California lawmakers on Tuesday became the first in the country to legalize same-sex marriage, with the State Assembly narrowly approving a bill that defines marriage as between "two persons" instead of between a man and a woman.
Unlike Massachusetts, where gay men and lesbians are permitted to marry because of court rulings, the legislators in California voted to amend the state's family code without the threat of legal action.
"Do what we know is in our hearts," Assemblyman Mark Leno, an openly gay Democrat from San Francisco who sponsored the bill, said Tuesday night in a debate on the bill. "Make sure all Californians, all California's children and families, will have equal protection under the law."
The above is from Dean E. Murphy's "Same Sex Marriage Wins Vote in California" in this morning's New York Times and was picked as the spotlight story for today by Marcia, ??? and Dean. (Dean. Not Dean E. Murphy. In the words of the then Mama Cass, "No rumors, please." And "Dean E." Am I the only one who always thinks of Natalie Wood in Splendor in the Grass when I see that byline?)
In Florida, the atmosphere is less embracing, Andrew Stelzer's "Official Bigotry: In Florida, both anti-gay political rhetoric and hate crimes are on the rise" (In These Times):
Patrick Jones, co-founder of Equality Polk County, was frustrated that it took the local media four days to even report the arson. He says the gay pride ban had put the community on notice, and the firebombing reaffirmed their fears. "It makes you wonder what level it's going to be stepped up to in this area," Jones said.
"It's not just a message to these two individuals," says Winfield of the arson attack, "but to any gay or lesbian citizen of Lakeland, or of Florida for that matter, that you're not wanted, that if we know that you're gay, and you're out of the closet, your life is at risk."
The most recent hate crimes report from the state attorney general found that in the last four years on record (2000-03), Florida law enforcement agencies reported 194 hate crimes motivated by sexual orientation--more than the combined total for the first eight years of hate crimes reporting. In 2003, the 55 hate crimes against gays comprised 20 percent of Florida's total, the highest percentage ever.
Kendrick e-mails to note Larry Bradshaw and Lorrie Beth Slonsky's "Trapped in New Orleans" (CounterPunch):
Two days after Hurricane Katrina struck New Orleans, the Walgreens store at the corner of Royal and Iberville Streets in the city's historic French Quarter remained locked. The dairy display case was clearly visible through the widows. It was now 48 hours without electricity, running water, plumbing, and the milk, yogurt, and cheeses were beginning to spoil in the 90-degree heat.
The owners and managers had locked up the food, water, pampers and prescriptions, and fled the city. Outside Walgreens' windows, residents and tourists grew increasingly thirsty and hungry. The much-promised federal, state and local aid never materialized, and the windows at Walgreens gave way to the looters.
There was an alternative. The cops could have broken one small window and distributed the nuts, fruit juices and bottled water in an organized and systematic manner. But they did not. Instead, they spent hours playing cat and mouse, temporarily chasing away the looters.
We were finally airlifted out of New Orleans two days ago and arrived home on Saturday. We have yet to see any of the TV coverage or look at a newspaper. We are willing to guess that there were no video images or front-page pictures of European or affluent white tourists looting the Walgreens in the French Quarter.
We also suspect the media will have been inundated with "hero" images of the National Guard, the troops and police struggling to help the "victims" of the hurricane. What you will not see, but what we witnessed, were the real heroes and sheroes of the hurricane relief effort: the working class of New Orleans.
We'll note this from an e-mail sent out to those who sign up at Dahr Jamail's Iraq Dispatches:
A Letter to the Prime Minister
*Jo Wilding's Diary From Iraq
*To purchase the video, please visit: A Letter To The Prime Minister.co.uk
Or click here:
Falluja April 2004 A documentary by Japanese independent journalist
Toshikuni Doi http://www.alettertotheprimeminister.co.uk/
"A Letter to the Prime Minister' serves as an important and hard hitting documentary which chronicles the journey of British activist Jo Wilding in Iraq before, during and after the Anglo-American invasion.
Director Julia Guest offers up exclusive footage from Baghdad showing the desperate plight of the hospitals under the genocidal sanctions, then moves on to show how Iraqi civilians paid the price of the failed 'Shock and Awe' bombing campaign."
"Narrated as a letter to Tony Blair, this film challenges the legality of the invasion and stands as evidence of countless war crimes for which Bush and Blair are responsible."
[. . .]
"As both a testimony to the plight of the Iraqi people under occupation, a glimpse of what really happened in Fallujah during the April siege, as well as the remarkable work of Jo Wilding, who has been nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize along with the 'One Thousand Women for Peace Group,' this film is a must see. Watching it brought me right back to the devastating scenes from the heart of Fallujah."/ - Dahr Jamail
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