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  We, as a community, went into the 2008 election with many serious misgivings regarding candidate Obama. But in spite of those misgivings, we gave his campaign our money, our support and our votes, in the hope that President Obama would be sympathetic to our struggle to finally gain full citizenship, in this blatantly homophobic nation of ours. In spite of the fact he stated quite clearly in his campaign for president that he believed our relationships only worthy of 'separate but equal' billing, many believed his position a mere political stance, taken to make him more electable with the "values" voters, since he had also, previously, quite publicly, stated his support for marriage equality, in an earlier campaign in Illinois. FYI, in case you weren't aware, his current stance, of supporting separate but equal marriage inequality, has been and is being used by a number of both democrats and republicans to justify their opposition to marriage equality.

  The President also stated during the campaign that he would finally end the outrageously homophobic and clearly detrimental policy of DADT. The House passed a perfectly sound and very fair bill sponsored by Representative Murphy a year ago. However, when the Senate was finally prodded into moving on this issue, he and Senator Reid crafted a horribly bastardized version of that bill that was unceremoniously extinguished without even a debate the other day. I understand he had time to chat with the WNBA champions at length on the afternoon of the vote to bring that bill of his to the floor for debate. I hope it was an enjoyable conversation, since his carefully crafted compromise legislation went down in flames that day.

  Interestingly, the two blue dogs who, aside from Reid, voted with the republicans, were from Arkansas. You might recall one of them, a senator Lincoln, whom he campaigned for in her recent senate primary against the real democrat out there, Bill Halter. Well much to my surprise/chagrin, I read later that same afternoon that vice president Biden was going to be here in Beantown, hosting a fundraiser for senator Lincoln. It's nice to know the Administration really took her to the woodshed for some serious discipline over her stabbing us in the back on one of your more oft repeated promises to the GLBT community.

  And in a truly monumental WTF moment we hear mention of separate but equal housing for gay soldiers being offered as some compromise by the Pentagon? FYI, you can't catch gay or lesbian by sleeping or showering or even eating in close proximity to us. It's not an airborne disease or even transmitted through body contact.

  Let me close by thanking the president for the ferocity of his support on matter of our civil rights... All the window dressing these past two years is very lovely, but we're still on the outside looking in, and being shuffled along to the back entrance to be served our helpings of separate but unequal.

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Department of Justice Mission Statement-

  To enforce the law and defend the interests of the United States according to the law; to ensure public safety against threats foreign and domestic; to provide federal leadership in preventing and controlling crime; to seek just punishment for those guilty of unlawful behavior; and to ensure fair and impartial administration of justice for all Americans.

from Wikipedia-

Separate but Equal-

  The repeal of such restrictive laws, generally known as Jim Crow laws, was a key focus of the civil rights movement prior to 1954. The Jim Crow laws were state and local laws in the United States enacted between 1876 and 1965. They mandated de jure racial segregation in all public facilities, with a supposedly "separate but equal" status for black Americans. In reality, this led to treatment and accommodations that were usually inferior to those provided for white Americans, systematizing a number of economic, educational and social disadvantages. Some examples of Jim Crow laws are the segregation of public schools, public places and public transportation, and the segregation of restrooms, restaurants and drinking fountains for whites and blacks. The U.S. military was also segregated. In Sweatt v. Painter, the Supreme Court addressed a legal challenge to the doctrine by a student seeking admission to a state supported law school in Texas. Because Texas did not have a law school for blacks, the lower court delayed the case until Texas could create one. However, the Supreme Court ordered that the student be admitted to the white law school on the grounds that the separate school failed to qualify as being "equal," both because of quantitative differences in facilities and intangible factors, such as its isolation from most of the future lawyers with whom its graduates would interact. The court held that, when considering graduate education, intangibles must be considered as part of "substantive equality." The same day, the Supreme Court in McLaurin v. Oklahoma State Regents  ruled that Oklahoma segregation laws which required a graduate student working on a Doctor of Education degree to sit in the hallway outside the classroom door did not qualify as 'separate but equal.' These cases ended 'separate but equal' in graduate and professional education.

