Every Vote Counts!

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“I would prefer more educated voters than a greater increase in the number of voters.”

- Georgia State Senator Fran Millar (R)

In Political Science 101 you quickly learn that power is taken and not freely given. The recent outrageous statements of State Senator Fran Millar (R-DeKalb) complaining about the innovative idea of voting on Sunday as a “loop hole in the law” that needs closing is just blatantly ridiculous. The battle to register and empower Atlanta’s minority communities has a lengthy history that we must remember.

In the 1970’s Maynard Jackson campaigned for Mayor on a platform pledge to open the doors to City Hall for neighborhood leaders to join business leaders whose influence was a mainstay of local politics. The creation of the Neighborhood Planning Unit, a citywide grassroots community engagement municipal program, deliberately tied policy to the opinions and counsel of city residents and business owners. This dramatically shifted the expectation of everyday folks and empowered their opinions on city governance.

By the mid 1970’s new political coalitions were forming led by young people at the center of the political action. As a young visionary leader Jackson symbolized change. Maynard Jackson was joined by other young leaders like Arthur Langford, Jr. who was elected to the Atlanta City Council at the age of 23. As a councilman, he worked tirelessly to end gun violence and lessen the drug trade in low income communities. Similarly, Mayor Maynard Jackson was the first elected official in the state of Georgia to anticipate the rise of the LBGTQ community as a growing political influence. Jackson was the first to appoint a liaison at the Mayoral level at City Hall.

In the late 1980’s and early 1990’s, the LBGTQ community was just beginning to coalesce around their common political interests as a result of the impact of the A.I.D.S epidemic. Though many in the Democratically controlled state leadership held voter registration drives in the late ‘80’s and early ‘90’s, the LBGTQ community through L.E.G.A.L (Legislate Equality for Gays and Lesbians) also held voter registration drives in the 1st, 5th and 6th City Council Districts almost every weekend. In fact, a friend, Gary Cox, won an award in 1989 from the Fulton County Voter Registrar’s Office for registering more voters than anyone else in the county. The LGBTQ community set up at Ansley Mall, Grant Park, Piedmont Park, (at the annual Gay Pride Festival) and outside Backstreet (within the legal distance of a drinking establishment) to specifically target their community. L.E.G.A.L. actually received criticism for “targeting” gay people because it was considered “partisan and limited” to target a specific social minority.

In much the same way, the New Georgia Project, whose specific goal is to register the estimated 600,000 plus voting age African Americans in the state, is now being criticized and targeted by the Office of the Secretary of State. If the new Georgia Project were successful in just registering 40% or more of unregistered African American voters, 260,000 new voters would forever change the dynamic of Georgia elections, according to Benjamin Jealous, formerly of the NAACP.

The New Georgia Project is courageously attempting to change Georgia’s voting dynamics through its efforts. Likewise, the LBGTQ voter registration drives were started to change the voting dynamics and empower the gay community in City Council Districts 6, 5 and 1. Those efforts, along with the 1991 redistricting process led to the election of Cathy Woolard as the City’s first openly gay city council member.

The 1990 census documented the 6th City Council District was comprised with the most male same-sex households than anywhere in the entire state. The 5th City Council District at that time, had more same-sex female households than anywhere in the state. In the city redistricting of 1991, which was based on the 1990 census, Cathy Woolard, Richard Jones, Gary Cox and others worked to connect Midtown to Little Five Points, Inman Park and Candler Park. They were successful in their efforts to reconfigure the 6th City Council District.

The map they drew, was used as the basis for city redistricting in 1991. For the first time in LBGTQ history in Atlanta the tool of redistricting was used to empower the gay community. The LBGTQ leadership of the early 1990’s was surely taking notes from the African American civil rights struggle and applying those lessons to what they had learned to impact the political process for their community.

