News Stories Online

Facebook adds FIFTY new options for users to describe their gender

Facebook has completely revamped its gender settings to allow for options other than just male or female.

The feature is designed to help transgender users of the site, and now has 50 options, including  ‘cisgender,’ ‘transgender’ and ‘intersex’.

The site has also updated its setting to allow users to select a neutral pronoun referring to them as they, their or them.

Source: The Daily Mail

 

Transgender Issues Follow Path Blazed By Gay Rights

It may have been “the gayest year ever,” as some gay and lesbian activists put it — 2013 saw the Defense of Marriage Act struck down by the Supreme Court and the number of states offering marriage rights to same-sex couples doubled, to a total of 18.
But as 2014 begins, another issue is gaining traction: transgender rights.

Source: Yahoo News

 

Exercise Cuts Stroke Risk From Hormone Therapy

Exercise may moderately shave off some of the increased risk of hormone therapy, researchers found.

Source: MedPage Today 

 

Lee, Cruz seek to protect states’ rights on gay marriage

Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Tex., has introduced a measure that would protect states like Utah that want to define marriage as between one woman and one man from any federal efforts to recognize gay marriage.

Source: The Salt Lake Tribune

 

Comcast, Time Warner agree to merge in $45 billion deal

Comcast said Thursday it has agreed to buy Time Warner Cable for $45.2 billion in stock, a deal that would combine the two largest cable providers in the country.

Source: Washington Post

 

U.S. Justice Department to expand rights of same-sex couples

Attorney General Eric Holder plans widespread changes within the U.S. Justice Department to benefit same-sex married couples, such as recognizing a legal right for them not to testify against each other in civil and criminal cases, according to excerpts of a speech on Saturday.

Source: Reuters

Huckabee: Dems say women need government to ‘control their libido’

You just can’t make this stuff up.

Huckabee: Dems say women need government to ‘control their libido’

From the article:

“If the Democrats want to insult women by making them believe that they are helpless without Uncle Sugar coming in and providing for them a prescription each month for birth control because they cannot control their libido or their reproductive system without the help of the government, then so be it,” he said. “Let us take this discussion all across America because women are far more than the Democrats have played them to be.”

Huckabee dismissed the notion that the GOP is engaged on a “War on Women,” as Democratic rivals allege.

“Our party stands for the recognition  of the equality of women and the capacity of women. That’s not a war on them, it’s a war for them,” he said.

With friends like this, who needs enemies?

It’s Past Time For Sensible, Intelligent Gun Control

If you listen to the Right Wing, Conservative, Pry the Gun From My Cold Fingers, segment of the political scene, odds are you think everything is fine and dandy in the Land of the Free and Armed. Maybe you think gun control is anti-American or unconstitutional and if you think these things, such is your right.

That does not however make you ‘Right’. 

I have never had an issue with people owning weapons who have a legitimate and legal reason to do so. 

It is the other people who I take issue with. Those for whom these weapons are a means to a violent, illegal end. Those who only reason for possessing a firearm is to kill other humans. You know who these people are; they make the news with terrifying regularity. Killing sprees in churches, malls, movie theaters, and town halls. The gang bangers, the drive by shooters, the ones who kill for thrill of having the power of life and death in their hands.

I take issue with violent, mentally ill people having access to weapons of any type and yes, if you have ‘anger management issues’ I think you have a mental condition which should bar you from ever owning a gun.

If you are a gun owner then it is your responsibility and duty to your community to make them secure so criminals, children, and those I have already mentioned cannot gain access to them. If you aren’t responsible enough to do that, then you certainly are not responsible enough to own a gun in the first place.  

I’m going to give links to the stories from just this week of senseless gun violence which could have been avoided through the use of sensible, intelligent laws and the repeal of dangerous legal standards such as stand your ground and conceal/carry.

Today:

Three killed in Indiana supermarket shooting -police

A gunman opened fire inside an Indiana supermarket on Wednesday evening, killing two women – a shopper and an employee – before being shot dead in a shootout with police, authorities said.

Source: Reuters

 

Mason Campbell, New Mexico school shooter, chose victims at random: cops

New Mexico state police believe the preteen assailant, armed with a shotgun taken from his Roswell home, planned his attack in advance of Tuesday’s shooting at Berrendo Middle School. The suspect, identified as Mason Campbell, faces three third-degree felony charges of aggravated battery.

Source: nydailynews.com

 

Police investigate 2 crashes involving gun violence

Police are investigating two separate car crashes on Saturday that both appear to be the result of the driver being shot

Source: ABC

 

There are many more. I did a simple Google search for “gun violence” to find these three examples.

Marriage Equality: Some Thoughts

In the Untied States, marriage equality continues to be an issue of debate. With the rulings of the Supreme Court and the federal government recognizing same-sex marriages, the fight has moved to individual states. 

Despite what is seen as sever setbacks to the anti-equality groups on the federal level, they see a chance for gains in individual states which will allow them circumvent those rulings with which they so strongly disagree. Several states have already passed laws for equality, some have passed them against and there is still a long way to go before this issue is settled.

There is a continuing stream of propaganda coming from pro religious right groups giving their reasoning for why states and communities should continue discriminatory practices with regards to who is and is not allowed to be protected by the laws and regulations as set forth under marital relationships.

