Category: politics & causes

Come On Already, NYC

Posted by – November 12, 2014

Honestly, we need someone to do groundbreaking stuff – don’t let Iowa beat you to it again, okay? Shoot, NYS has already beaten you to it.


A proposed law that would allow individuals to change the sex on their birth certificate without having gender reassignment surgery would ease the barrier to basic services such as health care, housing and jobs, transgender advocates said.

Testimony happened on Monday, 11/10, that helped explain why surgery should not be a requirement to change your birth certificate in NYC.

Please, Please Vote. Please.

Posted by – November 4, 2014

I’m starting to get a kind of sick feeling about Wednesday and I don’t like it. No, I didn’t do nearly as much as I should have but you can bet your ass I’ll show up to vote.

And what I’m worried about is that I’ll see the same pathetic numbers for voter turnout – especially voter turnout for young people – that I see every year.

And every year it breaks my damn heart that people die for the right to vote and yet people in the US just don’t bother to.

Why? I don’t know. I remember hearing a lot of “If voting worked, it wouldn’t be legal” more-radical-than-thou bullshit when I was a Green activist in NYC.

I know some people don’t feel sufficiently informed and honestly, if you know anything about any goddamn celebrity and you don’t know who you’d prefer to govern your life, your right to choice, your healthcare, your education, and pretty much every aspect of the rest of your life, your priorities are out of order.

The concentration of power in this country is becoming scary. I look at the bright, earnest young people I teach and I hope they are paying attention enough to realize that VOTING MATTERS.

Go do it. Even if you don’t feel informed. The first few times I voted, I didn’t either, and I always left the polls feeling guilty that I hadn’t done my homework. And I still never do as much as I want to, but you learn a little every year until how you vote and who you vote for starts to feel like something you know.

 

Vote!

Posted by – November 3, 2014

Tomorrow is Election Day, so here’s some important info about voting in WI:

  • YOU DON’T NEED AN ID TO VOTE TOMORROW.
  • You can register to vote at your polling place – all you need is proof of residency (WI license, bank statement, recent utility bill, other government document with your address on it). That proof can be paper or electronic.
  • The governorship is a BIG DEAL. Governors who are successful often go on to run for President, and Walker looks like he wants to. If he is voted out now, that will be way less likely.
  • When women and black voters get to the polls in hefty numbers, Democrats win.
  • Call your local Democratic office if you need a ride to the polls.

Goodbye, Eric Holder

Posted by – October 1, 2014

Wow am I going to miss him.

Vote!

Posted by – August 12, 2014

www.myvote.wi.gov

WI’s Attorney General Needs to Hear from You

Posted by – August 11, 2014

Wisconsin’s Attorney General Van Hollen is against same sex marriage. He was the one who put a halt to the marriages that were taking after a WI court declared WI’s super DOMA unconstitutional, and he has vowed to keep same sex couples from marrying no matter what the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals rules.

That is, he insists on defending a marriage ban that was already struck down by a WI court, and he can, because he’s Attorney General.

Wisconsin Unites for Marriage has a petition up which will let him know that same sex couples should be able to marry.

WI Unites for Marriage

Posted by – August 7, 2014



Sign the pledge
if you think same sex couples deserve marriage in Wisconsin.

Find out more about this campaign from Our Lives and the Wisconsin Gazette. Keep up via FB or Twitter.

Obama Adds Protections

Posted by – July 18, 2014

President Obama will sign executive orders to grant employees working for federal contractors and federal workers freedom from discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity.

That is, he’s doing what Congress – the House, specifically – has not done by not yet having passed ENDA.

U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin, D-Wisconsin, praised Obama for “showing strong leadership taking this historic action to advance equality in our country.”

But, Baldwin emphasized, Congress still must act. “The fight to pass on to the next generation an America that is more equal not less does not end with the president’s signature,” she said. “We have more work to do. Every American deserves the freedom to work free from discrimination and last year the Senate found common ground, passing the Employment Non-Discrimination Act with strong bipartisan support. I will continue to call on the House to put progress ahead of politics and give the Senate-passed ENDA an up or down vote because this legislation provides workplace protections that millions more Americans need and deserve today.”

