Georgia Filing Anti-Gay Bills Left and Right
+ In Georgia, change is sort of starting to happen, very slowly and incompletely! The legislature is working to pass “public accommodations” laws that would catch the state up to the standards set by the Civil Rights Act in 1964, but when Dem Rep Taylor Bennett tried to add clauses that would protect citizens based on “sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, age, veteran status or disability,” he got shot down, with all of those provisions being rejected except for gender.
The committee has also passed a “Pastor Protection Act” that would keep religious leaders from having to perform same-sex marriages — just like the rest of the US, “nothing in state or federal law would require them to perform the ceremonies, but lawmakers said the bill would reassure officials concerned by the U.S. Supreme Court’s recent decision legalizing same-sex marriage.” The legislature has also filed “at least eight bills to grant a variety of legal exemptions to religious opponents of same-sex marriage.” One half-step forward, nine steps back, I guess.
+ Since we last spoke, the New Hampshire primary happened! As far as the GOP goes, Trump won pretty significantly, with 35.3% of votes and 10 delegates compared to the surprise second place winner, John Kasich, who had 4 delegates and 15.8% of votes. Marco Rubio came in a lagging fifth, behind Cruz and Bush, which surprised some. Also surprising to many was that Bernie Sanders won pretty decisively over Clinton, with 60.4% to her 38%, marking unprecedented success for a democratic socialist candidate. NPR has some thoughts on why the results were what they were; I don’t necessarily agree with all of them but it’s an interesting take, why not. As far as what many of us are thinking — does this mean Trump will be President? Should we freak out? — the answers are “we don’t know” and “probably not yet.” Winning the New Hampshire primary holds a lot of mythos but also technically just means that a candidate is liked (right now) by voters of New Hampshire, a small and very white state. The actual nominations won’t happen until July, and while history does show many candidates who win in Iowa and/or New Hampshire being nominated, it also shows plenty of instances of that not happening. We still have quite the slog to go on this one; nothing is decided yet.
+ Carly Fiorina, Ben Carson, and Chris Christie have all dropped out of the Republican race, leaving Donald Trump, Jeb Bush, Marco Rubio, John Kasich, Ted Cruz, and hilariously, Jim Gilmore, who I did not even know was running until I checked.
+ John Kasich, who is newly somewhat relevant after doing better than most of us expected in the NH primary, as been perceived by some as the gentler, more moderate conservative in the race. This is pretty untrue, however; aside from saying on TV that he would attend a gay wedding, all of his policies and views are pretty much terrible (he still wouldn’t, say, vote to legalize the gay wedding he would attend, even.) Mother Jones has a piece about how Kasich’s “spiritual advisor” is also a real piece of work. I mean, he uses the term “homosexualists.”
Kasich’s personal spiritual adviser is Father J. Kevin Maney, the rector at St. Augustine’s whose bio on the church’s website says he received his religious education “almost entirely online” before being ordained as a deacon in the Anglican Church. Maney has been outspoken in his views on LGBT people, writing on his blog, the Anglican Priest, for instance, to complain that “militant homosexualists” are trying to stifle dissent and silence those who believe homosexuality is a sin.
+ A few weeks ago in this column we reported that the Department of Justice was offering a police reform program to Ferguson, which, if the city accepted it, would require ending or changing many of the police practices there. Ferguson decided to refuse that deal, and so now the Department of Justice is suing them. This also means that we can see the report on Ferguson that the DOJ put together, and which is pretty damning! If you’re interested in a Cliff’s Notes, USA Today investigative reporter Brad Heath has been tweeting some of the most crucial findings.
And the time Ferguson police deployed a dog to bite an unarmed 14-year-old truant because he “would not come out.” pic.twitter.com/EldW19b8bj
— Brad Heath (@bradheath) February 10, 2016
+ In Ohio, Black Lives Matter activist MarShawn McCarrel killed himself on the steps of the Ohio Statehouse this week. He was 23, and his family says that they think his work in activism and charity may have left him emotionally and mentally drained, contributing to the state of mind that led him to end his life. McCarrel, who was homeless for three months after graduating high school, was the founder of youth mentorship program Pursuing Our Dreams. Colorlines has a poem of MarShawn’s, “Down South,” in memoriam.
+ In what is truly an inconceivably evil move, the city of Cleveland, which did not indict the officers who killed twelve-year-old Tamir Rice within two seconds of arriving at his location, is now charging his surviving family for Tamir’s ambulance bill.
+ Leaders from the Black Lives Matter movement, Trust Black Women, and New Voices for Reproductive Justice have been in conversation and solidarity, “[discussing] the intersectionality of the movements to save the lives of Black women and how activists and politicians can align and amplify the message.” You should read the piece on Colorlines for the major takeaways about the points of connection between these movements!
