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Constitutional Law Prof Blog: Banning (Male) Circumcision: San Francisco Ballot Measure

Posted: May 24th, 2011 | Author: | Filed under: Briefs | Tags: , , , , , , , | No Comments »

Banning male circumcision is the goal of a group of San Francisco “intactivists,” lead by Lloyd Schofield, who have successfully placed a measure on the local ballot for November that would make it “unlawful to circumcise, excise, cut, or mutilate the whole or any part of the foreskin, testicles, or penis of another person who has not attained the age of 18 years.” The ordinance contains an exception for religious ceremonies, which is interesting as it pits two frameworks of “rights” against one another. On the one hand, religious freedom, and on the other, basic human and youth rights.

The key, as noted by the Constitutional Law Prof Blog, is how one conceptualizes the argument: “Conceptualized as the child’s right to be free from harm, the First Amendment religious freedom arguments become less persuasive.” As they show, legal precedent is mirky, and some debate over whether the group’s motivations are a “hostility to religion” or a resentment that they were circumcised have arisen.

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U.S. State Department Response to UN Human Rights Council Working Group UPR Report « www.harlotsparlour.com

Posted: March 10th, 2011 | Author: | Filed under: Briefs | Tags: , , , | 2 Comments »

The US State Dept. published a response to the UN's Universal Periodic Review in full support of Recommendation 86, which says "no one should face violence or discrimination in access to public services based on…their status as a person in prostitution". The Woodhull Freedom Foundation, an advocacy group who worked with the UN’s US delegation praised the statement. "We are especially happy to note that the Obama administration is taking human rights abuses against sex workers seriously," RJ Thompson, Woodhull's Human Rights Program Director said.

But many US sex workers, who face discrimination and violence from US police forces, expressed skepticism. A sex worker rights advocate and blogger who writes under the name elrond said: "Will this mean sex workers can get tested for STDs in the US without fear of arrest? While cities like New Orleans who imprison sex workers for long sentences, I some how don't think so."

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Storied career takes transgender attorney to judgeship | Houston & Texas News | Chron.com – Houston Chronicle

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

"[Phyllis] Frye, a transgender Houston attorney born as Phillip Frye, fought back tears earlier this week as the mayor appointed her to a municipal bench in the same room where she helped repeal Houston's 'cross-dressing ordinance' in 1980," Brian Rogers reports. It was the very same chamber where she was subject to arrest.

She was a graduate of A&M, an Eagle Scout, a husband, and a father. Now, she's one of only a handful of transgender judges in the country. "I understand it is very significant," Frye said. "But I don't want to overplay it either. I don't want people to think I am anything other than an associate municipal court judge." Frye will oversee "traffic ticket cases and other low-level misdemeanor trials." Naturally, her appointment received harsh criticism from opponents who said the mayor, an out lesbian, is "promoting a [GLBT] agenda" that's "anti-family." Apparently it's just all too easy to corrupt the youth before they get traffic tickets, don't'cha know?

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Cox fires Andrew Shirvell, says he used state resources in attack on gay student | freep.com | Detroit Free Press

Posted: November 8th, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: Briefs | Tags: , , , , , | No Comments »

"Andrew Shirvell, the assistant attorney general under fire for his attacks on a University of Michigan student, has been fired," Lori Higgins reports. You may remember Shirvell from appearances like Look Who's Stalking, in which he defends his belief that a gay student is "Satan's representative," and tried justifying his actions with logic only his mother could accept.

Attorney General Mike Cox initially declined to fire Shirvell, saying that Shirvell's first amendment right to express himself didn't constitute any firing offenses. But after Shirvell lied to investigators during a disciplinary hearing, Cox seems to have changed his mind. Among other violations, the investigation found that "Shirvell engaged in his campaign against [the student] on company time and posted attacks on Armstrong on the Internet while at work." Good riddance, Mr. Shirvell.

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Porn in the USA: Conservatives Are Biggest Consumers – ABC News

Posted: November 7th, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: Briefs | Tags: , , , | No Comments »

"Some of the people who are most outraged turn out to be consumers of the very things they claimed to be outraged by," said Benjamin Edelman, whose new research shows that when it comes to online porn, conservatives consume more porn than liberals. Using "roughly two years of credit card data from 2006 to 2008 that included a purchase date and each customer's postal code," he trolled the data, controlling for differences in broadband Internet access and population, and found that despite stark differences in stated conservative and liberal values, online porn consumption differed very little between the highest and lowest consumers.