Fast-forward to the present, now comes Governor Nathan Deal endorsing the idea of banning Sunday voting. Additionally, the Republican Secretary of State Brian Kemp has issued subpoenas to “investigate” the New Georgia Project. It is extremely clear to Georgia Democrats that when it comes to voting rights we have not reached Dr. King’s “promised land”. The basic and fundamental right to vote is one of the most defining issues in the 2014 November election.

In the 1970’s and ‘80’s the tag line “If you don’t vote, you don’t count” was commonly used to rally voter registration. Georgia, according to the web site “Census Viewer,” has 4,960,073 qualified registered voters. Of this number, 54.53% are women and 45.46% are men, and some 200 individuals did not list their gender. Some of these four million plus voters are straight, others are gay. Some are African American and others are White, Asian or Latino. The category doesn’t matter. Each registered voter counts equally when voting.

If we are to reach the promised land, it requires honest leadership who cares about all Georgians not just the privileged few … isn’t it time we reach the promised land of 1 person = one vote?

Gov. Nathan Deal doesn’t want you to vote on Sundays

1374168461-gov_nathan_deal_183Think, for a moment, of all the things that are now normal to do on Sundays.

We can shop for groceries. Buy lottery tickets. Even order a glass of wine or beer.

But some politicians, including Gov. Deal, don’t want you to vote on Sunday.

In a historical move for this state, three Georgia counties will allow voters to cast their ballots on Sunday.

DeKalb, Fulton and Lowndes have announced Sunday voting days to increase access for voters who can’t get to the polls during a busy work week or during a Saturday shift on the job.

Gov. Deal thinks this is wrong.

He blasted the move as a “departure from the norm” and said he wants “uniformity.”

And he even said that he will fight to block Sunday voting if he’s re-elected.

“I feel sure this is an issue that the General Assembly will probably be looking at very seriously come January,” Deal told a reporter yesterday.

The governor’s vow to limit voter access comes just a day after the shocking comments by state Sen. Fran Millar (R-Dunwoody) on DeKalb County’s voting plan:

“Now we are to have Sunday voting at South DeKalb Mall just prior to the election. Per Jim Galloway of the AJC, this location is dominated by African American shoppers and it is near several large African American mega churches such as New Birth Missionary Baptist. Galloway also points out the Democratic Party thinks this is a wonderful idea – what a surprise. I’m sure Michelle Nunn and Jason Carter are delighted with this blatantly partisan move in DeKalb.”

He added, “…We will try to eliminate this election law loophole in January.”

Then Millar’s statements took an even more shameful turn when he wrote on Facebook, “I would prefer more educated voters than a greater increase in the number of voters.”  

Both Gov. Deal and Sen. Millar were involved in Georgia’s blatantly partisan redistricting process three years ago, which virtually guaranteed GOP supermajorities in both legislative chambers. Millar voted for the redistricting plans and Deal signed them.

The fact that Millar and Deal have meddled in elections for partisan purposes and now condemn expanding voting access is disturbing enough.

But even more disturbing is the idea that voting on Sunday is somehow inappropriate.

Sen. Millar voted for the bill to allow Sunday alcohol sales, and Gov. Deal signed it into law.

That is the law on Sundays now.

But the sacred right to vote is not?

P.S If you want to take action now, call your county officials and ask them to join DeKalb, Fulton and Lowndes Counties. Everyone in Georgia should be able to vote on a Sunday if they choose.

The subtle yet glaring distinction of being different

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President Barack Obama wore a tan suit and social media started a national dialogue on why, what it meant, was it appropriate and how he was just so different from previous presidents. I think it has been documented that he wasn’t the first president to ever wear a tan suit. I saw a recent link on the Atlanta Journal Constitution site that caught my eye because it said “Atlanta, meet your mayors”. One glance at the photos and I immediately saw the difference. I would assume the photos of the men in business attire were actual photos of them as mayors, mine however was clearly years before I ran for office and not a photo of me as mayor. Sometimes the subtly of being different isn’t that subtle.

