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marriageEqualityForAllAs we see the religious right take another hit or two on the chin from the masters of the conservatives — Business, NOT Jesus, not conservative organized religion — it is worth a mention of some of the history behind legislation against same sex marriage.

Conservatives want us all to take their sloppy scholarship view that marriage has always been exclusively between one man and one woman.  Apart from the painfully obvious facts that monogamy is not a societal or historical by any stretch of the imagination, the idea that same sex marriages have not been a fixture in human history is also a mistaken one.  For those of you contemplating sitting across from crotchety old relatives as likely to be wearing a tin foil as wrapping up holiday leftovers with it, here is a bit of background for you, should you opt to present the facts to the minds inside those tin foil hats.


The current challenge for the legality of same-sex unions arguably can be traced to Hennepin County,  Minnesot, back in 1971, when two gay men attempted to get married.  The case went all the way to the Minnesota Supreme Court, which found that while there were no actual laws defining marriage one way or the other, they found instead that a basis for exclusively heterosexual marriage existed in common law.  That argument is still being pushed — factually falsely — by some conservatives, including the radical (one might say rabid) religious right.


From an article about the case, in the HuffPo back  in 2012:


International Women’s Day – 2015

by Dog Gone on March 8, 2015 · 1 comment

Celebrate the women and girls in your life, your world, their value and their equality.


Learn from Women’s History month this month what women HAVE accomplished to better understand and encourage what women and girls can NEXT accomplish.


Katherine Johnson is 96; she is still with us. Because she is both a woman, and a black woman who lived through and made advances during the civil rights era, it is doubly apt that she be given recognition on the day that is also the 50th Anniversary of the March on Selma. For all of her remarkable abilities and contributions, Katherine Johnson would have had to sit at the back of the bus, use colored only restrooms, could be denied service in restaurants before civil rights legislation and civil rights SCOTUS victories. From a 2008 NASA biography:

Not that she ever thought she wasn’t equal.

“I didn’t have time for that,” said Johnson in her Hampton home. “My dad taught us ‘you are as good as anybody in this town, but you’re no better.’ I don’t have a feeling of inferiority. Never had. I’m as good as anybody, but no better.”

But probably a lot smarter. She was a “computer” at Langley Research Center “when the computer wore a skirt,” said Johnson. More important, she was living out her life’s goal, though, when it became her goal, she wasn’t sure what it involved.

Johnson was born in White Sulfur Springs, W.Va., where school for African-Americans stopped at eighth grade. Her father, Joshua, was a farmer who drove his family 120 miles to Institute, W. Va., where education continued through high school and then at West Virginia State College. He would get wife Joylette a job as a domestic and leave the family there to be educated while he went back to White Sulfur Springs to make a living.

Katherine skipped though grades to graduate from high school at 14, from college at 18, and her skills at mathematics drew the attention of a young professor, W.W. Schiefflin Claytor.

Katherine Johnson.

Katherine Johnson’s work at NASA’s Langley Research Center spanned 1953 to 1986 and included calculating the trajectory of the early space launches.

Photo Credit: NASA/Sean Smith.
Click on the images for a larger view

“He said, ‘You’d make a good research mathematician and I’m going to see that you’re prepared,’ ” she recalled.

“I said, ‘Where will I get a job?’

“And he said, ‘That will be your problem.’

From FB’s Daily Random Science Fact:


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Today’s fact-check on choice

by Dan Burns on February 20, 2015 · 0 comments

oconnor“10 Things I’d Tell the Pro-Life Fanatics.”

However, 46% of women who get abortions weren’t using a contraceptive method the month they got pregnant, indicating that conservative policies that discourage regular contraception use—everything from abstinence-only education to objecting to any measures that make contraception cheaper and easier to obtain—have been effective in keeping women from using contraception as regularly as they should. In addition, abortion rates are much higher for women living in poverty, and three quarters of women getting abortions say they can’t afford a child. If anti-choicers start moaning about the high rate of abortions, ask them what they intend to do about it. Do they want to make birth control free for all women? What about expansive social welfare that makes it easier for pregnant women living in poverty to say yes to having this baby? Most anti-choicers are generally conservative, and most will get really angry really quick if you start to mention concrete solutions to lower the abortion rate.

