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NYC to Crisis Pregnancy Centers: Stop Misleading Pregnant Women – TIME Healthland

Posted: October 23rd, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: Briefs | Tags: , , , , , , | No Comments »

So-called "crisis pregnancy centers" presenting as though they are actual medical centers in some cases and operated by anti-choice ideologues are just one example of the blatant (and well-funded) propaganda the anti-choice movement vomits. "I regularly see a poster that features an anxious-looking teenage girl under the headline: 'Free Abortion Alternatives: FREE Confidential Options Counseling,'" Meredith Melnick writes. "The issue, according to [NYC Council members], is that these clinics deceive women."

But newly proposed legislation may "force crisis-pregnancy clinics to explicitly state in advertisements, websites and in their offices that they do not offer abortions, contraceptives or any type of abortion referral." Funny, then, that anti-choicers are obtusely saying that—requiring them to speak—is a violation of their right to free speech.

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Anderson Cooper 360: Blog Archive – Michigan attorney general defends employee’s right to blog – CNN.com blogs

Posted: October 1st, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: Briefs | Tags: , , , , , | 1 Comment »

A painfully hypocritical double-standard is on display in Michigan Attorney General Mike Cox's office as he refuses to discipline assistant AG Andrew Shirvell for waging a bigoted campaign against the first openly gay president of the University of Michigan's student council. Mr. Shirvell has called the student "Satan's representative" and runs a blog where he posts pictures of the student with nazi insignia scrawled across his face.

A State Attorney General has legal grounds disciplining employees for engaging in "conduct unbecoming" of public officials. But while Cox rightfully defended Shirvell's actions under the First Amendment, he also called "conduct unbecoming" an "empty vessel," with no meaning. This would certainly shock Melissa Petro, a tenured teacher who may face the loss of her job for "conduct unbecoming" of her role after blogging about being a former sex worker.

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"It’s a good day," sex workers say in wake of Ontario court decision – Latest News Roundup

Posted: September 28th, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: Briefs | Tags: , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Candian sex workers won a victory against anti-prostitution laws in Ontario today as provincial court struck down a number of key provisions in "Section 213(1)(c), which makes it illegal to communicate for the purposes of prostitution; Section 210, which makes it illegal to run a common bawdy house; and Section 212(1)(j), which makes it illegal to live off the avails of prostitution," according to a report at Xtra.ca.

Sex worker rights activists said they were pleased because the laws made it illegal for them to work indoors where they are safer. "While prostitution in itself is not illegal, just about everything related to it is illegal," Stacey Ashley notes in a report at CTV Winnipeg. While the government is "seriously considering" an appeal, Sex Professionals of Canada, plaintiffs in the case, said they would fight the appeal, and would start raising funds.

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10 Terrified States Want Gay Marriage Ban to Stand in California – Los Angeles News – The Informer

Posted: September 27th, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: Briefs | Tags: , , , , | No Comments »

Anti-gay lawyers have their heads so far up their asses they're unable to produce substantive arguments against GLBT rights. Either unwilling or unable to acknowledge that homophobia is a losing trial strategy, attorneys general from 10 States including Wyoming, Florida, and Michigan filed an amicus brief in favor of upholding California's Prop 8 despite an earlier ruling declaring it unconstitutional.

As Patrick Range McDonald observes, among the knuckle-headed officials' arguments is tired old rhetoric linking same-sex marriage with bestiality: "If public affirmation of anyone and everyone's personal love and commitment is the single purpose of marriage, a limitless number of rights claims could be set up that evacuate the term marriage of any meaning." To anyone with half a brain, this kind of argument should be as silly as it is offensive.

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Civil rights victory: DADT smacked down by judge in Maj. Margaret Witt case – National liberal | Examiner.com

Posted: September 25th, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: Briefs | Tags: , , , , , , | No Comments »

A second legislative victory for gay rights was won as America's homophobic Don't Ask, Don't Tell law was again ruled unconstitutional. Despite the law's name, even if you're never asked and you never tell you can still lose your career in the military. That's what happened to Maj. Margaret Witt in 2006, whose case formed a legal precedent around DADT when Judge Ronald Leighton found her discharge legally binding. On Friday, however, "Judge Ronald Leighton ruled in favor of military nurse Maj. Margaret Witt, and said that she was constitutionally entitled to be reinstated to the military," Jean Williams reports.

"It has been an anti-noble lie that gays and lesbians are a threat to military morale," Williams writes, noting Leighton "looked into the case and focused on Maj. Witt’s individual record" instead of looking only at DADT myopically. Leighton's decision expressly opposes claims that gay service-members reduce unit morale or cohesion.