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Why I fear for my sons (From CNN Opinion)

By Kimberly Norwood

KNorwoodEditor’s note: Kimberly Norwood is a law professor at the Washington University School of Law and editor and co-contributor of “Color Matters: Skin Tone Bias and the Myth of a Post Racial America.” The opinions in this commentary are solely those of the writer.

(CNN) — I am a 54-year-old black woman — a mother, lawyer and law professor. I teach at the Washington University in St. Louis Law School and live 12 miles away from Ferguson, Missouri.

The median household income in my suburb is $85,000 per year. In Ferguson, it is $36,000. In my suburb, 3.5% of the people are black. In Ferguson, almost 70% are black. These are stark contrasts. Yet I share things in common with black people in Ferguson and, indeed, throughout the United States.

When I shop, I’m often either ignored as a waste of time or scrutinized as a potential shoplifter. In June, my daughter and I walked into the china and crystal department at a Macy’s department store. I was about to speak to the salesperson directly in front of me. She walked right past me to welcome the white woman behind us.

My daughter looked at me and said: “Really? Did she just ignore us?” My daughter is a young teenager at the crossroads of “skin color doesn’t matter” and “oh yes, it does.” She is in transition. I felt hurt, anger and embarrassment.

But this kind of encounter happens routinely.

Driving, I tend to have a bit of a lead foot — hitting 45 in a 35 mph zone. The few times I have been stopped in my suburb, the first question I’m asked is whether I live “around here.” Not one of my white friends has been asked that question when they were pulled over by a police officer.

Last summer, my teenage daughter was shopping with four white friends at a mall in an affluent St. Louis suburb. As they left the store, two mall security guards approached my daughter. They told her the store had called them and reported her as a shoplifter, and asked her to come with them. After a search, they found she had nothing. So far in her young life, mall security guards have stopped her on suspicion of shoplifting three times. Each time she was innocent.

I also have three sons. My two oldest are 22. They are 6-foot-5 and 6-foot-4 and each weighs more than 220 pounds. One recently graduated from college; the other will graduate in 2015. The youngest is 13. All three like to wear jeans and the latest sneakers. They love hoodies. They like looking cool. These three young men have never been arrested or even been in a fight at school.

Every time my sons leave the house, I worry about their safety. One of my sons loves to go out at night to clubs. I worry about potential unrest at the clubs — yes, black-on-black crime is a problem, and despite what many people think, black people complain about it all the time in their communities and churches and in newspapers and on radio stations.

I also worry about his drive home and his being stopped by police.

The data in Ferguson are an example of the larger picture in the St. Louis County area. Police stop, search and arrest black people at a disproportionate rate, even though they are less likely to possess contraband than white people.

This son of mine who likes to go out at night is big and tall and he has brown skin. He graduated from college in May but cannot find employment. He is an intelligent, clean-cut young man.

But the negative stereotypes automatically assigned to his skin color follow him everywhere, even in job interviews, like extra weight. It reminds me of the airline employee who asks before you can check your suitcase: Did a stranger ask you to carry something or pack your bag? In my son’s case, the answer is yes. He is carrying extra weight, unfairly, and without his knowledge or consent, packed in his luggage.

A few years ago my husband and I went on a cruise. My older boys were teenagers at the time and were taking summer enrichment classes at a school about a mile from our home. They planned to walk to school in the morning. At the top of a long list of things to do before we left for our trip was “e-mail chief of police.”

I explained to the chief that my husband and I were going on a cruise, I was a member of the community and that my two sons would be walking to school. I attached pictures of the boys, explaining that only a couple of black families lived in the neighborhood. My sons did not normally walk in the neighborhood, so they would draw attention.

I offered to bring my sons to the police department so officers could meet them. The police chief and I met and all went well.

But I’ve asked myself: How many parents of white sons have thought to add to their to-do-before-leaving-town list, “Write letter to local police department, introducing sons and attaching photos, so police do not become suspicious and harass them”?

Even though my older boys are men, I still worry about them. I worry about my 13-year-old. This worry is a stressful, and sadly normal, part of my daily existence. My youngest will be 6 feet tall in the coming weeks. He has brown skin.