Apparently a few anti-choice zealot bills have been introduced in the Minnesota legislature. They’re pretty much the same things that appear every session, from the usual suspects, and thankfully they won’t get far. No way am I scanning the many hundreds of House bill introductions, yet again, to track down the individual numbers. My understanding is that one would create an effective ban on medication abortion, by requiring a degree of medical supervision far beyond all reason for a procedure known for exceptional rarity of adverse side effects.

A large new study in the journal Contraception effectively debunks the rationale for passing restrictions on abortion-inducing pills, a legislative trend that often slips under the radar but that threatens to make it all the way up to the Supreme Court. In light of the findings, the lead researchers conclude that “politics should never trump science.”
The new research, which tracked more than 13,000 women’s medication abortions at Planned Parenthood health centers in Los Angeles over a five-year period, confirms that an off-label regimen for providing medication abortion is very safe. That finding stands in direct contrast to an increasing number of state laws that specifically prevent doctors from prescribing this effective regimen – legislation that is misleadingly framed in terms of women’s “health and safety.”
(Think Progress)

(Regarding the image, I checked, and unlike so many memes from Facebook, O’Connor really did write that.)


Minnesota tries to move forward on sick leave

by Dan Burns on February 10, 2015 · 0 comments

mncapitol2Here’s the Minnesota Benefits website.


Minnesota Benefits advocates for new legislation to create earned sick days for more than one million Minnesotans. This would benefit people who currently don’t have the right to earn any sick days whatsoever. The plan will allow one hour of earned sick time per every 30 hours worked.
Those with full-time jobs will be able to earn up to nine sick days, and those with part-time jobs can earn up to five. Small companies will also have a maximum of 40 hours of sick leave for employees per year.
Sick leave is not the only issue that Minnesota Benefits aims to address. The proposed legislation also brings up “safe time,” or time taken off because of domestic violence, stalking or assault. Some women are currently in danger of losing their job because they choose to stay home for reasons relating to domestic violence.
(Minnesota Daily)

The bill is HF 549. I don’t know what its chances might be, in this largely gridlock session. I have my doubts, and hopefully am in for a good surprise. Minnesota would become the fourth state in the country, to deal with this.


Senate attacks choice in multiple ways

by Dan Burns on January 12, 2015 · 0 comments

prochoiceThe United States Senate got busy, pandering to the zealots, in a hurry.

(Sen. “Diaper” Dave) Vitter’s (R-LA) proposed requirement that abortion providers obtain admitting privileges with a local hospital would likely close many safe, legal clinics for no sound medical reason, which has already happened in Texas and other states.
His proposed ban on sex-selective abortions is one that reproductive rights activist decry as being both unnecessary and racist.
And under the guise of “non-discrimination,” another bill would allow health-care providers to refuse women abortion care even in cases of emergency.
Combined with the U.S. House’s speedy introduction of a national 20-week abortion ban bill on Tuesday, Republican legislators introduced a total of five anti-choice bills in the first three days of the new Congress.
These aggressive moves sharply contrast with the promises of the midterm election campaign, when many conservative candidates downplayed their anti-choice views, misled about their views of abortion and contraception access, and scoffed at the idea of a “war on women.”
(RH Reality Check)

It doesn’t look like Senate Republicans will remove the easy, non-talking filibuster for legislation. GOP leaders know the odds are that in 2016 Democrats will hold the presidency and take the Senate back, and they don’t want to have lost the filibuster, themselves, when back in the minority. (Yes, I know the concern trolling about Hillary’s election is already endemic. Much of it from the same people who were absolutely certain that President Obama had no chance at reelection.)
However, there are, according to NARAL, currently only 37 reliably pro-choice votes in the Senate, in a country where over 70% oppose overturning Roe v. Wade. Just how hard those in charge will push the extremism there, in practice, remains to be seen. That they let a national laughingstock like Vitter introduce this legislation may indicate, not all that hard. But that’s not definitive.


