Independence Day 2015

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July 4, 1776, the United States Declaration of Independence was adopted by the Continental Congress which announced that the thirteen American colonies then at war with Great Britain were now independent states. Written primarily by Thomas Jefferson, the Declaration is a formal explanation of why Congress had voted on July 2 to declare independence from Great Britain, more than a year after the outbreak of the American Revolutionary War. The birthday of the United States of America—Independence Day—is celebrated on July 4, the day the wording of the Declaration was approved by Congress.

We celebrate the 238th anniversary of the signing of the Declaration of Independence and the beginning of American democracy.

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Salute to the Military

President Obama and First Lady Michelle will celebrate the Fourth of July by hosting military heroes and their families with a Seventh Annual “Salute to the Military” USO Concert  at the White House.  The celebration includes a barbeque, USO concert and a view of fireworks on the South Lawn.

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6:00 PM EDT: President Obama delivers remarks from the South Lawn
8:10 PM EDT: USO Concert
9:10 PM EDT: National  Capital fireworks display

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Live Stream: http://www.whitehouse.gov/live

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Happy July 4th America

US Women's National Soccer Team
US Women’s National Soccer Team

Restoring Overtime Pay

PBO Restoring Overtime Pay

Middle Class Economics Rewarding Hard Work by Restoring Overtime Pay

Middle class economics means that a hard day’s work should lead to a fair day’s pay.  For much of the past century, a cornerstone of that promise has been the 40-hour workweek.  But for decades, industry lobbyists have bottled up efforts to keep these rules up to date, leaving millions of Americans working long hours, and taking them away from their families without the overtime pay that they have earned. Business owners who treat their employees fairly are being undercut by competitors who don’t.

Today, President Obama announced that the Department of Labor will propose extending overtime pay to nearly 5 million workers. The proposal would guarantee overtime pay to most salaried workers earning less than an estimated $50,440 next year. The number of workers in each state who would be affected by this proposal can be found here.

The salary threshold guarantees overtime for most salaried workers who fall below it, but it is eroded by inflation every year.  It has only been updated once since the 1970s, when the Bush Administration published a weak rule with the strong support of industry.  Today, the salary threshold remains at $23,660 ($455 per week), which is below the poverty threshold for a family of four, and only 8 percent of full-time salaried workers fall below it.

President Obama directed the Secretary of Labor to update regulations relating to who qualifies for overtime pay so that they once again reflect the intent of the Fair Labor Standards Act, and to simplify the rules so they’re easier for workers and businesses to understand and apply.  Following months of extensive consultations with employers, workers, unions, and other stakeholders, the Department of Labor developed a proposal that would:

  • Raise the threshold under which most salaried workers are guaranteed overtime to equal the 40th percentile of weekly earnings for full-time salaried workers.  As proposed, this would raise the salary threshold from $455 a week ($23,660 a year) – below the poverty threshold for a family of four – to a projected level of $970 a week ($50,440 a year) in 2016.
  • Extend overtime pay and the minimum wage to nearly 5 million workers within the first year of its implementation, of which 56 percent are women and 53 percent have at least a college degree.
  • Provide greater clarity for millions more workers so they – and their employers – can determine more easily if they should be receiving overtime pay.
  • Prevent a future erosion of overtime and ensure greater predictability by automatically updating the salary threshold based on inflation or wage growth over time.

Learn more: https://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2015/06/30/fact-sheet-middle-class-economics-rewarding-hard-work-restoring-overtime

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A Hard Day’s Work Deserves a Fair Day’s Pay

6/29/2015 9:16 pm EDT Barack Obama – huffingtonpost

It’s been a good few days for America.

On Thursday, the Supreme Court reaffirmed the Affordable Care Act. It is here to stay.

And, Democrats and Republicans in Congress paved the way for the United States to rewrite the rules of global trade to benefit American workers and American businesses.

On Friday, the Court recognized the Constitutional guarantee of marriage equality. With that ruling, our union became a little more perfect — a place where more people are treated equally, no matter who they are or who they love.

These steps build upon America’s steady progress in recent years. Out of the depths of recession, we’ve emerged ready to write our own future. Our businesses have created 12.6 million new jobs over the past 63 months — the longest streak on record. More than 16 million Americans have gained health insurance. More kids are graduating from high school and college than ever before.

But more work lies ahead, if we are to succeed in making sure this recovery reaches all hardworking Americans and their families.

