Marriage Equality Not for All

civilrightsactivist:

Thanks Nel for highlighting this issue. I did not know that “One segment of the U.S. population not covered by the Supreme Court ruling that legalizes marriage equality is Native Americans living on reservations.

Why? Because Congress or the tribes themselves must make that decision since reservations are sovereign lands and apparently are not under the direct purview of the US Supreme Court.

I’m am pleased however to hear that “many tribes have changed their laws to legalize marriage equality or ruled that they will follow the rules of the state where reservations are located, but ten tribes, including the two largest ones of Cherokee Nation and the Navajo, have acts that prohibit same-gender marriage.

I hope my readers read and then support their Native brothers and sisters in their efforts to gain same-sex gender equality within their tribal nations.

Originally posted on Nel's New Day:

Every month in editing a newsletter for our local PFLAG group, I write articles about national and global news. This past month has been filled with the aftermath—and sometimes backlash—to the Supreme Court decision that LGBT people should have equal rights in marriage. The media frenzy began when the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that same-gender couples should have the right to marry in all 50 states. Here are some of the issues that emerged from that decision.

Of course, conservatives were traumatized by the possibility that LGBT people could get married. Judges refused to marry same-gender couples or said that they were too busy. A Texas judge required everyone who he married, LGBT or straight, to sign a document stating that he was opposed to the decision and that no one should even mention marriage equality in his presence. Some clerks decided to quit rather than issue marriage licenses. One of…

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The Federal State-Based Universal Health Care Waiver Act of 2015

banner picture of Universal Healthcare from http://www.healthcareforallcolorado.org/

One Agenda: Universal Health Care.
Picture courtesy of Healthcare for All Colorado

As part of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), states have been given the ability to innovate or create their own form of health care insurance or coverage starting on January 1, 2017 AS LONG AS “benefits are at least as comprehensive and affordable as those offered by Qualified Health Plans available on the Exchanges,” according to Representative Jim McDermott (D-WA-7).

As a result, at least 14 states—California, Colorado, Hawaii, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Minnesota, Missouri, , New York, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Vermont, and Washington—have community advocates and state legislators working towards implementing a state-level form of universal health care. They have been working for affordable healthcare access for all residents of their states before and since the Affordable Care Act – aka Obamacare – was passed in 2010.

Now that the US Supreme Court has basically settled the fact that the ACA is constitutional both on June 28, 2012 (Florida v. Department of Health and Human Services) and again on June 25, 2015 (King v. Burwell), we can consider ways to improve our healthcare system at both the state and federal level. As a medical doctor and a member of Congress, McDermott voted for the ACA. He also recognizes that “still more needs  to be done to control costs, improve care, and cover everyone.”

One way to further control these costs and improve health care while covering everyone is to create a universal health care system which I’ve previously blogged about (see here, here, here, here, and here). That means we either have the federal government create a federal single payer plan OR we use the waiver clause in the ACA to help states create their own universal single-payer health care program.

Yet even with the waiver currently allowed within the ACA for innovative state-based health care plans, creating a state-based universal care plan that saves funds for states and individuals while providing health care access to all has a big hurdle to overcome. Rep. McDermott explained this issue in a speech on the floor of the House of Representatives on July 28:

One of the many achievements of the Affordable Care Act is its provisions that grant states the authority to innovate in their health care systems. Under Section 1332 of the law, a state may apply for a State Innovation Waiver that will provide it with control of federal dollars that otherwise would have been spent on premium tax credits and cost-sharing reductions for its residents. Through this waiver, a state may design a system to cover its residents, so long as benefits are at least as comprehensive and affordable as those offered by Qualified Health Plans available on the Exchanges.

However, even with this flexibility, numerous barriers limit states’ ability to design true single-payer systems. Existing waivers are narrow in scope, requiring states to seek out imperfect and convoluted solutions to circumvent federal limitations. A sweeping preemption provision in the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA) denies states authority to regulate employer-sponsored health plans. And, due to the complexities of our existing federal health programs, it is essentially impossible for a state to design a single benefit package that can be administered simply and efficiently on behalf of all of its residents.

