Yesterday, Mary Jamis and her partner joined eight other gay and lesbian couples to seek a marriage license at the Register of Deeds office in Winston-Salem. Although the other couples left the office after being denied, Jamis and a straight friend of hers who joined the protest chose to remain behind and refuse to leave until Jamis was given her constitutional right to marry the person she loves. This was the result:
This is at least the third time a North Carolina woman was arrested simply for insisting upon her constitutional right to be free from marriage discrimination. Last fall, a lesbian couple who had been together for 30 years were arrested after seeking a marriage license in Asheville, NC.
House Republicans have passed their plan to avoid cuts to the defense budget. And the House Armed Services Committee, under Rep. Howard “Buck” McKeon’s (R-CA) leadership, even boosted the budget by $8 billion. Neither Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Martin Dempsey nor Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta had requested the larger budget and new polling data shows that 65 percent of Americans think defense spending is already too high.
But while the military’s leadership and the American public are all opposed to the House Republicans’ ballooned defense budget — which includes a $5 billion missile defense project described by Dempsey as totally unnecessary — Armed Services Committee member Rep. Randy Forbes (R-VA) took to CNN this morning to pushback against the critics of the proposed budget. Forbes was asked about the polling data and responded:
Do [the American public] really want a reduction in capacity? I think when they hear the president and many people over in the Senate talking about the fact that they can have some of these cuts but still maintain the security of the United States I think any of us would want those reductions. But I think when you ask the American people ‘Do they really want to reduce the security of the United States of America?’ I think the answer comes back they don’t. They want to make sure that we’re maintaining and guaranteeing that security.
But Forbes’ questions were answered yesterday. Panetta warned that ignoring the spending blueprint submitted by himself and Dempsey, as the Congressional Republicans have done, could actually hurt national security. He told reporters:
If members try to restore their favorite programs without regard to an overall strategy, the cuts will have to come from areas that could impact overall readiness. There is no free lunch here. Every dollar that is added will have to be offset by cuts in national security.
And the polling data showed that Americans are surprised by the size of discretionary defense spending when viewed alongside discretionary spending for other budget items. ?This suggests that Americans generally underestimate the size of the defense budget and that when they receive balanced information about its size they are more likely to cut it to reduce the deficit,? said Steven Kull, director of the Program for Public Consultation.
The Girl Scouts of USA have withstood an arrant assualt from conservative legislators this year, having been both characterized as a “radicalized organization” that supports abortions and the homosexual agenda, and accused of partnering with the recently oft-beleaguered Planned Parenthood by GOP lawmakers. Now, the Scouts are being attacked by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops for their “offensive” program materials and alleged association with groups that conflict with Catholic teaching.
Coinciding with the Scouts? 100th anniversary celebrations, U.S. Catholic bishops have launched an official inquiry:
The new inquiry will be conducted by the bishops? Committee on Laity, Marriage, Family Life and Youth. It will look into the Scouts? ?possible problematic relationships with other organizations?? and various ?problematic?? program materials, according to a letter sent by the committee chairman, Bishop Kevin Rhoades of Fort Wayne, Ind., to his fellow bishops. [...]
Girl Scout leaders hope the bishops? apprehensions will be eased once they gather information. But there?s frustration within the iconic youth organization ? known for its inclusiveness and cookie sales ? that it has become such an ideological target, with the girls sometimes caught in the political crossfire.
And the Catholic leaders are also attacking the organization for its supposed connection to Planned Parenthood. The Scouts have consistently and unequivocally denied this accusation, which still has yet to be proven true. The supposed connection between the groups stems from a Girl Scout workshop at a 2010 United Nations event in which an International Planned Parenthood brochure was made available to girls in attendance. The brochure was aimed at young people with HIV and contained pertinent information on how to safely lead active sex lives. Spokespersons for the Scouts maintain that the organization possessed no advance knowledge of the brochure, and thus played no role in distributing it.
The smears against the Girl Scouts, like the Planned Parenthood claim, are a manufactured controversy from right-wing publications. ?It?s been hard to get the message out there as to what is true when distortions get repeated over and over,?? said Gladys Padro-Soler, the Girl Scouts? director of inclusive membership strategies. The Scouts have addressed most if not all of their critics’ concerns on their official website.
The Scouts also maintain that they do not take a position or develop materials on issues in relation to human sexuality, birth control, abortion, and that “parents or guardians make all decisions regarding program participation that may be of a sensitive nature.”
