LET’S SEE IF UTAH’S RACE TO THE SUPREME COURT BEATS PAM BONDI’S BIGOTED LEGAL STONEWALLING(!) IN FLORIDA: “Gay marriage advocates won a significant court victory Wednesday when a federal appeals court upheld a lower court ruling in Utah that struck down the state’s ban on same-sex marriages. The 2-1 ruling by a panel of the Denver-based 10th Circuit Court of Appeals marks the first time a federal appellate court has upheld same-sex marriage. One year ago, on June 26, 2013, the U.S. Supreme Court struck down portions of the federal Defense of Marriage Act, a landmark ruling that extended federal benefits to gays — though the high court stopped short of ruling that same-sex marriage was a constitutionally protected right. The Utah decision comes after a string of more than a dozen victories for advocates of gay marriage, including one in Indiana on Wednesday. The Utah ruling was stayed, meaning that gay marriages won’t take place while the case is on appeal. But the ruling carries importance because it occurred in a conservative state. Though not binding on other federal appellate courts, the decision is likely to be a factor in future decisions elsewhere, experts said. “This is a victory for humanity!” a grinning Kate Call, one of the plaintiffs in the case, said at a news conference in Salt Lake City. Another plaintiff, Derek Kitchen, said, “I don’t think Utah can deny same-sex couples their right [to marry] for much longer.” “This is the most significant victory in the history of the gay rights movement,” said Clifford Rosky, a law professor at the University of Utah, who has closely followed the issue and is board chairman of Equality Utah, a gay rights group. “A federal appeals court has recognized that same-sex couples enjoy the same freedoms as all Americans — the freedoms to marry, establish a family and raise children together. This is a victory not only for the 1,300 same-sex couples who are married in Utah, but for all gay Americans.” Utah will continue the fight to uphold its ban on same-sex marriages all the way to the Supreme Court, state officials said hours after the ruling was released.” (via Los Angeles Times)
MARIJUANA ARRESTS ARE RACIST, AND OTHER THINGS YOU PROBABLY ALREADY KNEW: “Twenty-two-year-old Shapierce Townsend shares the cold marble steps of the Brooklyn criminal courthouse with a stack of fluorescent yellow fliers. The bold, all-caps message they bear is one he’s lived: “Marijuana arrests are racist, costly, and needlessly introduce us to the prison system.” The flier doesn’t specify who “us” is—and it doesn’t need to. In 2013, 87 percent of the roughly 7,000 marijuana-possession arrests in New York targeted blacks or Latinos. In the first four months of 2014, under the rule of a mayor who openly opposes racial profiling, the figure was 86 percent. Anyone who doesn’t believe New York City’s marijuana arrests are fueled by racism is either misinformed or in denial. In all likelihood, it’s both. On a typical day, Townsend would venture from these marble stairs to the baroque doors of the courthouse, through the metal detectors, and up to the fifth floor. He’d sit and talk with the people who are there involuntarily—most often, they’d tell him stories like his own, about how stop-and-frisk turned into marijuana-possession charges. Today is different. One day earlier, he and other activists from VOCAL—a New York-based advocacy group—got thrown out of court. Now, they’re unsure whether they’ll even get in. A guard “confiscated our flier and brought it to his captain. When he came back, he said ‘Get out,’” says Alfredo Carrasquillo, the group’s leader, who has been doing this for years and is a former victim of the system. When asked what would happen if they didn’t obey, Carrasquillo says the guard replied with a sinister grin: “Oh, you’ll see.” Many of these marijuana-possession hearings, like the one Townsend went through, will consist simply of a judge apologizing—saying the defendant shouldn’t have been put in prison, or even arrested in the first place. Based on a 1977 law decriminalizing marijuana in New York, an arrest for possession of 25 grams or less is only warranted if the drug is in plain view. In the vast majority of cases, it isn’t. The judges’ decisions aren’t born of pity—their apologies, on the other hand, are. Yet for many of these men and women, after being illegally felt up, sent to prison, then slapped with a criminal record, “sorry” is too little, too late. These cases, dismissed or otherwise, leave lasting scars, making it difficult to find another job, secure housing, apply to school, or support a family.” (via The Daily Beast)
THE LENGTHS TO WHICH VIRGINIA REPUBLICANS WILL GO TO SIMULTANEOUSLY SPREAD PARANOIA AND KEEP THE POOR SICK: “The Virginia Speaker of the House has recently used a series of gimmicks and unusual tricks — including having Capitol Police enter the governor’s unoccupied office, and refusing to recognize line-item vetoes — to push through a budget that blocks expanded health care for the poor. After being sworn into office earlier this year, Democratic Gov. Terry McAuliffe pledged to fight to use the funds provided by President Barack Obama’s health care reform law to expand Medicaid. Virginia Republicans, however, eventually convinced a Democratic state senator to resign, giving them the ability to pass a budget that included two amendments that blocked federal dollars for expanding Medicaid, and required the governor to get express permission from the Legislature before attempting any type of expansion. According to the Richmond Times-Dispatch, the House had told McAuliffe’s administration to be prepared to receive the budget no sooner than the Monday after Father’s Day. But the House pushed it through earlier than expected, and House Speaker William J. Howell ordered his clerk to have Capitol Police enter the governor’s office to deliver it, even though the executive suite was unoccupied during the holiday. The timing of the delivery is important because McAuliffe only has seven days to read the budget, sign it, issue vetoes or take other actions after it’s delivered. In a letter to the Speaker dated last week, chief of staff Paul Reagan called the breach ‘unacceptable.’” (via Raw Story)
IF YOU SAY IT LOUD ENOUGH TO PEOPLE WHO ARE DUMB ENOUGH, THEN IT’S LIKELY TO BECOME A CONVENIENT TRUTH: “That queasy sensation of déjà vu you're experiencing is understandable. With Iraq back in the news, and Paul Wolfowitz and Bill Kristol on TV sounding off about the situation, there's every reason to worry that a new wave of misinformation is on the way. There is no debate that the Iraq War was sold to the American public with a collection of claims that ended up being proved false. Iraq was said to have weapons of mass destruction, but this wasn't the case. Advocates for the war insinuated that Saddam Hussein was colluding with Al Qaeda and was somehow involved in the 9/11 attacks. That, too, was false. Yet many Americans (and some of their leaders) still believe this stuff. It's a tragedy, but it's also a kind of natural experiment in misinformation, its origins, and its consequences. And since 2003 social scientists, psychologists, and pollsters have been busy examining why false beliefs like these are embraced even in the face of irrefutable evidence—and what impact this sort of disinformation has on American political discourse. The resulting research shows that the Iraq War looks like an early version of a current phenomenon: the right wing rooting its stances in simple untruths about the world (see climate change).” (via Mother Jones)
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