Posts Tagged ‘Legal Issues’

So we just got over the Jim Crow anti-LGBTQIA bill that the Gov. vetoed the other day.  Well, they’re at it againHouse Bill 2481 would allow ministers the right to refuse to perform same sex weddings.

My drawing of "Just a Bill"

My drawing of “Just a Bill”

Never mind that they already have that power.  [ht Ashby at BobCesca.com] A minister is by definition bound by his particular faith and is NEVER required to marry anyone.  They’ve always had this choice.  However, this new bill defines minister very broadly.  So broadly that it would allow government officials like judges, county clerks, etc the right to refuse to marry same sex couples.  Essentially allowing government officials to discriminate.

Again, this bill is so unconstitutional it’s laughable and it would continue to be laughable if it didn’t have a good chance of passing.  See the religious right here in AZ (really around the country) are engaging in a broader strategy that you might not notice unless you were paying attention to the kind of bills that are being promoted and passed in all of the different state legislatures.  For example, everyone knows that conservatives are unhappy with Roe v. Wade and have tried and tried to get it overturned through the Federal Court system to no avail.  So they’ve inundated state legislatures with bills that aren’t specifically about abortion or are about various aspects of abortion but affect abortion anyway.  The Wisconsin “we have the right to shove a wand up your hoohoo” bill was one of those.   Other examples include attempts to have the fetus given legal “personhood” status, laws prohibiting abortions after 20 weeks, and modifying regulatory laws that affect clinics so they can’t provide services or cutting of their funding entirely.  On this last effort in Texas, I think there are only two clinics left to service the entire state that meets the new regulatory restrictions.  To make matter worse, Texas has one of the highest teen pregnancy rates in the country.  I hope taxpayers there are as interested in paying to raise all those children as they were in forcing the mother to give birth.

This is just a few examples of their attempts to overturn Roe v. Wade “de facto” because they couldn’t do so “de jure“.  The same thing is happening with same sex marriage laws.  Hence the recent attempts in Arizona (and elsewhere).  And you will see the pattern on every single issue that the right has lost on over the last few decades.  In one sense it’s very frustrating to fight against this kind of attack because you’re constantly putting out a fire in different states and having to shift focus.  This is intentional on their part, of course, to make us fight in all fifty states and use up our more limited resources (they have the Koch brothers and other billionaires bankrolling their efforts–the laws were drafted by ALEC which is funded by these conservative billionaires).   And it distracts us from focusing on doing things that could really help people on a day to day basis like healthcare, raising the minimum wage, decreasing the gap between the 1% and everyone else (again, this benefits their wealthy benefactors).

In another sense, this may be a good sign because it means they’re getting desperate and that their values are dying as society changes both demographically and culturally.  In the meantime, we need to continue to fight all of these kinds of “local” incursions against our Civil Rights until the day when these zealots no longer have a choke hold on the nation’s political agenda.  I don’t care how they “phrase it”, discrimination is discrimination and I will oppose it to the bitter end.  It’s a Rubicon that this country cannot afford to go back across because it will mean that the LGBTQIA won’t be the only group they can and will exclude from having all of the same Civil Rights that they enjoy.  First they came for the Jews and I said nothing because I wasn’t Jewish, then they came for….

 

Edited after publication — see red text

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The online version of the major state paper, AZCentral.com, did a little fact check on the following statement by State Rep. Adam Kwasman (R-Oro Valley):

This (Senate Bill 1062) is not a discrimination bill. It makes no mention of sexual orientation.

At first they decided it was “True” then they revised their decision to say it is “somewhat true, somewhat false”. What they’re really doing is trying to be balanced to avoid being labeled as biased as either too conservative or too liberal. So they hemmed and hawed and still haven’t gotten it right.

If they take the literal meaning of what he said in the second half–no mention of sexual orientation, then yes, it’s true. BUT the first part that says it’s not a “discrimination bill”? Is patently false. Which makes the entire thing false. Just because a bill doesn’t use an exact phrase doesn’t mean that the intention and effect of the bill wasn’t to violate the Civil Rights of American citizens.

Discrimination in the U.S. often takes the form of Civil Rights violations. Refusing to serve someone on the grounds of her race, color, religion, sex, age, national origin, and in some states sexual orientation, would be a civil rights violation. Arizona does not prohibit discrimination against LGBTQIA. However, if it went up through the Federal Courts I can guarantee you that they would uphold it as discriminatory regardless of what state law says. Even if they didn’t, it’s still discrimination based on religion. For example, a business person saying “I won’t serve you because you’re gay and my religion says that’s evil” is the same as saying, “You believe that being gay is okay, so your religion allows it. That is different than my religion, so I am not going to not serve you.” Still discrimination.

So no matter how you slice it the paper got it flat out wrong–their “fact checker” sucks and it’s because they’re so scared of the “bias” criticism that they’ll bend over backward to make both sides happy. They’ve forgotten that journalism is about pleasing the politically motivated. It’s the report the objective truth–sometimes that truth is a conservative thing and sometimes it’s a liberal thing. But it’s still the truth and should be reported as such. This is precisely why our entire MSM (with the exception of Fox News who is clearly conservatively biased and makes no apologies for it) is quickly becoming useless.