At least one quarter of the organization’s 2.3. million members are reported to be Catholic, so officials worry that an attack from the Catholic church could further drive down participation in the organization. ?For us, there?s an overarching sadness to it,?? said Girl Scouts? spokeswoman, Michelle Tompkins. ?We?re just trying to further girls? leadership.??
Click here to view this media
The leader of a Christian think tank is warning that marriage between two men or two women "only brings pain and heartache."
In a video message, Tony Perkins, head of the Family Research Council ? a hate group, according the the Southern Poverty Law Center -- declared that President Barack Obama's support of same sex marriage had made it a "major issue in the presidential election."
"The President has provided a clear contrast between him and his challenger Mitt Romney. Romney, who has signed a pledge to support a marriage protection amendment to the U.S. Constitution, may have been handed the key to social conservative support by President Obama," Perkins predicted.
In a second video produced by Family Research Council's Truth in Action Ministries, Perkins called on his followers to "get involved" and "vote your values."
"For nearly a generation, we've neglected marriage, leaving nearly defenseless to homosexual activists who are now trying to redefine marriage out of existence," the hate group leader explained. "Same sex marriage, it contradicts God's will as revealed in the created order, violating God?s law only brings pain and heartache. Right is called wrong; evil is called good, it is because we have wielded moral authority to the demands of special interests or the ruling of some aberrant judge. As a result, all of society suffers."
"The future of marriage is up to you, your vote can determine the language of your state constitution and the people we elect in our representative form of government will pass the laws and appoint the judges who may decide the final outcome. Get involved, vote your values, your biblical values, and make a difference."
(h/t: Right Wing Watch)
Every two weeks, we get a chance to look at fresh data on how heavily stocks are being shorted. It helps to see what short-sellers are focusing on — especially if you own one of the stocks being targeted.
You'll often see short positions in a particular stock slowly rise as an increasing number of short sellers start to sniff trouble at a company. But it's highly unusual to see a short position rise … [visit site to read . . . → Read More: Short Sellers Could be Dead Wrong about this Stock
Read The Full Article:
Basic Rights Oregon (BRO)?the leading LGBT advocacy group in the state?faced a difficult decision this past November. In 2004, Oregon voters approved a constitutional measure to ban same-sex marriage. The vote wasn?t even close. The amendment passed by a whopping 57-43 percent margin as part of a larger push by Republicans to incite fervor in their base during George W. Bush's re-election campaign.
Since then, Basic Rights Oregon had been eying the 2004 amendment for possible repeal. Should the organization hit the go button to bring the issue to the voters again in 2012?
For now, that looks like a risky move?BRO?s internal poll numbers predict a evenly split electorate. The organization didn't want to risk putting the amendment up only to see if fail, and they just weren't quite confident enough that the state had shifted enough since 2004. ?Who would ever choose to go into a ballot measure at 50-50?? says Jeana Frazzini, the group's executive director. ?We need a solid cushion of support to ensure that you can get your voters to the polls and see an outcome that is in line with public opinion.?
Voters in Maine?where voters rolled back a same-sex marriage bill passed by the legislature?are confident they?re already there. In Minnesota, Maryland, and Washington state, conservative groups are also pushing same-sex marriage bans onto the ballot. While all attention has turned to president Obama?s completed evolution on same-sex marriage, the fight for marriage equality is still primarily conducted on a state-by-state basis?for proof, one need look no further than North Carolina, where a gay-marriage ban passed with overwhelming support on Tuesday. But come November, there?s reason to hope that 2012 might finally be the year when a state institutes same-sex marriage through a popular vote rather than through judicial or legislative processes.
Republicans took control of the Minnesota House and Senate in the 2010 and passed a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage even though, as in North Carolina, the state already forbade same-sex marriage. Pro-LGBT groups would have rather not have the measure on the ballot again this fall, but Kate Brickman, press secretary for Minnesotans United for All Families, believes their campaign will produce a different result when Minnesotans vote in November. ?I think it?s very different from state to state,? she says, noting that her group has had more time to prepare for the election than her counterparts in North Carolina.
In addition, it appears likely that residents of Washington state and Maryland will have the option to overrule their legislators through referendum this November. Both states passed marriage laws earlier this year that are currently on hold while conservatives see if they can gain enough votes to put a referendum on the ballot in November. Early polls from both states give a slight advantage to proponents of same-sex marriage.
