Civil Rights

Youth PROMISE Act: Recognition that it takes a village to raise a child

We know how to stop the violence.

And the full name of the solution says it all: the Youth Prison Reduction through Opportunities, Mentoring, Intervention, Support and Education Act, otherwise known as the Youth PROMISE Act.

This legislation breaks the cycle of violence by getting at its root causes. It will help to curb youth violence and gang activity by investing in proven, evidence-based prevention and intervention strategies that localities develop in partnership with the modern day village, namely our schools, nonprofits, community centers, parents and young people.


Obama Should Dump 'Gay Quotas'

President Obama claims to be opposed to “discrimination” based on “sexual orientation.” But this year, for the first time ever, there was such discrimination in the distribution of tickets for the White House Easter Egg Roll—discrimination in favor of families headed by homosexuals, that is. Ordinary families have in the past had to wait in line outside the White House for tickets. This year, online ordering was introduced, but it was still first-come, first-serve. But some families—those headed by homosexual parents—got to jump the line, thanks to tickets distributed in advance to The Family Equality Council, Human Rights Campaign, National Gay & Lesbian Task Force, and others.

Is this a foreshadowing of what will happen in other areas of American life, if homosexual activists succeed in implementing their agenda? If the military is opened to homosexuals, will recruiters have to seek out “gay soldiers” to meet recruiting targets? Will passage of the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) lead to affirmative action for homosexuals? If so, what will be the basis for the quota—the long-discredited myth that “ten percent of the population is gay?”

Immigration Booby Prize

With the worst economy since the 1930s, it’s obvious that the pro-amnesty groups aren’t going to get “comprehensive immigration reform” (amnesty for illegal aliens) this year. So in lieu of an amnesty, the White House is giving them a front-page New York Times story about amnesty (see story).

Administration officials immediately began throwing cold water on expectations that a legalization bill would happen this year.  Press Secretary Robert Gibbs said of the president "I don’t think that he expects that it’ll be done this year” (see story), while White House spokesman Nick Shapiro said “the president has consistently said that he wants to start the discussion later this year because our immigration system is broken ... but the economy comes first." (see story)

Lauding the Iowa Court Ruling Granting Same-Sex Couples Freedom to Marry

This is a momentous decision for equality thanks to the Iowa Supreme Court’s unanimous ruling in Varnum v. Brien granting the freedom to marry to same-sex couples.

This ruling marks another watershed moment in the struggle for full equality. No longer will same-sex couples have their relationships treated as less than equal by the state. The court rightly affirmed that no loving committed couple should be denied marriage and the critical protections only marriage can provide.

This ruling also affirms our common humanity by providing same-sex couples with the opportunity to participate in the shared hopes and dreams of making a public commitment to the person they love.
We are thrilled that equality has come to Iowa!

Actually, Iowa has a long track record of being a leader in supporting equality. As noted in a joint statement from Iowa Senate Majority Leader Mike Gronstal and Iowa House Speaker Pat Murphy lauding today’s decision, the Iowa Supreme Court ruled in 1868 that racially segregated “separate but equal” schools had no place in Iowa — 85 years before the U.S. Supreme Court reached the same decision; in 1873, the court ruled against racial discrimination in public accommodations — 91 years before the U.S. Supreme Court reached the same decision; and in 1869, Iowa became the first state in the union to admit women to the practice of law.

Iowa extended that proud tradition.

And here at the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, we’re proud to have been a signatory to an amicus brief supporting the marriage equality position. Additionally, Task Force organizers were recently sent to Iowa where they worked with One Iowa’s field staff to grow the group’s volunteer base that was active with One Iowa’s legislative advocacy in support of the freedom to marry.

We extend our heartfelt thanks to the plaintiffs and groups that made today’s victory possible, especially to Lambda Legal for serving as lead legal counsel, and One Iowa for its statewide public education and advocacy to promote the freedom to marry.

We know that fair-minded Iowans — and fair-minded people across the country — will be celebrating with us in response to the decision.

Why Condemn Phelps, When We Ought to Condemn the Laws That Brand Him A Criminal

Add decorated Olympic swimmer Michael Phelps to the growing list of successful Americans who happens to indulge in marijuana during his down time. The tabloid news story is making international headlines, though it's difficult to understand why.