These young black men have arrows pointed and ready to shoot at them daily — black-on-black crime, police encounters, societal bias and mistrust. Shortly after the Michael Brown shooting, I met with a group of my 13-year-old’s black male friends to explain to them what happened in Ferguson, and what to do and how to respond if they are ever stopped by the police. My words reminded me of stories and fears my grandfather used to share with me about his encounters with police during the Jim Crow era.

These are just a few of the many ways in which people in America are treated differently based on the color of their skin. This has been going on for a long time. I hope the events in Ferguson will encourage people to see the stark differences in the experiences of black people — not just black people who struggle economically but also black people like me — and white people as they go about their routine, daily lives.

http://us.cnn.com/2014/08/25/opinion/norwood-ferguson-sons-brown-police/index.html?c=&page=3

 

Going Darkly Into That Good Night

By Charles Cullen

Anyone who knows me knows I’m hopelessly addicted to work of the Coen brothers. My addiction goes beyond nodding when someone mentions that “the Dude BWB34abides.” I can quote nearly the entire movie. I believe “No Country For Old Men” is a piece of art that could never be replicated, and I’m shocked by how closely the Republican Party now comes to resembling Homer Stokes (the KKK, “is you is or is you ain’t my constituency?” political candidate of O Brother, Where Art Thou?) “Is you is or is you ain’t my constituency,” Homer pleads with a booing crowd.

“Is you is or is you ain’t my constituency?” Speaking for myself, Homer, I ain’t. I’m not accusing the GOP of being entirely made up of bigots. Though they mostly are exactly as racist as old Homer, they’re much better (with some spectacular exceptions) at hiding it.

The fact that an entire party can be represented by a single slow-witted racist is what makes the following question so fascinating; what happens when the Republican party can no longer rely on racist and/or stupid Caucasians to mindlessly back them? In many areas the white majority is quickly disappearing, and the old trick of just saying something hateful and getting white voters to vote against their own interests is growing more and more difficult.

The GOP has long been able to count on a certain portion the Latino population to help them over the hump, but they’ve been so hateful toward Latinos that that population is rapidly disappearing. Without these voters the highest office Republicans can realistically hope for is the House, with a few Senate seats scattered from still extremely white districts.

And that’s what makes things so interesting: the GOP can still count on the very deep South, but one can’t win a presidency without contesting swing states. Iowa, Ohio, Minnesota, and North Carolina, will become reliably Democratic as long as GOP Republicans have to out-crazy Tea Party challengers to win primaries.

Hateful and lunatic comments have a way of following one into general elections. And this becomes more and more true the higher the office one is aiming for.

The American people seem to like to switch presidential parties after roughly two terms, but the Republicans simply aren’t offering them anyone to vote for. From disastrous Republican SOTU speaker (rebuttal) Bobby Jindal, to Donald Trump, to “Awww Shucky-Ducky” Herman Cain, the Republican brand has never looked so weak. Marco Rubio would probably be an attractive option, were the footage of him guzzling gallons of water nearly as viral as the Star Wars kid.

It’s a bad time for weakness, too, as the United States becomes more and more diverse. What must the GOP do to win a Presidency once White voters no longer hold so much sway in swing states?

Perhaps Ol’ Homer could’ve offered some advice but, alas, he was ridden out on a rail (and fictional).

Rand Paul is probably the Republican’s last, best hope–Bush III has shown little interest in running–so one must ask, after a Paul Presidency (if it happens) where do the Republicans turn?

In sum, the Republicans look like FOP. And we as a people don’t want FOP, goddammit, were Dapper Dan voters.