Maine stands alone as the sole state in 2012 where the election is being conducting on the terms of LGBT-rights advocates. Maine's legislature and governor legalized same-sex marriage three years ago, but it was overturned by a referendum vote, losing by a 53-47 percent margin. David Farmer, director of communications at Mainers United For Marriage, says polls indicate proponents of marriage equality have changed enough minds over the intervening years to have a real shot at reinstating marriage equality at the ballot box.
Conservatives have initiated almost every vote on same-sex marriage, forcing progressives to play on a field defined by their opposition. Maine will be a test case for what will become more common over the coming years: a proactive campaign in favor of marriage at the timing of LGBT organization?s choosing. ?We know that our chances of success are greater the more people have had to think and talk it through and are not being stampeded into voting their fears rather than voting for families,? says Evan Wolfson, founder and president of Freedom to Marry. ?The more time and the more personal conversations we have the closer and closer we come to the day when we will be able to win an up-or-down vote on the ballot, the hardest thing for any minority to do.?
Conservatives recognize that, given quickly changing attitudes about gay rights, it?s a race against time. ?Part of the reason the anti-gay forces pushed this amendment now is because they don?t trust where the country and people in North Carolina are headed,? says Wolfson. ?They?re trying to cement discrimination in now before people have a chance to really rising to fairness.?
Farmer noted that while North Carolina fell in line with other states in the region when they approved the amendment this week, Maine is out of step by not recognizing same-sex marriages. ?We see overwhelming support in New Hampshire for allowing gay and lesbian couples to get married. We see what happened in New York. We have Massachusetts, which is our neighbor,? he says. ?The dynamic of the New England region and Maine particularly is a lot different than you see in any other part of the country.?
Even if gay-rights supporters succeed in Maine, the history of LGBT rights is defined by outcomes like North Carolina?s new amendment, battles where conservatives have dictated the terms and backed marriage equality proponents into elections they would rather avoid. That?s why BRO decide to bide its time before bringing a measure before Oregonians. The polls might not be there quite yet, but as acceptance continues to grow at a fast clip, it is only a matter of time before the scales tip in their favor. ?As far as we had come?our education campaign had in the course of not quite two years increased support for the freedom to marry in Oregon by ten points, and yet we were still in a dead heat for amending the constitution,? Frazzini says. ?We?re looking for a much stronger majority before calling the question.?
Wisconsin governor Scott Walker, facing a recall election in a little over three weeks, was caught on tape telling a top donor that he has a strategy to turn Wisconsin into a right to work state.[...]
Read The Full Article:
In more ways than one, Mr. Straddle wishes
marriage equality would go away.
(Caricature by DonkeyHotey)In 2004, the Republicans, led by Team Bush, cranked up the hate machine and made the specter of marriage equality a big part of their reelection strategy. They backed state ballot initiatives to prohibit marriage being extended to same-sex couples. They talked trash about gays and lesbians. Eight years later, with President Obama having weighed in on the subject and more than two dozen states having passed one-man, one-woman marriage laws, it's a different story.
Two reasons for that. Republican strategists think Obama is vulnerable on the economy. They want to keep their campaign focused on that subject as much as possible because they know that people's concerns about jobs are trumping other matters, so they don't want any distractions. And then there's the evolving view of Republicans on marriage equality:
Behind the scenes, influential donors and top strategists are counseling Republican candidates to avoid hot rhetoric or stigmatizing gay people, fearing a potential backlash from voters, who, polling suggests, are fast growing more open to gay marriage. [...]
?This really spotlights a fissure in the Republican Party between the southern evangelical wing of the party ? where they don?t mind government intrusion into the bedroom and into individuals? private space ? and the limited-government side of the party,? [John McCain campaign strategist Steve] Schmidt said. ?Looking back at this from 50 years in the future, people who are on the wrong side of this issue aren?t going to stand very well in history?s light.?
The caution has a lot to do with attracting independent voters, of course. But, as a Washington Post/ABC poll recently showed, even though a majority of Republicans still oppose gay marriage, 39 percent now are in favor. Heavy-hitters like John Bolton and Dick Cheney, with unquestioned ultra-conservative credentials, favor gay marriage. More important, some big donors do.
After President Obama made his historic announcement Wednesday, Romney made clear he's still a one-man, one-woman believer. But the as-yet-uncrowned GOP nominee softened that by saying he thinks gay couples should have the right to adopt. The Romney straddle. Trying to have it both ways. As usual.