Conservative economic war on poor women

by Dan Burns on December 29, 2014 · 0 comments

LnYAxnmXFRKfSBF-556x313-noPadI put “conservative” instead of “Republican” in the title, because plenty of Democrats are shamefully complicit as well. This article notes that much of the “Cromnibus” in general was a status quo thing, which means that low-income women didn’t do well. Conservative socioeconomic priorities are essentially grounded in exploitation.

Another step backward is a $93 million cut (about 1.4 percent) to the Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) program, which gives food aid to low-income families.
But the status quo is already backwards, and has been for a long time, for groups who struggle to access safe and legal abortion care.
Lawmakers had little appetite this year to even consider lifting several long-standing prohibitions on federal funding for abortions, which hits women of color and poor women the hardest.
(RH Reality Check)

TANF continues to erode.

Cash assistance benefits for the nation’s poorest families with children fell again in purchasing power in 2014 and are now at least 20 percent below their 1996 levels in 38 states, after adjusting for inflation. While eight states raised Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) benefits between July 2013 (the start of fiscal year 2014 in most states) and July 2014, the remaining states did not, allowing inflation to continue to erode the benefits’ value. (No state cut TANF benefits in nominal dollars in the past year.) For 99 percent of TANF recipients nationally, the purchasing power of their benefits is below 1996 levels, after adjusting for inflation. As the country moves past the economic downturn and public coffers regain strength, states should halt the erosion of TANF benefits and begin restoring the purchasing power lost over the past 18 years.
(Center on Budget and Policy Priorities)


Anti-choice zealots fire up for more

by Dan Burns on December 14, 2014 · 1 comment

prochoiceIt won’t be long.

The Wall Street Journal reports that Republicans plan to reignite debate over the Pain Capable Unborn Child Protection Act, which passed in the House in 2013. Contrary to the argument put forth by proponents of the ban, the “science” underpinning the measure — that fetuses can feel pain at 20 weeks gestation — has been debunked. But that’s not expected to stop Republicans from pushing a bill that might finally have a chance in the Senate.

Fanatics in Ohio already tried to get a six-week ban. It didn’t get through the state legislature. But they’ll try again, there and in a lot of other places.

An appeals court struck down an Arizona law that tried to, for all practical purposes, ban medication-induced abortion. We’ll probably find out this week, if the U.S. Supreme Court has decided to take up the case. (Update: SCOTUS has declined to hear the case.)

Here is a useful discussion about maybe trying to add some different emphasis to the mix.

We need to see abortion as an urgent practical decision that is just as moral as the decision to have a child—indeed, sometimes more moral. Pro-choicers often say no one is “pro-abortion,” but what is so virtuous about adding another child to the ones you’re already overwhelmed by? Why do we make young women feel guilty for wanting to feel ready for motherhood before they have a baby? Isn’t it a good thing that women think carefully about what it means to bring a child into this world—what, for example, it means to the children she already has? We tend to think of abortion as anti-child and anti-motherhood. In media iconography, it’s the fetus versus the coat hanger: that is, abortion kills an “unborn baby,” but banning it makes women injure themselves. Actually, abortion is part of being a mother and of caring for children, because part of caring for children is knowing when it’s not a good idea to bring them into the world.

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538554_417321918296055_196601040368145_1516637_2083533339_nA few good things did happen in the 2014 election, and this was among the best.

Anti-abortion activists have pushed for “personhood” in five separate ballot initiatives since 2008. These amendments would likely restrict abortion access as they give unborn fetuses more rights.
Five times now, those amendments have failed, with voters in North Dakota and Colorado rejecting personhood ballot initiatives on (election) night. These amendments have failed even in conservative strongholds like Mississippi, which rejected a personhood amendment in 2012.

These keep failing, even in elections that go badly in general for everyone except right-wingers, because in fact the public strongly supports abortion rights.

This article is something of a guilt trip, and I usually avoid passing those along, but I’m making an exception.