This speech was McDermott’s announcement that he was introducing HR 3241, aka the “State-Based Universal Health Care Act of 2015:” If passed, this bill would allow states to apply for a universal health care waiver that would allow them to have access to and authority over federal health care dollars that would otherwise be spent on the residents of that state. More specifically, this additional waiver act goes beyond the ACA to deal with the hurdles mentioned above. The new provisions of this law, according to McDermott, would waive all of the following:

  • The rules governing premium tax credits and cost-sharing reductions, as provided for in existing waiver authority under Section 1332 of the ACA.

  • Provisions necessary for states to pool funds that otherwise would be spent on behalf of residents enrolled in Medicare, Medicaid, CHIP, TRICARE, and the Federal Employee Health Benefits Program.

  • ERISA’s preemption clause, which cur-rently forbids states from enacting legislation relating to employee health benefit program

After the introduction of HR 3241, the House referred this bill to five committees — the Committee on Energy and Commerce, the Committee on Ways and Means, the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, the Committee on Armed Services, and the Committee on Education and the Workforce. I believe that the large number of committee referrals was done because of the need to review all of the different laws that this waiver would impact.

You can read the bill in its entirety here.

I am pleased that this bill has been introduced. It however needs many co-sponsors and advocates to pressure Congress to actually hear, review, and pass this legislation. Please contact your US Representative and ask her/him to co-sponsor Representative Jim McDermott, MD’s bill HR 3241. Here’s the lookup page to find your US. Representative by zip code.

As this is the summer, your Representative should be in the home district. Call, write, set up a meeting and tell her/him why you want to see a universal health care program in your state and why this bill is so necessary. If your Representative agrees to sign on, have him/her contact Mr. McDermott’s aides that are focusing on this issue. They are Jayme Shoun, located in Seattle at (206) 553-7170 and Daniel Foster, Health Counsel in the DC Office at (202) 225-3106.

Thanks.

Jeb for President? Part III

civilrightsactivist:

Nel of Nel’s New Day has written several blogs on the 2016 presidential candidates. Most of them have been about the GOP candidates.  I wonder: might this be because the “Grand Old Party” seems to be having a free-for-all?.

Jeb Bush merited three days of her blogging. I reblogged the first two — Number One here and Number Two here — earlier today. Here is the third one.

Originally posted on Nel's New Day:

Jeb cartoon

jeb-bush-logo-hed-2015 with BushJeb (short for John Ellis Bush) Bush is trying to rebrand himself as a new man, a person disconnected from the Bush dynasty, but his logo is old-school, left over from his 1994 unsuccessful run for Florida governor. The lack of last name didn’t go unnoticed. David Frum, former speechwriter for George W. Bush, wrote, “The most important thing about the Jeb logo isn’t the exclamation point that is there. It’s the last name that isn’t there.” At least, the logo is producing a lot of fun about Bush’s declaration of his candidacy.

jeb1 logoIn declaring his candidacy—finally!—Jeb Bush said, “I’ll break away from the GOP pack.” He won’t escape the Bush name, but his personal family scandals show that he’s already separated from the other GOP candidates:

1994: Bush’s eldest son, George P., broke into his ex-girlfriend’s house, fled the father, and then returned to drive his SUV into their…

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Jeb for President? Part II

civilrightsactivist:

Nel of Nel’s New Day has done several blogs on the 2016 presidential candidates. Most of them have been about the GOP candidates (might that be because the “Grand Old Party” seems to be having a free-for-all?).

Jeb Bush merited three days of her blogging. I reblogged the first one earlier today. Here is the second one. e is the And finally, here is the third one.

Originally posted on Nel's New Day:

king bushJeb Bush’s plan for the half of 2015: raise tens of millions of dollars, separate himself from his brother’s presidency, win conservatives, and become the Republican who will win the GOP nomination. Thus far, he’s raised the money. Asked about his brother, he waffles between supporting him and trying to find a way to please people who disagree with George W. Bush’s Iraq War. Conservatives still don’t like him, and he has appeared incompetent through answers to questions and consistent flip-flopping.

