1667 posts categorized "Legal"

December 20, 2014

Two police officers killed by ambush in Brooklyn; suspect dead by his own hand

NYT reports the awful news.

I agree with Jeffrey Wright. Citizens and police must stand together against violence and for justice for all. Otherwise madmen, provocateurs, and sociopaths will rule the day. My heart goes out to the families of the slain officers, and all who are the victims of senseless violence.

Prosecutor in Ferguson case knew some grand jury witnesses were lying

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(Photo by Reuters)

Mike Hayes at BuzzFeed reports:

In his first interview since announcing Officer Darren Wilson would not be indicted in the shooting of Mike Brown, St. Louis County Prosecutor Bob McCulloch told radio station KTRS that he allowed witnesses he knew were lying to testify to the grand jury.

As Shaun King at Daily Kos points out, the perjurer whose testimony most lined up with that of Wilson was Witness #40, who turns out to be a white supremacist named Sandy McElroy. No perjury charges are being contemplated.

McCulloch should be fired at minimum and possibly disbarred. This is not justice. Anyone who could defend him after this is not really disagreeing, they just don't give a crap. We cannot accept this.

Chinese Court sides with gay man in electroshock therapy case

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(Photo by Ng Han Guan/Associated Press)

NYT reports:

In a victory for gay rights advocates in China, a Beijing court ruled on Friday that a Chinese clinic must pay compensation to a gay man who sued it for giving him electric shocks intended to change his sexual orientation.

Stating that homosexuality is not a mental illness, the Haidian District People’s Court ordered the Xinyupiaoxiang Counseling Center in the southwestern city of Chongqing to pay 3,400 renminbi, or $560, for costs incurred by the plaintiff, Yang Teng. It also ordered Baidu, China’s leading search engine, which was also named in the lawsuit, to remove the advertisement that Mr. Yang said led him to the clinic.

China bears watching. Now the world's largest economy, it has been a friendlier place for gay activists than one might have expected from a totalitarian state. Congrats to Yang and best of luck to his comrades for continued progress.

December 19, 2014

Persecution in Egypt continues

December 18, 2014

ACLU of Florida responds to Pam Bondi

Holder: Title VII prohibits anti-transgender discrimination

Bilerico reports that Attorney General Eric Holder has announced that transgender people are protected under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 under the category of sex-based discrimination. This is a big step forward.

Continue reading "Holder: Title VII prohibits anti-transgender discrimination" »

14-year-old exonerated, 70 years too late

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George Stinney, wrongly convicted and executed in 1944 at age 14 in South Carolina, was exonerated Wednesday by circuit court Judge Carmen Mullen. When he went to the electric chair, he was so small he had to sit on a phone book for the execution.

We do not have the knowledge of gods. There are too many people with motives to lie, to make false accusations, to seek out a scapegoat, to set an example. We should abolish the death penalty if only for this reason. It is good for Stinney's name to be cleared at long last; but his life was stolen. The sadness of this is beyond adequate expression.

December 17, 2014

Cutting Holes in the Law

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My column for this week is now online at the Blade. Here is an excerpt:

The Michigan House of Representatives recently passed a bill modeled on the 1993 federal Religious Freedom and Restoration Act, which featured in the Hobby Lobby case. The Michigan measure may allow emergency medical technicians to invoke sincerely held religious beliefs in refusing to serve LGBT people.

Where will religious demands in daily commerce end? If you view conscience clauses only in terms of gay families, the problem might seem limited. But what about people who object to interracial marriage or to second or third marriages after divorce? Assuming that gay conservatives are motivated by more than axe grinding against gay liberals, why does their solicitude for the religious right appear reserved for gay-related cases?

If an anti-gay Christian receives legal exemptions, why should a Christian Scientist parent opposed to modern medicine not be exempt from child welfare laws? Why should a Muslim devoted to the subordination of women (which, to be fair, is disputed within Islam) not invoke Sharia Law? Satanists, amusingly, have already responded to a Ten Commandments monument at the Oklahoma state capitol by demanding equal placement of a monument to the demon Baphomet.