St. Louisans Know the Ferguson You Just Met

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From Beverly Isom

This week the country converged on Ferguson, Missouri. I am visiting my hometown of St. Louis and I am very familiar with Ferguson which is a mere four miles from my mother’s home and the burned down Quick Trip is literally across the street from my brother’s house. For many people from St. Louis, there has long been a quite acceptance of the racial disparity and unsettling tension between residents and law enforcement in Ferguson and surrounding counties like Jennings and Florissant and even across the Mississippi River in Illinois. My brothers like other men of color are accustomed to unwarranted and frequent police stops that typically included reluctant conversations with police officers about where they were driving to and from.

The death of teenager Michael Brown simply highlighted for the nation a racial divide that is all too familiar. I was at the protest site and about five blocks along West Florissant have been transformed to a Beirut-like war zone. Hordes of protestors in gas masks, bouncing signs that proclaim “no justice, no peace”, curious onlookers, media satellite trucks, journalists, smart phones, video cameras, and of course police and more police with guns and gear in the ready position. But most interesting to me is the ever-changing national narrative and the media coverage.

It is difficult to miss the every-second up-to-the-minute breaking news that has taken place over the past 10 days. Race has a rich and storied history in St. Louis and St. Louis County. The history of race in St. Louis is complicated however you need look no further than a few miles away from the protest to Calvary cemetery where Dred Scott is buried to know how deep-rooted it has been. Dred Scott was a slave who had lived with his owner in a free state before coming back to the slave state of Missouri. But Scott argued that because he had lived in free states that he should be free. The Supreme Court disagreed and it resulted in an 1857 landmark decision that stated African Americans were not citizens of the United States and therefore had no rights to sue in federal courts. As a young student in the St. Louis School System the Dred Scott case was required reading.

Some national media commentaries have eluded to the notion that the Civil Rights Movement bypassed St. Louis. For many St. Louisans we might argue that the Civil Rights Movement didn’t miss St. Louis but the racial justice movement has definitely struggled to call St. Louis home. St. Louis is a story of two unequal societies that have coexisted since the 1800’s. For the first three days of this protest in Ferguson, neither politicians nor police recognized the imagery of militarization in national news stories and social media posts that shocked people everywhere……………except here. The police protocols failed, they employed strategies of power and force because community policing is not exercised in communities like Ferguson. The persistent presence of police, armored trucks and M-16s are not likely to quell the systemic tension in Ferguson that has been swelling for years. It has been ineffective to date.

I will return to Atlanta soon but this is a trip I will not soon forget and I will stay glued to the 24-hour up-to-the-minute news coverage until there is resolution. In between the political maneuvering and the legal posturing disguised as news coverage, I pray for peace in Ferguson and for the family of Michael Brown.

Will Georgia Voters Rebuff Republicans this November?

Twit-FacebookThe national media continues to probe Georgia politicians about the political campaign landscape in the statewide races, especially the Michele Nunn and Jason Carter races. There are discussions about the other statewide races but the national attention is focused on the Senate and gubernatorial races. The primary question to me is whether Georgia voters as diverse as they are—will rebuff the politics of Georgia’s Republican leadership? Or will the demographics shifts in Georgia make a big enough difference to ignite high voter turnout to sweep Nunn, Carter and others into statewide elected positions? In case you are wondering what some of the issues are take a look at Jason Carter’s recent release.

Rankings That Matter: Deal’s Record for the Middle Class

As Gov. Deal continues to trumpet a ranking from CNBC, let’s remember the rankings that show how the middle class is really doing under the governor:

  • A study released this week said that Georgia’s schools rank 32nd overall. The study shows that Georgia has the 4th highest dropout rate and the least safe schools in the country. (WalletHub, accessed 8/6/14)
  • Georgia has the 5th highest unemployment rate in the country (U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, accessed 8/6/14).
  • Georgia is one of only two states in which real per capita GDP has declined in the last 15 years (Atlanta Journal-Constitution, 6/20/14). Adjusted for inflation, the average Georgia family in effect makes $6,000 less than the average family did 10 years ago (Politifact, 1/23/14).
  • The same CNBC ranking that Gov. Deal is trumpeting found Georgia to be among the worst states for “quality of life” and “education,” ranking 32nd in both categories. (CNBC, 6/24/14)

Some other statewide issues like healthcare, transportation and water can be added to the Carter list. Many Georgians live with only emergency healthcare services because Governor Deal refuses to acknowledge the benefits of expanded Medicaid. Healthcare is a critical quality of life issue for Georgians. Without viable transportation solutions, the negative impact of snarled traffic in metro Atlanta will continue.