Last week he changed his campaign manager to the more negative and conservative Danny Diaz, meaning that Bush may have reconsidered whether he’ll still campaign “joyfully.” Diaz’s participation in Bush II’s campaign is another connection between Jeb and Dubya. One Bush ally said that Diaz will signal that “the culture of the Bush operation will now be a Pickett’s Charge engagement campaign with his main opponents.” Pickett’s Charge on…

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Jeb for President? Part I

civilrightsactivist:

Once again, thanks Nel for blogging on the full spectrum of presidential candidates. I have been traveling since June 14 and am just now getting back to reading my favorite blogs. As I promised on June 13, I am now catching up on the plethora of presidential candidates that have officially announced their candidacy since June 14. I agreed to reblog Nel’s presidential candidate series. As of today, several more Republican candidates have announced their candidacies since June 14l Of these new candidates, Nel has blogged about four of them. In order of their announcements, they are GOP #10 Jeb Bush (June 14), GOP #12 Donald Trump (June 18), GOP #13 Bobby Jindal (June 24), and GOP #14 Chris Christie (June 30).

Jeb Bush merited three days of blogging. Here is the first one.   You can view the second posting here and the third posting here.

Originally posted on Nel's New Day:

The big day has arrived! Everyone knew that former Florida governor Jeb Bush wouldn’t be dashing around the country and coordinating with his Super PAC—something he can’t do after he declares his candidacy—unless he was running for president. Millions of dollars later and on the verge, some people say over the edge, of breaking the law in his campaigning, he’s a bona fide candidate. Here’s what the United States would get with Bush III, as he explains his positions in an opportunistic, passive-aggressive way.

Former Florida Governor and probable 2016 Republican presidential candidate Jeb Bush speaks at the First in the Nation Republican Leadership Conference in Nashua, New Hampshire April 17, 2015.  REUTERS/Brian Snyder Former Florida Governor and probable 2016 Republican presidential candidate Jeb Bush speaks at the First in the Nation Republican Leadership Conference in Nashua, New Hampshire April 17, 2015. REUTERS/Brian Snyder

Bush’s Christian belief will guide his governing. That includes supporting the so-called “religious freedom” that merges church and state in laws and courts.

Unmarried women with children should be publicly shamed, according to Bush’s 1995 book, Profiles…

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Sanders Enters Presidential Race

civilrightsactivist:

Thanks Nel for blogging on the full spectrum of presidential candidates. I’ll periodically reblog your postings so that my followers can see who’s on the stump and generally where they stand. This is the second of my reblogs on this topic. Thanks

Originally posted on Nel's New Day:

Some people celebrate May Day today with a pagan celebration of flowers and Maypoles; others recognize it as a day of protest and worker solidarity. That history goes back to 1886 when 200,000 U.S. workers struck for an eight-hour day. On the third day, a Chicago strike at the McCormick Reaper plant became violent as police killed and injured the strikers. The next day’s peaceful meeting at Haymarket Square protesting police action turned even more brutal. As the meeting started to break up, a bomb near the speaker’s wagon wounded 60 policemen and killed another seven. The police wounded 200 civilians and killed several more. Although no one was sure who had committed the crime, four people were executed. No one in the U.S. had an eight-hour day until the United Mine Workers in 1898; a federal law mandating the eight-hour day wasn’t passed until 1938.

The international holiday for labor, created in…

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Graham, Perry Enlarge GOP Presidential Field

civilrightsactivist:

This morning I was reading one of the bloggers I follow – Nel’s New Day.  Her newest post is about Senator Lindsey Graham and former Texas Governor Rick Perry entering the US presidential race.  I decided to reblog this posting.

Nel started this project in January with a “wannabe” a candidate blog. Then in April she started portraying candidates as they entered the race.  This is her most recent posting.  I will continue to review her posts on this topic and reblog so that you can see who else is running on both sides of the aisle.

