Friday Morning ReadsPosted: December 7, 2012
I’ve been getting a real kick out of watching Washington state’s big legislative changes. First, marriage equality has come to the most NE of the lower 50 states. It’s been a pleasure to see the happy faces of long time couples who finally have some public recognition of their love and commitment. Governor Chris Gregoire signed the bill into law and the licenses are flowing!
Gov. Chris Gregoire has signed into law a measure that legalizes same-sex marriage in Washington state, which now joins several other states that allow gay and lesbian couples to wed.
Gregoire and Secretary of State Sam Reed certified the election on Wednesday afternoon, as they were joined by couples who plan to wed and community activists who worked on the campaign supporting gay marriage. The law doesn’t take effect until Thursday, when gay and lesbian couples can start picking up their wedding certificates and licenses at county auditors’ offices. King County, the state’s largest and home to Seattle, and Thurston County, home to the state capital of Olympia, will open the earliest, at 12:01 a.m. Thursday, to start issuing marriage licenses.
In Seattle, Kelly Middleton and her partner Amanda Dollente got in line to wait for their license at 4 p.m. Wednesday.
“We knew it was going to happen, but it’s still surreal,” said Dollente, 29.
By 10 p.m., dozens of people had joined the queue and the mood was festive.
Volunteers distributed roses and a group of men and women serenaded the waiting line to the tune of “Going to the Chapel.”
Asked whether the middle-of-the-night marriage license roll-out was necessary, King County Executive Dow Constantine said, “People who have been waiting all these years to have their rights recognized should not have to wait one minute longer.”
Because the state has a three-day waiting period, the earliest that weddings can take place is Sunday. Same-sex couples who previously were married in another state that allows gay marriage, like Massachusetts, will not have to get remarried in Washington state. Their marriages will be valid here as soon as the law takes effect.
“This is a very important and historic day in the great state of Washington,” Gregoire said before signing the measure that officially certified the election results. “For many years now we’ve said one more step, one more step. And this is our last step for marriage equality in the state of Washington.”
Photojournalist Meryl Schenker took this picture very early this morning in Washington state, in the first hours when same-sex couples could get marriage licenses. Meryl writes:
One month after Washington State voters approved the state’s marriage equality law in Ref. 74, same-sex couples get marriage licenses for the first time on December 6th, 2012. At around 1:30am, Larry Duncan, 56, left, and Randy Shepherd, 48, from North Bend, Wash. got their marriage license. The two plan to wed on December 9th, the first day it is possible for them to wed in a church in Washington State. They have been together for 11 years. Originally from Dallas, Texas, they moved here 7 years ago because it’s more gay friendly. Randy is a computer programer and Larry is a retired psychology nurse.
The crowds of happy people lighting joints under Seattle’s Space Needle early Thursday morning with nary a police officer in sight bespoke the new reality: Marijuana is legal under Washington state law.
Hundreds gathered at Seattle Center for a New Year’s Eve-style countdown to 12 a.m., when the legalization measure passed by voters last month took effect. When the clock struck, they cheered and sparked up in unison.
A few dozen people gathered on a sidewalk outside the north Seattle headquarters of the annual Hempfest celebration and did the same, offering joints to reporters and blowing smoke into television news cameras.
“I feel like a kid in a candy store!” shouted Hempfest volunteer Darby Hageman. “It’s all becoming real now!”
Washington and Colorado became the first states to vote to decriminalize and regulate the possession of an ounce or less of marijuana by adults over 21. Both measures call for setting up state licensing schemes for pot growers, processors and retail stores. Colorado’s law is set to take effect by Jan. 5.
Well, here I sit in the wonderful city of New Orleans trapped by the likes of Crazy Bobby Jindal who wants the christian creation myth taught as science, has now created a situation where there will be only one bed for gun shot victims at LSU med center, and is in the process of ruining everything that was functional about our public schools, our higher education system, and our health care delivery system. It’s hard not want to sell the kathouse and head out.
Exactly, what is it that jerks like Jindal have swallowed to make them so wedded to insane, dated, and completely untrue magical thinking. Why does the press continue to expand the dialogue to include the expressions of folks that just plain lie and spread hate? It’s gone way beyond a difference of opinion to a war on sane, rational thought. For your consideration, NYT hack Ross Douthat whose views on women are worthy of a Salem Witch Trial. I’ve some what avoided discussing his column but it just won’t die a good and necessary death. Evidently, Douthat believes that women that don’t stay home and spit those babies out of the vag are decadent. How do idiots like this get space in any major newspaper? Here’s a response to the hooplah he created with his Sunday Column.
