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Marriage Equality by Any Other Name
After the Kim Davis fiasco, many of us may have hoped that we were done hearing about anti-same-sex marriage endeavors in Kentucky; we were, unfortunately, wrong.
One lawmaker, Joseph M. Fischer, has a plan to subvert federally legalized marriage equality by switching words around. Same-sex couples will still be able to marry; but only different-sex couples can enter matrimony. And of course, many of the rights that LGB people fought for related to marriage equality — like the right to private visits if one’s spouse is in a long-term care facility — would only be available to couples joined in “matrimony.” The proposal makes it transparently clear that the fear of same-sex marriage was never really about concern that different-sex couples would lose rights somehow; it was always about making sure same-sex couples didn’t gain them.
The bill is 450 pages long! It’s a lot of work for a wacky idea that will almost definitely not go anywhere. It’s very unlikely to pass into law, since it pretty clearly defies what the SCOTUS’s ruling on gay marriage actually requires; the SCOTUS decision clearly refers to marriage in terms of the institution itself, not as a specific binding term. This is a bit like trying to argue you shouldn’t be convicted for stealing a car because what you stole was technically a hatchback. But still, how silly — and what an absurd thing to spend taxpayer dollars on.
After Super Tuesday, you may be feeling a need for some Trump explainers to help put the pieces together about what the heck is going on. Luckily, there are many.
Also, some coverage of the assault of a young black woman, Shiya Nwanguma, at a Trump rally. Vibe looks at Matthew Heimbach, the white nationalist who can be seen pushing Nwanguma in the video, and video of Nwanguma talking about her experience herself.
+ A look at the impact Voter ID laws had on this Super Tuesday.
In Alabama, the Secretary of State’s website, where voters could find their polling locations and times, was broken for several hours in the morning. In Georgia, malfunctioning poll books led to long wait times in Fulton and Gwinnett counties, and at least one poll worker was caught telling residents that non-English speakers were not allowed to vote. In Texas, polling locations were consolidated at the last minute, and, combined with a controversial voter ID law, led to long lines and confusion. In Virginia, the Democratic Party told ThinkProgress many voters were unable to cast ballots because of inconsistencies in the voter registration database. The group also cited confusion over the voter ID law, and reports of voters being illegally denied provisional ballots.
+ Three Baltimore school system officers have been placed on administrative leave after the release of a video that shows them slapping and kicking a young man. His lawyer says he has face and rib injuries resulting from the incident.
+ Brian Encinia, the Texas state trooper who arrested Sandra Bland, has been fired — a whole three months after it was announced he would be.
+ An Alabama police officer who shot and killed unarmed Greg Gunn, who is black, will face murder charges. Officer Aaron Smith reported that he shot Gunn as Gunn was walking to his mother’s home because he looked “suspicious.”
+ The SCOTUS heard oral arguments for a major abortion-related case, Whole Woman’s Health v. Texas, one of the cases that may now be ruled on very differently now that Scalia has passed away. With Scalia off the bench, Justice Kennedy’s opinion is crucial. It centers around TRAP laws, which restrict abortion access and are designed to force abortion providers to shut down. People who have had abortions have been writing briefs about their experiences to try to sway the justices. At Colorlines, Miriam Zolla Perez talks about what it was like to be there during the arguments.
On the whole, the arguments allowed Justices Sotomayor, Ginsburg, Kagan and Beyer to show their unsurprising opposition to the law, and to reiterate questions about the medical necessity of the regulations and the impact of the law on abortion access. At one point, Sotomayor pointed out that patients are 28 times more likely to have complications from a colonoscopy than they are from an abortion. Doctors who perform colonoscopies are not subject to HB2 regulations.
Slate talks about how RBG exposed the inconsistencies in the argument for TRAP laws.
+ The Oklahoma State House approved a bill that would set aside money to teach teens about “the humanity of a child in utero.” The effort is aimed at reducing people seeking to access abortion, and additionally claims to provide resources that “assist a woman through pregnancy, upon childbirth and while the child is dependent.” It seems like the easiest way to reduce the need to seek an abortion would be to increase availability and access to birth control, but hey, whatever, I guess.