We’ve got to keep expanding access to affordable health care. Right now, 22 states haven’t expanded Medicaid — even though, under the ACA, they can. We’ll keep encouraging those governors to do the right thing for their constituents. And we’re making sure people know all the ways that they can benefit from the ACA. Wednesday, I’ll go to Tennessee to meet Americans whose lives have been changed by this law, and to talk about how, instead of refighting settled battles of the past, we can move forward together.

We’ve got to keep making sure hard work is rewarded. Right now, too many Americans are working long days for less pay than they deserve. That’s partly because we’ve failed to update overtime regulations for years — and an exemption meant for highly paid, white collar employees now leaves out workers making as little as $23,660 a year — no matter how many hours they work.

This week, I’ll head to Wisconsin to discuss my plan to extend overtime protections to nearly 5 million workers in 2016, covering all salaried workers making up to about $50,400 next year. That’s good for workers who want fair pay, and it’s good for business owners who are already paying their employees what they deserve — since those who are doing right by their employees are undercut by competitors who aren’t.

That’s how America should do business. In this country, a hard day’s work deserves a fair day’s pay. That’s at the heart of what it means to be middle class in America.

For more: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/barack-obama/a-hard-days-work-deserves-a-fair-days-pay_b_7691922.html

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Additional Information

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PBO Higher Wages SOTU quote

PBO @ UW-La Crosse

Thursday, July 2, 2015 – 2:20 PM ET
President Obama delivers remarks on the economy
Recreational Eagle Center, University of Wisconsin-La Crosse,
La Crosse, Wisconsin

First Ever White House Campout

US President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama talk with Girl Scouts that are camping overnight on the South Lawn of the White House in Washington, DC, June 30, 2015.  AFP PHOTO / SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images
US President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama talk with Girl Scouts that are camping overnight on the South Lawn of the White House in Washington, DC, June 30, 2015.
AFP PHOTO / SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images

Girl Scouts Inaugural Guests at First Ever White House Campout

June 24, 2015 gsblog

On June 30, First Lady Michelle Obama will host the first-ever White House Campout as part of the Let’s Move! Outside initiative. The Campout is co-sponsored by the U.S. Department of the Interior and will celebrate the National Park Service Centennial as well as Great Outdoors Month. The Campout will take place in one of the most historic backyards and National Parks in the Nation – the White House South Lawn.

As Honorary National President of Girl Scouts of the USA, the First Lady will welcome fifty fourth-grade Girl Scouts to participate in activities to earn their Camper Badge, and to celebrate the release of the new Girls’ Choice Outdoor badges. The Girl Scouts will engage in both new and traditional outdoor activities, including rock wall climbing, knot tying, orienteering, and tent pitching. Later that evening, the participants will be joined by NASA astronaut Cady Coleman, who will join a stargazing activity led by NASA staff and scientists on the South Lawn before the girls settle in for the night.

Let’s Move! Outside was created to encourage kids and families to take advantage of America’s great outdoors—which abound in every city, town, and community. Through public-private partnerships and in conjunction with all levels of government, the Department of Interior leads  Let’s Move! Outside to inspire millions of young people to play, learn, serve and work outdoors.

As part of the centennial celebration of the National Park Service, in which the First Lady serves as honorary co-chair, President Obama launched the “Every Kid in a Park” initiative. This new initiative calls on each of our agencies to help get all children to visit and enjoy the outdoors and inspire a new generation of Americans to experience their country’s unrivaled public lands and waters. Starting in September, every fourth-grader in the nation will receive an “Every Kid in a Park” pass that’s good for free admission to all of America’s federal lands and waters — for them and their families — for a full year.

For more: http://blog.girlscouts.org/2015/06/girl-scouts-inaugural-guests-at-first.html

Let's Move Outside

Regular exercise in nature is proven to improve children’s physical and mental health. Outdoor activity helps kids maintain a healthy weight, boosts their immunity and bone health, and lowers stress. Let’s Move! Outside was created to get kids and families to take advantage of America’s great outdoors – which abound in every city, town, and community. Through public-private partnerships and in conjunction with all levels of government, the Department of Interior leads  Let’s Move! Outside to inspire millions of young people to play, learn, serve, and work outdoors.

Kids need at least 60 minutes of active and vigorous play each day to stay healthy, and one of the easiest and most enjoyable ways to meet this goal is by playing outside. By linking parents to nearby parks, trails and waters – and providing tips and ideas –  Let’s Move! Outside can help families develop a more active lifestyle.

