The wave of anti-LGBT bills filed across the country continues to swell. As of today, lawmakers have introduced more than 85 anti-LGBT bills in 28 state legislatures.
Some state legislative sessions have already drawn to a close, but other state legislatures will be in session for several more weeks or even months. So far this year 34 anti-LGBT bills in nine states have been defeated or failed to meet key legislative deadlines, but two have passed — one in Arkansas and one in Indiana.
Among the recently introduced anti-LGBT legislation is a pair of bills in Nevada that would allow individuals and businesses to use religion to challenge or opt out of laws, including laws that protect LGBT people from discrimination in employment, housing and public accommodations. Similar legislation was also recently introduced in Montana and is still pending in Arkansas, Georgia, Missouri, Texas and elsewhere.
Even in states with long traditions of support for equality, anti-equality lawmakers are introducing anti-LGBT bills. Massachusetts, for example, is the latest state with a bill that would criminalize transgender people for using appropriate restrooms. Anti-transgender “bathroom surveillance” bills have are now pending in Florida, Texas and a handful of other states.
GLSENs Day of Silence is a national day of action in which students across the country vow to take a form of silence to call attention to the silencing effect of anti-LGBT bullying and harassment in schools.
Founded in 1996, the Day of Silence has become the largest single student-led action towards creating safer schools for all, regardless of sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression. From the first-ever Day of Silence at the University of Virginia in 1996, to the organizing efforts in over 8,000 middle schools, high schools, colleges and universities across the country in 2008, its textured history reflects its diversity in both numbers and reach.
Organizing for Day of Silence
Organizing a Day of Silence (DOS) activity or event can be a positive tool for change-both personally and community-wide. By taking a vow of silence, you’re making a powerful statement about the important issue of anti-LGBT bullying, and when you organize others to join you that message becomes stronger. Discover ways of organizing your event here.
Your Rights While you DO have a right to participate in GLSENs Day of Silence between classes and before and after school, you may NOT have the right to stay silent during instructional time if a teacher requests for you to speak. According to Lambda Legal, “Under the Constitution, public schools must respect students’ right to free speech. The right to speak includes the right not to speak, as well as the right to wear buttons or T-shirts expressing support for a cause.” However, this right to free speech doesn’t extend to classroom time. “If a teacher tells a student to answer a question during class, the student generally doesn’t have a constitutional right to refuse to answer.” We remind participants that students who talk with their teachers ahead of time are more likely to be able to remain silent during class. Find more Lambda Legal advice here.
Beginning with worship services over the April 3 weekend, and continuing through the week of April 6, unions, people of faith, civil and human rights activists, students and other progressive allies will host a range of community- and workplace-focused actions.
Join in solidarity with working people in Wisconsin, Ohio, Indiana and dozens of other states where well-funded, right-wing corporate politicians are trying to take away the rights Dr. King gave his life for: the freedom to bargain, to vote, to afford a college education and justice for all workers, immigrant and native-born. It’s a day to show movement. Teach-ins. Vigils. Faith events.
Stand up against the attack on the middle class and workers’ rights and to honor the life of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., who died on April 4 defending workers in Memphis.
Saturday, April 4th, The King Center is calling for a moratorium on all forms of violence, with ‘No Shots Fired.’ “On that day,” said Ms. King, “we are asking that people abstain from shots fired by: 1. Tongue — speech; 2. Fists and physical violence; and 3. Guns – gun violence and media glorification of gun violence.
The Civil Rights Restoration Act was a U.S. legislative act which specified that recipients of federal funds must comply with civil rights laws in all areas, not just in the particular program or activity that received federal funding. This Act, also known as the Grove City Bill, was first passed by the House in June 1984 (375-32) but failed to pass in either chamber after divisions occurred within the civil rights coalition over the issue of abortion. In January 1988, the Senate accepted an amendment by Senator John Danforth (R-MO) which added ‘abortion-neutral’ language to the Bill, a move that was opposed by the National Organization for Women but which resulted in passage of the bill in both houses.
Reagan gave a States’ Rights speech at the Neshoba County Fair in Philadelphia, Mississippi, the town where three civil rights workers were murdered in 1964, when running for president in 1980 (many politicians had spoken at that annual Fair, however).
