Supreme Court Delivers ‘Transformative Triumph’ for Marriage Equality

Many in LGBTQ community urge, ‘The work of the movement is far from over’

by: Sarah Lazare

The U.S. Supreme Court on Friday issued a historic 5-4 ruling that same-sex marriage is legal in all 50 states, sparking instant celebration and declarations of triumph, as well as reminders from many in the LGBTQ community that the road to freedom is long, and this issue is just “the tip of the iceberg.”

Friday’s Obergefell v. Hodges et. al. decision will enable marriage in the 13 states where same-sex couples are prohibited from exercising this right and strikes down restrictions on same-sex marriage in Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio, and Tennessee, declaring that any couple that wishes to marry must be allowed.

“The court now holds that same-sex couples may exercise the fundamental right to marry. No longer may this liberty be denied to them,” Justice Anthony Kennedy declared in the majority opinion.

The decision follows a hard-fought shift in U.S. public opinion. A new poll by the Wall Street Journal and NBC finds that the U.S. public strongly supports marriage equality, and among 20-year-olds, support is at 73 percent.

The ruling was met with expressions of joy and victory, including a huge celebration outside of the supreme court.

“Today’s ruling is a transformative triumph decades in the making, a momentous victory for freedom, equality, inclusion, and above all, love,” said Evan Wolfson, president of Freedom to Marry, in a press statement.

“Today, the Supreme Court recognized that thousands of loving, committed couples from coast to coast don’t fall into a ‘lesser than’ category because they’re comprised of two men or two women,” declared Equality California executive director Rick Zbur. “Today’s decision isn’t a victory just for those couples and their families—it’s a stunning win for all Americans who value freedom and equality.”

For many, the ruling underscored the importance of remembering how the United States got to this point—as well as the people who are not here to celebrate.

“Going back to pivotal moments like the Stonewall and Compton’s Cafeteria rebellions, the courage and advocacy of transgender leaders of color, and particularly transgender women of color, has been instrumental in advancing the whole LGBT movement and laying the groundwork for victories like today’s,” declared Transgender Law Center executive director Kris Hayashi.

“As many celebrate today, we must remember that many members of our community cannot. At least nine transgender women have been murdered this year alone, mostly trans women of color.”
—Kris Hayashi, Transgender Law Center

“As many celebrate today, we must remember that many members of our community cannot,” Hayashi continued. “At least nine transgender women have been murdered this year alone, mostly trans women of color.”

“Today’s historic victory comes on the backs of same-sex couples and advocates who have worked for decades to dismantle harmful stereotypes and unjust laws in the quest for equal treatment,” said James Esseks, director of the ACLU’s Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and HIV Project.

President Barack Obama immediately praised the ruling as a “victory for America” and “a consequence of the countless small acts of courage of millions of people across decades who stood up and came out, and talked to parents, parents who loved their children no matter what, folks who … [endured] taunts and stayed strong and came to believe in themselves and who they were.”

Ironically, the president’s statement came just days after he insulted and shut down an undocumented transgender woman, Jennicet Gutiérrez, who interrupted a White House pride celebration to call attention to the assault and abuse of transgender people detained in Immigration and Customs Enforcement custody. “There is no pride in how LGBTQ and transgender immigrants are treated in this country,” said Gutiérrez.

Many within the LGBTQ community emphasize that the struggle for real justice extends far beyond marriage and includes the fight for black lives, safety and survival for transgender communities of color, economic justice, immigrant rights, and full health care for all—including transgender and gender nonconforming people, as well as people living with HIV and AIDS.

Members of GeTEQUAL and allied organizations gathered outside the Supreme Court on Friday with a sign that said “Liberation can’t wait,” to remind the crowd that “Marriage is just the tip of the iceberg in a bigger fight,” according to a press statement.

“As people gather in Charleston right now to mourn the lives of those murdered by a white supremacist gunman, we know the struggle for liberation is an urgent one—for LGBTQ people, black people and people of color, people living below the poverty line, and anyone experiencing violence and discrimination,” said Angela Peoples, co-director of GetEQUAL. “The work of the movement is far from over.”