I’m not convinced Congress will act, however, so at least there’s something in place now.

Obama Issues Executive Order to Protect Trans Employees

Posted by – July 1, 2014

Obama:

“I’ve repeatedly called on Congress to pass the Employment Non-Discrimination Act,” Obama said. “Right now, there are more states that let same-sex couples get married than there are states who prohibit discrimination against their LGBT workers.  We have laws that say Americans can’t be fired on the basis of the color of their skin or their religion, or because they have a disability. But every day, millions of Americans go to work worried that they could lose their job -– not because of anything they’ve done.”

“I know, it’s terrible,” Obama continued, as a baby in the audience began to cry. “It’s upsetting. It is wrong.”

Obama also cited a long list of LGBT accomplishments during his remarks, drawing cheers from the energetic crowd. In particular, the president repeated his calls for LGBT-rights activists to direct their energy and resources toward other “injustices,” including progressive causes such as raising the minimum wage, youth homelessness, equal pay and eliminating racial and religious discrimination.

“Dr. King said an ‘injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.’ And that means that we’ve got to be able to set up a community that extends beyond our own particular narrow interests; we’ve got to make sure that we’re reaching out to others who need our help as well,” Obama said. “That’s how we continue our nation’s march towards justice and equality.  That’s how we build a more perfect union –- a country where no matter what you look like, where you come from, what your last name is, who you love, you’ve got a chance to make it if you try. You guys have shown what can happen when people of goodwill organize and stand up for what’s right. And we’ve got to make sure that that’s not applied just one place, in one circumstance, in one time. That’s part of the journey that makes America the greatest country on Earth.”

Whenever I ask my students whether it’s legal to fire someone for being gay in this country, they look at me like I’m crazy. Because it is crazy, and it’s absurdly short-sighted and long overdue.

 

 

Hobby Lobbied

Posted by – June 30, 2014

There’s a part of me that wishes we could all go back to bed and pretend it’s Sunday night so that there would still be a chance these awful rulings wouldn’t have been handed down by the Supreme Court today, but they were.

The first is that labor unions can’t collect dues automatically from the workers they represent in negotiations with the management. It will decimate labor unions and workers’ rights.

The second is that corporations don’t have to cover contraception. The fear is that this will allow corporations to decide what kind of healthcare they have to insure. What’s happened is this: we are not talking about an individual being able to choose based on religious exemptions. We’re talking about a corporation being able to. As Justice Ginsberg put it:

In a decision of startling breadth, the Court holds that commercial enterprises, including corporations, along with partnerships and sole proprietorships, can opt out of any law (saving only tax laws) they judge incompatible with their sincerely held religious beliefs.

Theoretically, then, a corporation could not provide pre natal care, trans health care, etc. If the company is owned by Jehovah’s Witnesses, for example, they could deny all access to modern medicine because that’s their religious beliefs. Also, “contraception” isn’t just the pill; it’s also the shot (Depo-Provera), the ring (Nuvaring), contraceptive implants (IUD), diaphragms, cervical caps and permanent contraceptive methods, like tubal ligation. I haven’t read yet if it includes vasectomies, but it should (and I’m guessing doesn’t, because patriarchy).

The fear is a slippery slope where religious exemptions are claimed in order to deny LGBTQ+ people employment or marriage benefits. Why should they have to cover my wife’s health insurance if they believe my marriage is immoral and against their religious beliefs?

Here are some of Justice Ginsberg’s best quotes in her dissent, some of the major issues, and a brief synopsis of her grounds for it.

The good news, if there is any good news, is that most corporations will continue to cover contraception because financially, speaking, birth control is way easier to pay for than pregnancy.