Our water challenges continue while Georgia enjoys a AAA bond rating in part because state funding of infrastructure isn’t a high enough priority for Governor Deal.

Deal does not advocate for the financing Georgia’s desperate need to expand, renovate and build reliable transportation networks of safe bridges, efficient roads, connected transit, trails and paths and statewide water supply, storm water and sewer systems. In fact, from our experience last winter there is evidence emergency service system and planning needs investment as well.

The data clearly illustrates the problems in Georgia; the only question now is will Georgia voters rebuff the Republican leadership this November.

Voter turnout in a midterm election is usually less than presidential elections. Progressive candidates are counting on a larger than usual turnout to sweep them into office. Georgia’s ineffective leadership and voters desire to change that leadership may be the perfect equation to make this year’s midterm election the exception to the rule.

Miami Herald’s Leonard Pitts Highlights East Lake Transformation

Miami Herald columnist Leonard Pitts’ highlights Tom Cousins in a recent column as one of the “good guys” for his use of his wealth and influence to make the world a better place. Pitts highlights Tom’s contributions to improving the East Lake East Lakecommunity. This neighborhood that housed the old East Lake public housing project where 90% of residents were victims of a felony every year, where few children achieved state standards in any subject, where the crime rate was 18 times higher than the national average, where adult employment was under 25% and where partnerships with strong local nonprofit organizations were virtually unknown. Tom along with East Lake leader Eva Davis and Atlanta Housing Authority CEO Renee Glover formed the leadership team that turned East Lake around. Today the Villages of East Lake, the East Lake YMCA, the East Lake Sheltering Arms and the Charles Drew School are forging new partnerships and setting a high bar for community engagement, student achievement and community wellness. The East Lake neighborhood model is used by civic leaders in neighborhoods in Birmingham, Charlotte, Houston, Indianapolis, New Orleans, Omaha, Rome and Spartanburg. Pitts column is a great read and a powerful reminder of what happens when partnerships work.

http://www.miamiherald.com/2014/08/02/4269242/leonard-pitts-poor-dont-use-this.html

 

Defending the Indefensible

Georgia’s Attorney General Sam Olens as Don Quixote– jousting at legal windmills!

By: Gary S. Cox

OlensGeorgia’s “defense” of its voter approved constitutional ban against same-sex marriage, filed in response to Lamda Legal Defense Fund’s challenge in April 2014, is an indefensible position by any measure. The state’s arguments note, “Plaintiffs may well be right that our nation is headed for a new national equilibrium on same-sex marriage. Indeed, in the last several years, at least eleven states have decided to expand their definition of marriage to include same-sex couples through the democratic process … And it seems as though each month new opinion polls are released showing increased public support for such changes in additional states. But judicially imposing such a result now would merely wrest a potentially unifying popular victory from the hands of supporters and replace it instead with the stale conformity of compulsion. This Court should reject Plaintiffs’ invitation to disregard controlling precedent, decline to anticipate a future ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court, and dismiss Plaintiffs’ claims in their entirety.”

Even after acknowledging the sea-change in public opinion on same-sex marriage in their brief, Georgia steadfastly has decided to stand “in defense of marriage,” (one man plus one woman), based on the assertion that the challengers are asking the court to find ” … the people of Georgia no longer have the right to decide for themselves whether to define marriage in the way every state in our Union has defined it as recently as 2003.” However, the state failed to mention in their refutation that nation-wide there are 77 cases challenging state marriage laws similar to Georgia’s. Thus far, there have been 28 wins and zero losses for the pro same-sex marriage challengers. A stunning record of victory! Even North Carolina recently dropped its defense of its constitutional ban but not Georgia!

