Marriage equality has come to the United States

The Supreme Court of the United States has ruled in favor of marriage equality!

“The Fourteenth Amendment requires a State to license a marriage between two people of the same sex and to recognize a marriage between two people of the same sex when their marriage was lawfully licensed and performed out-of-State.”

There it is, the ruling that gay-marriage advocates and opponents have been waiting for since April when the Court took up the case—but really, for years long before that. There is now a constitutional right for people of the same sex to get married in the United States.

In the Court’s opinion—authored by Justice Anthony Kennedy, a Catholic who has long been seen as the possible swing vote on gay marriage, joined by JusticesStephen Breyer, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Elena Kagan, and Sonia Sotomayor, and with four separate dissents authored and joined by combinations of  Samuel Alito, John Roberts, Antonin Scalia, and Clarence Thomas—lists four major reasons for its decision in Obergefell. First, Kennedy writes that “decisions about marriage are among the most intimate that an individual can make.” Allowing LGBT people to marry is a matter of personal choice and autonomy, just as it was in the Court’s 1967 in the case Loving v. Virginia, which outlawed bans on interracial marriage.

Second, Kennedy writes, marriage is a distinctive institution: “It supports a two-person union unlike any other in its importance to the committed individuals.” Here, he points to the Court’s opinion in Griswold v. Connecticut, which affirmed the right of married couples to use birth control. “Same-sex couples have the same right as opposite-sex couples to enjoy intimate association.”

But then, the decision takes an interesting turn: The Court seems to flip the oft-used reasoning of same-sex marriage opponents, who claim that gay marriage is harmful to children and families, and disruptive to the longstanding order of American society. In the oral arguments for Obergefell, several justices raised this very question—even Breyer, who joined in the decision, said that marriage between a man and a woman “has been the law everywhere for thousands of years. Suddenly you want nine people outside the ballot box to require states to change [this configuration].” But on Friday, Breyer joined four of his colleagues to do exactly that.

“Protecting the right to marry is that it safeguards children and families and thus draws meaning from related rights of childrearing, procreation, and education,” Kennedy writes. Not all straight married couples have children, and they’re certainly not required to do so by law, he reasons; the same rule should apply to gay married couples. But more importantly, for those gay couples that do want to have kids—including the many, many couples who adopt or have children using the genetic material of one parent—seeing their unions as less than marriage under the law creates a “more difficult and uncertain family life. The marriage laws at issue thus harm and humiliate the children.”

Finally, Kennedy affirms that marriage is “a keystone of the Nation’s social order.” It is the institution at the center of the United States’ legal and educational structures, and because of this, “it is demeaning to lock same-sex couples out of a central institution of the Nation’s society, for they too may aspire to the transcendent purposes of marriage.”

“Rising from the most basic human needs, marriage is essential to our most profound hopes and aspirations,” Kennedy writes. This is, perhaps, the most striking argument of all, for it is an argument about the nature, significance, and dignity of marriage itself. “The ancient origins of marriage confirm its centrality, but it has not stood in isolation from developments in law and society,” Kennedy writes, but the “institution—even as confined to opposite-sex relations—has evolved over time.”

I really have nothing to say other than I feel almost blissfully, joyously happy. Not just for myself (really, I don’t have anyone in my life, so marriage remains theoretical for me), but for so many other people out there. There are who knows how many people who have wanted to marry, but were prevented from doing so bc they were lesbian, gay, or bisexual.  And it comes during Pride month! This is one step closer to being treated as full human beings in the eyes of the law.  Thank you SCOTUS. Thank you for doing the right thing!

Marriage equality has come to the United States
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Documenting racism in the United States

PSA:
In the wake of the extrajudicial execution of Michael Brown, Jr at the hands of former Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson, blogger and biology professor PZ Myers set up the thread Good morning, America to discuss matters of race across the United States. The thread runs two pages and is a great resource for anyone wanting to read about racism in the US. Among the many functions of the thread:

• documenting cases of police brutality
• documenting examples of racism in the civilian population
• documenting examples of racism in popular culture
• amplifying the voices of People of Color, whether writers, bloggers, activists, politicians
• linking to scholarly articles on the subject of race

Continue reading “Documenting racism in the United States”

Documenting racism in the United States

Protests over the death of Michael Brown continue

The protests in Missouri continue. In the wake of Michael Brown’s death at the hands of police officer Darren Wilson-who is still free-citizens of Ferguson, MO have been protesting.

Police harassment.

Police Brutality.

Police indifference to the lives of black people.

Apathy from the local, state, and even federal government.