Reagan was offended that some accused him of racism. In 1980 Reagan said the Voting Rights Act was “humiliating to the South”, although he later supported extending the Act. He opposed Fair Housing legislation in California (the Rumford Fair Housing Act), but in 1988 signed a law expanding the Fair Housing Act of 1968. Reagan was unsuccessful in trying to veto another civil rights bill in March of the same year. At first Reagan opposed the Martin Luther King holiday, and signed it only after an overwhelming veto-proof majority (338 to 90 in the House of Representatives and 78 to 22 in the Senate) voted in favor of it. Congress overrode Reagan’s veto of the Civil Rights Restoration Act of 1988. Reagan said the Restoration Act would impose too many regulations on churches, the private sector and state and local governments.
No civil rights legislation for LGBT individuals passed during Reagan’s tenure. On the 1980 campaign trail, he spoke of the gay civil rights movement:
“My criticism is that [the gay movement] isn’t just asking for civil rights; it’s asking for recognition and acceptance of an alternative lifestyle which I do not believe society can condone, nor can I.”
Congressional override of a veto by President Ronald Reagan
March 22, 1988
On this date, by a vote of 292 to 133, the House of Representatives joined the Senate in overriding President Ronald Reagan’s veto of S. 557. Also known as the Civil Rights Restoration Act of 1987, the bill amended Title IX (Prohibition of Sex Discrimination) of the Education Amendments of 1972, the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, the Age Discrimination Act of 1975, and the Civil Rights Act of 1964. In 1985 the Supreme Court rendered a decision in the sexual discrimination case, Grove City v. Bell, ruling federal anti-discrimination law can only be applied to federally funded programs. In response to the court decision, the new law broadened the scope of applicability to close up loop holes in civil rights laws. Before Congress passed S.557, President Reagan threatened to veto the legislation. Speaker of the House, Jim Wright (D) of Texas informed President Reagan that it would be, “ill-advised” to veto the legislation. Once the President signed the veto on March 16th, Wright stated that he “was confident that the Senate and House would move swiftly to override this unfortunate and short sighted veto.” The President, “may want to turn the clock back on Civil Rights, but the American people do not,” Wright said.
The three Selma to Montgomery marches in 1965 were part of the Selma Voting Rights Movement and led to the passage that year of the Voting Rights Act, a landmark federal achievement of the 1960s American Civil Rights Movement. Activists publicized the three protest marches to walk the 54-mile highway from Selma to the Alabama state capital of Montgomery as showing the desire of black American citizens to exercise their constitutional right to vote, in defiance of segregationist repression.
A voters registration campaign in Selma had been launched in 1963 by local African Americans, who formed the Dallas County Voters League (DCVL). Joined by organizers from the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC), they began working that year in a renewed effort to register black voters. Most of the millions of African Americans across the South had effectively been disenfranchised since the turn of the century by a series of discriminatory requirements and practices. Finding resistance by white officials to be intractable, even after passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 ending segregation, the DCVL invited Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. and the activists of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) to join them. SCLC brought many prominent civil rights and civic leaders to Selma in January 1965. Local and regional protests began, with 3,000 persons arrested by the end of February.
On February 26, activist and deacon Jimmie Lee Jackson died after being mortally shot several days earlier by a state trooper during a peaceful march in Marion, Alabama. The community was sorrowed and outraged. To defuse and refocus the anger, SCLC Director of Direct Action James Bevel, who was directing SCLC’s Selma Voting Rights Movement, called for a march of dramatic length, from Selma to the state capital of Montgomery.Bevel had been working on his Alabama Project for voting rights since late 1963.
The first march took place on March 7, 1965. Bevel, Amelia Boynton, and others helped organize it. The march gained the nickname “Bloody Sunday” after its 600 marchers were attacked at the Edmund Pettus Bridge after leaving Selma; state troopers and county posse attacked the unarmed marchers with billy clubs and tear gas. Boynton was one of those beaten unconscious; a picture of her lying wounded on the bridge was published and televised around the world. The second march took place March 9; troopers, police, and marchers confronted each other, but when the troopers stepped aside to let them pass, King led the marchers back to the church. He was seeking protection by a federal court for the march. That night, a white group beat and murdered civil rights activist James Reeb, a Unitarian Universalist minister from Boston, who had come to Selma to march in the second march, which had been joined by many other clergy and sympathizers from across the country.
