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Reposted from Christian Dem in NC by Geenius at Wrok

Yesterday, anti-gay activist Linda Harvey offered a chilling argument for why Proposition 8 and the Defense of Marriage Act shouldn't be struck down on 14th Amendment grounds.  In her daily commentary on Christian radio station WRFD in Columbus, Harvey claims that a gay person doesn't meet the definition of a "person" under the 14th Amendment.

Why should the equal protection argument be made in favor of homosexual behavior, which is changeable?  People are not naturally homosexual, so the definition of "person" in the Fourteenth Amendment is being twisted to make this assumption.

Many legal cases have been argued to try to pile all kinds of questionable characteristics onto that word.  But "person" should be understood based on historic, beneficial, or at least neutral and fact-based traits; it should not be twisted to incorporate behavior that most religions and most cultures have said a firm "no" to.

It's also behavior for which there's no recognized science demonstrating a genetic or hormonal origin.  And it's also not beneficial and does not stand the definition of marriage, used for millenia - that is, the act of consummation. It's another sad fact of homosexual behavior that two men or two women can never consummate a marriage; they can never conceive children together.

Listen to the whole thing at WRFD's Website.  Look for the piece called "Supreme Court to Consider Marriage."

The most troubling part of this, believe it or not, isn't Harvey's embrace of "pray away the gay" therapy, which has been completely debunked by all legitimate psychologists.  No, it's Harvey's claim that gays don't qualify for 14th Amendment protection because gay behavior is not "beneficial."  I hope I misunderstand what she means here.  After all, wasn't this one of the arguments used for laws banning interracial marriage--because it wasn't "beneficial" to society?  

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Reposted from Mom of Three by Geenius at Wrok

I suppose one could use that term "straight ally" to describe me. For a human rights issue such as advocacy against anti-gay bigotry, I wish the sentiment behind the term would go without saying, however. I hope to raise my kids in a community in which we are all offended when some are denied equal rights, and we are all downright bewildered when inequality is not just tolerated, but promoted by churches and other organizations (I'm talking to you, Boy Scouts of America). My friend Kate married her wife in California during our brief period of marriage equality in 2008. This year, the two of them became parents to an adorable little son. Kate wrote to the Director of Alumnae Relations at her alma mater, the Catholic girls' school La Reina High School, to announce her good news. Kate received a curt response informing her that they would not publish a birth announcement in the alumnae newsletter, citing the church's "unequivocal" stance on same sex marriage. Below is my response, addressed to the Alumnae director and the school principal.

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Wed Sep 19, 2012 at 06:56 AM PDT

The Luxury of Forgiveness

by Geenius at Wrok

Reposted from Geenius at Wrok by Geenius at Wrok

It's fair to say, isn't it, that more than a few Republicans are unhappy with Mitt Romney right now.

The man is an authoritarian living in a bubble universe in which he's always right and no one questions him. Whenever that bubble intersects the real world, anomalies form, usually taking the form of his saying things that reflect the laws of nature in his bubble but that contradict what we know and understand about our lives outside. It makes it hard for him to successfully present himself as suitable for elected public office in the real world. And so he makes thoughtless comment after thoughtless comment, alienating one group after another, and at this point is likely not merely to lose the general election but to receive a drubbing.

Then the sun will rise the next day. And the next. And at some point during those next few days, he will be offered a new job, one for which he will be paid more in an hour than most of us make in a year.

He will be forgiven, almost overnight.

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Reposted from Phil T Duck by Geenius at Wrok

It's crazy, but it's true: I could not afford to go to work today.

I have a 45-minute commute to and from work, which costs me about ten dollars in gas each day. I'm down to six whole dollars, after paying what bills I could with my last paycheck. There are still unpaid bills, but there's nothing I can do about them right now. I'm mostly worried about how the hell I'm going to feed my daughter until my next check on Friday.

This is not a position I ever expected to find myself in. I have a full-time job at a distribution center for a well-known retailer. The company has weathered the Great Recession pretty well, all things considered: overall sales are off by only 1%, a variance which until recently would have been seen as a business hiccup. But I find that the recession itself has given the Powers That Be at my job an excuse to do whatever they damn well please to their full-time employees.

The infuriating details are below the squiggle.