Next up – Bernie Sanders…

Originally posted on Nel's New Day:

Two GOP presidential candidates added themselves to the mix last week, increasing the field by 25 percent to ten. Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) brings the number of senators, either current or former, to five—half the string. With little chance for success, he may be angling for the vice-presidential seat. Although he tried to be coy about his running, he did slip up a couple of weeks before the formal declaration when he said, In a slip over two weeks before his formal declaration, Graham said, “I’m running because I think the world is falling apart. I’ve been more right than wrong on foreign policy,” Graham said.

Graham claims that he has “more experience with our national security than any other candidate in this race” and then added, “That includes you, Hillary.”The so-called expertise may not survive the light of day. He claimed that Saddam Hussein had WMDs and now thinks that the…

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Updates: PSU sanctions KDR & House Appropriations Committee calls for DOJ action on Cyber Bullying

Since March of this year, I have periodically blogged about online attacks on women who either use or are targeted through the use of social media. One was a video created by some of the women who have been cyber-bullied reading a few of the online threats they have received so that the public can see what they are facing. One dealt with the statistics associated with cyber-bullying. Another announced a Congressional briefing held on this issue on April 15. Another dealt with a proposed piece of legislation that might help reduce this form of violence. And the first one dealt with use of rape myths and social media by a fraternity at Penn State University to allegedly harass young college women. Congresswoman Katherine Clark.

Today, I have two updates.  One deals with Kappa Delta Rho (KDR), the Penn State University fraternity discussed in my first blog.  And the second one is the first outcome of a letter sent to the US House Appropriations Committee in March that was followed by Congressional briefing on Capital Hill in April.

Picture of a sign at the Window of Opportunity rally that says "End Rape Culture."

Sign seen at a rally in State College PA on a need to end rape culture.

PSU Sanctions KDR for Harassment, Cyber-Bullying, and Other Issues

Penn State University announced yesterday that KDR has been suspended for at least three years. The administration reversed the student-led Inter-Fraternity  Council (IFC) decision not to revoke recognition of KDR; the “sanction” recommended by the IFC was only to provide “a comprehensive new member education program and participation in sexual assault and bystander intervention training.” 

Instead, the University posted a news article on their website yesterday that clearly sanctions KDR for their cyber-bullying and maltreatment of women.  Damon Sims, vice president for Student Affairs, notified the IFC about the 3-year sanction in a letter stating,

“We base this decision on the sum of misbehaviors exhibited by various members of Kappa Delta Rho. Not every member of the chapter was equally culpable for violation of the University’s expectations for recognized student organizations. Even so, the sum of the organizational misbehaviors is far more than the University can tolerate from a student organization that seeks its imprimatur.”

The University cited hazing, underage drinking, the sale drugs, and the “persistent” harassment of two women along with the “photographing [of] individuals in extremely compromising positions and posting these photos [online].” Click here to read the entire letter.

picture of the US Capital

View of the US Capital that Rep. Katherine Clark associated with her press release regarding the House Appropriations Committee call for DOJ action on cyber stalking on May 27, 2015.

House Appropriations Committee Calls Upon Department of Justice to “Intensify” Efforts to Combat Cyber-Stalking and Bullying.

Meanwhile, this afternoon, I received an email from Steve Thornton, Legislative Aide to Representative Katherine Clark (D-MA-5) regarding the cyber threat appropriations letter Montana NOW, Pennsylvania NOW, and National NOW all signed onto in March that went to the House Committee on Appropriations.

Here’s a copy of the letter that Representative Clark sent to the Appropriations Committee.

Cyber Abuse Dear Colleague (2)

And here’s what the Committee is requesting the US Department of Justice to do to address the issue of cyber stalking and cyber terrorism of women:

Enforcement of Federal cyber-stalking and threat crimes.—The Committee is aware of concerns regarding increased instances of severe harassment, stalking, and threats transmitted in interstate commerce in violation of Federal law. These targeted attacks against Internet users, particularly women, have resulted in the release of personal information, forced individuals to flee their homes, has had a chilling effect on free expression, and are limiting access to economic opportunity. The Committee strongly urges the Department to intensify its efforts to combat this destructive abuse and expects to see increased investigations and prosecutions of these crimes. (p.31 of the Committee on Appropriations report in explanation of the accompanying bill making appropriations for Commerce, Justice, Science, and related agencies for the fiscal year ending September 30, 2016).