Pitch a Tent to Protect Wildlife - Pledge Today
Pitch a Tent to Protect Wildlife – Pledge Today

Let’s Move! Outside

Fireworks on Federal land is illegal

BE SMART OUTDOORS

  • Essential wildfire prevention information
  • Learn how to build a SAFE campfire to prevent wildfires

Campfire Safety

See how easily burning debris can start a wildfire

Debris Burning

Understand how proper equipment maintenance can reduce wildfires

Equipment Maintenance

Safety is not only important outdoors, but also in and around our homes

House Safety

Wildfires Burning Today

Learn more: http://www.smokeybear.com/wildfires.as

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Tuesday, June 30, 2015
4:30 PM ET
First Lady Michelle Obama hosts the first-ever
White House Campout
White House South Lawn

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Great American Backyard Campout – Flickr

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Stonewall Riots – 46th Anniversary

Police raids on gay bars and nightclubs were a regular event in cities across the United States. Commonly the police would record the identities of all those present, which would be subsequently published in the newspaper, then load up their police van with as many as it would hold. Kissing, holding hands, or even being in a gay bar at all was used as grounds for arrest on indecency charges at that time. The Stonewall raid on June 29, 1969 started out just like any other raid. Seven plainclothes policemen entered the bar along with one uniformed policeman, allegedly to investigate improprieties in the liquor license. They cleared the bar, whose clientele remained on the sidewalk and street outside. The situation took a dramatic turn for the worse, and the police began beating people who resisted with their nightsticks. The crowd started throwing rocks and bottles rather than coins. The police took refuge inside the Inn, which they trashed. This was the first time the homosexual community had resisted with such force. With this event, the gay rights movement was ignited.

“While we have come a long way since the Stonewall riots in 1969, we still have a lot of work to do. Too often, the issue of LGBT rights is exploited by those seeking to divide us. But at its core, this issue is about who we are as Americans. It’s about whether this nation is going to live up to its founding promise of equality by treating all its citizens with dignity and respect.”

6/1/07  Senator Barack Obama  

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US Supreme Court Rules In Favor of Same-Sex Marriage

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❤️ US Supreme Court Rules In Favor of Same-Sex Marriage !!! ❤️

Supporters of same-sex marriage celebrate outside of the Supreme Court in Washington, D.C. Photographer: Jacquelyn Martin/AP
Supporters of same-sex marriage celebrate outside of the Supreme Court in Washington, D.C.
Photographer: Jacquelyn Martin/AP

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 That means that WE stand for equality

 … straight & LGBT people believing that ALL PEOPLE are EQUAL

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Six Major Rulings from the Supreme Court

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Here Are the Six Major Rulings We’ll Get From the Supreme Court This Week

Jun 24, 2015 12:14 PM PDT Greg Shohr – bloomberg

The U.S. Supreme Court is saving the best for last.

The nation’s top court will issue a series of major rulings over the next several days as it closes its nine-month term. In addition to landmark gay-marriage and Obamacare cases, the court will decide on potentially far-reaching disputes involving housing discrimination, redistricting, air pollution and lethal injection.

“Almost all of the remaining rulings have huge implications and promise to be closely divided,” said Tom Goldstein, a Washington appellate lawyer whose Scotusblog website tracks the court.

The first of seven rulings will come at 10 a.m. Washington time Thursday, with more scheduled for Friday and Monday. The court doesn’t say in advance which decisions are being released which day, but it almost always resolves all its pending cases by the end of June.

Before they pack up, the justices will also say whether they will supplement the session that starts in October with new cases on abortion, affirmative action and union fees.

Here’s what’s coming from the Supreme Court over the next week:

  • Gay Marriage

No case is bigger than the one that could legalize same-sex weddings nationwide. Only 11 years after Massachusetts became the first gay-marriage state, the court would be putting the capstone on the biggest civil rights transformation in a half-century.

 The cases are: Obergefell v. Hodges (Ohio), Tanco v. Haslam (Tennessee), DeBoer v. Snyder (Michigan), and Bourke v. Beshear (Kentucky).

  • Health Care

Three years after upholding President Barack Obama’s signature health-care [Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act] law against a broad constitutional challenge, the court will decide whether a four-word phrase will severely undercut the measure.

The case: King v. Burwell

  • Housing Discrimination

The biggest race case of the term may produce a long-sought legal victory for lenders and insurers, as well as social conservatives. The court is poised to say whether people suing under the U.S. Fair Housing Act can win their case without showing intentional discrimination.

