Calling the Piper’s Tune: Corporate Funders and Charity Endorsements

Too often big donors’ pressure on charities remains behind closed doors and affects only organizational issues or patronage. But sometimes the unseemly behavior of funders becomes a matter of record and should not remain unchallenged.

Charities being urged to support controversial public policy actions pursued by their corporate funders presents exactly such a moment.

Setting the stage for an investigation I just conducted in the nation’s capital, a recent example was revealed when the New York Times reported that friendly and politically-allied nonprofit groups funded by Comcast wrote to regulators in support of its now-discredited proposed merger with Time Warner Cable. More distressingly, the Times went on to note that “A similar pattern is evident with charities like the Urban League and more than 80 other community groups that supported the media company and that also accepted collectively millions of dollars in donations from the Comcast Foundation over the last Continue reading “Calling the Piper’s Tune: Corporate Funders and Charity Endorsements”

Justices Express Skepticism In Oral Arguments For Gay Marriage Case

WASHINGTON — Members of the Supreme Court questioned on Tuesday whether now is the right time to force states to allow same-sex couples to marry, pointing to how quickly public opinion has shifted on the issue of marriage equality.

Justice Anthony Kennedy, who was a key figure in striking down the Defense of Marriage Act in 2013, suggested that he might be worried about the court moving too quickly to force states to marry same-sex couples.

“This definition has been with us for millennia,” Kennedy said of male-female marriages. The justice also said it would be very difficult for the court to say it knows better than the public on the issue.

The questions came during the first session of oral arguments Tuesday for a historic case over whether there is a constitutional right to same-sex marriage. The justices were questioning Mary Bonauto, a lawyer representing same-sex couples who wish Continue reading “Justices Express Skepticism In Oral Arguments For Gay Marriage Case”

Pocan Open Letter to LGBT Community

Friends,

Last week, two openly gay business people held an event for GOP presidential hopeful Sen. Ted Cruz in New York City. Ian Reisner and Mati Weiderpass invited friends over to meet Cruz and hear his views on key issues – except, apparently, gay marriage.

Cruz’s views on the subject of marriage equality, whether real or created for political expediency, are atrocious. Repeatedly, Cruz has blown the dog whistle on the issue, trying to galvanize evangelical and conservative voters to his candidacy. He’s even introduced a constitutional amendment to give states the ability to refuse any Federal court ruling that would grant full marriage equality.

Yet Reisner and Weiderpass seemed unaware of Cruz’s disgusting views as they gleefully hosted and posted pictures of Cruz at their event last Monday. And within a week both have responded to the backlash and apologized for hosting Sen. Cruz.

People, we need to get Continue reading “Pocan Open Letter to LGBT Community”

A Bittersweet Victory?

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I remember June 26, 2013 vividly: what I was wearing and who I was with, the toasts made and hugs exchanged.

It’s hard to forget days you gain rights.

As a young, gay American, the dismissal of California’s Prop 8 and overturning of the Defense of Marriage Act were intimations of a brighter future. It was my country accepting how I was born and who I am — affirming that my love, as the President tweeted minutes after the decision was announced, is the same as any other.

Months earlier, I took the morning off work and joined thousands advocating for marriage equality in front of the Supreme Court. It was a defining moment for the gay rights movement, and for my generation. A similar rally is planned for this Tuesday, when the Court will hear arguments in a series of cases that could legalize same-sex marriage across the country. Continue reading “A Bittersweet Victory?”

Redneck Infantry Men for Hillary

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The ‘character war’ has begun, trashing the reputation of candidates and creating pseudo scandals in a lazy attempt to win elections without effective policies, ideas and even candidates. However, candidates are more than ideas and policies. They are people, and voters want to know what kind of people. On occasion, Twitter provides unintended glimpses of candidates and what they do.

While trading tweets with conservatives concerning how ‘liberals’ in general, and Hillary Clinton in particular, are changing America, veterans and the military entered the conversation. Democrats were, and continue to be the driving force aiding U.S. veterans in this century. From the New GI Bill to multi-year VA funding and tackling veteran homelessness, Democrats produced results. Yet, the conclusion of current wars and forced budget cuts are creating uncertainty in the lives of the troops and their families. Being denied any VA pension after serving over a decade in Continue reading “Redneck Infantry Men for Hillary”

A ‘College’ Closes, But Student Debt Lives On

This week Corinthian Colleges Inc. announced that it had “ceased substantially all operations and discontinued instruction” at its remaining campuses. That should have brought the indebtedness of its many defrauded students to an end. This “educational institution” was nothing more a profit-making scheme, morally on par with the banks who defrauded homeowners on their mortgages.

Corinthian Colleges has officially shut down. But for most of its students, and for a generation enchained by student debt, the need for action remains.

The Fall of Corinthian

Corinthian’s demise was expected, after a series of government actions brought its misdeeds to light and rendered it financially unsustainable. It came on the heels of an order from the state of California to stop enrolling new students. Regulators there cited concerns with the school’s finances, its legal issues, and the misleading reports it had submitted to government agencies.

But, though the closure was Continue reading “A ‘College’ Closes, But Student Debt Lives On”

Supreme Court Marriage Ruling: No Silver Bullet for LGBT Equality

As the Supreme Court is set to hear four cases on state marriage bans, it is no coincidence that so-called “religious freedom restoration” acts are popping up across the country to sanction discrimination by businesses, employers and public officials. Echoes of the civil rights movement serve as an important reminder that marriage is not a fix-all. What we do next will define the future of this movement.

Marriage equality captured the nation’s imagination in ways no one could have predicted. The movement highlighted the 1,138 protections afforded to married couples and seemed to promise that marriage would be a silver bullet for full equality.

Much in the same way, African Americans expected education to be the silver bullet to address racial inequality. We thought that if we got our people educated, everything would change. However, numerous structural and cultural barriers needed then, and still need, to be addressed simultaneously.

LGBT Continue reading “Supreme Court Marriage Ruling: No Silver Bullet for LGBT Equality”