In her press release, Representative Clark applauded the Committee’s action.  She stated,

“Too many women have had their lives upended by the severe threats and harassment they have received online, and they often feel they have nowhere to turn for help. These threats cause fear for personal safety, create a chilling effect on free speech, and have a negative economic impact for women conducting business online. That is why we [asked] the Department of Justice to enforce laws that are already on the books, and make these cases a priority.”

That’s Two for Two

Two successes within 24 hours of each other.  NICE!  Thanks PSU. Representative Clark, and all of the US Representatives, advocates, and organizations for your efforts to address these issues in an appropriate manner.

Video: Women Read Social Media Online Threats

For just about 2 months now, I have periodically blogged about online attacks on women who either use or are targeted through the use of social media. One dealt with the statistics associated with cyber-bullying. Another announced a Congressional briefing held on this issue on April 15. Another dealt with a proposed piece of legislation that might help reduce this form of violence. And the first one dealt with use of rape myths and social media by a fraternity at Penn State University to allegedly harass young college women.

Today I thought I’d share a video I stumbled across.  It’s called “Feminists Read Mean Tweets.” The text describing this video tells the story of why mic.com created this video last fall:

A Mic Video original: Jimmy Kimmel’s Angry Tweets is on to something. When it comes being trolled, many people on the Internet have it bad. But feminists in particular are often singled out for vitriol.

The lethal combination of being a woman and having an opinion about the patriarchy is a recipe for a troll cocktail.

This video shows how women who challenge the status quo are treated online on a daily basis. While many have tried to describe what it’s like to be the target of constant, horrible abuse online, sometimes it’s easier to just show, not tell.

As the last sentence says: “Sometimes it’s easier to just show, not tell.” So here’s the “show.”

Be forewarned: there is a lot of rude and nasty language as well as threats of violence directed at these women.

Now that you’ve seen the video, you might also want to read the background story on Mic.com.

#NoHonor4Baugh NOT if We Can Help It

Picture of Former Judge G. Todd Baugh

Former Judge G. Todd Baugh. He was censured and suspended by the Montana Supreme Court in 2014 for blaming a 14-year old girl for the rape perpetrated on her by her high school teacher.

He blamed a 14-year-old for her rape. A young woman who died by suicide before the sentence was handed down. And then after blaming the victim, he gave the rapist a 30-day sentence in jail!

These actions occurred in Yellowstone County (Billings), Montana in August 2013.  We and the nation were outraged at this victim-blaming, minimization of sexual assault exhibited by this member of the legal hierarchy. As a result, Montana NOW (National Organization for Women) and Pennsylvania NOW helped spearhead the call for the censure and suspension of Baugh along with the appropriate re-sentencing of the convicted rapist. We won – see here for a summary of what happened.

Then a couple of weeks ago we heard about a local bar association’s plan to give Baugh a lifetime achievement award! We are appalled at this disregard for both the victims of sexual assault in general and the appellate court decision in this particular case.

The Yellowstone Area Bar Association association in Montana is HONORING a judge who was literally suspended for letting a rapist off the hook–and blaming the 14-year-old-victim? It’s rape culture at its worst, and if enough of us speak out, we can stop it from happening.

Since we first heard of this plan, lawyers, local activists in Montana, NOW members around the country, over 33,000 UltraViolet members, and the general public asked the Yellowstone Area Bar Association to reverse its decision. And local and national news coverage has been growing (see here and here for samples of local and national news coverage). But despite the backlash, the bar association is sticking to its guns.

So in addition to signing the petitions started by NOW and by UltraViolet, it’s time for us to call the Yellowstone Area Bar Association  and demand  that Bar Association President Jessica Fehr reverse this despicable decision.

I did. Will you take one minute to call, too?  Here’s the link from UltraViolet to make this call.

Let’s stop this terrible decision before it leaves the gate. And thanks for calling!