Court’s opinion. The Court’s holding, and the reasoning, matches up well with the approach I have suggested.

The issue in the case: When the police make a routine traffic stop, can the police delay the duration of the stop, even just for a small amount of time, to wait for drug sniffing dogs, absent any articulable suspicion to believe that there are drugs in the car? The Court has previously held that officers are allowed to use drug-sniffing dogs at a traffic stop so long as the use of the dogs does not delay the stop. This case raises the flip question: What if use of the dogs delays the stop just a little bit. Is that okay? How much leeway do the police have on the duration of the stop, given that a traffic stop is a seizure and its duration would normally determine how reasonable the delay is?

The case may ring a bell for regular readers, as I’ve blogged about it a bunch of times. My prior posts include this post when the lower court ruled; this post when the Court granted cert, this video after the grant, and this post after the Supreme Court’s argument.

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