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Source: Supreme Court Delivers ‘Transformative Triumph’ for Marriage Equality | Common Dreams | Breaking News & Views for the Progressive Community

Bernie Sanders Rally in Denver Draws One of Biggest Crowds in Election Cycle

Massive turnout is latest sign the Vermont senator is gaining on Hillary Clinton

by: Sarah Lazare

At least 5,500 Coloradans crammed into a Denver gymnasium, an adjacent atrium, and lacrosse field Saturday night to hear presidential candidate and Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders speak, in what is being reported as one of the biggest political rallies so far in the 2016 election cycle.

Addressing the crowd at the University of Denver, Sanders said: “What we are doing tonight is we are sending a message to the billionaire class and that is: You can’t have it all!”

“This campaign is not about me,” he continued. “It is not about Hillary Clinton or any other candidate. This campaign is about you, your kids and your parents. It is about creating a political movement of millions of people who stand up and loudly proclaim that this nation belongs to all of us and not just a handful of billionaires.”

Saturday’s crowd is the latest sign that Sanders is proving a real challenge to former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, whose rally at New York City’s Roosevelt Island last week drew an estimated 5,500 people.

“Sanders’s audience—in a state not among those with traditional early nominating contests—rivaled the largest drawn by Clinton and the Vermont senator in recent weeks,” wroteWashington Post reporter John Wagner. “The extraordinary turnout was the latest evidence that Sanders, 73, has tapped into the economic anxiety of the Democratic electorate.”

Sanders has been drawing large crowds, from Vermont to Minneapolis, and numerous polls show that Sanders is gaining on Clinton, including recent surveys of the battleground state of New Hampshire.

Source: Bernie Sanders Rally in Denver Draws One of Biggest Crowds in Election Cycle | Common Dreams | Breaking News & Views for the Progressive Community

In Public Challenge to Obama, Family of Drone Victim Asks: ‘What is the Value of an Innocent Life?’

Seeking official apology, Faisal bin Ali Jaber says, ‘Imagine that your loved one was wrongly killed by the U.S. government. Imagine they would not even admit their role in the death of your family members.’

The family of two U.S. drone victims is refusing to keep their pain silent as they seek an official apology by U.S. President Barack Obama for the deaths of their kin.

In a CNN op-ed published on Friday, Faisal bin Ali Jaber, a Yemeni civil engineer, issued a public challenge to the U.S. leader—who recently made public statements about the deaths of two westerners killed by U.S. drone strikes, but has refused to acknowledge Yemeni civilian casualties.

“What is the value of a human life?” Jaber asks.

In the column, Jaber describes how following the August 2012 strike that killed Waleed and Salem bin Ali Jaber, the family had to identify them “from their clothes and scraps of matted hair.”

And how in the wake of the strike, while the family awaited an official apology, they were instead presented with “$100,000 in sequentially-marked U.S. dollars in a plastic bag.”

Jaber writes: “A Yemeni security service official was given the unpleasant task of handing this over. I looked him in the eye and asked how this was acceptable, and whether he would admit the money came from America. He shrugged and said: ‘Can’t tell you. Take the money.'”

“The secret payment to my family represents a fraction of the cost of the operation that killed them,” he continues. “This seems to be the Obama administration’s cold calculation: Yemeni lives are cheap. They cost the President no political or moral capital.”

In contrast to the experience of Jaber and other relatives of innocent Yemenis killed by the U.S. drone war, in April, Obama publicly acknowledged that a U.S. counterterrorism operation had killed an American, Warren Weinstein, and an Italian, Giovanni Lo Porto. The lawsuit follows another failed court challenge in Germany in which Jaber’s family sought to prosecute the home of Ramstein Air Base for its role in “facilitating American covert drone strikes in Yemen.”

“Like a lot of Americans, my family and I watched the President’s speech at home,” Jaber writes. “But while many praised him for his forthrightness, we do not share that view. His speech shocked us. No, it was worse: his speech broke our hearts. 

“As I watched,” he continues, “I thought of my dead relatives, names that so far as I know have never crossed the President’s lips: Waleed and Salem bin Ali Jaber.”

On Monday, Jaber filed a suit asking a Washington D.C. district court to issue a declaration that the strike that killed Salem and Waleed was unlawful. He is seeking no monetary compensation.

“Imagine that your loved one was wrongly killed by the U.S. government, and the White House would not apologize. Imagine they would not even admit their role in the death of your family members,” Jaber concludes. “We simply want the truth and an apology. We will not rest until it is ours.”

 

Source: In Public Challenge to Obama, Family of Drone Victim Asks: ‘What is the Value of an Innocent Life?’