Appleton’s Non Discimination Ordinance

Posted by – June 19, 2014

appleton NDO 2014Last night, the city of Appleton, WI passed a non discrimination ordinance that is inclusive of gender identity and expression. It passed the City Council 12-2, with awesome work by staff, council members, and Fair Wisconsin, and by my wife, who is not always thrilled about having to come out to people but does because it’s important.

It’s pretty damn cool to wake up & realize that I got to be part of getting more people a fair shake, especially those most vulnerable to discrimination.

Appleton is only the third city in the state to manage it (Milwaukee & Madison were first, of course).

What’s even more interesting is to wake up and read another column calling for NYS to get its act together and pass an inclusive GENDA. The Federal Government hasn’t managed it yet, either.

So yay for Appleton! It’s a pleasure being able to assist a city that is so clear on wanting to communicate a welcoming environment for all.

(& Yes, this is what I do for fun around here.)

 

Outagamie County Clerk Update

Posted by – June 12, 2014

On reasonably good authority, here’s an update about Outagamie County Clerk Lori O’Bright: she will NOT waive the waiting period for marriages other than her three reasons which she stated in public on Monday:

1. the health of one of the individual’s marrying (although she did grant a waiver for one couple where the mother of one of the women is in hospice);

2. someone is in the military; and

3. for someone from out of state.

She is not granting waivers for legal emergencies, which this should qualify as.

Let’s elect a new county clerk when we get the chance.

Of course our Attorney General Van Hollen has now publicly stated that clerks issuing licenses could be facing legal issues. What a schmo. My hero of the day is Dane County’s Clerk Scott McDonnell, who said

the possibility of prosecution “doesn’t keep me up at night.” McDonell, the first clerk to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples in Wisconsin, called Van Hollen’s claim of possible charges ridiculous.

“He needs to call off the dogs and turn off the fire hoses,” he said, invoking the civil rights protests of the 1960s.

Let’s move on, people. This fight is already over, and you’re just embarrassing yourselves now.

To That County Clerk

Posted by – June 11, 2014

On Friday, Judge Barbara Crabb ruled that the state’s ban on same sex marriage was unconstitutional. Madison and Milwaukee courthouses flooded with couples – people who’d been together 34 years, 26, 15, 2… excited at the prospect that they finally could. Our Attorney General threatened to stay her ruling, so it became twice as urgent that couples get married while they could in case the meanies decided to make it impossible again.

& As you all know, the cops brought the cake.

But in a lot of other counties in WI – I’ve heard Madison & Milwaukee referred to as Sodom & Gomorrah – County Clerks decided not to do the right thing. Ours here in Outagamie was one of them, and my friend Celia – who happens to be straight and married – got increasingly upset with her rationalizations and excuses for not doing her job.

She called the clerk and got treated rudely, and in order to be heard, Celia wrote a letter instead. Here it is.

On Monday, I called your office to urge you to waive the waiting period for marriage licenses for same-sex couples. You interrupted me mid-sentence, insisted that you would not be doing that, and thanked me curtly for my opinion. You never even took my name. 

But your rudeness to me is nothing compared to your gross abuse of your own authority over the past week. On Friday, you said you would treat same-sex couples and heterosexual couples exactly the same (your argument for not extending hours), but when couples arrived on Monday to receive licenses, you refused to issue any, claiming that you were awaiting instruction. You admitted that you had even not read Judge Crabb’s decision and only did so Monday morning.

When legal counsel reviewed the relevant sections of that decision and advised you to issue licenses, you relented, but still insisted on not allowing couples to waive the waiting period. Never mind the fact that, if the Attorney General were successful in his efforts to put a stay on marriages, these couples might not have the opportunity to enjoy the legal benefits of marriage. Legal exigency certainly would have been a reasonable argument for granting the waivers, but you insisted you were simply treating gay couples the same as heterosexual couples. 

I include this rather long summary because I contend that, at every turn, you allowed you personal feelings to cloud your judgment and prevent you from performing your duty to uphold the law. Initially, you upheld a law that had been deemed unconstitutional, and then, after counsel’s advice to change course, you clung to an absurdly narrow view of the law to guarantee that gay couples wouldn’t marry immediately.

