YOUR DAILY WEEKLY READER: Keys to equality, justice's blind spot, what the frack?



THE KEYS TO EQUALITY INVOLVE BOT THE KEYS AND TWO BARTENDERS TODAY. THIRSTY?: “Two gay Key West bartenders are prepared to get married Monday in a Plantation Key courthouse if Monroe County Circuit Judge Luis Garcia strikes Florida’s same-sex marriage ban. “That’s all it takes is a walk across the hall. It’s just about 10 feet from the door of the court to the door of the clerk’s office,” said Bernadette Restivo, an attorney for Aaron Huntsman and William Lee Jones, who in April sued Monroe County Clerk Amy Heavilin for a marriage license. Huntsman and Jones, both bartenders at 801 Bourbon Bar on Duval Street, are longtime Keys residents who met years ago at a gay pride celebration. Huntsman, at the time, was the reigning Mr. Pride. They wanted to wed on June 10, their 11th anniversary as a couple. The case mirrors a suit filed in January by six same-sex couples who want to marry in Miami-Dade County. The men and women, along with Equality Florida Institute, sued Miami-Dade Clerk Harvey Ruvin after his office denied them licenses. In 2008, Florida voters approved an amendment to the state constitution, by almost 62 percent, to prevent gay marriage. “The voters in 2008 made a policy decision which they had a right to do as to what the definition of marriage should be in the state of Florida,” Assistant Attorney General Adam Tanenbaum told Miami-Dade Circuit Judge Sarah Zabel in a hearing Wednesday for the Equality Florida suit. “They had that right and it’s not for this court to second-guess or make a determination whether that was a good policy or a bad policy. It remains for this court to simply follow what is binding legal precedent from the U.S. Supreme Court and not to guess what the U.S. Supreme Court may or may not do in the future.” (via Miami Herald)


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AMERICA’S BIG GAY BLIND SPOT IS SHAPED LIKE A LADY: “Progressives often comfort themselves that while they’re losing a lot of economic battles, at least they’re winning the so-called culture wars. New York’s Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo, a staunch proponent of both gay marriage and tax cuts for the wealthy, symbolizes that political paradox for the left. But lately it’s impossible not to notice that even our culture war victories are uneven. They mostly involve gay rights, particularly marriage equality, and rarely women’s rights. In the same few years that one state after another has legalized gay marriage, with occasional help from the Supreme Court, dozens of states have restricted abortion, and contraception has become controversial and divisive in a way it hasn’t since the Supreme Court’s Griswold v. Connecticut ruling almost 50 years ago. On the heels of the court’s awful Hobby Lobby decision Monday came welcome word that a judge had struck down Kentucky’s gay marriage ban. There have been plenty of bittersweet days like that over the last year. I don’t mean to pit women against the LGBT community, or suggest one side is “winning” at the expense of the other. Women make up at least half of LGBT folks, so their advances are advances for women’s rights, and many barriers to their freedom and full equality remain. But why, when women’s concerns stand alone, are their rights so often abridged? I’ve come to believe that the difference exists because, except for far right religious extremists and outright homophobes, marriage equality is, at heart, a conservative demand – letting gays and lesbians settle down and start families and have mortgages just like the rest of us will contribute to the stability of families and society. In his 1989 essay “Here comes the groom: The (conservative) case for gay marriage,” Andrew Sullivan argued that marriage would “foster social cohesion, emotional security, and economic prudence,” particularly among gay men too often viewed through the lens of partying and promiscuity.” (via Salon)


FRACKING? NOPE, NO FRACKING, HERE. ALSO, ERM, STERN LETTER FROM STATE TO OIL COMPANY WITH TIES TO RICK SCOTT’S INVESTMENT PORTFOLIO? SMOKE, MEET MIRRORS: “The state, in a scathing letter to the company that is drilling in Collier County, gave it two weeks to comply with nine demands or face penalties. The Florida Department of Environmental Protection is demanding accountability from a Texas company drilling in rural Collier County, and Friday also put the property owner on notice. DEP Secretary Herschel T. Vinyard Jr. issued a letter Thursday night to the Dan A. Hughes Company, which is drilling at the Collier-Hogan well near Golden Gate Estates. Opponents have labeled the company's actions as hydraulic fracturing, or "fracking." On Friday afternoon, despite it being a holiday, Vinyard sent a letter to Collier Resources stating his expectation the landowner ensures compliance from its contractor. "Ultimately, you stand to benefit financially from Dan A. Hughes' operations," Vinyard wrote to Collier Resources senior vice president Tom Jones. "It is your responsibility to ensure that activities by your contractor on your properties do not adversely impact the families of Collier County or the environment. As we have called on Dan A. Hughes to fulfill their obligations to families, we expect that you hold your contractor accountable and require the company to fulfill these obligations before the July 15 deadline." The state listed nine demands, some of which include holding public meetings, opening the site for media inspections, testifying before county commissioners and providing samples of material that has since been disposed. Dan A. Hughes has until July 15 to respond to the state's demands, and Vinyard said the actions are not negotiable and require immediate response. A concern is whether chemicals used in drilling have contaminated the water supply. At this point, no one knows if the water supply is unsafe, but no one knows if it's safe, either. Jennifer Hecker, director of natural resource policy for the Conservancy of Southwest Florida, told The News-Press on Friday the lack of answers from all parties is concerning. "At this point, it's the DEP that has responsibility to safeguard the public and safeguard our water supply," Hecker said.” (via Ft. Meyers News-Press)


THIS IS A TEST. THIS IS ONLY A TEST: No way. The education of children cannot be handed to the people who spend the most time with them in the classroom. We don't trust our school administrators. Nope, they're as unreliable as the teachers. And that goes for superintendents and School Board officials, too. When it comes to the important stuff — the promotion of students, the job evaluations of educators, the funding of schools — we place all of our trust somewhere else. Namely, in corporations. Faceless, ravenous, blameless corporations. The same corporations making hundreds of millions of dollars every time we agree to modify, intensify or add standardized tests to a child's life. This essential truth was revisited last week when the state Department of Education posted sample copies of the new Florida Standards Assessments. These were not Common Core tests, because those have the federal government's stamp of approval, and we can't have that. And these are not the latest incarnation of FCAT because, I suppose, we've been tailoring curriculum around that for years. No, these are new tests from a new company. They're sort of Common Core-inspired. Sort of designed for Florida by way of Utah. Sort of field tested, but without much rigor. And now they will determine your child's future. What could possibly go wrong with that? (via Tampa Bay Times)

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