The violence of “Bloody Sunday” and of Reeb’s death led to a national outcry and some acts of civil disobedience, targeting both the Alabama state and federal governments. The protesters demanded protection for the Selma marchers and a new federal voting rights law to enable African Americans to register and vote without harassment. President Lyndon Johnson, whose administration had been working on a voting rights law, held a televised joint session of Congress on March 15 to ask for the bill’s introduction and passage.
With Governor Wallace refusing to protect the marchers, President Johnson committed to do so. The third march started March 21. Protected by 2,000 soldiers of the U.S. Army, 1,900 members of the Alabama National Guard under Federal command, and many FBI agents and Federal Marshals, the marchers averaged 10 miles (16 km) a day along U.S. Route 80, known in Alabama as the “Jefferson Davis Highway“. The marchers arrived in Montgomery on March 24 and at the Alabama State Capitol on March 25. With thousands having joined the campaign, 25,000 people entered the capital city that day in support of voting rights.
Alabama police chief apologizes to Freedom Rider congressman
3/4/13 By Craig Giammona, NBC News
An Alabama police chief brought Rep. John Lewis to tears Saturday, apologizing to the noted civil rights leader for failing to protect the Freedom Riders during a trip to Montgomery in 1961.
Lewis and fellow civil rights activists were beaten by a mob after arriving at Montgomery’s Greyhound station in May 1961. [The march was tried again but the marchers were again brutualized. The third time was successful with the protection of the US Army].
On Saturday at ceremony at First Baptist Church, the city’s current police chief, Kevin Murphy, apologized to Lewis and offered him his badge in a gesture of reconciliation, telling the longtime Georgia congressman that Montgomery police had “enforced unjust laws” in failing to protect the Freedom Riders more than five decades ago.
Lewis, who was arrested during civil rights protests in cities across the south, said it was the first time a police chief had apologized to him.
“It means a great deal,” Lewis said. “I teared up. I tried to keep from crying.”
Lewis and other members of Congress were taking part in the 13th Congressional Civil Rights Pilgrimage to Alabama, a three-day event that also included trips to Selma, Tuscaloosa and Birmingham.
Murphy said the decision to apologize was easy.
“For me, freedom and the right to live in peace is a cornerstone of our society and that was something that Martin Luther King, Rosa Parks and Congressman Lewis were trying to achieve” Murphy said. “I think what I did today should have been done a longtime ago. It needed to be done. It needed to be spoken because we have to live with the truth and it is the truth.”
Leonard Pitts Jr.: What was won in Selma 50 years ago being lost today
3/03/2015 6:14 PM Leonard Pitts Jr – Miami Herald
First, they sang God Will Take Care of You.
Then they walked out of Brown Chapel to a playground where they organized themselves into 24 groups of 25 each and set out marching. Their route out of Selma took them onto Highway 80, which is carried over the Alabama River by a bridge named in honor of Confederate general and Alabama Ku Klux Klan leader Edmund W. Pettus.
It was about 2:30 on the afternoon of Sunday, March 7, 1965.
At the foot of the bridge, the marchers were met by Alabama state troopers. Some were on horseback. Major John Cloud spoke to the marchers through a bullhorn. “It would be detrimental to your safety to continue this march,” he said. “And I’m saying that this is an unlawful assembly. You are to disperse. You are ordered to disperse. Go home or go to your church. This march will not continue. Is that clear to you?”
He gave them two minutes to comply. Just over one minute later, he ordered troopers to advance.
They moved toward the marchers, truncheons held waist high, parallel to the ground. But something seemed to overtake them as they pushed into the demonstrators. The troopers began to stampede, sweeping over unarmed women, children and men as a wave does a shore.
Teargas filled the air. Lawmen on horseback swept down on fleeing marchers, wielding batons, cattle prods, rubber hoses studded with spikes. Skin was split. Bones were broken. The marchers were beaten all the way back into town. A teenager was hurled through a church window. On the bridge, the cheers and rebel yells of onlookers mingled with the shrieks of the sufferers and became indistinguishable.
Thus was the pavement of the freest country on Earth stained with the blood of citizens seeking their right to vote.
By rights, this 50th anniversary of those events should be an unalloyed celebration. After all, the marchers, fortified by men and women of good will from all over the country, eventually crossed that bridge under federal protection, marched for four days up Highway 80 and made it to, as the song says, glory. They stood at the state capital in Montgomery and heard Martin Luther King exhort them to hold on and be strong. “Truth crushed to Earth,” he thundered, “will rise again!”