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Reposted from Aji by Geenius at Wrok
You know when I was 7 years old and would pray for God to come get my dad as he was a very violent White man that verbally and physical to all 5 of us children. When God did not come get my dad I told my mom that God was going to come get me on May 15, This was when I was 7 years old. I figured that out when I attended a few sessions with a great Councillor that I was already thinking of dying. At seven years old. So many children are going through this now. This why I am working so hard to get this building up to Isabel as it will provide a place for the children go and feel welcomed and feed. We are going to have after school activities and tutors to help those children that need help. Please help us keep our children safe and secure.

               ~ Georgia Little Shield, on why the Okiciyap building is so desperately needed.

Georgia gave express permission to use this quote.

This diary is going to be very frank about a tragedy, another ongoing link in the genocidal chain of "Indian policy" in this country.  It's also going to be very personal at some points.  It may be difficult to read.  Please read it anyway.  

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Reposted from Chrislove by Geenius at Wrok

I don't know if I've ever been this pissed off while writing a diary.  And I've written about some pretty fucking outrageous things.  But my hands are quite literally shaking while I'm typing this.  Maybe it was the video footage (which I'm going to share with you...be forewarned, it's quite disturbing) that really drove it home, or maybe this story just takes me back to the days when I got bullied, harassed, and threatened daily and nobody gave a shit.  In any case, I'm fit to be tied right now.  I think many of you might have the same reaction.

Basically, this is what happened.  A student has been harassing another (gay) student at Union-Scioto High School in Chillicothe, Ohio, for quite some time.  Apparently, the harassment even extended to Facebook, where the bully commented on a picture of the gay teen (whose name has not been released) and said: "You fag.  Check out the definition of a fag."  Anyway, video footage caught on another student's cell phone shows this bully standing around and waiting for the gay teen, showing pretty clear premeditation.  He then beats the living shit out of him while other students watch.  The gay student suffered a possible concussion and a chipped tooth.  The video was posted on Facebook.  No arrest was made.  In fact, the only punishment handed to the assaulter was a three-day suspension from school.  Seriously.  A three-fucking-day suspension.

Watch the video, which is narrated by the victim's mother, after the fold.  Again, it's pretty disturbing.

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Reposted from Native American Netroots by Geenius at Wrok

Invisible Indians
Crossposted from Native American Netroots

If you find typos here, it's because my hands are trembling in fury over the keyboard as I write this. That comes from reading Part 1 of National Public Radio's three-part report on yet another round of cultural genocide against the Indians of South Dakota. What it amounts to is state-sanctioned kidnapping. You can read or listen to Part 1 here and, starting at 4 p.m. Pacific Time, Part 2. I hope that, after you do, you'll take action to help bring an end to the continuing effort to separate Indian children from their families. Here are the bullet points from the kick-ass investigation Laura Sullivan and Amy Walters put together over 12 months:

• A 2005 study found that 32 states are, in various ways, failing to comply with the Indian Child Welfare Act. Congress passed that law in 1978 after a century of federal policy had forcibly removed tens of thousands of American Indian children from their families and sent them off to abusive boarding schools.

• Under the law, social services agencies are supposed to place Indian children they remove from troubled homes into Indian foster-care homes. But that requirement is being ignored. And in South Dakota, more than 700 Indian children are removed from their families each year, often under questionable circumstances. Over the years, state records show, only 13 percent of these children have gone to Indian foster parents.

Boys at the Pine Ridge (S.D.) Reservation/Aaron Huey
• Anecdotal evidence indicates that foster-care homes licensed to Indians are ignored by the state's social services agency when placing children removed from their families.

• Some children are taken for legitimate reasons, but most are removed because of "neglect," a fuzzy definition that often is arrived at because of a failure of the mostly non-Indian social-service workers to understand Indian culture. "[E]ven Native American children who grow up to become foster care success stories, living happy, productive lives, say the loss of their culture and identities leaves a deep hole they spend years trying hopelessly to fill," NPR reports.

• While Indian children make up less than 15 percent of the state's population, they are more than half the children in foster care. South Dakota receives thousands of dollars from the feds for every child it takes from a family, and typically gets more money if a child is Indian.

• South Dakota Gov. Dennis Daugard once headed a group that was a major recipient of federal money provided for foster children. As lieutenant governor, he was on the group's payroll when it received tens of millions of dollars in no-bid contracts, a "highly unusual relationship."

"It enrages me," says Crow Creek tribal council member Peter Lengkeek. "We're very tight-knit families and cousins are disappearing. Family members are disappearing."

The Crow Creek tribe has lost more than 33 children in recent years. The reservation only has 1,400 people. Last year Lengkeek asked social service officials to tell him where the children were and who they were placed with.