+ This week hackers leaked information from the US’s biggest police union, the Fraternal Order of Police, and found (among other things!) “guarantees that disciplinary records and complaints made against officers are kept secret or even destroyed.” Up to 30% of police contracts barred public access to civilian complaints, previous disciplinary action, or departmental investigations. These documents “date back almost two decades,” and much of what they reveal sounds eerily similar to anyone following police brutality in the US. For instance:
At least as recently as 2007, if an officer in Independence, Missouri, was “involved in a shooting incident”, that officer could not be interrogated for at least 12 hours nor be “treated a suspect” unless local authorities thought there was reasonable suspicion or probable cause that a crime had been committed. This protocol was mandated in the local police union’s contract in a clause specifically designed for “officer-involved shooting investigations”.
Law & Order
+ A transgender lesbian couple in the UK was subject to constant harassment, vandalism and abuse at their home, so they installed CCTV security cameras, trying to discourage the culprits. The women’s neighbors filed complaints about the cameras, which is already pretty unnecessary; then the complaint letters ~somehow~ appeared online, and they included defamatory and libelous claims about the women trying to protect themselves. The couple have won £5,000 in damages because of the event, and say “The cameras seem to have worked, the abuse has mostly stopped.”
+ The mayor of Flint, MI has announced a $55 million project to replace lead water pipes that are poisoning people will begin this month, with priority given to homes with children and/or pregnant people.
Research & Data
+ The New York Times says that companies with women in senior management positions were more profitable than “less diverse” counterparts. Wha-bam!
+ A new report from UNICEF says that 200 million women and girls globally have experienced “full or partial removal of their external genitalia,” or FGC. That number is 70 million higher than 2014’s, due largely to what UNICEF says is new data from Indonesia.
+ A study has found that contrary to the popular myth that undocumented immigrants to the US pay no taxes and/or don’t contribute to the US economy, “undocumented immigrants paid $11.84 billion in state and federal taxes in 2012.”
+ Sheena Shirani was a newscaster at PressTV, Iran’s state-run TV station, for years; upon leaving on February 2, she exposed the rampant sexual harassment she faced at work, including her boss demanding she come to his apartment for sex, because “I’ve always helped you. I’ve always been there for you. Whenever you wanted something, I’ve helped you.” She’s shared audio recordings of phone calls and screenshots of messages from him, and made clear that he wasn’t the only person sexually harassing her. Shirani has left Iran and her location is undisclosed; she’s a single mom with a son, and she suggests that this is part of why her harassers felt she was safe to abuse at work without consequence. Two of her supervisors have now been suspended.
+ There’s been a lull in reporting on student activism since the student actions at Mizzou, Yale and other universities have been out of the headlines, but the Black Student Union at Cal State LA has been successful in demanding institutional change from university administration.
1. California State University, Los Angeles has agreed to DIVEST from all Private Prison corporations! The investment committee has eliminated any holdings in the private prison corporations at the direction of the President. This is a historic and significant victory for Black communities and makes Cal State L.A. the third university to divest from private prisons and the second public institution to do so following the UC’s recent decision to divest at the urging of the Afrikan Black Coalition.
2. The Director of Housing has been asked to work with administration and the BSU in creating, and developing, a Black Scholars’ living learning community. We expect the development of the Black Scholars Hall to take place prior to the Fall 2016 term.
3. The president has agreed to allocate $100,000 to the Cross Cultural Centers to be divided between the four student centers effective January 1, 2016. We expect this allocation to be permanent.
4. Beginning in fall 2016, all students will be required to complete one diversity course and one race and ethnicity course.
5. The President has agreed to allocate $100,000 for staffing and other costs to increase the yield of Black students who get accepted into Cal State L.A. for Fall 2016, and an additional $100,000 for the recruitment of Black students for Fall 2017. We expect these allocations of $200,000 in total to be permanent.
6. The President has committed to the hiring of new staff psychologists who have demonstrated experience in working with Black students.
+ DC’s new landmark LGBTQ Cultural Competency Continuing Education Amendment Act pushes healthcare providers to learn how to treat LGBT patients.
While similar measures requiring training on LGBTQ cultural competency have been proposed in various states, this bill is both the first to pass and unique in that it affects all health care providers in the district that are required to receive continuing education. So will a law requiring mandatory training for health care providers be effective? Well, research about a New Jersey law requiring culturally competency training (for other populations) shows that these laws can have a dramatic impact. After the passage of the New Jersey cultural competency requirement, the number of physicians receiving such training increased 60-fold.
+ You’ve likely seen the headlines that LGBT shelter and support hub the Ali Forney Center was trying to buy the property of the previous homophobic Atlah World Missionary Church; now they’ve succeeded!
+ In news that’s designed not to make the news, the CIA has discreetly admitted that it actually did do a bunch of stuff it had previously denied from the Senate Torture Report.
Among the CIA’s quiet corrections are that it did in fact misrepresent the importance of information obtained from 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohamed, known informally as “KSM,” and in some cases, already had certain information that it had previously said was “unavailable” prior to KSM providing it. It also admits in its “Note” that it misrepresented the number of detainees in CIA custody to its own leadership, and that it did not notify the Secretary of State or Deputy Secretary of State of every black site detention facility.