The Voting Rights Act was signed into law. And African Americans, who had been excluded from the ballot box for generations, went on to help elevate scores of citizens who looked like them to the mayor’s office, the governor’s mansion, the White House.
So yes, this should be a time of celebration. But the celebration is shadowed by a sobering reality.
In 2013, the Voting Rights Act was castrated by the Supreme Court under the dubious reasoning that its success proved it was no longer needed. And states, responding to a nonexistent surge of election fraud, have rushed to impose onerous new photo ID laws for voters. When it is observed that the laws will have their heaviest impact on young people, poor people and African Americans — those least likely to have photo ID — defenders of the laws point to that imaginary surge of fraud and assure us voter suppression is the furthest thing from their minds.
Democrats Abroad was established on Mar 1, 1964. Democrats Abroad is the official Democratic Party arm for the millions of Americans living outside the United States. They work to advance the principles of our Party by spreading the Democratic message to US voters in other countries and encouraging them to vote for Democratic candidates back home.
Democrats Abroad has committees throughout Europe, the Americas, the Middle East, Africa and Asia. These Country Committees keep Americans abroad informed of their rights and help them participate in the U.S. political process. A support office is maintained in Washington, D.C.
American Democrats living outside of the United States may participate but must first join Democrats Abroad. The online membership form is located on the web site https://www.democratsabroad.org/user/register. Members will receive information on how they may participate in the Democrats Abroad Global Primary.
Democrats Abroad is recognized as a “state” Party by the Democratic National Committee (DNC) and is represented on the DNC by eight voting members, as well as at the quadrennial Democratic National Convention.
“in the last election — and I want to speak particularly the young people here — in the last election, a little over one-third of eligible voters voted. One-third!
Two-thirds of the people who have the right to vote — because of the struggles of previous generations, had the right to vote — stayed home. I’m willing to bet that there are young people who have family members who are at risk of the existing immigration system who still didn’t vote.
MR. DIAZ-BALART: Mixed-status families. There are millions of them.
THE PRESIDENT: Who still did not vote. And so my question, I think, to everybody — not just to the immigrant community, but the country as a whole — why are you staying at home? (Applause.) Why are you not participating? There are war-torn countries, people full of poverty, who still voted, 60, 70 percent. If here in the United States of America, we voted at 60 percent, 70 percent, it would transform our politics. Our Congress would be completely different. We would have already passed comprehensive immigration reform. (Applause.) It would have already been done.
So I, as President, have the responsibility to set out a vision in terms of where we need to go. I have the responsibility to execute the laws faithfully, and that includes making sure that what’s within my power I am doing everything I can to make the immigration system smarter. But everybody here and everybody watching also has responsibilities. And one of those responsibilities is voting for people who advocate on behalf of the things that you care about.
And staying home is not an option. And being cynical is not an option. And just waiting for somebody else — whether it’s the President, or Congress, or somebody — José — to get it done, that’s not enough.”
A National Monument in the United States is a protected area that is similar to a National Park except that the President of the United States can quickly declare an area of the United States to be a National Monument without the approval of Congress. National monuments receive less funding and afford fewer protections to wildlife than national parks. However, areas within and extending beyond national parks, monuments, and national forests can be part of wilderness areas, which have an even greater degree of protection than a national park would alone, although wilderness areas managed by the United States Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management often allow hunting and grazing.
National monuments can be so designated through the power of the Antiquities Act of 1906. President Theodore Roosevelt used the act to declare Devils Tower in Wyoming as the first national monument. He thought Congress was moving too slowly and it would be ruined by the time they made it a national park.
FACT SHEET: Launching the Every Kid in a Park Initiative and Designating New National Monuments
As part of President Obama’s commitment to protect our Nation’s unique outdoor spaces and ensure that every American has the opportunity to visit and enjoy them, today he will launch an “Every Kid in a Park” initiative that will provide all fourth grade students and their families with free admission to National Parks and other federal lands and waters for a full year. He will also announce the creation of three new National Monuments across the country.
The President will make the announcements near the site of the historic Pullman town in Chicago, a location iconic for its history of labor unrest and civil rights advances, which will be the City’s first National Park Service (NPS) unit. He also will announce that he will designate Honouliuli National Monument in Hawaii, the site of an internment camp where Japanese American citizens, resident immigrants, and prisoners of war were held captive during World War II, and Browns Canyon National Monument in Colorado, an historic site of extraordinary beauty with world-class recreational opportunities that attract visitors from around the globe. Together, these monuments will help tell the story of significant events in American history and protect unique natural resources for the benefit of all Americans.