While the party establishment may do all it can to avoid more than tangential talk of same-sex marriage during the campaign, however, it won't be able to silence its social-conservative wing. The Faith and Freedom Coalition, led by Ralph Reed, said Thursday that it planned to include the president?s comments in its campaign to rally conservatives. And the ultra-rightist Family Research Council issued a statement saying the president's open support "almost ensures that marriage will again be a major issue in the presidential election."
Whether the social conservatives can gin up enough outrage over the matter to make a difference seems iffy. For instance, in a half-dozen interviews in heartland Omaha Thursday, the New York Times found nobody raising an objection to Romney's downplaying of the issue. Mo Birkel, a 70-year-old retired custodian, seemed to epitomize the changing attitudes about marriage between individuals of the same sex: ?I can?t say if I?m for it or against it, because I don?t know what my grandkids will be.?
Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker is shown in a video from January of 2011 saying he would use a 'divide and conquer' strategy against unions. He said the first step would be to go after collective bargaining. The statement came as a response to a question from a donor that asked him what she could do to help Walker make Wisconsin a right-to-work state. Walker didn't deny or comment on the right-to-work agenda of the donor, clearly intending to give her the impression that he supported moving Wisconsin in that direction.
"Oh, yeah," Walker broke in.
"- and become a right-to-work?" Hendricks continued. "What can we do to help you?"
"Well, we're going to start in a couple weeks with our budget adjustment bill," Walker said. "The first step is we're going to deal with collective bargaining for all public employee unions, because you use divide and conquer. So for us, the base we get for that is the fact that we've got - budgetarily we can't afford not to. If we have collective bargaining agreements in place, there's no way not only the state but local governments can balance things out . . . That opens the door once we do that. That's your bigger problem right there."
From Steve Stycos:
PAWTUXET VILLAGE FARMERS MARKET OPENS SATURDAY
The Pawtuxet Village Farmers Market opens Saturday May 12 for its year with the addition of a coffee vendor, a fisherman and a new bakery. In addition, returning farmers will have a variety of salad greens and spinach, plus plants.
Our newest vendor is LeFavorite Bakery, located in Governor Francis Shopping Center on Warwick Avenue in the plaza across from Ocean State Job Lot. The bakery offers a variety of breads including Italian, rye, seven grain, pumpernickel and sourdough, in addition to pastries, muffins and cookies. The Rhodes Elementary School PTA will also be holding a bake sale Saturday.
Customers looking for a beverage to go with their LeFavorite Danish, will be able to purchase a variety of cold and hot teas, coffees and expresso from Presto Strange O Coffee Truck. Owners Jay and Jeff Case of Warwick will also offer coffee beans from Coastal Roasters in Tiverton, hot cider from Jaswell Farm in Scituate and cookies, brownies and biscotti from The Cakery in Woonsocket. To save on trash, please consider bringing your own coffee cup to the market.
The Local Catch of Galilee will also rejoin the market for its first full season. Captain Richard Cook was pleased by the support he received last fall. He provides a wide variety of seafood, including scallops, oysters, clams and a variety of fin fish caught by Cook and other local fishermen.
Returning vendors will be led by vegetable growers Bob and Ingrid Fratantuono of Rocky Ledge Farm, the Xiongs, Christina Dedora and Kim Morin of Blue Sky Flower Farm and Frank Martinelli of PV Farm. In addition, Shelley, Peter and Joe Conti Of the Virginia and Spanish Peanut Company, beekeeper Bernie Bieder, Donna Dunn of Rhode Island Spa Products and Fred and Kathy Weber of Wedgewood Flowers will be at them market this spring.
The market is open Saturday mornings from 9 to 12 in the Rhodes on the Pawtuxet parking lot, on Rhodes Place in Pawtuxet Village.
Thursday May 17: 6:30 PM: Horseshoe crab walk at Stillhouse Cove with Save the Bay Habitat Restoration Coordinator Wenley Ferguson. Short walk during a spring moon tide to watch horseshoe crabs mate and review the cove restoration. Meet at the cove?s south end at the junction of Ocean Avenue and Narragansett Boulevard in Cranston. Rain date Friday May 18 at 6:30 PM.
Saturday May 12 the Edgewood Waterfront Preservation Association is sponsoring a Stilllhouse Cove Cleanup from 9 to 12. Bring rubber boots.
The Jamie Oliver Food Foundation’s is selling T-shirts to fund nutrition education initiatives in schools. You can see the shirt at http://www.teespring.com/realfood.
If you haven?t received one in the mail, the annual issue of The Pawtuxet River Rag is out with market and other environmental news. Free copies are available at the recycling table.
See you Saturday at the market.