Saturday, June 29, 2013

Right To Vote/Right To Marry: The Red States


Barney Frank retired from Congress last year. Obama picked a series of crooked Wall Street operators for positions he should have tried filling with brilliant and proven tribunes of the public like Barney and Brad Miller (D-NC), who also resigned last year. I'm not certain what Brad is up to now but Barney has certainly not faded away. Having been for so many years the most noteworthy openly gay Member of Congress, media turned to him in droves for comments about the grudging and narrow Supreme Court ruling that struck down DOMA and kind of struck down California's hateful Prop 8. And Barney, who recently married his partner, was as gleeful as all members of the LGBT community. Like me... well, probably more than me. I'm less an assimilationist and, although I'm happy for the folks who wanted and needed this, I fear it is another deadly blow against what helped make the gay community unique and nonconformist.

But, like Barney, I'm not exactly singing the praises of the Supreme Court. The 5 conservative bastards did something far more destructive the day before by striking down the Voting Rights Act. It's a much bigger deal than letting gays marry-- because it will inevitably lead to a far more conservative and intolerant government, one that could do a great deal of harm to, among others, the LGBT community. Thursday Barney was on MSNBC's Morning Joe and he said that if he had been empowered to decide one Supreme Court decision this week, he would have taken up the case on the 1965 Voting Rights Act and not the Prop 8 marriage ban that is no longer supported by California voters anyway. He explained that the "terrible decision killing the Voting Rights Act" is far more harmful to the country than the marriage equality case. "Racial discrimination," he asserted, correctly, "has been much worse [than discrimination against the LGBT community] in this country and if I could have frankly picked one decision this week,  I'll be honest, it wouldn't have been the gay marriage one. I wish I could have reversed that terrible decision killing the Voting Rights Act because I think there are still serious issues there in democracy." It would be amazing if Scalia, who's 77, wakes up in hell tomorrow and Obama nominates Frank to replace him. And if we all get unicorns for our birthdays.

This wasn't lost on Congressional Progressive Caucus co-chairs Raúl Grijalva (D-AZ) and Keith Ellison (D-MN). They got it just right when they commented on the Supreme Court rulings this week in a joint statement:
“We celebrate today’s decision by the Supreme Court to respect the right of all Americans to marry who they love. The road to today’s victories started 44 years ago at the Stonewall Inn in Greenwich Village, where the gay community made a public stand against institutional discrimination. Since that day, LGBT Americans have worked tirelessly for equal rights under the law. The decisions made by the Supreme Court today reaffirm those rights and move our country closer to fulfilling the promise in our Constitution of equal rights for all.

“While today’s rulings were a positive step forward, yesterday’s Supreme Court decision to weaken the Voting Rights Act endangers voting rights and is a troubling step backward. We should celebrate the victory for marriage equality by working together to defend the voices of millions of Americans who may face increased discrimination at the polls after yesterday’s decision. Senator Harry Reid has already vowed that the Senate will act quickly to fix the problems created by yesterday’s ruling. The House should follow his lead as soon as possible.”
So what can, realistically, be done to fix the problem before the Republican just start barring minorities from voting across the Old Confederacy and in states they control like Pennsylvania, Ohio, Wisconsin, the Dakotas and Indiana? The Senate is where it will start, of course. Patrick Leahy (D-VT), chairman of the Judiciary Committee: "I intend to take immediate action to ensure that we will have a strong and reconstituted Voting Rights Act that protects against racial discrimination in voting." He says he plans to start right after the 4th of July break. Unfortunately, Leahy's counterpart in the House is an old line unreconstructed Confederate and racist pig, Bob Goodlatte (R-VA) and he's not likely to allow any kind of protections for minorities to get through his committee, which is stuffed full of teabaggers and bigots and boasts some of the most contemptible partisan extremists in Congress, like Steve King (R-IA), Trent Franks (R-AZ), Louie Gohmert (R-TX), Jim Jordan (R-OH), Lamar Smith (R-TX), Spencer Bachus (R-AL), Darrell Issa (R-CA), Randy Forbes (R-VA), Trey Gowdy (R-SC), Ted Poe (R-TX), George Holding (R-NC), Doug Collins (R-GA), Ron DeSantis (R-FL) and Jason Smith (R-MO).

Pelosi was whistling in the wind when she said "I would like to see something called... the John Lewis Voting Rights Act, which would address the concerns that the Court put in its decision about Section 4. It’s really a step backward and it’s not a reflection of what is happening in our country in some of these places. And when we put that bill together, when it was passed last time, it passed overwhelming, overwhelming 98 to nothing in the Senate and 390-something to almost nothing in the House. And it was bipartisan and we came to terms on it, in a way that we were all jubilant about the passage of it, Democrats and Republicans alike.”

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