Each week I think that what comes out of the White House and Congress can’t get more cruel, disgusting, and downright crazy, but it does. So to remind us that we can and do have an impact in our towns, cities, and states, here is this week’s list of what went right ending 7/1/17.
PRIDE MONTH PROGRESS – SCOTUS ruled that an Arkansas law discriminated against same-sex couples by requiring married lesbian couples get a court order to have both spouses listed on their children’s birth certificates. DC is the first in the nation to implement allowing people in the US to choose X as their gender marker instead of male or female on driver’s licenses. Germany voted to legalize same-sex marriage. Serbia elected Ana Brnabic as prime minister, the country’s first female and openly gay leader. Microsoft, Google, and CBS, are among 50 US companies that filed papers encouraging a federal court to declare discrimination based on sexual orientation illegal. Timothy Hailes was installed as London’s first openly gay Sheriff. Prince William County School Board voted to expand the board’s non-discrimination policy to add protections for gay and transgender people.
PROTECTING WOMEN’S HEALTH – A federal judge blocked portions of an Indiana law that makes it tougher for girls under 18 to get an abortion without her parents’ knowledge. Alaska is eliminating rules that impede access to abortion by scrapping many onerous state medical board rules after being sued by Planned Parenthood. Center for Reproductive Rights filed a federal challenge to a Louisiana licensing law resulting in more than a thousand anti-abortion regulations, such as requiring a vaginal exam even if the doctor doesn’t think it’s necessary.
VOTING RIGHTS – So far 29 states are resisting the Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity Voter Suppression Commission request for voter data. The best responses are from Kentucky, “There’s not enough bourbon here in Kentucky to make this request seem sensible,” Mississippi told the commission to “go jump in the Gulf of Mexico,” and RI said “Kobach was unfit to lead.”
SAVING THE PLANET – CA will add the herbicide, glyphosate, to CA’s list of chemicals that can cause cancer. An Appeals Court ruled the Clean Air Act does not allow for lawsuits to force the EPA to conduct coal job studies after a Coal mining company sued to force the study. The NRDC and others sued the EPA alleging that they are at fault for not promulgate water quality standards that comply with the Clean Water Act harming water in. Ireland voted to ban hydraulic fracturing.
CRIMINAL JUSTICE REFORM – CT passed bail reform legislation preventing judges from setting money bail for misdemeanor charges unless it is a family violence case or the judge deems the defendant a danger or a risk to flee and requires courts to hold a bail review hearing within 14 days. The ACLU settled a lawsuit against Scott, Neshoba, Clay and Newton County Mississippi for jailing residents for up to 10 months without indictment or appointing a lawyer. Under the settlement, all four counties will now have public defenders. CA will no longer suspend driver’s licenses because of unpaid traffic fines saying it doesn’t help collect fines and sends low-income people into a cycle of job loss and poverty.
DEFENDING IMMIGRANTS – A federal judge put a temporary hold on the deportation of Iraqi nationals. SCOTUS sent a case back to the lower court saying there was no basis for the lower court to conclude a Border Patrol agent is entitled to qualified immunity in a case where a 15 year old standing in Mexico was shot by an agent standing in the US.
FEDERAL AGENCIES STILL DOING THEIR JOB – The CFPB filed complaints against several credit repair companies alleging they charged illegal fees and mislead consumers saying “We will remain vigilant about protecting consumers from companies that mislead them to turn a dishonest profit.” The U.S. Dept. of Labor ordered The Willows Inn in WA to pay thousands in unpaid overtime and damages to workers and end their “apprenticeship” program where entry-level staff work for a month for free and then for wages as low as $50 a day for 14-hour days and putting other restaurant on notice that this common program violates US labor law.
ELECTION REPORT – Report from Fairfax County VA Democratic Committee School Board endorsement meeting – 7 candidates ran for democratic endorsement for school board, while the republicans had one. “Between 400 and 500” people attended the meeting which was “twice the turnout of the Republican caucus for a race that had more than 30 times the eligible voters.” That’s 500 people showing up just to nominate a candidate – You rock VA persisters.
MORE INTERNATIONAL NEWS – The Chinese government freed 3 activists who were detained while investigating conditions at a company that made shoes for Ivanka Trump. Germany passed a law that imposes severe fines, starting at $5.7 million, on social media sites that do not remove illegal hate speech within 24 hours of it being flagged.
BREAKING BARRIERS – Rev. Susan Frederick-Gray, an immigrant advocate has been elected as the first woman president of the Unitarian Universalist Association. Carrie Lam was sworn in as Hong Kong’s chief executive, becoming its first female leader. Lisa Freeman was appointed the first female president of Northern Illinois University. Megan Couto became the first female soldier to lead the Changing of the Guard ceremony at Buckingham Palace. Shariah Harris became the first African-American woman to ever play in the top tier of U.S. polo
CREATIVE ACTIVISM – The grassroots group, Dump Comstock, launched a mobile billboard on a road trip across VA to draw attention to Congresswoman Comstock’s refusal to hold a town hall since taking office in 2015. 40 activists were arrested at senate offices at the Capitol defending all of us against healthcare cuts. Chicago installed a gold statue in front of Trump Tower that says “REAL FAKE” as part of an art installation. The New York Times printed a full page of every lie the twittler has told since taking office. Hundreds of thousands of marchers and supporters came out for gay pride parades across the country.
SCHOOL LUNCH SHAMERS – after the Monroe County Community School Board passed a school lunch shaming rule, parents, teachers and former bd members turned out in droves to protest it at a public meeting forcing them to reconsider it.
JUST CAN’T MAKE THIS STUFF UP – a framed copy of a fake Time magazine with Trump on the cover was hung up in at least 5 of Trump’s clubs. Time Inc., said the magazine has asked the Trump Organization to remove the phony cover from the walls.
I hope you spend the Fourth of July celebrating what is right with our country, celebrate our freedom of speech, freedom to assemble, freedom to vote, freedom to choose what we do with our bodies, and freedom to live free of discrimination. They are still the law of the land and people in many countries are without these basic rights. When your celebrations are over, get back to resisting. If your state isn’t one of the 29 refusing to comply with the voter suppression commission, call your Secretary of State and Governor and demand they protect your information from the witch hunt.