I hope our next county clerk will fulfill his/her duties sensitively and without bias.

Celia Barnes, Appleton

Activist Clerks: Funny that the right wing hasn’t gotten all upset about them inflicting their politics on the rest of us.

Obama’s Pride Month Statement

Posted by – June 2, 2014

As progress spreads from State to State, as justice is delivered in the courtroom, and as more of our fellow Americans are treated with dignity and respect — our Nation becomes not only more accepting, but more equal as well. During Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender (LGBT) Pride Month, we celebrate victories that have affirmed freedom and fairness, and we recommit ourselves to completing the work that remains.

Last year, supporters of equality celebrated the Supreme Court’s decision to strike down a key provision of the Defense of Marriage Act, a ruling which, at long last, gave loving, committed families the respect and legal protections they deserve. In keeping with this decision, my Administration is extending family and spousal benefits — from immigration benefits to military family benefits — to legally married same-sex couples.

My Administration proudly stands alongside all those who fight for LGBT rights. Here at home, we have strengthened laws against violence toward LGBT Americans, taken action to prevent bullying and harassment, and prohibited discrimination in housing and hospitals. Despite this progress, LGBT workers in too many States can be fired just because of their sexual orientation or gender identity; I continue to call on the Congress to correct this injustice by passing the Employment Non-Discrimination Act. And in the years ahead, we will remain dedicated to addressing health disparities within the LGBT community by implementing the Affordable Care Act and the National HIV/AIDS Strategy — which focuses on improving care while decreasing HIV transmission rates among communities most at risk.

Our commitment to advancing equality for the LGBT community extends far beyond our borders. In many places around the globe, LGBT people face persecution, arrest, or even state-sponsored execution. This is unacceptable. The United States calls on every nation to join us in defending the universal human rights of our LGBT brothers and sisters.

This month, as we mark 45 years since the patrons of the Stonewall Inn defied an unjust policy and awakened a nascent movement, let us honor every brave leader who stood up, sat in, and came out, as well as the allies who supported them along the way. Following their example, let each of us speak for tolerance, justice, and dignity — because if hearts and minds continue to change over time, laws will too.

NOW, THEREFORE, I, BARACK OBAMA, President of the United States of America, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and the laws of the United States, do hereby proclaim June 2014 as Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Pride Month. I call upon the people of the United States to eliminate prejudice everywhere it exists, and to celebrate the great diversity of the American people.

IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this thirtieth day of May, in the year of our Lord two thousand fourteen, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and thirty-eighth.

BARACK OBAMA

Richard Martinez Wants You to Send a Postcard

Posted by – May 30, 2014

His son was killed this past weekend at Isla Vista, and he wants people to send a postcard to their representatives asking them to get on the ball already with gun control.

It’s super fast & easy.

Pussy Riot Assaulted

Posted by – February 19, 2014

Pussy Riot

Posted by – February 7, 2014

The Colbert Report
Get More: Colbert Report Full Episodes,Video Archive

AND they’re funny. The 2nd half is here.

ACLU Files Lawsuit Seeking Freedom to Marry for Wisconsin Couples

Posted by – February 3, 2014

The ACLU has set the ball rolling:

MADISON, Wis. – The American Civil Liberties Union, the ACLU of Wisconsin and the law firm of Mayer Brown filed a federal lawsuit today on behalf of four same-sex couples who wish to marry in Wisconsin or are seeking recognition for their legal out-of-state marriages.

The plaintiffs include Roy Badger and Garth Wangemann of Milwaukee, who have been together 37 years. Three years ago Wangemann had much of his right lung removed after being diagnosed with lung cancer. Following the operation, a complication occurred and he was put into a medically induced coma for nearly a month. His progress was uncertain, and Wangemann’s father attempted to override Badger’s power of attorney to have his son taken off life support. Before that could happen, Wangemann recovered.