Read the whole thing here.

December 16, 2014

Cory Booker defends D.C. home rule

I neglected to post this several days ago when Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ) spoke out against congressional interference with D.C. voters' choice to decriminalize possession of small amounts of marijuana. Thank you, Senator.

December 13, 2014

Somehow, a horse in a wedding dress refutes marriage equality

Why is a horse in a wedding dress any more related to gay couples than to straight couples? Gay people are not seeking to marry horses, but other human beings. But somehow, this sort of stunt seems to persuade some people.

Sen. Warren goes after Citigroup and its bailout provision

Sen. Elizabeth Warren lets Citigroup have it.

Update:

December 11, 2014

December 13 - #Justice4All march in DC

Perkins says conversion therapy ban will help gays recruit children

Because he says so. Pay no attention to the science. Just make stuff up. Sorry Tony, but you're losing the argument.

Congress and Initiative 71

Also:

December 10, 2014

Congressional spending bill blocks funds to implement marijuana legalization

City Paper reports.

In summary: The people of the District of Columbia have the right to govern ourselves, except when we don't. The fight continues.

December 08, 2014

Marriage News Watch: Dec. 8

Matt Baume of AFER gives a marriage equality update.

Michigan 'Religious Freedom' bill allows anyone to deny service to LGBT people

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NewNowNext reports:

Over the weekend, Republicans in the Michigan Statehouse passed a “license to discriminate” bill that would give just about anyone the right to refuse service to LGBT people if it conflicted with their religious beliefs.

The broadly written Religious Freedom Restoration Act would allow, for example, an EMT to refuse emergency treatment to a gay person or a pharmacist to refuse to refill HIV medication, because God decreed gays and lesbians should be put to death.

The measure is similar to one in Arizona that even right-wing governor Jan Brewer thought went too far and vetoed.

A similar issue arose during the D.C. marriage equality fight in 2009, and the overbroad religious exemption demanded by the Archdiocese of Washington was rejected by Phil Mendelson, then chair of the D.C. Council Judiciary Committee, at GLAA's urging.

LeBron: 'I Can't Breathe'

December 07, 2014

A question for Pope Francis

Season's Bleedings

My column this week is about a travesty of justice in the Michael Brown case in Missouri. Here is an excerpt:

What is the fuss about? Succinctly: A police officer who was more an occupier than a protector used deadly force to subdue a jaywalker, then prosecutors presented the case for his defense.

As protests sprang up across the nation and overseas last week, Wilson resigned from the force. St. Louis County police shut down a vigilante operation by the Oath Keepers militia. Twenty-year-old Deandre Joshua was murdered during the unrest on the night of November 24. When President Obama said after the grand jury announcement, "[T]here are still problems and communities of color aren't just making these problems up," reactions from the right would make you think he had torched a storefront.

Carlton Lee, Michael Brown Sr.'s pastor, received dozens of racist death threats in recent weeks, and his church, far from the riots, was burned down as he was off trying to keep the peace. Vowing to rebuild at a Sunday service beside the ruins, he urged love in response to the haters.

It is an old struggle....

Read the whole thing here.

December 06, 2014

Human Rights Amendment Act advances longtime GLAA goals

One of the bills that received unanimous approval on its final reading at the D.C. Council meeting on December 2 was Bill 20-803, the Human Rights Amendment Act. This bill enacted the recommendations in Sections 5.1 and 5.5 of GLAA's 2014 policy brief, "Building on Victory." Here is the bill summary:

To amend the Office of Human Rights Establishment Act of 1999 to require the Director of the Office to have a demonstrated professional background in human rights law, and to amend the Human Rights Act of 1977 to require the annual report include information on investigations and public hearings undertaken by the Office, and to repeal the exemption [known as the Armstrong Amendment] allowing religiously-affiliated educational institutions to discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation.

