Thursday, May 20, 2010

Via JMG: Sen. Al Franken (D-MN) Introduces Federal Anti-Bullying Bill

Today Sen. Al Franken (D-MN) and 21 fellow Senators introduced a federal bill intended to protect LGBT students from harassment and bullying. Via the ACLU:
The Student Non-Discrimination Act (SNDA) would help to end entrenched biases towards lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) students in our education system. A similar bill was introduced in the House of Representatives in January by Rep. Jared Polis (D-CO) and currently has over 100 co-sponsors. The American Civil Liberties Union strongly supports these bills and urges swift action by both chambers. The ACLU is currently involved in a case that underscores the need for the SNDA. In April, the ACLU filed a complaint with the Itawamba County School District in Fulton, Mississippi urging the school district to reverse its decision to forbid a lesbian student from attending a prom with her girlfriend and from wearing a tuxedo to the prom. After school officials canceled the prom altogether rather than allow Constance McMillen to attend the dance in a tuxedo with her girlfriend, the ACLU then filed a federal lawsuit. In a preliminary ruling in April, the court found that Itawamba County School District officials violated McMillen's First Amendment right to freedom of expression, and the case is expected to go to trial.
Franken says that he and others are working on language to define what constitutes bullying. But he says that most people know it when they see it. As noted in the above-linked story, Rep. Jared Polis introduced similar legislation in the U.S. House earlier this year. Here's the list of Senate co-sponsors:
SNDA is co-sponsored by Senators Barbara Mikulski (D-Md.), Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), John Kerry (D-Mass.), Tom Harkin (D-Iowa), Bob Casey (D-Pa.), Patty Murray (D-Wash.), Jeff Bingaman (D-N.M.), Russ Feingold (D-Wisc.), Ben Cardin (D-Md.), Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.), Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), Chris Dodd (D-Conn.), Mark Begich (D-Alaska), Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), Frank Lautenberg (D-N.J.), Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), Robert Menedez (D-N.J.), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.), Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), and Daniel Akaka (D-Hawaii).

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a repost from Joe

Via JMG: Will Rekers Scandal Affect Prop 8?

Following up on the New York Times story about the legal implications of the Dr. George Rekers scandal, Amanda Terkel at Think Progress has found four instances of Rekers' ties to the Perry Vs. Schwarzenegger trial to overturn Proposition 8. I don't usually excerpt another blogger's work so extensively, but this is a must-read.

1. Blankenhorn was the defendants’ star witness and was eviscerated on the stand by attorney David Boies, who was arguing against Prop. 8 for the American Foundation for Equal Rights. Blakenhorn has claimed that he is “not familiar” with Rekers’ work and didn’t “cite anyone named ‘Dr. Rekers’” in his “expert testimony submitted to the court.” However, Blankenhorn did reference Rekers’ work the bibliography of his “expert report” for the trial:

This Rekers declaration that Blankenhorn references has statements such as “The inherent structure of households with one or more homosexually behaving members deprives children of vitally needed positive contributions to child adjustment and to the child’s preparation for successful adulthood adjustment that are present in heterosexual homes.” (View it here.)

2. One of the witnesses arguing against Prop. 8 was Ryan Kendall, a gay man who was forced to undergo “reparative therapy” as a teenager to make him straight. He “was first sent to see a Christian therapist and then the National Association of Research and Therapy of Homosexuality (NARTH),” and the experiences left him contemplating suicide. Rekers was on the board of NARTH during the Prop. 8 trial and only recently stepped down after the “rent boy” scandal broke.

3. Rekers is a member of the American College of Pediatricians (ACP), which submitted an amicus brief to Chief Judge Walker in the Prop. 8 trial. ACP is a sham, right-wing group. When “the American Academy of Pediatrics passed its policy statement supporting second-parent adoptions by lesbian and gay parents in 2002, a fringe group of approximately 60 of the AAP’s more than 60,000 members” broke off and formed ACP.

4. The Prop. 8 defense had a witness named George Robinson who was going to testify about how being gay is a choice, although he was eventually withdrawn. He had also based some of his expert report on Rekers’ Prop. 22 declaration.

Excellent work by Amanda Terkels! Let's hope that Judge Vaughn Walker takes notice of this during the upcoming closing arguments.

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reposted from Joe

Via JMG: U.S. State Department Condemns Conviction Of Malawi Gay Couple

The U.S. State Department has denounced the Malawi government's conviction of two gay men for "unnatural acts and gross indecency."
"The United States is deeply disappointed in today’s conviction of same-sex couple Tiwonge Chimbalanga and Steven Monjeza in Malawi," said assistant secretary Phillip J. Crowley at a press briefing Wednesday. "We view the criminalization of sexual orientation and gender identity as a step backward in the protection of human rights in Malawi. The Government of Malawi must respect the human rights of all of its citizens. The United States views the decriminalization of sexual orientation and gender identity as integral to the protection of human rights in Malawi and elsewhere in the world."
Thank you, Secretary Clinton. It may not help these poor men, but it's better than silence.

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reposted from Joe