There is just one small problem.

They have and continue to miss an important point. Marriage in the U.S. is as much a secular institution as it a religious one. Therein lies the heart of the debate we are currently seeing.

Despite what many of these groups would have you believe, America is not a Christian nation. Though it is the dominate religion practiced, the founding fathers saw fit to make provisions for keeping the government sectarian. 

If marriage had remained a religious ceremony free from any recognition by the government, then these groups would be well within their rights to refuse to recognize any union which goes again their beliefs. However, once the government began to grant special consideration to couples who marry, it then moved beyond such simple considerations. 

It becomes the responsibility of governments, state and federal, to apply these considerations to all unions which meet the requirements of a marriage equally regardless of religious affiliations. 

This should have become clear when government officials were granted the power to join two people in marriage outside of a religious setting. Judges have the power to recognize marriages and make them legally binding. In such cases the institution of marriage has clearly moved from a religious rite to a sectarian institution as described in law. 

It is this fact which must stand above those who have religious objections.

The law is intended to apply to everyone equally regardless of any other consideration. This fact is the basis of anti-discrimation legislation and mandates. Everyone is bound by the same restrictions and protections no matter what their race, ethnicity, religion, or social status. When it is decided to exclude one group, equality is lost and the letter and the intent of the law is rendered moot.

If today we say a law protects everyone except group A, then tomorrow it can be changed to group B, C, or all of them. All it requires is a rewording of who is to be excluded. This is not equality and in the end we all lose.

When this exclusion is based on a religious belief, it immediately violates the rights of everyone who does not follow the same belief system and is therefore unconstitutional. Government must remain neutral in regards to how it interacts with every citizen irregardless of the views and opinions of individual officials. This is equality.

It behooves us all to look beyond our immediate surroundings and situations and see the broader picture as it relates to every member of society not just today but into the future. If the religious right has its way and they are allowed to impose their views on everyone as regards this single issue, then what is to stop them from doing so in other issues with which they do not agree? It may be marriage today, but it may be who can receive aid tomorrow. Financial, housing, food… all of these things could be regulated based on which religion a person adheres to. If you don’t meet the requirements, then you can be turned away. Is this what they want for the country? Christianity may be the most vocal and reactionary religious group at the moment, but what happens if that should change? Think about what this would mean if another religion were to rise up and in so doing decide these same groups should now be excluded from benefiting from government recognition? The loss of tax exemptions, loss of freedom of religion, of speech. It is not impossible being a Christian could become illegal, much as these same groups have sought to outlaw homosexuality.

If you are saying to yourself; “That could never happen in America,” I suggest you go and take a long, hard look at the Patriot Act, then come back and tell me again.

There is an old, old saying which seems to apply now, more than ever.

Be careful what you wish for. You just might get it. 

Independence Day

Tomorrow is Independence day here in the U.S. A day off for most of us, a time to spend with family and friends.

I wish all my fellow Americans a safe and fun holiday, and to those who live elsewhere in the great big world, I hope you have a great day too!

Supreme Court Strikes Down DOMA

The U.S. Supreme Court delivered a landmark victory for gay rights on Wednesday by forcing the federal government to recognize same-sex marriage in states where it is legal and paving the way for it in California, the most populous state.

Today the Supreme Court struck down as unconstitutional a key part of the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act, (DOMA) which denies federal benefits to same-sex couples who are legally married in the state where they reside.

As expected, however, the court fell short of a broader ruling endorsing a fundamental right for gay people to marry, meaning that there will be no impact in the more than 30 states that do not recognize gay marriage.

The court struck down Section 3 of DOMA, which limited the definition of marriage as between a man and a woman for the purposes of federal benefits, as a violation of the U.S. Constitution’s guarantee of equal protection under the law.

“DOMA instructs all federal officials, and indeed all persons with whom same-sex couples interact, including their own children, that their marriage is less worthy than the marriages of others,” Kennedy wrote.

“The federal statute is invalid, for no legitimate purpose overcomes the purpose and effect to disparage and to injure those whom the State, by its marriage laws, sought to protect in personhood and dignity.”

Justice Anthony Kennedy, 76, appointed to the court by Republican President Ronald Reagan in 1988, was the key vote and wrote the DOMA opinion, the third major gay rights ruling he has authored since 1996.

In a separate opinion, the court ducked a decision on Proposition 8 by finding that supporters of the California law did not have standing to appeal a federal district court ruling that struck it down. By doing so, the justices let stand the lower-court ruling that had found the ban unconstitutional.

Chief Justice John Roberts wrote the Proposition 8 opinion, ruling along procedural lines in a way that said nothing about how the court would rule on the merits. The court was split upon unusual lines, with liberals and conservatives in the majority and the dissent.

My Two Cents:

I have long felt DOMA and the many efforts by the states to restrict marriage were morally wrong and unconstitutional.

Marriage as recognized by governments; local, state, and federal  are sectarian, based in law not on religious dogma, which is as it should be given the basic tenet of separation of church and state. As such it should been seen as an equal provision for all, no matter their gender and should never have been restricted by what are clearly the direction of religious agencies.

That is not to say any religious group should be forced to provide a service which stands against their beliefs, yet the freedom of a group to deny such services should in no way affect a persons opportunity to have such services provided by the state in a nondiscriminatory manner.