Friday, August 15, 2014

Thoughts on Michael Brown and Ferguson, Missouri

I have been stunned by the reaction of the police in Ferguson, Missouri to the protests of the killing of Michael Brown, an unarmed teenager who was walking with a friend down a street. The local police forces  have done just about everything wrong since the start of this whole mess. They are acting more like thugs than anything else.
I have watched the news feeds about this with the phrase What the Hell constantly coming from my lips, and I generally don't swear. This is the middle of The United States of America for God's sake! You don't bring out all your warrior toys to squash a citizen's right to protest in America! You don't issue a no fly zone over the city so news media can't use aircraft to see what you are doing from the sky. You don't deliberately throw tear gas canisters at an area set aside for journalists so they have to flee leaving their equipment behind which you then disable so it can't see what you are doing. You don't walk inside a McDonalds and take journalists into custody who were just sitting there taking notes on what they had seen only to release them the next day without charges or information about why they were detained or who was in charge of that decision. You don't dress up like Star Wars soldiers and drive to the protest in armored vehicles and tanks with snipers on top and bristling with weapons. You don't shoot blocks and rubber bullets at your fellow citizens for no good reason. You don't blanket the area in tear gas. You don't toss stun grenades, tear gas and flash bombs at your fellow citizens who are trying to peacefully protest. You don't try to hide your actions from the public by harassing and arresting reporters just doing their jobs. If these police are trying to say their fellow officer was justified in shooting and killing Michael Brown, their actions are surely NOT helping their cause.
This is the United States of America, not Baghdad! We are a free nation, not a Police State! What the Hell were they thinking?  And for those of you who don't know, I come from a policeman's family. My father served as a policeman in a city in the deep South for 30+ years and retired a lieutenant in a Sheriff's Department. I know from experience how the police should be handling this situation, and the way it has been handled is absolutely Wrong!

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Thoughts on Arizona's Anti-Gay, Pro-Discrimination Bill

As I wait to find out if Arizona Governor Jan Brewer will veto the very controversial  bill SB 1062 that would make it legal to discriminate against LGBT's by allowing businesses to refuse service because of their personal religious convictions, I have tried to read as much as I could online about the bill. Having read as much as I could find on this bill, I have come to realize just exactly how wrong these religious conservatives are. All of the conservatives who voted for this bill claim to be Christians. They try and spin the intent of the law to say that it would protect all religions from discrimination from the 'radical left and the powerful LGBT lobby'. Conservatives claim that they should be allowed to refuse to serve people that they disagree with on religious grounds when they are at work, even if the work they do does not involve a church or religious organization. So cake makers can refuse to make wedding cakes for a gay or lesbian couple. Photographers can refuse to take wedding pictures for gays and lesbians. Print companies can refuse to print invitations to gay and lesbian weddings. You get the idea.

The problem with the law is not only does it make LGBT discrimination legal, it is so broad that it goes way beyond the LGBT discrimination it so obviously and unconstitutionally is intended to allow. Under this law a Muslin cab driver can refuse the fare of a single woman because he would be alone in the car with a woman he is not related to, a no no in some Muslim sects. The manager of a hotel could refuse to let an unmarried couple who live together rent a room. A waitress could legally refuse to serve a pregnant woman that she knows is not married. The list goes on and on.

Now remember, the people who created and voted for this bill's passage all consider themselves to be Christians. This means they are supposed to try and behave as Jesus taught in the Bible. Jesus, the middle aged man with Socialist ideas, who condemned the rich, told people to pay their taxes, spent much of his life helping the poor, told his followers to love one another just as he loved them (unconditionally), and healed people for free. Are these 'Christians' acting as Christ would want them to act with this law? I don't think so.

This is a horrible, discriminatory, and unconstitutional bill. Even if it eventually is made a law of the state of Arizona it would most definitely be appealed and eventually struck down by higher courts. In the past few days people, organizations, and businesses have voiced their opposition to this bill including many congressmen both state and federal, businesses already in Arizona as well as some considering moving to the state, and even three of the GOP congressmen who voted for the bill and have come to regret their vote afterward. Let us hope that Gov. Brewer listens to all the voices of reason that have been urging her to veto this bill. Let us also hope that the other states considering similar bills come to their senses before it gets this far.

Please veto bill SB 1062 Governor Brewer!

Friday, February 14, 2014

More Loving in Virginia

We made a commitment to each other in our love and lives, and now had the legal commitment, called marriage, to match. Isn’t that what marriage is? … I have lived long enough now to see big changes. The older generation’s fears and prejudices have given way, and today’s young people realize that if someone loves someone they have a right to marry. Surrounded as I am now by wonderful children and grandchildren, not a day goes by that I don’t think of Richard and our love, our right to marry, and how much it meant to me to have that freedom to marry the person precious to me, even if others thought he was the “wrong kind of person” for me to marry. I believe all Americans, no matter their race, no matter their sex, no matter their sexual orientation, should have that same freedom to marry. Government has no business imposing some people’s religious beliefs over others. … I support the freedom to marry for all. That’s what Loving, and loving, are all about.
– Mildred Loving, “Loving for All”
This quote appears on the cover page of Federal District Judge Arenda L. Wright Allen's decision handed down yesterday in the court case brought by Tim Bostic & Tony London and Carol Schall & Mary Townley against the state of Virginia involving the state's marriage ban for their LGBT citizens. This is a huge and sweeping decision for marriage equality in Virginia. Judge Wright Allen declared not only Virginia's marriage ban to be unconstitutional, she also nullified some of the state's civil code as well as “any other Virginia law that bars same-sex marriage or prohibits Virginia’s recognition of lawful same-sex marriages from other jurisdictions,” as she writes in her decision.

Of course the decision was immediately stayed to give marriage equality foes the chance to appeal her decision which they most definitely will, so marriage equality in Virginia will not be a reality just yet. However, this is still a big day for equality and another nail in the coffin of state sponsored discrimination toward LGBTQ's. Congratulations Virginians! Happy Valentine's Day!