They’re pissed off, justifiably.  Sadly, police continue to interfere in the protests (they have even deployed a sniper on one occasion). They are also terrorizing the protesters.

Continue reading “Protests over the death of Michael Brown continue”

Protests over the death of Michael Brown continue

Zoe Quinn’s screenshots of 4chan’s dirty tricks were just the appetizer. Here’s the first course of the dinner, directly from the IRC log

Gamergate. It is NOT about corruption. It is about sexism and misogyny. It’s about death threats. It’s about rape threats. It’s about a segment of the gaming community who are horrible human beings who wish for the most vile things to happen to women they don’t like.

Zoe Quinn’s screenshots of 4chan’s dirty tricks were just the appetizer. Here’s the first course of the dinner, directly from the IRC log

Zoe Quinn's screenshots of 4chan's dirty tricks were just the appetizer. Here's the first course of the dinner, directly from the IRC log

Gamergate. It is NOT about corruption. It is about sexism and misogyny. It’s about death threats. It’s about rape threats. It’s about a segment of the gaming community who are horrible human beings who wish for the most vile things to happen to women they don’t like.

Zoe Quinn's screenshots of 4chan's dirty tricks were just the appetizer. Here's the first course of the dinner, directly from the IRC log

Fuck. Shit is hitting the fan in Ferguson, MO.

5 arrested, two officers shot in Brown memorial unrest

Five protesters were arrested and some businesses were damaged Tuesday night after a memorial to Michael Brown was destroyed in a fire. The confrontation reignited tensions in the St. Louis suburb that was rocked by violence this summer after Brown, an unarmed teenager, was shot by a Ferguson police officer.

During a news conference Wednesday, Capt. Ron Johnson with the Missouri State Highway Patrol said two St. Louis County police officers were injured during the unrest.

Johnson said one of the officers was hit just underneath his eye with a rock. He is expected to recover.

The unrest started Tuesday when a beauty supply store was looted and vandalized by several people attempting to haul out a cash register. Johnson said the manager said this was the third time the store had been broken into in the last six weeks.

Police responded to the break-in and then several gunshots were heard and approximately 200 people gathered at the site where demonstrations were held after the Aug. 9 shooting of Brown, 18, by Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson.

After the break-in, a fire was reported at a restaurant on Carson Road. Johnson said the investigation shows gasoline appears to have been poured around the restaurant. He said the fire was put out by Ferguson firefighters.

****

Ferguson police officer shot, but not killed

Scant details at the moment, but we’ll know more soon, I’m sure.

Update:

Police say the shooting occurred while the officer was at the Ferguson Community Center checking the building.

Tim Zoll of the Ferguson Police Department said the officer was shot in the arm. The officer’s identity and condition is unknown at this time. The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported that the officer is female.

The suspect is still at large. No further information was immediately available.

****

 Ferguson unrest

Cast as an olive branch by some, the Ferguson police chief’s attempt to march with protesters demanding charges in the killing of an unarmed, black 18-year-old by a white officer still erupted into a clash that activists Friday blamed on police missteps.

The trouble Thursday night came hours after Police Chief Tom Jackson released a videotaped apology to Michael Brown’s family that drew skepticism from residents and protesters who still crave answers about Brown’s death. A county grand jury is weighing whether to indict Ferguson officer Darren Wilson in the Aug. 9 shooting, and the Justice Department is investigating whether Brown’s civil rights were violated.

This “olive branch” ought to have been extended the same day Michael Brown was murdered.  I think it’s a bit late in the eyes of many people.  For my part, it rings hollow bc it flies in the face of the chief’s actions since August 9th.  He’s got an uphill battle ahead of him if he wants people to think he’s on the correct side of justice.

 

****

Browns unmoved by chief’s apology

The parents of Michael Brown told The Associated Press on Saturday they were unmoved by the apology given by the Ferguson, Missouri, police chief weeks after their unarmed 18-year-old son was killed by a police officer.

Brown’s mother, Lesley McSpadden, said, “yes,” when asked if Chief Tom Jackson should be fired, and his father, Michael Brown Sr., said rather than an apology, they would rather see the officer who shot their son arrested for his Aug. 9 death.

Fuck. Shit is hitting the fan in Ferguson, MO.

LGBT news 9.27.14

“Would you oppose attempts to add ‘homosexuality’, ‘transsexuality’, or ‘pedophilia’ to the anti-discriminations laws in Michigan?”-a survey sent out to political candidates by Public Advocate of the United States, a Virginia based non-profit run by Eugene Delgaudio.  Josh Derke was shocked to read this survey. The Michigan House hopeful shot back at PAofUS and Delgaudio:

“You and your group should be ashamed for sending this pile of excrement,” Derke wrote. “And I hope that if there is even a shred of humanity within you that you feel a twinge of guilt and shame for comparing loving couples and parents to pedophiles.”