“What upset me the most was that after all of our time together, our relationship was not fully recognized by my family and there was a real danger that my wish to give Roy the ability to make decisions about my care could be stripped away,” Wangemann said. “Thankfully, our wishes held in this case. But without the protections that come with marriage, the consequences can literally be a matter of life or death.”

Other plaintiffs in the case are Carol Schumacher and Virginia Wolf of Eau Claire; Charvonne Kemp and Marie Carlson of Milwaukee; and Judi Trampf and Katy Heyning of Madison.

Wisconsin’s ban on marriage for same-sex couples prevents them from securing the hundreds of protections that state law provides to married couples. Wisconsin law subjects same-sex couples to an additional harm that is unique among states that deny same-sex couples the freedom to marry. The only way for Wisconsin couples to get the federal protections that come with marriage is for them to go out of state to marry. But Wisconsin law says that may be a crime punishable by nine months in jail and a $10,000 fine.

Among the plaintiff couples, Schumacher and Wolf were legally married in another state, raising the possibility of prosecution back at home. The lawsuit challenges the overall ban as well as the application of this criminal law to same-sex couples who are forced to choose between being denied federal protections and the risk of criminal prosecution.

“These families simply want the security and recognition that only marriage provides,” said Larry Dupuis, legal director of the ACLU of Wisconsin. “They have built their lives and raised children here. It is wrong for the state to treat these loving and committed couples as second-class citizens, and it is cruel to place them in a catch-22 where they can’t even travel elsewhere to obtain federal protections without their marriage being labeled a crime.”

The lawsuit will be filed in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Wisconsin. The plaintiffs allege that the state’s constitutional marriage ban sends a message that lesbians, gay men, and their children are viewed as second-class citizens who are undeserving of the legal sanction, respect, protections, and support that heterosexuals and their families are able to enjoy through marriage.

“More and more Americans over the past few years accept the idea that same-sex couples and their families shouldn’t be treated differently than other families,” said John Knight, staff attorney with the ACLU Lesbian Gay Bisexual and Transgender Project. “It is our hope that Wisconsin will soon join the other 17 states in granting the freedom to marry.”

Help Me Bring the Trans to WI!

Posted by – January 15, 2014

Well hello lovely readers!

It’s rare for me to do this sort of thing, but there are a couple of cool events afoot that I’ve been part of that need your support. One of them is called the Trans Leadership Institute, and it’s a day of training for trans people + allies who want to know how to do education, outreach, & advocacy on trans/gender issues. It’s part of the work I do with Fair Wisconsin and the trans division of FW called T-Fair, and it’s part of the Trans Leadership Conference taking place in Milwaukee from February 7th – 9th.

In addition, there’s a gala on Saturday, February 8th, at which none other than Kate Bornstein is speaking! (You can even come if you want to!)

So here’s why I need your help:

1) Because we desperately need more attention on trans/gender issues in WI (as we do most everywhere).

2) I would like to see a few trans people who wouldn’t otherwise be able to afford to go to be able to do so. That is, some folks would have to take a day off work, drive, etc., and I want to help offset their costs directly.

3) There is a gala dinner on the evening of the 8th, at which none other than Kate Bornstein will be speaking, and I’d like for some of the lower income trans people I know to be able to attend. Tickets for that are $125/pop, and at the very least, I’d like to fill a table of 8-10.

So, if you would, you can either (1) donate directly to Fair Wisconsin, because it’s tax deductible!, or, (2) you can donate directly to me. (With me, of course, your name will be known only to me.) If you do donate directly to FW, do make sure you tell them what the money is for and that I sent you!

& Of course, feel free to let me know where you’d prefer the money to go – to Fair Wisconsin generally, to offset the costs for trans people to afford T*LI, or to pay for gala tickets, or all three.

OK, OK

Posted by – January 14, 2014

The good news is that a federal judge has struck down Oklahoma’s DOMA as unconstitutional.

(Image courtesy Joe.My.God)

(I’m sorry. I couldn’t resist.)