By forming the first black labor union the Pullman porters also laid the groundwork for the Civil Rights Movement, which began in the 1950s. Union organizer and former Pullman porter E. D. Nixon played a crucial role in organizing the landmark Montgomery Bus Boycott in Alabama in 1955. It was he who bailed Rosa Parks out of jail after she refused to move on the bus, and who selected her as the figure to build the boycott around.
By the 1960s, between the decline of the passenger rail system and the cultural shifts in American society, the Pullman porters’ contribution became obscured, becoming for some in the African American community a symbol of subservience to cultural and economic domination.
The Pullman Company went out of business in 1969, and the railroads no longer followed the practice of hiring only black men as porters. In 1978, the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters merged with the larger Brotherhood of Railway and Airline Clerks.
Obama once worked as a community advocate in the neighborhood on the far south side of the nation’s third largest city.
The district’s brick homes and ornate public buildings were built in the late 1800s by industrialist George Pullman
as a blue-collar utopia to house workers for his railroad sleep car factory. An 1894 strike by workers led to bloody conflicts.
Pullman car workers later organized as the first African-American-led union chartered by the American Federation of Labor. It is credited with helping build the nation’s black middle class.
“It is a place where people can commemorate, celebrate and learn from our past and discuss the future of our nation,” Michael A. Shymanski, president of the Historic Pullman Foundation, said in a statement.
Browns Canyon National Monument in Colorado:
This monument will protect a stunning section of Colorado’s upper Arkansas River Valley. Located in Chaffee County near the town of Salida, Colorado, the 21,586-acre monument features rugged granite cliffs, colorful rock outcroppings, and mountain vistas that are home to a diversity of plants and wildlife, including bighorn sheep and golden eagles. Members of Congress, local elected officials, conservation advocates, and community members have worked for more than a decade to protect the area, which hosts world-class recreational opportunities that attract visitors from around the globe for hiking, whitewater rafting, hunting and fishing. In addition to supporting this vibrant outdoor recreation economy, the designation will protect the critical watershed and honor existing water rights and uses, such as grazing and hunting. The monument will be cooperatively managed by the Department of the Interior’s Bureau of Land Management and USDA’s National Forest Service.
Obama to designate Honouliuli Internment Camp as national monument
Feb 18, 2015 10:01 AM PST By Melanie Yamaguchi – HawaiiNewsNow
Honouliuli, one of Hawai’i’s largest and longest-used World War II internment camps, was constructed in 1943 to hold more than 300 internees and 4,000 prisoners of war. Dubbed “jigoku danji” or “hell valley” by inhabitants, Honouliuli is often looked back on as a dark period in history when thousands of Japanese-Americans in Hawaii and across the country were forced into internment camps under excruciating conditions during World War II.
The overgrown gulch where Honouliuli resides has kept the 120-acre site hidden from view and largely untouched. However, Thursday’s designation announcement will mark a major historical change, putting the internment camp under the management of the National Park Service to help preserve its history and ultimately shed a light on the untold stories of the site.
The announcement has been long anticipated by some members of Congress and other entities – such as the Japanese Cultural Center and Japanese American Citizens League – who have been pushing for the designation.
U.S. Sen. Mazie Hirono said on an interview on Hawaii News Now Sunrise that many people in Hawaii still don’t know there was an internment camp here, but the designation will provide resources necessary to be presented in the way it should be.
Feb 19,1942 Executive Order 9066, which allowed local military commanders to designate “military areas” as “exclusion zones,” from which “any or all persons may be excluded.” This power was used to evacuate and relocate Japanese-Americans to internment camps during World War II
In the final years of the American Civil War and the Reconstruction Era that followed, Congress repeatedly debated the rights of the millions of black former slaves. By 1869, amendments had been passed to abolish slavery and provide citizenship and equal protection under the laws, but the election of Ulysses S. Grant to the presidency in 1868 convinced a majority of Republicans that protecting the franchise of black voters was important for the party’s future. After rejecting more sweeping versions of a suffrage amendment, Congress proposed a compromise amendment banning franchise restrictions on the basis of race, color, or previous servitude on February 26, 1869. The amendment survived a difficult ratification fight and was adopted on March 30, 1870.