The case:  Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs v. The Inclusive Communities Project

  • Lethal Injection

The April 29 argument over lethal injection methods might have been the most heated of the term, with one justice accusing death penalty opponents of waging a “guerrilla war” and another saying she couldn’t trust a state lawyer.

The case: Glossip v. Gross

Supreme Court says Okla. lethal injection doesn’t violate Constitution

  • Clean Air

The utility industry and a group of states are trying to topple an Environmental Protection Agency rule that would cut mercury and other hazardous emissions from 460 coal-fired power plants.

The case: Michigan v. Environmental Protection

  • Redistricing

The court may deal a fresh blow to efforts to make federal elections more competitive by barring states from setting up independent commissions to draw congressional district boundaries. The issue is whether an Arizona commission strips state lawmakers of power reserved to them by the U.S. Constitution.

The case: Arizona State Legislature v. Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission

For more: http://www.bloomberg.com/politics/articles/2015-06-24/marriage-obamacare-highlight-decision-week-at-u-s-high

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The Disintegration of DOMA – 3rd Anniversary

LGBT flag_lrg PBO Strive for Complete Equality for LGBT
Obama administration urges U.S. Supreme Court to strike down DOMA
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February 22, 2013 lgbtqnation Staff Reports
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The Obama administration on Friday filed a brief with the U.S. Supreme Court, arguing why it considers the federal Defense of Marriage Act to be unconstitutional.
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Filed in United States v. Windsor, a case challenging Section 3 of DOMA, the administration said “gay and lesbian people have been subject to a significant history of discrimination in this country,” and argued that laws targeting individuals based on their sexual orientation should face additional scrutiny by courts reviewing them.
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In the brief, Solicitor General Donald Verrilli asked the court to uphold a federal appeals court ruling that found DOMA to be unconstitutional: Section 3 of DOMA violates the fundamental constitutional guarantee of equal protection. The law denies to tens of thousands of same-sex couples who are legally married under state law an array of important federal benefits that are available to legally married opposite-sex couples. Because this discrimination cannot be justified as substantially furthering any important governmental interest, Section 3 is unconstitutional.
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This case deals with Edith Windsor, who was forced to pay $363,000 in estate taxes in 2009 upon the death of her spouse, Thea Spyer. The two had lived as a couple for 44 years and married in Canada in 2007. Because her decades-long partner was a woman, the federal government did not recognize the same-sex marriage in legal terms, even though their home state of New York did.
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Section 3 of DOMA, which bars legally married same-sex couples from any federal benefits or programs based on marriage, has been found unconstitutional in eight federal courts, including the First and Second Circuit Court of Appeals, on issues including bankruptcy, public employee benefits, estate taxes, and immigration.
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The brief also mentions Proposition 8, California’s ban on same-sex marriage, and similar measures in other states as evidence of continued discrimination against gays and lesbians.
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For more: http://www.lgbtqnation.com/2013/02/obama-administration-urges-u-s-surpeme-court-to-strike-down-doma/ .

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High court strikes down federal marriage provision

6/26/13 By MARK SHERMAN | Associated Press

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Supreme Court ruled Wednesday that legally married same-sex couples should get the same federal benefits as heterosexual couples.

The court invalidated a provision of the federal Defense of Marriage Act that has prevented married gay couples from receiving a range of tax, health and retirement benefits that are generally available to married people. The vote was 5-4.

Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote the majority opinion.

Same-sex marriage has been adopted by 12 states and the District of Columbia. Another 18,000 couples were married in California during a brief period when same-sex unions were legal there.

The court has yet to release its decision on California’s ban on same-sex marriage.

“Under DOMA, same-sex married couples have their lives burdened, by reason of government decree, in visible and public ways,” Kennedy said.

“DOMA’s principal effect is to identify a subset of state-sanctioned marriages and make them unequal,” he said.

He was joined by the court’s four liberal justices.

Chief Justice John Roberts and Justices Samuel Alito, Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas dissented.

For more: http://news.yahoo.com/high-court-strikes-down-federal-marriage-provision-140557846.html

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. “My general view is that transgender persons, just like gays and lesbians, are deserving of equal treatment under the law. And that’s a basic principle,” the president said. “My sense is that the Supreme Court is about to make a shift, one that I welcome, which is to recognize that — having hit a critical mass of states that have recognized same-sex marriage — it doesn’t make sense for us to now have this patchwork system and that it’s time to recognize that, under the equal protection clause of the United States, same-sex couples should have the same rights as anybody else.”

2/17/15 President Obama interview with BuzzFeed

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