Thanks to Councilmember Tommy Wells, who introduced the bill and steered it through the Judiciary Committee. I blogged about the September 29 hearing here. A lawyer for Catholic University testified against the bill, falsely claiming that it would require the university to indicate its approval of a gay student group; in fact, it would only require the University to grant gay groups the same amenities as other student groups. Congress could act to overturn or block implementation of the bill, though that would require a presidential signature or a veto override. In the meantime, this is an overdue action in which the Council has resoundingly indicated its agreement with GLAA that the Armstrong Amendment (which was imposed by Congress a quarter century ago) needs to go.

The Washington Blade reported on the hearing and the final passage. Metro Weekly reports on the final passage.

December 02, 2014

D.C. Council passes bill to protect ‪#‎LGBT‬ youth from ‪#‎ConversionTherapy‬

NCLR writes:

Today, the District of Columbia Council unanimously approved a bill that will protect lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender youth from the dangerous and discredited practice of conversion therapy.

When signed into law, Washington, D.C. will become the third jurisdiction—behind California and New Jersey—to pass legislation protecting LGBT youth from practices that are known to cause severe depression and even suicide.

“Today, the DC Council sent a powerful message to LGBT youth and their families that they are accepted, supported, and loved,” said Samantha Ames, NCLR staff attorney and coordinator of the #BornPerfect campaign at the National Center for Lesbian Rights (NCLR). “The Council has used its authority to protect our most vulnerable youth from dangerous and discredited pseudoscience that tells them who they are is wrong, and reaffirmed the consensus of every major medical and mental health organization that all children are born perfect, regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity.”

NCLR, in conjunction with other organizations, including the Human Rights Campaign, played a key role in organizing the coalition behind the bill, which was authored by Councilmember Mary M. Cheh. A broad range of groups supported the Youth Mental Health Protection Act, including national LGBT organizations, mental health organizations, faith leaders, youth advocates, reproductive justice groups, and civil rights organizations.

Earlier this year, NCLR launched the #BornPerfect campaign to protecting LGBT youth across the country from conversion therapy over the next five years by passing laws, fighting in courtrooms to ensure their safety, and raising awareness about the serious harms caused by these dangerous practices.

Learn more about #BornPerfect at www.NCLRights.org/BornPerfect.

GLAA is proud to be part of the coalition that pushed for this bill. Now it goes to Mayor Gray for his signature, then to the Hill for the requisite congressional review period. Our youth will be that much safer for our collective effort, and the national movement to protect minors from these dangerous practices will get a boost.

Thanks to NCLR and all our coalition partners. Special kudos to Alison Gill, formerly of the Trevor Project and now Senior Legislative Counsel with the Human Rights Campaign, who served as coordinator.

More on the bill here.

December 01, 2014

Lambda Legal: end HIV criminalization

Lambda Legal issued this by news release:

On World AIDS Day 2014, Lambda Legal urges those tasked with enforcing U.S. criminal law - from governors to prosecutors to police detectives - to halt the criminal prosecution of people based on their HIV status, thereby assisting efforts to combat the misconceptions, fear, stereotypes, discrimination and stigma faced by people living with HIV that fuel the epidemic in the U.S. and around the world.

HIV criminalization is a striking example of how misinformation, stereotypes and unfounded fears affect people living with HIV and of the government engaging in discrimination that perpetuates these stigmatizing messages. Imposing unjustified and unnecessary criminal prohibitions on people with HIV has led to a society where people are - among other forms of oppression - imprisoned, classified as felons and forced to register as sex offenders, based on outdated and inaccurate information regarding HIV.

We have not come nearly far enough in educating the public about HIV and in reducing stigma and discrimination. Fear and ignorance about HIV and discrimination against people living with HIV remains a serious problem that both marginalizes people and poses barriers to treatment and care.

Lambda Legal remains committed to securing equal protection and equal rights for this community - because living with HIV is not a crime. Lambda Legal's commitment to fighting HIV and AIDS stigma and discrimination began more than twenty-five years ago in 1983 when we filed the nation's first challenge to AIDS discrimination and helped secure a court order stopping the efforts of neighbors to evict a doctor from his offices because he treated HIV-positive patients.

That commitment remains strong today. People living with HIV have a right to work and live free from discrimination, and laws, policies and other governmental actions should be based on sound science rather than fear and bias.