  In Brown v. Board of Education, 347 U.S. 483 (1954), attorneys for the NAACP referred to the phrase "equal but separate" used in Plessy v. Ferguson as a custom de jure racial segregation enacted into law. The NAACP, led by the soon-to-be first black Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall, was successful in challenging the constitutional viability of the separate but equal doctrine, and the court voted to overturn sixty years of law that had developed under Plessy. The Supreme Court outlawed segregated public education facilities for blacks and whites at the state level. The companion case of Bolling v. Sharpe, 347 U.S. 497 outlawed such practices at the Federal level in the District of Columbia. The Brown court held:

   We conclude that, in the field of public education, the doctrine of "separate but equal" has no place. Separate educational facilities are inherently unequal. Therefore, we hold that the plaintiffs and others similarly situated for whom the actions have been brought are, by reason of the segregation complained of, deprived of the equal protection of the laws guaranteed by the Fourteenth Amendment.

  Even though the Constitutionality of separate but equal education had been overturned, it would be almost ten more years before the Civil Rights Act of 1964 would extinguish the application of separate but equal in all areas of public accommodations such as transportation and hotels. Additionally, in 1967 under Loving v. Virginia, the United States Supreme Court declared Virginia's anti-miscegenation statute, the "Racial Integrity Act of 1924", unconstitutional, thereby ending all race-based legal restrictions on marriage ("anti-miscegenation laws") in the United States. Although federal legislation prohibits racial discrimination in college admissions, the HBCUs continue to teach student bodies that are 75% to 90% African American. In 1975, Jake Ayers Sr. filed a lawsuit against Mississippi for giving more financial support to its predominantly white public colleges. The state settled the lawsuit in 2002 and agreed to direct $503 million to three historically black colleges, collectively, over 17 years.

  The phrase "separate but equal" has been more recently used by supporters of same-sex marriage to argue for full marriage rights for same-sex couples, in lieu of civil unions, which is often the suggested alternative.

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  Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy on Civil Rights, from Wikipedia.

  Kennedy expressed the administration's commitment to civil rights during a 1961 speech at the University of Georgia Law School:

  “We will not stand by or be aloof. We will move. I happen to believe that the 1954 Supreme Court school desegregation decision was right. But my belief does not matter. It is the law. Some of you may believe the decision was wrong. That does not matter. It is the law.”

  In 1963, FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover, who hated civil-rights leader Martin Luther King, Jr. and viewed him as an upstart troublemaker, presented Kennedy with allegations that some of King's close confidants and advisers were communists. Concerned that the allegations, if made public, would derail the Administration's civil rights initiatives, Kennedy warned King to discontinue the suspect associations, and later felt compelled to issue a written directive authorizing the FBI to wiretap King and other leaders of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, King's civil rights organization. Although Kennedy only gave written approval for limited wiretapping of King's phones "on a trial basis, for a month or so", Hoover extended the clearance so his men were "unshackled" to look for evidence in any areas of King's life they deemed worthy. The wire tapping continued through June 1966 and was revealed in 1968, days before Kennedy's death. No evidence of communist activity or influence was uncovered.

  Kennedy remained committed to civil rights enforcement to such a degree that he commented, in 1962, that it seemed to envelop almost every area of his public and private life—from prosecuting corrupt southern electoral officials to answering late night calls from Coretta Scott King concerning the imprisonment of her husband for demonstrations in Alabama. During his tenure as Attorney General, he undertook the most energetic and persistent desegregation of the administration that Capitol Hill had ever experienced. He demanded that every area of government begin recruiting realistic levels of black and other ethnic workers, going so far as to criticize Vice President Lyndon B. Johnson for his failure to desegregate his own office staff.

  Although it has become commonplace to assert the phrase "The Kennedy Administration" or even "President Kennedy" when discussing the legislative and executive support of the civil rights movement, between 1960 and 1963, a great many of the initiatives that occurred during President Kennedy's tenure were as a result of the passion and determination of an emboldened Robert Kennedy, who through his rapid education in the realities of Southern racism, underwent a thorough conversion of purpose as Attorney General. Asked in an interview in May 1962, "What do you see as the big problem ahead for you, is it Crime or Internal Security?" Robert Kennedy replied, "Civil Rights." The President came to share his brother's sense of urgency on the matters at hand to such an extent that it was at the Attorney General's insistence that he made his famous address to the nation.