Of course Delgaudio doesn’t see things that way:

Delgaudio, for his part, stood by the questionnaire, noting that Michigan candidates on both sides of the aisle have already accepted campaign contributions from wealthy LGBT rights supporters.

“We’re against any kind of bizarre behavior being protected under anti-discrimination laws. If you’re saying homosexuality is not bizarre, I understand, that’s your position,” he told MLive.

“We’re not singling out gays and saying gays are pedophiliacs, or that they’re supporting pedophilia. We’re just asking, would you agree to oppose that?”

The survey only allowed a ‘yes’ or ‘no’ answer.  How is someone supposed to read it any other way than “these things are all bad-do you support them or not”?  Homosexuality and transsexuality should be protected by anti-discrimination laws.  Pedophilia, which is actively harmful to children, should not. But for people like Delgaudio, they think they’re all bad, so of course they conflate all three. Fuck you Delgaudio and thank you to Josh Derke.

* * * *

If you have an outdated cellphone or computer, consider donating it to at risk LGBTQ kids.

The Trevor Project, Human IT and Straight But Not Narrow have released two new videos in support of their new Power On campaign which aims to provide refurbished technology to underprivileged LGBTQ teens.

Donated hardware will be refurbished free of charge by Human I-T with resources for LGBTQ youth, including access to The Trevor Project’s accredited instant messaging service for youth in crisis, TrevorChat, and the organization’s social networking platform for LGBTQ youth, TrevorSpace. The refurbished laptops, smart phones, and tablets will then be distributed to LGBTQ centers and shelters around the country.

* * * *

 Department of Justice will ask Supreme Court to uphold same-sex marriage

I can just hear the wailing and teeth-gnashing of bigots everywhere.  I laugh. I LOL. I guffaw  at their tears.

This evening NBC News’ Pete Williams said that the U.S. Department of Justice “will ask the Supreme Court to uphold same-sex marriage.” Eric Holder, Williams reports, says the country is ready for marriage equality.

“Once again, Attorney General Eric Holder and the Obama Administration have stood up for marriage equality at a critical moment,” said HRC President Chad Griffin said in a statement. “As the nine justices of the U.S. Supreme Court gather on Monday to evaluate several marriage equality cases for full hearing, I hope they consider two facts—that the nation is ready for marriage equality, and that there are painful consequences to inaction. Committed and loving gay and lesbian couples can’t afford to wait any longer. It’s time to settle this constitutional question, once and for all.”

LGBT news 9.27.14

You didn’t forget about Ferguson did you?

Because important events are still happening there.  In fact, a protest is going on today, September 10, 2014.  The protest will shut down part of Highway 70 beginning at 3pm to protest the lack of a special prosecutor on the Michael Brown court case:

Long-time St. Louis activist Anthony Shahid will lead protesters across Interstate 70 today, shutting down the highway to protest the lack of a special prosecutor on the Michael Brown court case.

Protesters plan to meet at 3 p.m. at Hanley Road and then block the highway.

“It is going to cause people some discomfort, it is going to cause inconvenience to people,” says Eric Vickers, one of the organizers of the Justice for Michael Brown Leadership Coalition, about the highway protest. “That is a small price to pay to change the conditions for African American youth, and it is a very small price to pay to bring justice to Michael Brown. The Wednesday civil-disobedience action will be the start of a direct action campaign that will continue and will escalate until our demands are met.”

St. Louis Prosecuting Attorney Bob McCullough, who is currently handling the local criminal prosecution of Darren Wilson, the Ferguson Police officer who shot and killed Brown in August, has refused to step down from the case despite repeated calls from Ferguson protesters for his removal. Now that Governor Jay Nixon has called off the state of emergency in Ferguson, he has no authority to name a new prosecutor in the Brown case.

But that hasn’t stopped protesters, especially the newly formed Don’t Shoot Coalition, from demanding a new prosecutor. Many have questioned McCullough’s objectivity since his father, a police officer, was killed in the line of duty by a black man when McCullough was twelve years old.


No End in Sight for Darren Wilson Case as Grand Jury Term Officially Ends Wednesday

A grand jury has been considering evidence for three weeks now in the case of Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson, and the hearings will likely continue for at least another month despite the official term for the jury ending tomorrow.