+ A new report released this week says that up to 40% of NYC schoolchildren with disabilities aren’t receiving needed services.
The report found that 35 percent of students in the school system with disabilities — more than 60,000 students in total — were not receiving the entirety of the services recommended to them by education professionals. Five percent of that population, nearly 9,000 students, were not receiving any of the services the school district determined they needed. Additionally, the report found that 30 percent of students who were slated for initial Individualized Education Plan (IEP) evaluations were not reviewed within 60 days, which is mandated by New York state law.
+ Surprise! Research shows trans kids have better mental health outcomes when their families support them and allow them to transition. (Just kidding that’s not surprising at all.)
“These findings suggest,” the study reads, “that familial support in general, or specifically via the decision to allow their children to socially transition, may be associated with better mental health outcomes among transgender children. In particular, allowing children to present in everyday life as their gender identity rather than their natal sex is associated with developmentally normative levels of depression and anxiety.”
+ In Britain, over 80 counselors and psychotherapists have signed a letter asking Britain’s premier mental health association to protect trans people from conversion therapy.
Politicians Doing Politics
+ Ben Carson isn’t attending the next GOP debate in Detroit, and while he has not officially said he’s leaving the race, he does say he “doesn’t see a political path forward,” which sounds a lot like it.
+ DNC Chair and Florida Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz is co-sponsoring a bill that would disempower the agency that oversees payday lenders, an agency that was created by Elizabeth Warren and really seems pretty important and crucial. The proposed bill would keep the Consumer Financial Protection bureau from implementing any new rules regarding payday lenders for the next two years.
+ South Dakota Governor Dennis Daugaard has vetoed a bill that would have forced trans students to use bathrooms that don’t match their gender. In his veto letter, he says:
“Instead of encouraging local solutions, this bill broadly regulates in a manner that invites conflict and litigation, diverting energy and resources from the education of the children of this state… House Bill 1008 does not address any pressing issue concerning the school districts of South Dakota,” he added. “Local school districts can, and have, made necessary restroom and locker room accommodations that serve the best interests of all students, regardless of biological sex or gender identity.”
+ Activist Danni Askini is running to be the first openly trans legislator in the Washington State House of Representatives.
“It will send a really powerful message that extreme attacks in Olympia from ultra-conservative Republicans are not going to deter people from fighting for our shared values in the 43rd,” Askini says. “I think it would have a lot of meaning to the whole community.” Askini says housing affordability, homelessness, and the rising costs of higher education—”combined with the ridiculous amount of attacks [on trans rights] in Olympia”—inspired her to run.
+ Bill O’Reilly’s two teenage children have said they would prefer to live with their mother after a reported domestic violence incident, and he has lost custody of them. The 17-year-old child told a forensic examiner that she “saw her father dragging her mother down a staircase by the neck.” A justice last year had previously decided that the children should live with their mother, but O’Reilly had appealed it and it was not yet enforced.
+ Six New Jersey newspapers have called on Chris Christie to resign from the office of governor, citing his 261 days spent out of state last year and the fact that at a Monday press conference Christie refused to answer any questions that weren’t about nominating a state Supreme Court justice because he “didn’t want to.” The six newspapers suggest that New Jersey citizens issue a recall vote if he does not step down.
+ A new smartphone app for day laborers in NY will allow them to rate their employers, log hours and wages, and hopefully identify employers that commit wage theft.
+ The day before his pretrial regarding sexual assault of Andrea Constand, Bill Cosby filed a lawsuit against her, seeking damages from Constand, her mother, her lawyers and the parent company of the National Enquirer, seemingly accusing them of violating a confidentiality clause related to the settlement of a previous lawsuit in 2005.