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Carlos A. Ball: Why Bathrooms Are a Civil Rights Issue

Posted: September 13th, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: Briefs | Tags: , , , , | No Comments »

What does the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the women's movement, and the Americans with Disabilities Act all have in common? Toilets! In a succinct and thought-provoking analysis, law professor Carlos A. Ball notes that in each "of these civil rights struggles, there were conservative critics who dismissed bathroom-related advocacy by minority groups as unnecessary and even silly." What's more, he points out that the very same pattern is playing out right now about one of the most important civil rights acts of our time: the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA).

If enacted, ENDA would prohibit employers from discriminating against employees on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity. So it should be unsurprising that Republican gubernatorial candidate for Massachusetts poo-pooed ENDA as "the bathroom bill." But there is a serious issue behind all this mocking and, as Mr. Ball illustrates, it's because bathrooms are so often on the front lines of civil rights struggles.

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Law.com – N.Y. Records May Help to Answer the Question: When Is Bondage Prostitution?

Posted: September 10th, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: Briefs | Tags: , , , , | No Comments »

The march towards sexual freedom is laborious, slow, downright unglamorous, and fundamentally necessary. Thanks to the work of Sienna Baskin and others at the Urban Justice Center, NY County Supreme Court Justice Carol R. Edmead ordered the New York Police Department "shine a light on the hazy legal line separating bondage, domination and sadomasochism from prostitution," Mark Fass reports. The decision comes as sex workers demand "a right to know what the NYPD considers to be prostitution," a crime that has been plagued by imprecise language in legislation and arguably arbitrary enforcement for decades on end.

Enforcement of New York Penal Law 230.00 is what the Sex Workers Project wants insight into. Penal Law 230.00, enacted in 1969, is a "single-sentence statute that prohibits engaging in 'sexual conduct' for a fee, but fails to define 'sexual conduct.'" Edmead granted only partial disclosure of NYPD documents in the Freedom of Information Law case, siding with NYPD objections.

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AMERICABlog Gay: BREAKING: Judge rules DADT is unconstitutional

Posted: September 9th, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: Briefs | Tags: , , , , , , | No Comments »

U.S. District Court Judge Virginia A. Phillips today said the US military's "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" (DADT) policy has a "direct and deleterious effect" on military readiness after reviewing evidence in a 2 week long federal court case. Proving that the world is never black or white but shades of gray, the lawsuit was issued by the right-wing gay advocacy organization, the Log Cabin Republicans. Yes, the very same group whose Minnesota chapter distributed "Drill, Baby, Drill!" condoms in that state's Pride Parades. Good on them!

Judge Phillips' 86 page decision ruled DADT violated both the 1st and 5th amendments to the Constitution, citing the defendant's failure to meet the Witt standard. She also issued an immediate injunction halting its enforcement. The Department of Justice will have an opportunity to appeal.

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Victory for Free Speech: Third Circuit Strikes Down University of Virgin Islands’ Speech Codes – FIRE

Posted: August 19th, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: Briefs | Tags: , , , , | No Comments »

Can you be punished for saying something that made others uncomfortable? Stephen McCauley was, after speaking with a college rape survivor. But this week, the Third Circuit court of appeals struck "down unconstitutional speech policies maintained by the University of the Virgin Islands…on First Amendment grounds."

The case, brought against the University's "regulations prohibiting 'offensive' or 'unauthorized' signs and conduct causing 'emotional distress'" and provisions in the University's Code of conduct prohibiting "any act which…tends to injure or actually injures, frightens, demeans, degrades or disgraces any person" was ruled overbroad, affirming prior legal precedent distinguishing college students from lower education students as having greater First Amendment protections than their counterparts. "[L]et me be clear," Robert Shibley explained. "Maintaining speech codes [in public institutions] violates the law."

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Judge lifts Prop. 8 stay – gay marriages on hold

Posted: August 15th, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: Briefs | Tags: , , , , , , | No Comments »

Last week, Proposition 8 was ruled unconstitutional for the should-be-obvious reason that it's an anti-gay discrimination bill. Proponents' arguments that the ruling "jeopardizes the democratic process" are forgetting that human rights aren't a democratic process, but unalienable rights that American law protects. Nevertheless, that's the argument they're using in a rambling appeal to Walker’s ruling filed before the ruling was announced.

After the ruling Judge Walker issued a stay, preventing same-sex marriages from resuming until August 18. The ban's supporters quickly appealed that ruling as well, and as the deadline quickly approaches they've become ever more anxious for a new panel of 3 Ninth-Circuit Judges, Edward Leavy, Michael Hawkins and Sidney Thomas, to extend Judge Walker's stay order. They still have no reason other than fear as to why, though.

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