Ed Magee, spokesman for the St. Louis County Prosecutor’s Office, tells Daily RFT that the grand jury will proceed to meet in special session after its four-month term ends Wednesday. Last month, St. Louis County Prosecutor Bob McCulloch estimated that the grand jury would weigh evidence surrounding the August 9 shooting death of eighteen-year-old Michael Brown through mid-October. Today Magee suggested that that timeline might be optimistic.”The process won’t be concluded until next month at the earliest,” says Magee.

During its special session, the grand jury will only review the Wilson case. Jurists had been meeting on Wednesdays during its official term on the grand jury but that could change under the special session.

“There are twelve of them, so the meetings will probably be held at different dates and times to accommodate their schedules,” says Magee.

Yesterday the Washington Post reported that unlike most criminal cases, prosecutors are not telling the grand jury what charges they think Wilson should face. Instead, the prosecutor’s office is presenting evidence to the jurists as it receives it, allowing the grand jury to consider all the photos, videos, testimonies, ballistics and other details involved in the investigation. Such a process greatly adds to the time the grand jury convenes but is also viewed as a more transparent way of presenting evidence in high-profile crimes. After the hearings conclude, the grand jury will help determine what charges to bring against Wilson — if any.

Magee tells Daily RFT that the only grand jury in recent history to convene as long as the Wilson case was in 2000 when two undercover officers shot and killed two suspects in a drug sting at a north county Jack in the Box. In that case, which carried many of the same racial overtones and public outcry as the Michael Brown shooting, the grand jury declined to indict the officers.

 


Why did Michael Brown’s body lay on the ground so long following his murder?

After Michael Brown was fatally shot by a police officer near his grandmother’s apartment complex, his body stayed in the street — sometime covered, sometimes not — for about four hours.

Photos of the body spread rapidly on social media, fueling the anger of a crowd already distraught at the death of an unarmed black teenager. Weeks later, many point to the delay in moving Brown’s body as the first sign of police breaking trust and mishandling the case. Even Ferguson Police Chief Tom Jackson told reporters he was uncomfortable with the long wait before Brown was transported to a nearby morgue.

So what took so long?

Jackson responded that “gun shots” nearby delayed investigators on scene, and St. Louis County Police Chief Jon Belmar pointed to the complexity of the investigation into Brown’s death at the hands of an officer.

“This is a very complicated investigation, as it should be,” Belmar said. “We need to make sure this investigation is done right.”

But to get the whole story, you have to hear from Calvin Whitaker, the man responsible for moving Brown’s body. Whitaker, a funeral director who handles moving bodies for St. Louis County, explained his side of the story to John Pertzborn on Fox2Now.

Police called Whitaker and his wife, who is also a funeral director, to pick up Brown’s body at 2:01 p.m., two hours after Ferguson Police Officer shot Brown. Whitaker arrived at 2:25 p.m. to find a tumultuous, angry crowd.

“It was very hectic, you could cut the tension with a knife,” Whitaker tells Fox2Now. “Police could not control the crowd.”

At one point, Whitaker heard gunshots nearby, just as Jackson told reporters in the days after Brown’s shooting. Whitaker and his wife don’t carry bullet-proof vests, so police told them to “hunker down” in their car to keep safe.

“There were times when we feared for our lives,” Whitaker says. He and his wife stayed in the car for two hours waiting for police to control the crowd. “It took so long because we could not do our job. It was unsafe for us to be there…There was nowhere for us to go.”

The only thing that could calm the crowd down long enough for Whitaker to take Brown’s body away was a plea from Brown’s family. Whitaker says he remembers family members begging the crowd to step back, saying, “”They will not pickup my son, they are not safe.”


Michael Brown’s Family Demands Officer Arrest at Tense Ferguson City Council Meeting

There were several extremely tense moments last night at Greater Grace Church at the first Ferguson City Council meeting since the shooting death of Michael Brown one month ago. Police presence in the lobby of the church was heavy as attendees walked through metal detectors. The first time proceedings screeched to a halt amid shouting came after Mayor James Knowles announced that, per normal procedures, each speaker would be allowed three minutes of public comment, but no one on the council would answer questions.

Knowles did, however, receive tepid approval at the first reading of several bills designed to reform parts of the municipal code that, in the wake of the shooting, have been highlighted as unfair to the city’s minorities and working poor. But as the public comment period began (the “fill out a comment card” system falling apart almost immediately), it was clear many in the audience felt the new bills were just platitudes.

“We’re not going to let you go back to business as usual,” said local activist Ashley Yates. “We’re going to hold you accountable. How many police officers have been let go? We’re gonna make sure they all get let go.”