However, 8 of the top 10 highest porn consuming States gave their electoral votes to McCain in 2008, while 6 of the lowest gave theirs to Obama. Moreover, residents of 27 states banning gay marriage boasted 11% more porn subscribers than states that don't. Are we getting it yet? "If you're told you can't have this, then you want it more," Edelman says.

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Election 2010: Amendment 62 Defeated. People Still Have to Be Born in Colorado | RHRealityCheck.org

Posted: November 3rd, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: Briefs | Tags: , , , , | No Comments »

A glimmer of good news for progressive voters this US election is the defeat of Colorado's Amendment 62, which "would have privileged the survival of a fertilized egg over a living, breathing woman" by "[outlawing] abortion at every stage of gestation, [outlawing] all forms of hormonal contraception, and [making] it difficult if not impossible for pregnant women to receive medical treatment if there was any chance of harming the pregnancy," Jodi Jacobson writes. Lobbied for by the cowardly group, Personhood Colorado, Amendment 62 lost by a huge margin of 72-28%.

However, like the anti-gay measures pushed in 2004, Amendment 62's presence may have helped get out the conservative vote; government forced-birth proponent Ken Buck is currently neck-and-neck with the pro-choice Democrat, Michael Bennet.

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Update: With 98% of the vote counted, Ken Buck is projected to have lost his race against Michael Bennet. Colorado’s women can breathe just a little bit easier for now.

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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ThinkProgress » GOP Legislator Who Crusaded Against College Sex Ed Classes Owns Company That Sells Kinky Sex Gadgets

Posted: October 20th, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: Briefs | Tags: , , , , | No Comments »

Rep. Calvin Hill, Republican legislator from Georgia, is in the news after it was reported that he owns a business selling, among other items, "stress relievers" shaped like breasts and penises, gay pride pins, and "safe sex" kits that include a condom, an anti-bacterial wipe, and 2 breath-mints. Sadly, it's not that his company's safe sex kit is pathetically sub-par (no dental dams or glycerin-free lubricants!?) that makes this newsworthy. No, it's the fact that Rep. Hill led an anti-sex campaign to fire sexuality educators in Georgia colleges, saying, "Our public colleges are not the place for our young adults [to] experience these types of sexually explicit behavior."

Although the airtime he garnered for his sex-negativity is disgusting, equally disgusting is how he treated college students—legal adults—as though they're unfit to learn about the very things they would pay his company to use.

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CBC News – Windsor – Craigslist prostitution ads must go: Ontario

Posted: October 20th, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: Briefs | Tags: , , , , , , | No Comments »

Following in the footsteps of an anti-Craigslist, anti-justice dogpile of 17 US Attorneys General, three Ontario cabinet ministers signed a letter to Craigslist CEO Jim Buckmaster asking him to remove prostitution-related ads from the website in their province. According to a report by CBC News, "The New Democrats said prostitution and human trafficking were serious problems and Craigslist should quickly remove its prostitution-related ads under its erotic services section." In the letter, ministers cited "a simple matter of fairness" for why they want to see the Craigslist section for adult ads censored.

The letter comes on the heels of a recent Ontario court ruling (criticized by anti-prostitution & pro-censorship groups) that found laws against communication for the purpose of prostitution, which Craigslist is a remarkably safe facilitator for, violate Canada's Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

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Closeted Discoverers: Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Scientists – Science Careers

Posted: October 4th, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: Briefs | Tags: , , , , , , | No Comments »

"Closeted LGBT scientists employ multiple strategies to avoid workplace harassment and bigotry, including covering, passing/compartmentalizing, and overachieving," Jacqueline Ruttimann Oberst writes, exploring "three dimensions in the professional lives of young LGBT scientists—mentoring, being a minority within a minority, and playing the role of leader versus activist…." Oberst spotlights several GLBT researchers who have coped with discrimination in sometimes very subtle ways.

"We’re at the same place with sexual orientation and gender that we were with race/ethnic diversity 25 years ago. It’s the same fight but with different people," says Amy A. Ross, Ph.D., an associate biologist at the California Institute of Technology. "[D]istinctions within the LGBT community…are even more granular," Oberst writes. However, merely stepping out of the closet is often the strongest stance anyone can take, whether you say you're an activist or not.

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