  During the attack and burning, by a vast white mob, of the First Baptist Church in Montgomery Alabama, at which Martin Luther King, Jr. was in attendance with protesters, the Attorney General telephoned King to ask his assurance that they would not leave the building until the U.S. Marshals and National Guard had secured the area. King proceeded to berate Kennedy for "allowing the situation to continue". King later publicly thanked Robert Kennedy for his commanding of the force dispatched to break up an attack that might otherwise have ended King's life. The relationship between the two men was to undergo great change over the years that they would know each other—from a position of mutual suspicion to one of shared aspirations. For King, Robert Kennedy initially represented the "softly softly" approach that in former years had disabled the movement of blacks against oppression in the U.S. For Robert Kennedy, King initially represented what was then considered the unrealistic militancy that many in the white-liberal camp had regarded as the cause of so little governmental progress.

  In September 1962, he sent U.S. Marshals to Oxford, Mississippi, to enforce a federal court order allowing the admittance of the first African American student, James Meredith, to the University of Mississippi. Kennedy had hoped that legal means, along with the escort of U.S. Marshals, would be enough to force the Governor to allow the school admission. He also was very concerned there might be a "mini-civil war" between the U.S. Army troops and armed protesters. President John F. Kennedy reluctantly sent federal troops after the situation on campus turned violent. Ensuing riots during the period of Meredith's admittance resulted in hundreds of injuries and two deaths. Yet Kennedy remained adamant concerning the rights of black students to enjoy the benefits of all levels of the educational system. The Office of Civil Rights also hired its first African-American lawyer and began to work cautiously with leaders of the civil rights movement. Robert Kennedy saw voting as the key to racial justice, and collaborated with Presidents Kennedy and Johnson to create the landmark Civil Rights Act of 1964, which helped bring an end to Jim Crow laws.

  He was to maintain his commitment to racial equality into his own presidential campaign, extending his firm sense of social justice to all areas of national life and into matters of foreign and economic policy. During a speech at Ball State University, Kennedy questioned the student body on what kind of life America wished for herself; whether privileged Americans had earned the great luxury they enjoyed and whether such Americans had an obligation to those, in U.S. society and across the world, who had so little by comparison. It has been argued that although this speech has been largely overlooked and ignored, because of the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr, it was one of most powerful and heartfelt speeches Kennedy delivered.

  After the assassination of President Kennedy, Robert Kennedy undertook a 1966 tour of South Africa in which he championed the cause of the anti-Apartheid movement. The tour was greeted with international praise at a time when few politicians dared to entangle themselves in the politics of South Africa. Kennedy spoke out against the oppression of the native population and was welcomed by the black population as though a visiting head of state. In an interview with Look Magazine he had this to say:

“At the University of Natal in Durban, I was told the church to which most of the white population belongs teaches apartheid as a moral necessity. A questioner declared that few churches allow black Africans to pray with the white because the Bible says that is the way it should be, because God created Negroes to serve. 'But suppose God is black', I replied. 'What if we go to Heaven and we, all our lives, have treated the Negro as an inferior, and God is there, and we look up and He is not white? What then is our response?' There was no answer. Only silence.”


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  Action by the Justice Department to oppose a lawsuit challenging DOMA, however, is a betrayal. A gay California couple that legally married before Prop 8 passed has sued to repeal DOMA on constitutional grounds, after the Bush Administration defeated their prior effort. Last week, the Obama Administration - through the U.S. Justice Department - filed a motion to dismiss  their case. The brief argued that the couple lacks standing to sue, because they had not applied to get federal benefits that married couples enjoy - nor did they attempt to have their marriage recognized in a different state. The case could get thrown out for that reason alone, but I don't have a problem with the Obama Administration raising those arguments.