The bills read last night would repeal an automatic fee for having a vehicle towed, toss out certain fees for municipal court cases, limit to 15 percent the amount of money the city’s general fund can receive from court fines and make a failure to appear in municipal court no longer a separate offense. Knowles also announced a bill for the formation of a citizen review board as well as an outstanding warrant recall program set for September 15 to October 15. Much of what Knowles said on these items was read from the same statement announcing the changes from the day prior — read more about that here.

If the changes to the city law were meant as an apology, it was clearly too late for Terri Franks, the mother of twin seventeen-year-old boys who she says have been constantly pulled over since they got their licenses a year ago, swamping her with court fees.

“You make your money off of our backs,” she said. “I’m constantly coming to court for something as frivolous as a blinker not being on.”

Michael-John Voss, an attorney with the ArchCity Defenders, told Daily RFT that the changes the city is making are “great,” though they stopped far short of what he and his colleagues are asking the city to do: Grant total amnesty to Ferguson residents with nonviolent warrants and fines sitting on their records, these being mainly for traffic offenses.

“You can see the anger and resentment here,” said Voss. “[The city] has to divide the administration of justice from the desire to raise revenue…there has to be a real commitment to show it’s not about the money.”


You didn’t forget about Ferguson did you?

You didn't forget about Ferguson did you?

Because important events are still happening there.  In fact, a protest is going on today, September 10, 2014.  The protest will shut down part of Highway 70 beginning at 3pm to protest the lack of a special prosecutor on the Michael Brown court case:

Long-time St. Louis activist Anthony Shahid will lead protesters across Interstate 70 today, shutting down the highway to protest the lack of a special prosecutor on the Michael Brown court case.

Protesters plan to meet at 3 p.m. at Hanley Road and then block the highway.

“It is going to cause people some discomfort, it is going to cause inconvenience to people,” says Eric Vickers, one of the organizers of the Justice for Michael Brown Leadership Coalition, about the highway protest. “That is a small price to pay to change the conditions for African American youth, and it is a very small price to pay to bring justice to Michael Brown. The Wednesday civil-disobedience action will be the start of a direct action campaign that will continue and will escalate until our demands are met.”

St. Louis Prosecuting Attorney Bob McCullough, who is currently handling the local criminal prosecution of Darren Wilson, the Ferguson Police officer who shot and killed Brown in August, has refused to step down from the case despite repeated calls from Ferguson protesters for his removal. Now that Governor Jay Nixon has called off the state of emergency in Ferguson, he has no authority to name a new prosecutor in the Brown case.

But that hasn’t stopped protesters, especially the newly formed Don’t Shoot Coalition, from demanding a new prosecutor. Many have questioned McCullough’s objectivity since his father, a police officer, was killed in the line of duty by a black man when McCullough was twelve years old.


No End in Sight for Darren Wilson Case as Grand Jury Term Officially Ends Wednesday

A grand jury has been considering evidence for three weeks now in the case of Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson, and the hearings will likely continue for at least another month despite the official term for the jury ending tomorrow.

Ed Magee, spokesman for the St. Louis County Prosecutor’s Office, tells Daily RFT that the grand jury will proceed to meet in special session after its four-month term ends Wednesday. Last month, St. Louis County Prosecutor Bob McCulloch estimated that the grand jury would weigh evidence surrounding the August 9 shooting death of eighteen-year-old Michael Brown through mid-October. Today Magee suggested that that timeline might be optimistic.”The process won’t be concluded until next month at the earliest,” says Magee.

During its special session, the grand jury will only review the Wilson case. Jurists had been meeting on Wednesdays during its official term on the grand jury but that could change under the special session.

“There are twelve of them, so the meetings will probably be held at different dates and times to accommodate their schedules,” says Magee.

Yesterday the Washington Post reported that unlike most criminal cases, prosecutors are not telling the grand jury what charges they think Wilson should face. Instead, the prosecutor’s office is presenting evidence to the jurists as it receives it, allowing the grand jury to consider all the photos, videos, testimonies, ballistics and other details involved in the investigation. Such a process greatly adds to the time the grand jury convenes but is also viewed as a more transparent way of presenting evidence in high-profile crimes. After the hearings conclude, the grand jury will help determine what charges to bring against Wilson — if any.

Magee tells Daily RFT that the only grand jury in recent history to convene as long as the Wilson case was in 2000 when two undercover officers shot and killed two suspects in a drug sting at a north county Jack in the Box. In that case, which carried many of the same racial overtones and public outcry as the Michael Brown shooting, the grand jury declined to indict the officers.

 


Why did Michael Brown’s body lay on the ground so long following his murder?