Seven months later, he received a list. Lengkeek says every single child was placed in a white foster home.

He says if the state had its way, "we'd still be playing cowboys and Indians. I couldn't imagine what they tell these kids about where they come from and who they are."
"It's kidnapping," he says. "That's how we see it."

Except for the obvious reasons, many people may wonder why this matters so much to Indians, why it arouses our fury more intensely than just about any other conflict between Indians and non-Indians in today's world. That's because the foster-care program contains a powerful echo. Our rage arises out of a history that is, for many of us, devastatingly personal.

For instance, among Indians who participate in the Daily Kos group Native American Netroots, at least four of us have relatives who were yanked away from their families and sent to boarding schools (aji: great-grandmother; me, grandmother and great-aunt; navajo: mother; cacamp: grandparents, parents and himself).

Some went to government-run schools; others were taken in by church operations, Catholics and Mormons being among the prominent proponents of this approach to "civilizing" us.

In addition to being physically abused and treated as sexual prey in many cases, children in the boarding schools had their language, culture and religion yanked away. That wasn't collateral damage. It was the whole point. The concept behind the boarding schools, more than 150 of them by 1900, was "Kill the Indian…save the man," as noted in an 1892 Denver speech by Col. Richard H Pratt, founder of the U.S. Training and Industrial School at Carlisle Barracks, Pa. In short, demolish Indians by literally stealing their children.

Apache children on arrival at the Carlisle Indian School wearing traditional clothing.
The same children at the Carlisle School four months later. Note the haircuts.
NAN line separater
Here's cacamp — Carter Camp — giving the short version of his boarding school story:
I was a repeat run-away same as my Mom, so I didn't graduate until I was 19. Mom never did because her Dad hid her from the agent after the first time. In my parents' day the schools were run like military academies where the kids marched in formation and drilled like soldiers. They had disciplinarians and jails and ran farms, which the students worked on to feed themselves. Those were the bad old days. By the time I got there, they were more benevolent but still strict about erasing our cultures. We still had to work on the farm two hours a day and more if we got in trouble.

The Navajo had it especially rough since they were forcefully rounded up like my parents were and taken up [to] Kansas, far from home, while the rest of us were sent by our parents because of poverty. We were high school age; so were the Navajo but they hadn't gone to any school before and most spoke no English so they had "special ed" and were segregated in different dorms. Funny thing though, we met and became friends with students from all over and later on became tribal leaders and American Indian Movement leaders who knew each other and could work together for things like tribal sovereignty.

Back then the Bureau of Indian Affairs agent stole the kids and ran roughshod over the parents and tribe. Today it's the State and the welfare system that is doing the same thing. We call our lost children "Lost Birds" after the baby girl who survived [the] Wounded Knee [massacre of 1890] and was adopted out to a white family but finally (recently) came home to her people to be buried again at Wounded Knee.

Each year we have "lost birds" coming home who have turned 18 and come seeking their families and yearning to learn their culture. Many times they don't even know who to ask for and sometimes they're quite old, grown up and with their own children looking for a connection to their past. Winter Rabbit reminded me of such a lost one. The majority of the stolen kids know their families and come home ASAP, so we have a large population of Indian kids who were brought up outside the tribe and have now come home. They almost all have stories of abuse. Only a few were lucky enough to find love and stability. Most are passed around in the system and bounce from foster home to foster home. This has been going on so long that thousands of lost ones are out there from every nation in America. It needs to stop.

Aji tells the story of her great-grandmother:

[My mom's grandmother] died without ever knowing who or what she was; it's taken a lot of work, years later, to piece her "self" together. Initially, the family thought she was of Scots descent, not realizing that the Scottish surname was that of her by-then-widowed mother's second husband.  Her adoptive name was English. There is no record of what her traditional name (or any surname) might have been; they were more interested in covering up the very fact of adoption than anything else.

In the 1870s, the Catholic Church in Michigan was very invested in saving Indian children from an alleged "epidemic" of illness.  What they were really doing was stealing kids and farming them out as fast as they could to reliably Catholic families who would … "save the [wo]man by killing the Indian." No one knows how many were lost to white families via church theft. Hundreds, at a minimum. Probably thousands over the course of one generation alone. But one day in the late 1870s, a good white Catholic couple of English extraction left their home and traveled to the rez for two months, and came back bearing their new little Indian "papoose," promptly given a white name and identity, with never a reference to be made to the adoption, much less from where.  

