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Posts Tagged ‘DOMA’

Supporters of Marriage Equality Kick Bigotry In The Ass…Again.

So what do you do when the highest court in the land rules that married same-sex couples are entitled to federal benefits as well as the freedom to marry in states that already allow it? For most cities across the country, you move on, right? I mean, the Supreme Court of the United States of America just made some pretty good and compelling arguments in support of equal rights.    

Well.  In Roswell, New Mexico…issues like this don’t just go away quite as easily, or as quietly, as the rest of the nation.  Earlier this week, many of us got word that the Roswell City Council had been considering a resolution that would define marriage as only between a man and a woman.  Savino Sanchez, Jr, Associate Pastor at Church On The Move, an evangelical church in Roswell, and the Chair of Roswell’s Police Committee, introduced this resolution (despite the higher court’s recent ruling).

Oh!  Did I mention he did not attend tonight’s hearing?

Before tonight, there had been massive confusion regarding the resolution.  Yesterday we heard that it had died in committee, but there was talk that the resolution was still on tonight’s agenda.  To add to even more confusion, only five members of the council showed up tonight and there needed to be six to reach a quorum to resume with the business on the agenda.  

So what was going on exactly?

*scratching head*

Roswell Mayor Del Jurney explained that “due to changes to rules for city hearings, the agenda for tonight’s meeting had to be made public before we had an up or down vote in committee. That is why this resolution was on the tonight’s agenda and will remain on next Thursday’s agenda, but there will be no vote on this resolution. This resolution is dead.”

Great news!  So what are we still doing here?

Mayor Jurney was compelled to hear out the concerns of those present and asked that people who had signed up to speak, should do so tonight, next Thursday or both.  

Roughly, forty community residents were present at tonight’s hearing in support of marriage equality.  One by one, residents from the city of Roswell, provided personal and passionate stories for their support for equal rights.  Allies, such as Sara Mitchell, stood in front of the five council members, visibly disturbed by this resolution.  

Mitchell said, “the reason this resolution angered me was because it is a waste of your time and our time.  This resolution is pointless and is intentionally malicious.”  

Like her, countless other individuals stood up and stood firm, passionately voicing their concerns, mainly in disbelief that something like this could come out of the city of Roswell, a city in which many advocates have grown up in, love dearly, so much so that they’re raising their families here.  How could a city known for its history of embracing the idea of “extraterrestrials” and life on other planets, now have difficulties coming to terms with humans and their love for one another?  

Tonight’s meeting was an inspiration to many advocates across the state.  Mainly because for a community like Roswell, located in a region where you feel like you need a passport to come down here, proved tonight that there are forward thinkers who go to such lengths to make positive change.   

As Sara Mitchell pointed out after the meeting, “I was proud to be in the same room with so many passionate, well spoken, equal rights activists. Whoever put forward this resolution, like-minded people should note that the citizens of Roswell will not let their town become known for hate, ignorance, and marginalization. I don’t need my marriage affirmed at the price of denying others equal rights.”

 

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Let’s Militarize the Border, They Said. It Worked for Nation-Building.

Yesterday I participated in a meet and greet with New Mexico State Senator Tim Keller.  I really wanted to write a whole post about that, considering that it’s super rare to get any state-wide candidates or leaders to come down to our region of the state.  However, because of today’s news dump, I realize that the campaign for New Mexico’s Office of State Auditor is going to have to wait awhile.

In addition to the ongoing NSA scandal and the mission impossible chase of Edward Snowden, today we all awaited news from the Supreme Court on various cases, more importantly related to the Defense of Marriage Act and California’s Proposition 8 decision.  As for Snowden, we have absolutely no idea where he’s at.  Apparently he never made his flight to Cuba and is MIA.  There is, however, David Gregory, who wants to arrest Glenn Greenwald and the Supreme Court ends up deciding to keep us all in absolute jitters by going another Monday without decisions on DOMA and Prop 8.

While we wait around for important outcomes of stories mentioned above or watching mainstream media ignore the important, non-sensationalist stuff, many of us sat through the torture of what we all call, the United States Senate.

Immigration reform has a better chance of passing Congress this year than any other year in my fifteen years of advocating for reform. Reasons are simple.  Latino’s scared the crap out of the Republican Party during the November elections, when an overwhelming amount of Latino voters came out in huge numbers, in support of President Obama.  While many of them voted, those who couldn’t vote encouraged friends and families who could, to do so with a simple request. Vote Democrat, because the likelihood is that they won’t say boneheaded things about your community.  So here we are.  President Barack Obama was reelected, the Senate remained a majority of Democrats, both insisting immigration reform was a priority and necessity.  The House, well…that’s a different story.

The Senate came up with its bill in April and after debates in the Judiciary committee, has finally made its way to the Senate floor for, up until Friday, we all believed that most of what many of us asked for (i.e. pathway to citizenship for 11 million undocumented immigrants) would stay in tact as it headed for the House for a debate. I mean, come on?  The Republican’s need to do what we’re asking from them, right?

Friday around noon, when all the Senator’s had left DC for their home states for the weekend, an amendment was introduced, now known as Corker-Hoeven, that overhauls border security in a way no one was expecting.  (womp womp)

Image

Courtesy of Center for American Progress

In 2012, the Department of Homeland Security reported that the border was as secure as it possibly could be.  Politically, however, we know that we can’t depend on Republican support without them insisting on more security. So the initial Gang of Eight bill not only provided for increased border security, but the President and Democrats made security a priority when the entire conversation began.  Well, I guess a “beefed” up border was not enough because what Corker introduced was border security on steroids.

The measure would double the total number of patrol agents and add more than 700 miles of fencing along the US-Mexico border at a cost of $38 billion.

As someone who follows Congress, I get that we have to compromise because that’s how our system works.  I get that our process makes it impossible for one party to dominate it all and pass exactly what their supporters expect.  But as an activist, who works day in and day out to defend and protect those that don’t have a voice, to what extent do we compromise and at whose expense?  When do we just stop handing over everything to the Republican Party, especially when they’ve been hijacked by extreme nativists who do not want immigration reform?

When the initial bill came out, a group of activists from across the state of New Mexico came together to develop a state platform and border security was one of the components we were worried about.  After speaking with New Mexico Senator Martin Heinrich, we insisted, and he agreed, that the border was as secure now as it ever will be. However, although we were very concerned with the discussion of border security back in April, in no way did we expect it to reach today’s levels.  Not at all.

So here is the question.  Do we end our mission for reform because of plan to militarize the border, creating a greater nightmare for all those living along the US/Mexican border? Or do we suck it up and move forward despite the fact that a pathway to citizenship will come at a very tough cost?

NEXT UP…THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES

If today’s vote reflects anything we’ll see on Thursday on the Senate floor, it will head to the House.   But the question remains.  Will Speaker Boehnor get his group of Republican’s in the House of Representatives to support this plan and send it to the President for his signature?

Remember.  This Congress has done absolutely nothing when it comes to public policy and bi-partisanship in the last four years.  As awful as this updated immigration bill is, can we actually rely on Congress to get it to the President and sign it into law?

The next few days are crucial as Democrats seek out Republican’s to get those critical 70 votes in the Senate for a final vote on the floor.  Unless Senator Ted Cruz manages to coerce his Republican colleagues and convince them to agree with his awful justifications for denying 11 million people their turn for citizenship, the Senate bill should be heading to the House.