View from the left—Hope after Houston, how LGBT activists can turn defeat into victory

Ikeita Cantu holds a sign supporting same sex marriage in front of the Supreme Court before the court hears arguments about gay marriage in Washington April 28, 2015. The nine justices of the Supreme Court began on Tuesday to hear arguments on whether the

We have been here before. The loss on the Houston Equal Rights Ordinance (HERO) Tuesday night was a déjà vu moment for LGBT Americans nationwide. We watched an eerily similar scenario unfold in California on election night in 2008 as a group of committed anti-gay activists pushed through Proposition 8, a measure that took away same-sex marriage rights that had already been granted by the state’s Supreme Court.
But it’s not over in Houston, just like it wasn’t over after Proposition 8. In fact, Prop 8 was just the beginning of a stretch that saw more gains for LGBT equality at the federal level than in the entire century preceding it.

As I wrote in my recently released book, which chronicles the activism that swept the nation after Prop 8: “A sleeping giant had been poked one too many times … Denying gays basic human rights wasn’t acceptable to a

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If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. And if it is broke, don’t fix it.

Earlier this week, the Associated Press published the results of its yearlong study of cops involved in sexual misconduct. They pored over 9,000 cases of police officer decertification from a five-year period and of those, 1,000 were kicked off the force for unlawful sex-related incidents. Some incidents were lawful but against policy, such as consensual sex while on-duty.
A study of this magnitude undoubtedly brings up many questions, most notably: how could this happen? The answer: the system is broken.

To quote directly from the article, “Resigning or being fired does not mean an officer loses the ability to work in law enforcement.” That’s where decertification comes in. But there is no unified, national process for decertifying police officers. A national index of police officers who have lost their law enforcement licenses does exist, but it only contains 20,000 names. Also, only 39 of the 50 United States

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Victim of California Highway Patrol officer’s wrath still awaiting justice

(former) California Highway Patrol officer Daniel Andrew

It was a typical summer day in July 2014, but what happened on the side of the Interstate 10 freeway in Los Angeles was anything but. The image was—and still is—horrifying: A California Highway Patrol officer, straddling and repeatedly punching a defenseless woman lying on the ground, as if he was in a mixed-martial arts match.  
Daniel Andrew, the former officer in question, initially said he was attempting to prevent Marlene Pinnock from hurting herself as she walked along the freeway. He was attempting to “protect and serve,” according to his report, when Pinnock resisted him and became physically combative. He had no choice but to physically restrain her. For her own good, he insisted.

Yeah. The CHP didn’t buy that either, in the end. After initially covering for him, once the CHP’s internal investigation was finished the agency settled with Pinnock for $1.5 million. As part

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San Francisco County sued for incarcerating poor people that can’t afford bail

Jail cell

A new class-action lawsuit could stop the incarceration of tens of thousands of people in California jails. Non-profit group Equal Justice Under Law has filed a lawsuit claiming that judges are setting unreasonably high bails in San Francisco County, resulting in jail sentences for those who can’t afford to pay.
For the poor a jail sentence can be especially catastrophic, resulting in loss of wages or loss of employment, plus additional unexpected costs such as childcare that they simply can’t afford. As a result, some poor defendants end up depending on the bail bond industry for payment. Think Progress reports:

Crystal Patterson, 29, faced a $150,000 bail for her charges under the automated bail schedule the county uses. Desperate to be released because she is the sole caretaker for an elderly relative, but barely scraping by on a $12.50 hourly wage of her own, Patterson turned to the

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Hate wins: Houston equal rights measure defeated after failure to communicate

The nation’s first referendum on LGBT rights following the Supreme Court ruling legalizing same-sex marriage went down to defeat Tuesday night in Houston, the fourth largest city in the country. It failed by a wide margin, 61 percent to 39 percent.
Much will be written about this loss for equality in the days to come, but here’s a big piece of political malpractice, as noted by Mike Signorile.

Political strategists warned LGBT activists in the days ahead of the vote: There was little Spanish-language outreach, no big ad buy in Spanish-language media — in a city that is 44% Hispanic — countering the lies of the opposition, who’d certainly been doing their own outreach. Monica Roberts, a long-time African-American transgender activist, warned of little outreach in the black community, which makes up 24% of the city.

That lack of outreach was already evident in pre-vote polling released in early

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World Congress of Families attendee explains how U.S.-based groups spread homophobia in Africa

Rafael Cruz, father of Sen. Ted Cruz, (R-TX) Republican presidential candidate, speaks on behalf of his son at the Southern Republican Leadership Conference in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma May 22, 2015.   REUTERS/Rick Wilking - RTX1E6ZH

Pastor Rafael Cruz, father of Sen. Ted Cruz

When Pastor Rafael Cruz (father of GOP presidential contender and Texas Sen. Ted Cruz) was quoted last week saying that the “next thing” on the LGBT agenda is “to try to legalize pedophiles,” he was attending a little-known conference called the World Congress of Families, held in Salt Lake City this year. The global gathering of pro-life, virulently anti-gay organizations includes U.S.-based groups like Alliance Defending Freedom and the Family Research Council, but it is usually held outside the U.S., often in places where homophobia is alive and well and people are hungry for the message. In fact, since the mid-1990s, WCF has been providing U.S.-based groups that are losing the battle against LGBT rights at home the opportunity to take their fight abroad.
“The World Congress of Families acts as a networking operation,” explains

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Supreme Court hears case on racial discrimination in jury selection

SCOTUS brief, uploaded by Southern center for human rights, permission given by SCHR

Prosecutor’s notes on potential jurors in Foster’s case. Note where black candidates are highlighted in green with the “B” notation.  

On Monday, the Supreme Court heard arguments in Foster v. Chatman, a case involving the exclusion of black citizens from juries in a death penalty case. The case comes almost thirty years after Batson v. Kentucky, where the Supreme Court prohibited striking a juror based on race.
At issue in this case is the 1987 trial of Timothy Foster, an 18-year-old poor, black, developmentally delayed man accused of murdering an 80-year-old white woman. Yesterday’s Supreme Court arguments were specifically focused on the jury selection process in Foster’s case, where the prosecution struck 100 percent of the black jurors.

At the time, the total exclusion of black jurors was challenged by Foster’s lawyers as a violation of Batson, but prosecutors presented reasoning for each juror strike. It

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