Likewise for readers who regard any talk about the moral weight of reproductive choices as a subtle attempt to reimpose the patriarchy: Can it really be that having achieved so much independence and autonomy and professional success, today’s Western women have no moral interest in seeing that as many women are born into the possibility of similar opportunities tomorrow? Is the feminist revolution such a fragile thing that it requires outright population decline to fulfill its goals, and is female advancement really incompatible with the goal of a modestly above-replacement birthrate? Indeed, isn’t it just possible that a modern culture that celebrated the moral component of childrearing more fully would end up serving certain feminist ends, rather than undermining them — by making public policy more friendly to work-life balance, by putting more cultural pressure on men to be involved fathers rather than slackers and deadbeat dads, and so on?
Okay, enough rhetorical questions. It’s the nature of social conservatives to be cranky about contemporary trends, often to a fault. But it’s also the nature of decadent societies to deny that the category of “decadence” exists. And what Yglesias calls nuttiness still looks like moral common sense to me — a view of intergenerational obligation that human flourishing depends on, and whose disappearance threatens to sacrifice essential goods and relationships on the altar of more transient forms of satisfaction.
So, my next question is why is this all women’s fault? Also, who the hell thinks American’s lower birthrate is a problem anyway? Here’s the original piece if you can stand to read the ignorance. It’s true we don’t value children in our society but to talk about tripping women into having more of them when we don’t nurture and protect the children we have today is just insanity.
We have to celebrate the fact that Jim Demint is chasing more money in the private sector and hooking up with the faux research compiled these days bye the Heritage Foundation. At least the foundation and Demint are being honest about the fact that it’s all about spreading the lies that benefit their donor class. Is he really looking for a new pulpit or just a bigger pay check? Can the Heritage Foundation even fake being a ‘think tank’ any more since Demint’s ability to contribute anything other than dogma and political cronies is questionable.
His imminent departure to head a well-financed organization with significant heft in conservative circles will allow him to oppose even more loudly a big budget deal that includes higher tax revenues sought by President Obama. Mr. DeMint has been a loud Republican critic of a deal proffered by House Speaker John A. Boehner to address the impending fiscal crisis by generating at least $800 billion in new tax revenue.
“I’m leaving the Senate now, but I’m not leaving the fight,” Mr. DeMint said in a statement. “I’ve decided to join the Heritage Foundation at a time when the conservative movement needs strong leadership in the battle of ideas.”
In a parting shot — or perhaps warning flare — Mr. DeMint on Thursday suggested to Rush Limbaugh that Mr. Boehner might need to watch his back. When asked if Mr. Boehner was forcing him out, Mr. DeMint replied, “It might work a little bit the other way, Rush.”
The job switch should have substantial financial benefits for Mr. DeMint, whose 2010 net worth, $65,000, was among the lowest in the Senate. Edwin J. Feulner, the current head of the foundation, in 2010 earned $1,098,612 in total compensation.
A hero to many Republicans for his campaign fund-raising abilities, Mr. DeMint frustrated Senate colleagues by eagerly backing Republican candidates like Sharron Angle of Nevada, Ken Buck of Colorado and Christine O’Donnell of Delaware in 2010, and Richard Mourdock of Indiana and Todd Akin of Missouri this year, contenders who proved too conservative to be elected statewide. Those losses set back Mr. DeMint’s effort to bring the fiery conservatism of the House to the Senate, though he did have a hand in electing Senators Mike Lee of Utah, Marco Rubio of Florida, Rand Paul of Kentucky and Ted Cruz of Texas, who takes office next month.
“The truth is that Jim DeMint’s philosophy on everything from Medicare to women’s reproductive rights, as embodied by his handpicked candidates for Congress, has been rejected by voters,” said Senator Patty Murray of Washington, who headed the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee this year. Privately, so as not to inflame him, several Republicans also said Mr. DeMint’s departure would produce few tears among them.
Here’s a story that will let you know just how twisted the US justice system can be. This is from The Guardian because–you know–the US media can’t possibly question our infallibility or exceptionalism. Once again, the Louisiana justice system failed its duties. Fortunately, DNA testing has freed him. Thibodeauz was joined by others freed by the Innocence Project. He’s the young white man in the white T shirt in the picture below.
