Gays, Iranians: Both Must Continue To Push To Achieve Rights

Two bigissues in the news: the ramifications of the elections in Iran and equal rights for gay people in the U.S. These may not be on some people’s hottest news items, but for me they are.

I can give only my perspective on them, but actually, they seem to have quite a bit in common despite taking place half a world apart.

First, they both concern people’s equal rights: in Iran, that every person’s vote counts no matter whom the candidate was that he or she voted for; and here, in the U.S., that each person has the right to pursue whatever job or establish a marriage without discrimination no matter what his or her sexual orientation is.

There is another obvious similarity: “the squeaky wheel gets the grease.” Because the people are protesting so adamantly, things are going to change in Iran even if the same government stays in power. The current leaders know that there are just too many people who are demanding change.

The same is true in the case of gay equality here. Finally, because so many people reacted to the lack of any action on gay issues as Obama had promised to do in his presidential bid, not to mention the derogatory, demeaning language put forth by the Department of Justice last week, the President today gave some–though minimal–benefits to some federal employees. He also mentioned that he was in favor of getting rid of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA); however, he did not say anything about Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell (DADT).

The key in both of these countries is that those in power do not make changes on their own. In one way or another they have to be pushed by the people, and in both of these situations, they should and must be pushed hard. In both situations, the people will have to continue to let their voices heard in order to get the results that they want.

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Rachel Maddow Show Reports Obama Will Allow Some Benefits for Same-Sex Partners of Federal Employees

maddowI just finished watching a segment of the Rachel Maddow Show on MSNBC. As part of tonight’s show, which included a lot about the events in Iran, she reported that tomorrow President Obama will award benefits for partners of gay federal employees. The few details which were given came from NBC White House correspondent Chuck Todd via telephone.

It seems that this action might be in response to the amount of negative reaction to the Department of Justice’s defense against a case that might have gone to the Supreme Court against the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), which basically denies federal recognition to same-sex marriages that are legal in some states and also says other states don’t have to recognize those marriages either. There are lots of details about this whole controvery on Americablog, Pam’s House Blend, and Towleroad, so go to these sights if you want more on this.

The Matthew Shepard Hate Crimes Prevention Act Would Not Stop Anyone’s Religious Free Speech; Read the Bill, Then Shut Up!

hate-crimeFirst of all, I can’t say I am whole-heartedly in favor of the hate crimes bill in Congress. For my tax dollars spent on social issues of this kind, I’d much rather see Congress, first, get rid of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” (DADT) and the “Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA).

The bill, which if enacted, would be called the Matthew Shepard Hate Crimes Prevention Act. (Click to the bill from the Library of Congress. Read it; it’s just one page.) After reading it for myself, I’m getting sick of all the christian whiners all over the net crying that they are going to lose their ability to spew out hate. The bill does basically these things:

  • Gives the necessity for having such laws
  • Defines what hate crimes are
  • Says the support, both financial and otherwise, can be given to state and local jurisdictions, especially when the crime involves more than one state or in rural areas, basically in the form of grants
  • Gives more specifics on what hate crimes are (those involve bodily injury and death)
  • Explains in what situations the federal government can get involved
  • Explains what evidence is admissible
  • Explains that the Act follows the Constitution, which gives free speech.

In fact, the bill directly stipulates that speech, including religious speech, is still protected; read from Section 10:

    • (3) CONSTITUTIONAL PROTECTIONS- Nothing in this Act shall be construed to prohibit any constitutionally protected speech, expressive conduct or activities (regardless of whether compelled by, or central to, a system of religious belief), including the exercise of religion protected by the First Amendment and peaceful picketing or demonstration. The Constitution does not protect speech, conduct or activities consisting of planning for, conspiring to commit, or committing an act of violence.
    • (4) FREE EXPRESSION- Nothing in this Act shall be construed to allow prosecution based solely upon an individual’s expression of racial, religious, political, or other beliefs or solely upon an individual’s membership in a group advocating or espousing such beliefs.

If someone says that his religious speech will be limited because of the Matthew Shepard Hate Crimes Prevention Act, he hasn’t read it, or he is just lying and trying to stir things up for others who won’t bother to read it.