Though Georgia is in the 11th Circuit Court, the State Attorney General, Sam Olens, has decided to play Don Quixote and joust at legal wind mills wasting taxpayer dollars all in the name of election year politics (Olens is up for re-election and does have a qualified Democratic opponent in Attorney Greg Hecht.) He knows that the tide of legal cases is against him. He knows that marriage is nothing more than a legal contract that allows two individuals to receive Federal, state and local benefits that single people cannot receive. The marriage contract grants inheritance rights, visitation rights, tax filing rights, federal spousal benefits, state spousal benefits – and the list goes on to more than 128 “benefits” at all levels of government. There isn’t anything sacrosanct or magical about a marriage license. It is a mutually signed and witnessed document filed in the county of one’s residence. A license bestows mutual privileges and allows for joint participation in legal arrangements – it holds the spouses communally and legally answerable to each other regardless of gender.

The state of Georgia has failed to note how current law equally protects all its citizens. The state offers no rational argument for allowing marriage laws that discriminate against LGBT citizens. The “marriage is for procreation” claim, offered in most of the 28 cases won thus far, was not seen as a rational reason. The same applies to the “marriage protects children” contention. Protects children from what or whom? Two loving and caring individuals who want to be legally recognized by the state – like Christopher Innis and Shelton Stroman who have a nine year old son? How does discrimination against plaintiffs Rashawn Chandler and Dyana Bagby, who are Atlanta Police Officers, benefit society? Without the right to marry, God forbid if something happens to either police officer in the line of duty. While the city of Atlanta has Domestic Partnership legislation, it is simply not strong enough to protect the legal rights for two women who put their lives on the line for us on a daily basis. They need and deserve the right to marry and all the legal protections offered under this social contract.

We noted in the December 2013 edition of Blogging While Blue, “The last fourteen words of Section 1 of the Fourteenth Amendment were the key to striking down the Utah same-sex marriage ban and will be the key to challenging to Georgia’s constitutional same-sex marriage ban. It a matter of ‘just a matter of finding the right couple(s), just the right circumstances, just the right case(s) and we will most likely have legalized same-sex marriages in Georgia . . . it is just a matter time before that Trojan horse is left on the Federal Courthouse steps in Atlanta.” It seems Lambda Legal Defense Fund has found the right Georgia couples and the Trojan Horse seems to be on fire! An indefensible defense will not put out this fire.

 

 

The University of Texas-Austin Victory is a Win for Diversity

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Whether the 2-to-1 ruling from the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans decision to allow the University of Texas-Austin to use race in college admissions to achieve diversity will have an impact on other higher education institutions is not known. Judge Patrick Higginbotham wrote. “It is equally settled that universities may use race as part of a holistic admissions program where it cannot otherwise achieve diversity.”

The decision is the result of a lawsuit filed by Abigail Fisher, a white Texan who sued the university after she was denied admission in 2008. Last June, the U.S. Supreme Court said the federal appeals court should take another look at case. After the Supreme Court ruling, there was speculation that use of race in admissions policy at the University of Texas might be stuck down. Instead the Appeal Court upheld the decision. The University of Texas “10 percent” admissions rule states that Texas students who graduate in the top 10 percent of their high school classes can earn automatic admission. For the other 90 percent there is a combination of factors in the evaluation process and race can be one of them.

University President Bill Powers said in a statement, “We remain committed to assembling a student body at the University of Texas at Austin that brings with it the educational benefits of diversity while respecting the rights of all students. This ruling ensures that our campus, our state and the entire nation will benefit from the exchange of ideas and thoughts that happens when students who are diverse in all regards come together in the classroom, at campus events and in all aspects of campus life.”

This decision might provide a moment of comfort for colleges and universities that use race as one factor or criteria for admission but the moral obligation to admit diverse students in academic institutions will not likely be won, if it has to battled in court from state-to-state.