Every morning Damon Thibodeaux wakes up in his temporary digs in Minneapolis and wonders when his newfound freedom is going to come crashing down. “You think you’re going to wake up and find it was just a dream,” he says.
When he stepped out of Angola jail in Louisiana several guards were at the gate to wish him well, addressing him for the first time in 16 years as “Mr Thibodeaux”. “No offence,” he said, “but I hope I never see you again.”
He walked out as the 300th prisoner in the US to be freed as a result of DNA testing and one of 18 exonerated from death row. With the help of science he has been proved innocent of a crime for which the state of Louisiana spent 15 years trying to kill him.
For those years Thibodeaux was in a cell 1.8 metres by 3 metres for 23 hours a day. His only luxury was a morning coffee, made using a handkerchief as a filter with coffee bought from the prison shop; his only consolation was reading reading the Bible; his only exercise pacing up and down for an hour a day in a the “exercise yard”– a metal cage slightly larger than his cell.
Like most death rows in the United States, the prisoners in Angola are treated as living dead things: they are going to be executed so why bother rehabilitating them? He watched as two of his fellow inmates were taken away to the death chamber, trying unsuccessfully not to dwell on his own impending execution. “It was like, one day they may be coming for you. At any time, a judge can sign an order and they can come and take you and kill you.”
At the lowest point, he says he felt such hopelessness that he considered dropping all his appeals and giving up. He would become a “volunteer” – one of those prisoners who are assumed positively to want to die but so often simply lack the will to live. He read the Bible some more, shared his fears with other prisoners through the bars and found a new resolution. “I came to terms with the fact that I was going to die for something I didn’t do. Truthfully, we’re all going to die anyway; it made it a lot easier.”
With little hope, he pressed on with his appeals and, almost imperceptibly at first, fortune’s wheel began to turn. A lawyer assigned to his post-conviction appeal became concerned by his case, and she in turn enlisted the help of the Innocence Project in New York, a national group devoted to exonerating wrongfully convicted people through DNA testing.
Also drawn into the fray were a pair of Minneapolis-based lawyers from the commercial firm Fredrikson & Byron. In his day job Steven Kaplan works on mergers and acquisitions, not rape and murder, but he threw himself at the Thibodeaux case pro bono.
As soon as Kaplan began reading the legal papers relating to Thibodeaux’s death sentence, he was astonished. He had never worked on a capital case before and, like most people unversed in the finer details of the death penalty in America, had assumed that the judicial process must have adhered to the very highest legal standards. After all, a man’s life was at stake.
“When I read the transcript of the trial for the first time, I thought to myself that the high school mock trial team that I coached of 15- to 17-year-olds would have run rings around the lawyers in that courtroom,” said Kaplan. “We put more energy into a $50,000 contract dispute than went into the defence at the Damon Thibodeaux trial.”
The sequence of events that put Thibodeaux on to death row began on 19 July 1996. He was 22 and worked as a deckhand on Mississippi river barges.
Two weeks earlier he had moved back to New Orleans, where his mother and sister lived, to help out with his sister’s wedding. He started hanging out with the Champagne family, distant relatives, who had a flat in a neighbouring suburb.
He spent 19 July at the Champagne home with the father, CJ, mother, Dawn, and 14-year-old daughter, Crystal. At about 5pm Crystal asked Thibodeaux to go with her to the local Winn-Dixie supermarket but he was busy mending CJ’s watch. She left the house on her own at 5.15pm.
When she was not back more than an hour later her mother became alarmed and they began a search, Thibodeaux joining the effort. They called the police and searched through the night and through the following day.
It was not until after 6pm on 20 July that Thibodeaux went back to his mother’s house and lay down to rest. He was just falling asleep when police arrived and asked him to come with them.
That was at 7.32pm. At 7.40pm Crystal’s body was found on the banks of the Mississippi, about five miles from the Champagnes’ home. The news was transmitted to the detectives quizzing Thibodeaux and instantly a routine missing-person interview became a homicide interrogation.
So, I’ve really overrun my usual self-imposed limit today of shares but some of these stories really frosted my cupcakes. I really worry about our country. Today’s reads showed that there are places where things are hopeful and places where things just aren’t right.
What’s on your reading and blogging list today?