Ironically, when she married, her husband ran his father's logging business, and during the summer months, he traveled around the state; in his absence, she ran the business for him. She hired and fired — you guessed it — Indian laborers, some of whom were undoubtedly relatives, but neither side ever knew it. She died thinking that 1) she was English, and 2) she was the lineal descendant of those English "parents." To this day, I'm not sure how they explained the differences in coloring — probably via the "Gasp! That's not discussed in polite company" method.

Also ironically, after her adoption, her new parents went on to have nine biological children of their own. You'd've thought they could've been a little less greedy about acquiring someone else's child as a possession.

NAN line separater
Nobody is suggesting that the foster-care system in South Dakota is treating Indian children the way the boarding schools did back, in Carter's words, in the "bad old days." Or that children are being snatched in quite the same way that the churches did decades ago. But many of today's Indian foster-kids are still losing their culture and the connection to their heritage.

Take the case of Janice Howe, one of the grandmothers that the NPR team focused on. Her four grandchildren, the children of her daughter Erin Yellow Robe, wound up in foster care despite the 1978 law.

Except rarely, that law requires that Indian children be placed with relatives, a tribal member or at the very least, another American Indian. And it requires states to do all they can to first keep a family together through services and programs. Surely, a grandmother qualifies.

But nothing Howe did over 18 months brought her grandchildren back until she told the Crow Creek tribal council that they were about to be put up for adoption. The council passed a resolution warning the state that if the Yellow Robe children were not returned, it would be charged with kidnapping and prosecuted. Nobody thought this would work, but it did.

"Antoinette came in and said 'Grandma, Grandma. We get to stay! We get to stay!'" …

Howe thinks the babies were treated well. But Rashauna and Antoinette left a size 10 and came back a size smaller. Howe says they hoard food under their pillows and hide under the bed when a car pulls up.

"I feel like they were traumatized so much," Howe says.

The children don't remember their native dance, something Howe says is especially important for Antoinette, the oldest.

"We go to sweats," Howe says. "We have ceremonies at certain times a year. She's got to be getting ready to learn these things that she has to do in order to become a young lady. They took a year and a half away from us. How are we going to get that back?"

Among other tasks, Danny Sheehan works for the Lakota People's law office. He has about 150 case files on removals.

Danny Sheehan
"These are all the different people who had their kids taken away from their entire families. … Not one of them has had their children left with a relative of any kind."

He hopes one day he can sue. …

"Maybe if we devoted all our resources to a particular case and said, look, we're going to land on you like a ton of bricks [social services] and make you give this one kid back and sue you and do everything else, they would probably just turn the kid loose," he says. "But it wouldn't change anything. It wouldn't stop them from doing it a hundred times again."

But why should lawsuits be necessary? There is a law against what's being done. It's just not being enforced. A good deal of the reason for that is because the centuries-long efforts to make Indians disappear, to make us invisible, has succeeded. Our political clout in such matters, even in places where we can still be found in substantial numbers, is next to zero. The 1978 Indian Child Welfare Act appears to us to be just another ignored bit of paper, like hundreds of treaties, and nobody official is doing squat about it. When it comes to invisible Indians who enforces the enforcers?

Discuss

Sun Sep 18, 2011 at 07:36 AM PDT

You are not the problem

by ginmar

Reposted from ginmar by Geenius at Wrok

  It's no secret that everybody is going through some terrible stuff these days. Foreclosure, job loss, illness, pet illness---and don't kid yourself. When you're going through horrible, constant, soul-draining experiences that drain your bank account, strip you of your possessions, and leave you without shelter, that friendly little face and wagging tale or that purring little body curled up next to you can seem like the only friend you've got.

 But if you're poor in this country,  you're supposed to respond to these experiences while facing increasing demands of people who are not going through what you go through.

 You're supposed to present a cheery, optimistic face and make no mistake---it's not for your benefit.  It's to enable other people to say to themselves, "Oh, see, it's not that bad!"

Screw that.  

 

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Reposted from jmannatl by Geenius at Wrok

As Williams tried to continue asking his question, the crowd broke into applause, prompting Williams to pause.

The moderator then continued: “Have you struggled to sleep at night with the idea that any one of those might have been innocent?”

Perry responded, “no, sir.”

“I’ve never struggled with that at all,” he said. “The state of Texas has a very thoughtful, a very clear process in place of which — when someone commits the most heinous of crimes against our citizens, they get a fair hearing, they go through an appellate process, they go up to the Supreme Court of the United States, if that’s required.”