It was women like me—married white women, specifically—who failed (Texas gubernatorial candidate) Wendy Davis—and ourselves, and our families, and Texas families—on Tuesday night. According to exit polls, Black women, Black men, Latinas, and a near-majority of Latinos who voted turned out in solid numbers for Davis…
The story does not begin and end with “men” and “women”; we have to look at which men, which women—particularly if the Democratic Party is ever going to decide to come out fighting hard on issues like immigration reform and moving the gamepiece aggressively forward, rather than backward, on reproductive rights.
(RH Reality Check)

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Post-election observations

by Eric Ferguson on November 6, 2014 · 5 comments

With the voting done in 2014, let’s talk about 2016. Kidding! Stop, don’t go away! In fact, I’ll give you this handy link to Minnesota election results, but don’t leave yet.
The following thoughts about 2014 are more or less in the order in which they came to mind, though I tried to seize opportunities for coherency.
Starting with admittedly a repeat of my comment on Dan Burns’ post on women voting, assuming my walk lists of voters were the drop-off Democrats, it’s a bit disturbing those lists were heavy with younger women, meaning under 40. They arguably lost the most when Republicans did so well in 2010, between Republican governors and legislatures repealing equal pay laws, closing women’s clinics to restrict abortion access (and restricting access to health services in general thereby), photo ID laws (women’s birth certificates get rejected if they changed their names when they married), and blocking minimum wage increases which hurts women much more than men. Why aren’t younger women the most motivated to turn out?
Despite the wailing and media hysteria, if you didn’t roughly predict the results of the 2014 midterms once the results of the 2012 election were in, you have much to learn about US politics. We’re the presidential party in a midterm — Tuesday was always going to be bad. I expected we would net a governor or two, instead of a net loss of I think it will turn out to be two. But losses in Congress, albeit worse than they needed to be, no surprise. Looks like losses were small compared to 2010 in state legislatures. Not that we couldn’t have mitigated the losses without some bad decisions — yes, that’s a prelude to bringing up things I’m ticked about, and in my own defense, all things I raised before the campaign was over. We’ll get there shortly. Some good news, besides a good night for Democrats in Minnesota whatever happened elsewhere, is the GOP Senate majority is likely short-lived. Their odds of holding on in 2016 are worse than ours this year, for the same math problems: whether it’s a presidential year, who defends how many seats, and which states have elections.
Weirdly, given how the elections turned out, Democrats nearly ran the table on ballot measures. Unlike 2012, they seem not to have had coattails.
No one wants to believe the polls when they predict bad news, but for Senate and governor races, following them meant you weren’t surprised. Disappointed, but at least you knew it would be a generally bad night. Not so much for the US House, which I attribute to few polls and small sample sizes — so I was pleasantly surprised by CD8, since the last poll showed Stewart Mills with a strong lead, plus a Green candidate taking a few percent. Point being, better to accept the polls are roughly right and deal with reality. At least no one on the Democratic side went so far as to get into “unskewing”, so we have that going for us.
Apartment buildings folks, come on. I’m not naming sources or candidates, because no one knew in these conversations I might be blogging about it later on. Trying to do better at contacting people who live in apartments, or “multi-unit buildings” to not exclude residents of condominiums, is something we’ve worked on in the SD I chair, and the Keith Ellison campaign developed methods of doorknocking in apartments over the last couple elections. Ellison is safe, so the main beneficiaries are on the rest of the ballot, but lots of candidates and campaigns still want to bypass multi-unit buildings. The reasons why aren’t important. What’s important is we’re passing up voters Republicans also don’t contact, or, to be more positive, where we focus on multi-unit buildings, we’re contacting people Republicans ignore. Besides, whatever fudge factors there are, can anyone claim we solved the drop-off Democrat problem? Yet turfs are still cut to steer away from multi-unit buildings.


It’s great when women vote

by Dan Burns on November 3, 2014 · 2 comments

If women, especially young women, vote, we win. Everywhere. Remember, if we get turnout, we have a very real chance of shutting the GOP out in Minnesota. And that would be pretty wonderful for practically everyone.
Comments below fold.