After Michael Brown was fatally shot by a police officer near his grandmother’s apartment complex, his body stayed in the street — sometime covered, sometimes not — for about four hours.

Photos of the body spread rapidly on social media, fueling the anger of a crowd already distraught at the death of an unarmed black teenager. Weeks later, many point to the delay in moving Brown’s body as the first sign of police breaking trust and mishandling the case. Even Ferguson Police Chief Tom Jackson told reporters he was uncomfortable with the long wait before Brown was transported to a nearby morgue.

So what took so long?

Jackson responded that “gun shots” nearby delayed investigators on scene, and St. Louis County Police Chief Jon Belmar pointed to the complexity of the investigation into Brown’s death at the hands of an officer.

“This is a very complicated investigation, as it should be,” Belmar said. “We need to make sure this investigation is done right.”

But to get the whole story, you have to hear from Calvin Whitaker, the man responsible for moving Brown’s body. Whitaker, a funeral director who handles moving bodies for St. Louis County, explained his side of the story to John Pertzborn on Fox2Now.

Police called Whitaker and his wife, who is also a funeral director, to pick up Brown’s body at 2:01 p.m., two hours after Ferguson Police Officer shot Brown. Whitaker arrived at 2:25 p.m. to find a tumultuous, angry crowd.

“It was very hectic, you could cut the tension with a knife,” Whitaker tells Fox2Now. “Police could not control the crowd.”

At one point, Whitaker heard gunshots nearby, just as Jackson told reporters in the days after Brown’s shooting. Whitaker and his wife don’t carry bullet-proof vests, so police told them to “hunker down” in their car to keep safe.

“There were times when we feared for our lives,” Whitaker says. He and his wife stayed in the car for two hours waiting for police to control the crowd. “It took so long because we could not do our job. It was unsafe for us to be there…There was nowhere for us to go.”

The only thing that could calm the crowd down long enough for Whitaker to take Brown’s body away was a plea from Brown’s family. Whitaker says he remembers family members begging the crowd to step back, saying, “”They will not pickup my son, they are not safe.”


Michael Brown’s Family Demands Officer Arrest at Tense Ferguson City Council Meeting

There were several extremely tense moments last night at Greater Grace Church at the first Ferguson City Council meeting since the shooting death of Michael Brown one month ago. Police presence in the lobby of the church was heavy as attendees walked through metal detectors. The first time proceedings screeched to a halt amid shouting came after Mayor James Knowles announced that, per normal procedures, each speaker would be allowed three minutes of public comment, but no one on the council would answer questions.

Knowles did, however, receive tepid approval at the first reading of several bills designed to reform parts of the municipal code that, in the wake of the shooting, have been highlighted as unfair to the city’s minorities and working poor. But as the public comment period began (the “fill out a comment card” system falling apart almost immediately), it was clear many in the audience felt the new bills were just platitudes.

“We’re not going to let you go back to business as usual,” said local activist Ashley Yates. “We’re going to hold you accountable. How many police officers have been let go? We’re gonna make sure they all get let go.”

The bills read last night would repeal an automatic fee for having a vehicle towed, toss out certain fees for municipal court cases, limit to 15 percent the amount of money the city’s general fund can receive from court fines and make a failure to appear in municipal court no longer a separate offense. Knowles also announced a bill for the formation of a citizen review board as well as an outstanding warrant recall program set for September 15 to October 15. Much of what Knowles said on these items was read from the same statement announcing the changes from the day prior — read more about that here.

If the changes to the city law were meant as an apology, it was clearly too late for Terri Franks, the mother of twin seventeen-year-old boys who she says have been constantly pulled over since they got their licenses a year ago, swamping her with court fees.

“You make your money off of our backs,” she said. “I’m constantly coming to court for something as frivolous as a blinker not being on.”

Michael-John Voss, an attorney with the ArchCity Defenders, told Daily RFT that the changes the city is making are “great,” though they stopped far short of what he and his colleagues are asking the city to do: Grant total amnesty to Ferguson residents with nonviolent warrants and fines sitting on their records, these being mainly for traffic offenses.

“You can see the anger and resentment here,” said Voss. “[The city] has to divide the administration of justice from the desire to raise revenue…there has to be a real commitment to show it’s not about the money.”


You didn't forget about Ferguson did you?

Abortion Rights News

 

Politicians love to interfere in a woman’s right to choose.   It’s always under the pretense of “guarding the sanctity of life” or “protecting the life of the unborn”.  There’s never any regard for the woman carrying the fetus.  Never any concern for her well-being. Such is the case, once again in Missouri:

Overriding Gov. Jay Nixon’s veto of a measure tripling the waiting period for an abortion is one of several priorities for Republican lawmakers this week during the veto session.