For the state to commit murder against itself is barbaric, which is why most civilized countries don’t do it. American stands fast with other champions of “justice” such as Iran, North Korea, and Singapore in allowing the state to feed on itself. Our country’s inhumane tendencies can hardly be seen in a more compelling example than the death penalty, and it’s to our shame that it continues. As Helen Prejean said, “The profound moral question is not, “Do they deserve to die?” but “Do we deserve to kill them?”

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Wed Sep 14, 2011 at 05:32 AM PDT

Unbearable

by sherlyle

Reposted from sherlyle by Geenius at Wrok

I know this isn't going to affect anyone's lives here.  It's none of your concern, you have enough problems to deal with.  But my sister's grandchild, the "apple of her eye", just died.  She was ten.  All of ten years old.
She had the flu, you see.  The doctor wasn't concerned.  And since her Mom and Dad had no insurance, she was just another one of those Pains In the Butt.  Go home, Kid, and lump it.  A couple of days later, Mom and Dad were reaqlly getting worried.  She was blue around her mouth and nose.  She said she couldn't breathe.  She couldn't pee, either.  
The second doctor that saw her said it was the "worst kidney infection he'd ever seen".  Gave her some antibiotic samples and sent her home.  That was just yesterday, at 3:30.  She died today just after noon, with a helicopter trying to get there in time and a young doctor in the ER doing everything he could think of for a little girl that told him, "I trust you.  I see in your eyes you're a good person.  You will help me".  Lexy's heart stopped, and this young man threw all his training, all his will, into making that heart start up again.  He cried, he sobbed, while he shouted orders and pitted all he was against the forces arrayed against him.  In anguish he cried out, "Why the HELL didn't he KEEP HER IN THE HOSPITAL"??, referring to the second physician to see her, with her blue nails and mouth.  
My sister's had a hard life.  We shared more fear, pain, and terror than any child should ever be asked to endure.  I won't go into details because I don't think I need to.  I was the kid that tried to be invisible, and she was the one who fought and defied and stood like a giant against the evil done to us both.  I was in awe of her then and now.  The courage of her.  I wish I had the words to tell you about her, about her spirit.  The sheer...hugeness...of her spirit.  I have never before nor since known a human being with more courage than my sister.  
Her husband has been blind for years.  Sheila was told years ago that she would be in a wheelchair within 5 years because her body was so beaten and worn from the work she did to support her family.  She has continued to work because she must.  She is not in a wheelchair, but she's tired.  She's so tired, with disappointment and difficulty the only constant in her life.  
Lexy was a delight to my sister.  The same spark in my sister's eyes was reflected in the eyes of her granddaughter.  From the beginning they saw in each other a kindred spirit, and they've been the best of friends.  "Grandma Sweetheart" Lexy called her, and she was the joy so hard-earned in Sheila's life.  
Lexy died today.  Sheila couldn't let go of her.  She held her darling girl in her arms until the nurses pried the two apart.  
I can't think of anything to do for my sister.  On this unbearable day,  I find I have the guts to do anything at all for her, and there's nothing to be done.  Nothing to be done.
I wish I could explain her to you, paint a picture for you of the person she is.  If I could do this, you would love her too.  She's the fiercest Liberal I know, she's raised so many "stray children" besides her own.  She's strong and brave and wounded now beyond her ability to bear.  
Love each other.  Hold each other close.  And forgive me for my fear for a spirit I love so very much.  
Lexy's Mom and Dad didn't have health insurance, even though they both work.  Until we live in a world where a child gets the treatment she needs, we live in a world where horror lurks.  

Discuss
Reposted from McCamy Taylor by Geenius at Wrok

Just the facts, Ma’am

Since some of my readers want less drama and more facts, here are the facts. Class, open your books to chapter eight. Which book, you ask? The Social Determinants of Health edited by Wilkinson and Marmot. If you didn’t bring your copy, you can share. Or open your laptops and go to Google eBooks. You can read most of the chapter online.

First, a point of clarification. While poverty is a disease that has many associated ills, today we are talking about something worse than poverty. The topic today is wealth disparity. What is worse for your health than being poor? Being poor in an affluent country.

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Sun Aug 28, 2011 at 09:38 AM PDT

When the Levee Breaks

by McCamy Taylor

Reposted from McCamy Taylor by Geenius at Wrok

When does “just getting by” become “can’t take it any longer”? In history, we’ve seen it countless times. Disaster pushes those living on the edge right over the cliff, and they either drown or they scramble back onto land, determined to fight.

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