Friday Reads Over the RainbowPosted: January 17, 2014
Ruth Robinson Duccini died at age 95. She was the last surviving woman munchkin from the movie “Wizard of Oz”. Only one man survives now of the 124 little people cast in the movie.
One of my favorite sitcoms as a kid was “Gilligan’s Island”. Russell Johnson, the professor, passed yesterday at the age of 89.
I am happy to announce that the outrage over the proposed noise ordinance in New Orleans led to its withdrawal last night. Maybe the proximity to February’s elections had something to do with it? I sent a letter to the one council woman that was most likely to opt out and whose election is more iffy. She indicated she would vote no on Wednesday. The Mayor also said he had an issue with the proposal.
Councilwomen Stacy Head and Kristin Gisleson Palmer have withdrawn a controversial proposed noise ordinance that was set to be discussed at a council meeting Friday.
In a joint statement, Head and Palmer acknowledged there has been “much public consternation” over the ordinance.
Palmer said the council will work to craft a different ordinance that has “an even more limited focus” on the Vieux Carré Entertainment District.
Nathan Chapman, a lead supporter of the ordinance, said he supports the decision to “take a breath and focus first on solutions for the French Quarter.”
“At some point, the general public became greatly confused in a negative campaign of disinformation and personal attacks. If the volume of the rhetoric had been turned down a bit, we could have heard each other more, and made progress for the entire city.”
A draft form of a new ordinance will be presented to the next Special Housing and Human Needs Committee meeting on Jan. 27.
The meeting set for Friday has been cancelled.
Today Representatives Jim Sensenbrenner (R-WI) and John Conyers (D-MI) and Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT) introduced legislation to strengthen the Voting Rights Act of 1965 in the wake of the Supreme Court’s decision last June invalidating a critical section of the VRA. The legislation, known as “The Voting Rights Amendment Act of 2014,” represents the first attempt by a bipartisan group in Congress to reinstate the vital protections of the VRA that the Supreme Court took away.
In the Shelby County v. Holder ruling on June 25, 2013, the Court’s conservative majority struck down Section 4 of the VRA, the formula that compelled specific states with a well-documented history of voting discrimination to clear their voting changes with the federal government under Section 5 of the VRA. The two provisions were always meant to work together; without Section 4, Section 5 became a zombie, applying to zero states.
Section 4 covered nine states (Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, South Carolina, Texas and Virginia) and parts of six others (in California, Florida, Michigan, New York, North Carolina, South Dakota) based on evidence of voting discrimination against blacks and other minority groups dating back to the 1960s and 1970s. Since the Shelby decision, eight states previously covered under Section 4 have passed or implemented new voting restrictions. This includes onerous new laws in states like North Carolina and Texas, which the Justice Department objected to under other provisions of the VRA (Sections 2 and 3).
The Sensenbrenner-Conyers-Leahy bill strengthens the VRA in five distinct ways
Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein says he will produce blockbuster movie starring Meryl Streep to direct confront the power of the NRA. He broke the news on Sirrius radio on Howard Stern’s show.
Weinstein said he plans on making a movie that will make the NRA “wish they weren’t alive after I’m done with them.”
During a discussion about Weinstein getting into the directing game, the issue of guns weaved its way in. Weinstein admitted that if something like the Holocaust was happening again, “I’d find a gun if that was happening to my people.” That being said, Weinstein doesn’t think “we need guns in this country” and called the NRA a disaster area.”
Oklahoma has become the latest state in the battle ground for Marriage Equality. Discriminatory marriage laws are collapsing all over the country.
The victories keep coming, from unexpected places: A federal judge in Oklahoma today ruled that the state’s constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage violates the U.S. Constitution.
U.S. District Judge Terence Kern’s ruling is on hold pending appeal, so same-sex couples in Oklahoma will not be able to marry immediately, reports theHuman Rights Campaign.Nonetheless, the national LGBT rights group welcomed Kern’s decision with a statement issued by its president, Chad Griffin.
“Judge Kern has come to the conclusion that so many have before him — that the fundamental equality of lesbian and gay couples is guaranteed by the United States Constitution,” Griffin said. “With last year’s historic victories at the Supreme Court guiding the way, it is clear that we are on a path to full and equal citizenship for all lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Americans. Equality is not just for the coasts anymore, and today’s news from Oklahoma shows that time has come for fairness and dignity to reach every American in all 50 states.”
Two couples — Mary Bishop and Sharon Baldwin, and Gay Phillips and Susan Barton — filed the case,Bishop v. Oklahoma, in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Oklahoma in November 2004, the same year the largely conservative state adopted the antigay amendment. Their legal team is led by Don Holladay and James Warner of the Oklahoma City law firm Holladay and Chilton.
With this decision, 19 states and the District of Columbia have approved marriage equality either through legislative action or court decision. This number includes two states with rulings on hold — Utah and Oklahoma — and one state, Illinois, whose law has yet to go into effect. The Illinois marriage equality law is effective June 1, although couples in which at least one partner has a serious illness can apply to receive a marriage license earlier.
Utah is split down the middle on the question of same-sex marriage, indicating a sharp decline in support for the state’s 2004 constitutional ban, according to a new poll.
A Salt Lake Tribune poll by SurveyUSA shows that Utahns are evenly split on the issue with 48 percent in favor of legalizing gay marriage and 48 percent against it. This marks a massive shift in opinion in the strongly conservative state, where 66 percent of voters who participated in the 2004 election approved of the constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriages in Utah.
According to the survey, 36 percent of Utah adults have changed their views of same-sex marriage over time, further complicating an already-tricky legal battle in the state.
There’s one more happy example of marriage equality in Houston Texas! Mayor Parker has married her long time partner.
Houston Mayor Annise Parker and longtime partner Kathy Hubbard are now married – at least in the eyes of 18 states, including California, where the couple formally exchanged vows Thursday in a sunset ceremony in Palm Springs.
“This is a very happy day for us,” Parker said in a news release issued from her office. “We have had to wait a very long time to formalize our commitment to each other. Kathy has been by my side for more than two decades, helping to raise a family, nurture my political career and all of the other ups and down and life events that come with a committed relationship. She is the love of my life and I can’t wait to spend the rest of my life married to her.”
The wedding included family and friends, including the mayor’s mother and Hubbard’s sister, according the mayor’s press office. The Rev. Paul Fromberg, a family friend from San Francisco, presided. Two other close friends from Houston, Judge Steve Kirkland and Mark Parthie, were attendants and formal witnesses. Parker and Hubbard chose Jan. 16 for their wedding because it marks the 23rd anniversary of the start of their lives together, her office said.
That is quite a positive change!
So, that’s a little bit to get us started today. So, what’s on your reading and blogging list this morning?