  But the brief then proceeds to defend DOMA "on the merits" - using language that is factually incorrect, and arguments that (if adopted by the courts) would damage future attempts to secure gay rights. The Administration argued that the Full Faith and Credit Clause of the U.S. Constitution does not bar states from denying out-of-state gay marriages, and they cited prior cases of out-of-state marriages that were between (a) an uncle and niece, (b) a 16-year-old and adult and (c) first cousins. Comparing same-sex marriage with incest and pedophilia is what one would expect from a Republican Administration, and for a court to agree with such reasoning is unhelpful.

  I was not surprised that the brief said homosexuals are not a "suspect class," because that is what federal courts currently recognize (as opposed to the California or Iowa Constitutions.) But I was shocked to see it argue that DOMA is "related to legitimate government interests," because the federal government has an interest in saving money. In Romer v. Evans, the U.S. Supreme Court found that a Colorado proposition did not have a "rational basis" - because its only possible justification was anti-gay bias. For the Obama Administration to distinguish DOMA from Romer by dreaming up a "rational basis" will hurt future legal efforts on this issue.

  But the most offensive part of the brief was how it defended Part 3 of DOMA, which bars same-sex couples from any federal benefits. Calling DOMA a "cautious policy of federal neutrality towards a new form of marriage," the lawyers argued that Part 3 "does not discriminate against gays for federal benefits." Which, of course, is patently false. DOMA is not a case of the federal government taking a "neutral" stance on a controversial topic. Part 3 expressly says the federal government will not recognize gay couples, even if a state chooses to acknowledge their marriage. Nor is it merely a "cautious" policy. Only twice has the U.S. Congress ever acted in its 200-year history to restrict marriage: (a) in 1865 when it made polygamy a crime, and (b) in 1996 when it passed DOMA.

  On March 3, 2009, GLAD filed a lawsuit in Federal District Court in Boston on behalf of eight married couples and three surviving spouses from Massachusetts who have been denied federal legal protections available to spouses. Two of these couples will be filing suit after receiving rejections of their amended tax returns from the IRS. Each plaintiff is currently eligible for a particular program or benefit, applied for it, and was denied that legal protection because of Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act (“DOMA”). You can view the Complaint here.

  DOMA was enacted in 1996 before any state began issuing marriage licenses to qualified same-sex couples. It has two substantive parts. Section 2 authorizes states to establish policies with respect to marriages of same-sex couples. Section 3 deals with federal discrimination and is the only portion of DOMA challenged in GLAD’s lawsuit. (Section 1 merely names the act.)

  Section 3 of DOMA applies to the federal government only. It overrides a state’s determination that a same-sex couple is married and says that they are not married for purposes of all federal laws and programs, even though the federal government has always deferred to state determinations of marital status. Under this law, “the word ‘marriage’ means only the legal union of a man and a woman as husband and wife, and the word ‘spouse’ refers only to a person of the opposite sex who is a husband or a wife.” This law requires all federal departments and agencies to disrespect the valid state-licensed marriages of same-sex couples but not other married couples. As a result, only married same-sex couples are denied all rights, protections and responsibilities associated with marriage at the federal level.

  This lawsuit challenges the federal government's denial of marriage-related protections and benefits to legally married Massachusetts same-sex couples, protections and benefits that are available to all other legally married couples.

  The "Defense of Marriage Act" deprives families of federally-created economic safety nets, to the detriment of those couples and their children or other dependents. It creates a system of first and second class marriages, where the former receive all federal legal protections, and the latter are denied them, even while taking on the responsibilities of legal marriage. The decision by DOJ to challenge this decision is coming up very soon. Will they again argue that separate but unequal is justice served?

from Wikipedia-

  The Apartheid Legislation in South Africa was a series of different laws and acts which were to help the government to enforce the segregation of different races and cement the power and the dominance by the Whites over the other race groups. Starting in 1948, the Nationalist Government in South Africa enacted laws to define and enforce segregation. With the enactment of apartheid laws in 1948, racial discrimination was institutionalised.

  What makes South Africa's apartheid era different from segregation in other countries is the systematic way in which the National Party, which came into power in 1948, formalized it through the law.

  The effect of the legislation was invariably favorable to the whites and detrimental to the other race groups.


Originally posted to GLBT and Friends at Daily Kos on Fri Sep 24, 2010 at 09:03 AM PDT.

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