Nixon, a Democrat, was uncharacteristically critical of the bill, saying its lack of an exception for victims of rape and incest was a “glaring omission” that was “wholly insensitive to women who find themselves in horrific circumstances.”

Bill handler Sen. David Sater, R-Cassville, said he’s confident both chambers will override the veto.

“We’ve got the votes, so unless some of the Democrats in the Senate decide to filibuster, it’ll go through just fine,” Sater said.

The Senate passed the bill on a party-line vote of 22-9, one shy of the 23 needed for an override. The House passed it 111-39, more than the 109 needed for an override. The Senate’s missing Republican vote belonged to Sen. Mike Cunningham, R-Rogersville, who was absent because his mother died.

He supports the bill, saying he doesn’t “think waiting is too much to ask of someone before they terminate a life.”

 

It’s far too long if a woman does not want to be pregnant any longer.  See, this is the problem they have:  they aren’t looking at women as thinking human beings capable of making decisions about their bodies (with the informed opinions of their doctors).  THAT, and they think an embryo or fetus is something special.  They’ve no regard for the right to bodily autonomy, nor the right to self defense (the latter is granted by the former) for women.  It’s sickening to see a fucking fetus valued more than an existing woman.

 


 

 

The Dawn of the Post Clinic Abortion

Access to abortion services can range from relatively easy to virtually impossible, depending on where a woman lives.  Some countries (including the oh so democratic and progressive and wonderful and gah gah gag me with a spoon United States) ostensibly allow legal abortions-but anti-abortion activists have been successful in closing many clinics or throwing up tremendous obstacles to this basic right of all women.  Other countries like those in Latin America, Africa, or Asia often have severe restrictions on abortion, or the procedure is outright banned. Thankfully, there are determined people like Rebecca Gomperts who, through the use of modern technology and a strong desire to reduce the suffering of others, have helped women across the globe terminate their pregnancies on their own terms.  In this article, read about Gomperts first attempts to help women obtain the abortion drugs misoprostol and mifepristone (formerly RU-486), the obstacles she faced and continues to face in her attempt to use the internet to assist women in obtaining abortion inducing drugs, and the frustration felt by women around the globe who want nothing more than to end their pregnancies  (you’ll want to kick back somewhere comfortable-the article, well worth reading, is lengthy):

(excerpt)

Gomperts is a general-practice physician and activist. She first assisted with an abortion 20 years ago on a trip to Guinea, just before she finished medical school in Amsterdam. Three years later, Gomperts went to work as a ship’s doctor on a Greenpeace vessel. Landing in Mexico, she met a girl who was raising her younger siblings because her mother had died during a botched illegal abortion. When the ship traveled to Costa Rica and Panama, women told her about hardships they suffered because they didn’t have access to the procedure. “It was not part of my medical training to talk about illegal abortion and the public-health impact it has,” Gomperts told me this summer. “In those intense discussions with women, it really hit me.”

When she returned to the Netherlands, Gomperts decided she wanted to figure out how to help women like the ones she had met. She did some legal and medical research and concluded that in a Dutch-registered ship governed by Dutch law, she could sail into the harbor of a country where abortion is illegal, take women on board, bring them into international waters, give them the pills at sea and send them home to miscarry. Calling the effort Women on Waves, she chose Dublin as her first destination.

Ten women each gave Gomperts 10,000 Dutch guilders (about $5,500), part of the money needed to rent a boat and pay for a crew. But to comply with Dutch law, she also had to build a mobile abortion clinic. Tapping contacts she made a decade earlier, when she attended art school at night while studying medicine, she got in touch with Joep van Lieshout, a well-known Dutch artist, and persuaded him to design the clinic. They applied for funds from the national arts council and built it together inside the shipping container. When the transport ministry threatened to revoke the ship’s authorization because of the container on deck, van Lieshout faxed them a certificate decreeing the clinic a functional work of art, titled “a-portable.” The ship was allowed to sail, and van Lieshout later showed a mock-up of the clinic at the Venice Biennale.

As the boat sailed toward Dublin, Gomperts and her shipmates readied their store of pills and fielded calls from the press and emails from hundreds of Irish women seeking appointments. The onslaught of interest took them by surprise. So did a controversy that was starting to brew back home. Conservative politicians in the Netherlands denounced Gomperts for potentially breaking a law that required a special license for any doctor to provide an abortion after six and a half weeks of pregnancy. Gomperts had applied for it a few months earlier and received no reply. She set sail anyway, planning to perform abortions only up to six and a half weeks if the license did not come through.