See the relevant portion of GLAA's 2014 policy brief.

November 27, 2014

A proud moment for Dan Snyder

November 26, 2014

Marriage victories in Arkansas and Mississippi

Messing with Texas

November 22, 2014

The five craziest conservative reactions to Obama on immigration

Brian Tashman at Right Wing Watch reports. The right wing is losing it.

Moral courage in the face of hatred

November 21, 2014

Dear Mr. Speaker

'We were strangers once, too'

President Obama gave one of his finest speeches last night in announcing his executive action on immigration. Here is my favorite passage:

Scripture tells us that we shall not oppress a stranger, for we know the heart of a stranger -- we were strangers once, too. My fellow Americans, we are and always will be a nation of immigrants. We were strangers once, too.

My friend Walter Dellinger, who was head of the Office of Legal Counsel from 1993 to 1996, explains in Slate that the President is on solid legal ground:

The idea that the immigration plan just announced by President Obama is a lawless power grab is absurd. As the Justice Department legal analysis that was just released amply demonstrates, much of the advance criticism of the president’s action has been uninformed and unwarranted. The opinion is well-reasoned and at times even conservative. The president is not acting unilaterally, but pursuant to his statutory authority. Wide discretion over deportation priorities has long been conferred on the executive branch by Congress, and it is being exercised in this case consistent with policies such as family unification that have been endorsed by Congress.

Dellinger's whole piece bears reading. Thank you and bravo, Mr. President.

November 20, 2014

#SCOTUS denies stay in South Carolina marriage case

November 19, 2014

President Obama previews primetime immigration address

More from the Associated Press.

Marriage victory in Montana

Slackers at the Chalkboard

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(Washington Blade photo by Lee Whitman)

My post-election column is now up at the Blade. If you're dreading the holidays and could use a booster shot of snark, this could be just the thing. Here's an excerpt:

With Republicans winning the Senate and Obamacare on the run, a new Era of Good Feeling is surely around the corner. Vote suppression, gerrymandering, and truckloads of secret cash are just another way of saying, "The people have spoken!" Someone please turn this into lyrics for a new Christmas carol.

The best hope for Democrats is Republican overreach. By that I do not mean your right-wing uncle getting gravy on his sweater as he reaches across the table at Thanksgiving. I mean unhinged recklessness driven by hubris and Obama hatred. Profits are up, unemployment and deficits are down -- get that Muslim socialist out of the White House before he ruins us!

Republicans are furious at the President's unrepentant attitude, despite their own intransigence after past losses. Elections must have consequences when Republicans win. Talk of government shutdowns and impeachment is rising. But President Obama has little to lose by picking fights (by which I mean being president, black, and doing anything). If you abuse someone no matter what he does, he might as well stand his ground. That is what our 44th president, at long last, appears to be doing.

Read the whole thing here.

Marriage News Watch

An update from Matt Baume at AFER. (From Monday)

SC AG asks Chief Justice Roberts for stay of 4th Circuit marriage ruling

November 18, 2014

Good marriage news from South Carolina and Kansas

On Bill Cosby

Bill Cosby
(Photo by Evan Vucci, The Associated Press)

Bill Cosby has entertained generations of Americans with his comedy. He is an educator and has created memorable children's programming. His creation "Little Bill" always says "Hello friend" because that's what Ennis, his murdered son, always said. Cosby is a great philanthropist. One does not want to believe that such a beloved and respected figure is a serial rapist. But 14 alleged victims, one of whom he settled with out of court, coupled with his silence, make it hard to credit his lawyer's dismissals. Sadness is all over this; but the seriousness of the accusations raises troubling questions about wealth and fame putting someone above the law. I sure could have done without this news.

Here are several relevant items:

Update: A thoughtful essay from Katie McDonough at Salon.

November 14, 2014

Montana: federal judge cancels marriage hearing, will rule soon

Tony Perkins Will Attend Upcoming Vatican Marriage Meeting

Miranda Blue at Right Wing Watch reports.