After all, Mr. Phelps is hardly alone in his herbal inclinations. According to national and federal surveys, nearly one out of two Americans have tried weed, and among those age 18 to 25 -- Phelps is 23 -- pot smoking is especially popular.

Holder's Career of Attacks on the Second Amendment (Sen. John Barrasso)

In Wyoming, we don’t ask for much from Washington. We do ask that Washington limit its intrusion on our land, water and especially our Second Amendment rights. That’s not a lot to ask in the grand scheme of Washington but it is critically important to the constituents who sent me to fight for them.

President Obama has nominated Eric Holder to serve as the United States Attorney General. During the Clinton administration, Mr. Holder served as Janet Reno’s Deputy Attorney General from 1997-2001. Deputy Attorney General Holder was on record supporting a long list of proposals to limit the Second Amendment rights of American citizens. He supported a three-day waiting period for handgun purchases, one-gun-a-month purchasing limits, licensing and registering of all gun owners, mandatory so-called smart gun technology and regulating gun shows out of existence.

Protecting Personal Data in the Age of Facebook (Rep. David Price)

In an age of increased electronic communications and the popularity of social networking sites like Facebook and MySpace, it is extremely important for Americans to know how to protect their personal information.

To that end, the House will vote today on a resolution I have authored (H.Res.31) to designate Wednesday, January 28, 2009, as “National Data Privacy Day.” A number of states, including North Carolina, Washington, Oregon, Massachusetts, and California, will also recognize Data Privacy Day on Wednesday. Educators and privacy professionals across the country will be leading discussions this week with pre-teens, teens and young adults about privacy and data protection, focusing on social networking websites like Facebook and MySpace.

Working Families Honor Dr. King's Vision through Service

Today we celebrate the life of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and honor the timeless values he has taught us all -- courage, compassion, fairness and community service. As America prepares to embark on a new era, we renew our commitment to civil rights, social and economic justice. It is going to take everyone uniting together and working toward a common purpose to set our country back on track.

Working families across the country are gathering today to answer President-Elect Barack Obama’s call to renew America together through volunteerism -- from cleaning up parks to giving blood and assembling care packages for our troops overseas. By volunteering, we are doing more than just remembering Dr. King, we are fulfilling his vision and creating a new American Dream for all.

Continue Dr. King's Fight (Rep. Chris Van Hollen)

Today, America will pause to honor the life and legacy of a great American, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. In honoring Dr. King’s historic contributions to our country, we must continue his tireless fight for equal justice, civil rights, and economic empowerment.

Dr. King once said, "Change does not roll in on the wheels of inevitability, but comes through continuous struggle." Throughout his tireless struggle for change, Dr. King constantly reminded us that the fight for equality is intrinsically linked to the fight for equal opportunities.

With millions of American families struggling to make ends meet, we are reminded every day of how much work there is still to do. We must renew our commitment to extending opportunities to all Americans. I look forward to working arm in arm with President-elect Obama to continue Dr. King’s courageous struggle to give every person regardless of race, ethnicity, or gender a shot to live the American dream.

Another Murder: Pass the Local Law Enforcement Hate Crimes Prevention Act

On December 8 in the Bushwick section of Brooklyn, José Osvaldo Sucuzhanay was murdered in what is believed to be a hate crime. Coming on the heels of November's brutal battery and murder of Marcelo Lucero in Suffolk County, NY, this makes two such murders of Hispanics in barely a month.

According to Sucuzhanay's brother, Jose and Romel Sucuzhanay went to a party at their church on Saturday night where they had dinner and drinks. They then went to a bar and, according to the police report, were walking home arm-in-arm when the assailants pulled up in a car and began yelling anti-Latino and antigay slurs at them. The assailants broke a beer bottle across Jose's head before turning on his brother to continue the attack. Romel, who was visiting from Ecuador, barely escaped as the attackers turned on his incapacitated brother. Jose was beaten, kicked, and hit repeatedly with an aluminum baseball bat.

Jose Osvaldo Sucuzhanay was the coowner of a real estate agency in Bushwick and an Ecuadorian native who legally immigrated to the U.S. His death is a tragic, sobering example of hate crimes in our country.