+ Elliot Morales, charged with killing gay man Mark Carson because of anti-gay beliefs, testifies that he couldn’t have because he himself is bisexual. Although witnesses say he used gay slurs in the interaction that left Carson dead, Morales says he doesn’t remember doing so.
+ Mormon leader David A. Bednar says that there are no gay people in the Mormon church; rather, it’s just that “all of us have different challenges in the flesh.”
+ The US Ambassador to the UN, Samantha Power, is said to have taken the Russian ambassador, Vitaly Churkin (along with other envoys) to see the musical Fun Home.
+ Utah has rejected a proposal to strengthen the state’s hate crime laws when it comes to LGBT citizens.
+ Notre Dame and the University of Chicago are facing federal investigation for violation of Title IX regarding sexual violence on their campuses.
+ Lucia Anderson, a 22-year-old trans woman, committed suicide this week by ordering poisonous seeds from Thailand through the internet. Her mother says she was bullied in school growing up and in school environments.
+ A piece on how much demand there is for domestic violence shelters, and how rarely they’re able to meet it with their resources — and the people most hurt are survivors.
“While domestic violence programs must face the untenable reality of being unable to help everyone who comes to their door, survivors face the ultimate consequences,” the report states. “They are often left with few options for safety.” The choices they’re left with are dire. Some victims remain with their abusers; others risk homelessness or move out of town, which could cost them their jobs and communities. Some shelters warn that they could very well end up dead.
+ Two former members of the Guatemalan military were found guilty of sexually enslaving indigenous Guatemalan women. It may have a global impact in setting a precedent for treating sexual violence as a war crime.
This is a historic ruling for Guatemala, the first prosecution for the decades and decades of sexual violence the military used during a war that forcibly disappeared at least 30,000 people. It’s also the first time a national court has brought charges against people accused of crimes of sexual violence within its own borders. The crimes for which the men have been convicted occurred decades ago, but as in many countries in Latin America – see Haiti for example – the dictators and perpetrators of mass violence and oppression walked free.
+ In Indonesia, a Muslim academy for trans women has been closed down by officials after protests by the Islamic Jihad Front.
Until last month, anti-LGBT rhetoric was not a major feature of politics in Indonesia, which is home to more Muslims than any nation in the world. The country has long been home to a community of transgender women known as waria, and the school — which has about 40 students — has received so much attention in the Western press in part because it symbolized pluralism and strands of progressive Islam that distinguished Indonesia’s religious life.
+ And related, a piece on where the anti-gay sentiment in Indonesia suddenly came from and its increasing intensity.
+ 40 Australian religious leaders have asked the prime minister to avoid a nationwide vote on marriage equality, saying they worry it could “create division between faith communities and destabilise the place of religion in society.”
“A volatile, public and politically-charged debate could both distance leaders from lay people, marginalise faith communities from broader society and alienate LGBTI individuals within religious communities.” They also expressed worry that the plebiscite would cause harm to LGBTI Australians. “After decades of legalised discrimination, and ongoing social stigma, LGBTI Australians will face an angry, drawn-out debate, one likely to multiply existing disadvantages and stigma,” they wrote.
+ A rundown of the cases regarding work and labor that were getting addressed by the SCOTUS and how Justice Scalia’s death may impact them.
+ On Tuesday, the US’s Equal Employment Opportunity Commission filed two lawsuits saying that companies engaging in anti-gay discrimination in employment are breaking federal civil rights laws. This marks the first time the EEOC has used the opinion that anti-LGBT discrimination is in violation of Title VII, which protects against discrimination on the basis of sex, to file its own lawsuits — the EEOC made that ruling back in July, and filed an amicus curiae brief with the same opinion with a federal appeals court.
+ Former Prime Minister of Australia Tony Abbott has called for an end to Australia’s Safe Schools program, an anti-bullying initiative that’s been running for four years and which Abbott calls “social engineering.” Senator Cory Bernardi has claimed the program is a “marxist agenda of cultural relativism.” Proponents say it educates children about bullying and improves the experiences of LGBT students.