When Gomperts’s ship docked in Dublin, she still didn’t have the license. Irish women’s groups were divided over what to do. Gomperts decided she couldn’t go ahead without their united support and told a group of reporters and protesters that she wouldn’t be able to give out a single pill. “This is just the first of many trips that we plan to make,” she said from the shore, wrapped in a blanket, a scene that is captured in “Vessel,” a documentary about her work that will be released this winter. Gomperts was accused of misleading women. A headline in The Telegraph in London read: “Abortion Boat Admits Dublin Voyage Was a Publicity Sham.”

Gomperts set sail again two years later, this time resolving to perform abortions only up to six and a half weeks. She went to Poland first and to Portugal in 2004. The Portuguese minister of defense sent two warships to stop the boat, then just 12 miles offshore, from entering national waters. No local boat could be found to ferry out the women who were waiting onshore. “In the beginning we were very pissed off, thinking the campaign was failing because the ship couldn’t get in,” one Portuguese activist says in “Vessel.” “But at a certain point, we realized that was the best thing that could ever happen. Because we had media coverage from everywhere.”

Without consulting her local allies, Gomperts changed strategy. She appeared on a Portuguese talk show, held up a pack of pills on-screen and explained exactly how women could induce an abortion at home — specifying the number of pills they needed to take, at intervals, and warning that they might feel pain. A Portuguese anti-abortion campaigner who was also on the show challenged the ship’s operation on legal grounds. “Excuse me,” Gomperts said. “I really think you should not talk about things that you don’t know anything about, O.K. . . . I know what I can do within the law.” Looking directly at him, she added, “Concerning pregnancy, you’re a man, you can walk away when your girlfriend is pregnant. I’m pregnant now, and I had an abortion when I was — a long time ago. And I’m very happy that I have the choice to continue my pregnancy how I want, and that I had the choice to end it when I needed it.” She pointed at the man. “You have never given birth, so you don’t know what it means to do that.”

Two and a half years later, Portugal legalized abortion. As word of Gomperts’s TV appearance spread, activists in other countries saw it as a breakthrough. Gomperts had communicated directly to women what was still, in many places, a well-kept secret: There were pills on the market with the power to end a pregnancy. Emails from women all over the world poured into Women on Waves, asking about the medication and how to get it. Gomperts wanted to help women “give themselves permission” to take the pills, as she puts it, with as little involvement by the government, or the medical profession, as possible. She realized that there was an easier way to do this than showing up in a port. She didn’t need a ship. She just needed the Internet.

Gomperts no longer works from a boat. Eight years ago she started Women on Web, a “telemedicine support service” for women around the world who are seeking medical abortions. She and a small staff share a one-room office in Amsterdam on a residential street, where red-and-pink flowers bloom on the balconies of brick buildings. Early in July, I went to visit the space, which has six workstations with computers, a few shelves and a filing cabinet with the sticker “Trust Women.” A large window opens onto a courtyard, where a Cupid fountain bubbles.

 


Wendy Davis, gubernatorial candidate for Texas, revealed in a memoir that she had two medically necessary abortions:

Davis writes in Forgetting to be Afraid that she had an abortion in 1996 after an exam revealed that the brain of the fetus had developed in complete separation on the right and left sides. She also describes ending an earlier ectopic pregnancy, in which an embryo implants outside the uterus.

Davis disclosed the terminated pregnancies for the first time since her 13-hours filibuster — a parliamentary maneuver that required her to talk non-stop to try to run out the time on proposed legislation — last year over a tough new Texas abortion law.

Both pregnancies happened before Davis, a state senator from Fort Worth, began her political career and after she was already a mother to two young girls.

She writes that the ectopic pregnancy happened in 1994 during her first trimester. Terminating the pregnancy was considered medically necessary. Such pregnancies generally aren’t considered viable, meaning the fetus can’t survive, and the mother’s life could be in danger. But Davis wrote that in Texas, it’s “technically considered an abortion, and doctors have to report it as such.”

Davis said she and her former husband, Jeff, wound up expecting another child in 1996. After a later exam revealed the brain defect, doctors told her the baby would be deaf, blind and in a permanent vegetative state if she survived delivery.

“I could feel her little body tremble violently, as if someone were applying an electric shock to her, and I knew then what I needed to do,” Davis writes. “She was suffering.”

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p class=”story-body-text story-content”>You may remember Wendy Davis from her nearly 12 hour attempt to filibuster Senate Bill 5 back in June 2013.

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