Three AZ state senators who voted for the hideous “Jim Crow Bill” permitting civil rights discrimination against LGBTQIA people are now asking the Governor to veto it.  Sen. Bob Worsley (R-Mesa), Sen. Steve Pierce (R-Prescott) and Sen. Adam Driggs (R-Phoenix) said they have received feedback from fellow Republicans from across the nation that the bill was unacceptable.  They also say that they didn’t get enough time to really consider the bill.  And finally, they’re saying that opponents of the bill are mis-characterizing it as “religious intolerance” and that this accusation is “causing our state immeasurable harm.”

First, I don’t EVER, EVER want to hear from the people who make laws on behalf of this state or country that they were rushed.  Bullshit.  I don’t care how much pressure they feel. When it comes to ANY bill related to Civil Rights, it’s their job to slow down, present it to their constituents, think about the ramifications (good and bad), run it by some Constitutional Lawyers, and take their DAMN time before making up their mind. Saying they were rushed is a child’s excuse.

Second, why did they have to hear this from their fellow Republicans from other states?  There are plenty of people, you know their actual constituents, complaining right under their noses.  On Feb. 21st about 300 people gathered at the Capital to protest and encouraged Gov. Brewer to veto the bill.  As of last night, the crowd has grown to around thousand–on a weekday.  NYC or LA probably gets flash mobs with more people, but for AZ that’s not a bad turn out.  And it wasn’t just in the state capital either.  Tucson had protesters as well.  And I know the activity online is hot and furious–I wonder how many emails and calls the Legislature and Governor are getting now….  The very angry and active LGBTQIA community and others who support them, like myself, need to be heard.  That’s who our Reps and Senators should be listening to…not other members of their political party from out of state.  Those other Pols are much more concerned about optics than real justice or good governance.

Third, this change of heart is really about money.  They spoke to leaders of the business community (Apple, Inc, American Airlines, etc) who said if you do this, not only will tourists stop coming to the state (and we rely heavily on tourism for our economy) but businesses would also stop moving to Arizona.

Fourth and final, I get the impression that they’re saying [paraphrasing] that ‘people’s misconception of the bill is making us look bad.’  No, no that’s not it. What’s making us look bad is literally the bill itself.  It’s because the bill is an unconstitutional abomination that makes Arizona look like the home of the American Taliban.  Who needs to worry about Sharia Law?  It’s not the scary Muslim Usurper in the White House you need to worry about.  It’s the American (supposed) Christians that are trying to install their very own theocracy that keeps me up at night.  They need to stay out of people’s bed rooms and treat everyone with respect, compassion and kindness….I seem to recall a famous guy who purportedly lived in The Holy Land about 2,000 years ago  saying something like this…..hmmmm….if only I could recall his name…….if only THEY could recall his teachings.

UPDATE 2:  I no sooner finish posting this when I see the following quote:

The proposed law is so poorly crafted it could allow a Muslim taxi driver to refuse service to a woman traveling alone.

Please, Governor Brewer, veto this bill!

_____________________

The Arizona House passed the bill that I wrote about yesterday–the one that allows businesses to discriminate against LGBT people. So now I live in a “Jim Crow” state. I’m at a loss for words….I just….I can’t….arrrrggh….I need a drink.  The LGBT community must be livid–they’re protesting but I’m not sure the local media is covering it (haven’t watched local TV news lately….I’m allergic to it).

This country is going backwards.  Next thing on their agenda is probably taking the vote away from women.  This nonsense has got to stop.

Well, here we go again….the Republican dominated Arizona legislature is flirting with yet another unconstitutional law.  The Senate passed along party lines a law that would permit private businesses the right to refuse services based on their religious beliefs (of hate and intolerance) about LGBT people.

Why is it that many conservatives simply do not understand the nature of Religious Freedom in this country?  You have the right to believe whatever you want, to talk about those beliefs and to practice your religion without interference by the government.  Notice I said “government”, not everyone else, just the government.   Private individuals violating others rights is a mixed bag and one would have to look at the 200+ years of legal jurisprudence to tell what has been considered acceptable and what has not.

The argument being made in support of this bill is the same as the argument made in favor of discriminating against African Americans.  Here’s what they used to say.

Black people cannot eat in my restaurant because the Bible says so.

Now they’re saying…

LGBT people cannot eat in my restaurant because the Bible says so.

What if my religion said that men are stupid, lowly and sinful creatures who deserve death as punishment for their wickedness.   Do I get to refuse to worship with them?  Yes.  Can the government force me to worship with them?  No.  Can I say and write all kinds of horrible things about them?  Yes.   Do I get to refuse to serve them at my restaurant?  No.  Do I get to refuse to rent a place to live to them?  No.  Do I get to charge them more than other customers?  No.  Do I get to give them worse service or less value for their money?  No.  Legal precedence and this country’s values say that this is simply not acceptable.

It was an ugly sentiment back then and it’s just as ugly now.  We don’t get to discriminate against people just because our religion tells us to.  So if this bill passes the Arizona House, then the ACLU or NAACP or someone will file a lawsuit (and rightfully so) and our hard earned taxpayer money will be poured down the drain, once again, in defense of another patently stupid and unconstitutional law.

Why can’t our legislature focus on governing instead of making hateful laws?  Although we have plenty of problems that need to be tackled they’d rather pander to their foaming at the mouth base and waste what little financial resources we have.  Congratulations Arizona!   You voted them in and they’re screwing you over again.

The lawyers waiting to swoop in and make bank off the crappy decisions made by Republican Lawmakers.

The lawyers waiting to swoop in and make bank off the crappy decisions made by Republican Lawmakers.

PS: This pic is of three buzzards that I discovered sitting on a light post outside of my office the other day. An animal had probably died or was in the process of dying in the empty field across the street and they were biding their time. I’ve seen buzzards in AZ before but usually circling high up in the sky in rural areas. This is the first time I’ve seen them hanging out in a relatively urban area.

“To be ill adjusted to a deranged world is not a breakdown.”
― Jeanette Winterson

A news report out of Mississippi indicates that they’ve discovered a mass grave with thousands of bodies when trying to build a new parking garage.  That’s how we treated the mentally ill not that long ago.  We’ve stopped warehousing them and ignoring them until they died alone and end up in unmarked graves.  I mean, we still ignore them, just right under our noses.  Until, of course, we can’t ignore them any more.  When their illness explodes into our public awareness through horrendous tragedy.  Now we either keep them at home until they totally lose it hurting innocents and others (see Loughner, Lanza, Holmes, etc, etc, etc) or keep them in “the system” in a round robin of jail/prison, streets and shelters, back to jail, etc, etc, etc.  We can do better.  We should do better.

“Find out the cause of this effect,
Or rather say, the cause of this defect,
For this effect defective comes by cause.”

—-William Shakespeare, “Hamlet”

There is something rotten deep inside the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office. It’s some kind of infection that permeates the entire agency and results in pustules that force the public and the larger justice system to take notice. Sometimes those pustules burst and leave no doubt that something is terribly wrong. Rank problems include too many poorly explained and poorly handled inmate deaths, charges of racial discrimination, profiling and harassment, and 6,300 lawsuits that have cost County taxpayers over $50 million and counting. Just to put that into perspective for you….take Harris County, Texas (which includes Houston)….over the last 17 years Arpaio’s MCSO has had 6 times as many lawsuits against it. Yes, I said 6 times. Something is indeed rotten…we should just call Sheriff Arpaio “Cousin Fester” and be done with it.

Not as if we need any more convincing but there’s yet another sad and infuriating story coming out of Joe’s jail hellscape.  Miriam Mendiola-Martinez, an illegal document with forged papers, was arrested in 2009 and she was pregnant.   What she says happened to her is a nightmare that no human being should ever have to endure.  Here’s a list of her charges:

  • They put her in jail while she was in active labor instead of keeping her in the hospital.
  • The purposely ignored her cries for help because they were in Spanish and not English (The Justice Department has confirmed that this was a common pattern of behavior for the guards.)
  • After being taken back a day later to the hospital to give birth via C-Section, she was not allowed to hold her son or nurse him.
  • She was shackled to her hospital bed immediately following the C-Section.
  • They took her out of the hospital early before she could be given pain medication and even before the hospital had officially discharged her.
  • When taking her out of the hospital, they had her shackled at both the hands and feet.  Her attorney said in an interview that I heard on KJAZZ this morning (can’t find the actual transcript) that she was bleeding down over her ankle shackles.

I don’t know about you, but I have had a C-Section and you can’t walk for quite a while afterward–like a full day afterwards. It’s major surgery and it hurts like hell.  It takes a minimum of 12 weeks of rest to recovery from. The fact that they had her up and walking out of the hospital (without doctor sign off) within hours not only violates hospital rules but the fact she had no pain medication is just plain cruel and unusual.

The lawsuit against MCSO was filed on Jan. 21st and one day later U.S. District Court Judge Joe Campbell threw it out of court saying that since she was not shackled during the actual labor her lawsuit cannot show that a constitutional rights violation occurred.  See the law says you can’t shackle a woman during labor but says nothing about before or after.  Industry practice, even in Arizona Corrections, is to never shackle a pregnant woman at any time unless she is a danger to herself and others.  So even though MCSO was violated their own industry practices, they weren’t technically violating the law–according to the judge.  A quick note, Judge Campbell is a well-known conservative.  In other words, there was little hope that this case could get past the patriarchal firewall of misogyny here in Arizona.  Thankfully, that’s what appeals are for.  Her attorney plans to appeal to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals.

Until then, when will Maricopa County residents realize that this “effect defective comes by cause” and the cause is the guy at the helm of the rotting body that is MCSO.