Despite all of the progress made so far on LGBT rights, on Tuesday, Louisiana voted to uphold the state’s anti-sodomy law, 67-27, despite it being ruled unconstitutional by the Supreme Court, in their landmark 2003 Lawrence v. Texas decision.
In its decision, the court ruled that laws prohibiting sodomy seek “to control a personal relationship that, whether or not entitled to formal recognition in the law, is within the liberty of persons to choose without being punished as criminals.”
Unless you live in Louisiana?
In fact, in addition to Louisiana and Texas, Idaho, Utah, Michigan, Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Florida, Alabama, Mississippi, Kansas and Oklahoma have all maintained their own anti-sodomy laws, despite their direct conflict with the Supreme Court’s decision. In three of these states — Kansas, Oklahoma and Texas — such anti-sodomy laws pertain exclusively to “homosexual conduct.”
The Louisiana bill in question, HB12, proposed to amend “crime against nature…” and was introduced in January by State House Representative Patricia Smith (D-Baton Rouge). Although it seems painfully obvious that there is no reason on Earth to maintain such a law, Smith’s proposed bill was a direct response to the targeted arrests of gay men in her district who were profiled and lured by undercover police to agree to consensual sex. At least 12 men have been arrested in this “sodomy sting” since 2011, despite the fact that prosecutors refused to bring charges in every single case.
This story provides some background on the relationship between U.S. District Judge Bernard Friedman (1988 Reagan appointee), who on Friday declared Michigan’s voter-approved ban on same-sex marriage unconstitutional, and newly minted 6th Circuit Court Judge Judith Levy (nominated by Obama in 2013 and confirmed this month). She is the first openly gay judge to serve on that court.
There’s no snarkiness or outrage, no hyperbole or partisan finger-pointing, it’s just an interesting and very human story about a professional relationship between two people which, through mutual respect & tolerance, became a personal friendship spanning nearly two decades. They both now sit on the same court—amazing how much has changed in less than 20 years.
Bernard A. Friedman, Senior Judge of the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan
Almost 19 years ago — long before most Michiganders could imagine a day when gay and lesbian couples would enjoy the right to marry and raise children together — U.S. District Judge Bernard Friedman discovered that a social revolution was breaking out in his own chambers.
It was the summer of 1995, and Judith Levy, the second-year University of Michigan Law School student Friedman had recently tapped to become his law clerk after she graduated the following June, had come to the federal courthouse in downtown Detroit to meet her future boss for lunch.
They’d come face-to-face just once before, when Levy interviewed for the clerk’s job the previous February, and Levy had chosen not to share with Friedman the good news she and her partner, Janet Johnson, were privately celebrating.
But now, seven months later, the clerk’s job was hers, and there was no hiding their secret: Levy was pregnant. […]
This reminds me of the people who haven’t realized the Onion was a parody website, and repeated their “news stories” as if they were fact.
The National Report, a political satire website, published an article about the city of Dearborn, which is about 50% Arab and Muslim, voting to become the first city to make Sharia law enforceable. Naturally, right wing websites missed the fact that it was a parody and repeated it as factual without doing any research.
In a surprise weekend vote, the city council of Dearborn, Michigan voted 4-3 to became the first US city to officially implement all aspects of Sharia Law. The tough new law, slated to go into affect January 1st, addresses secular law including crime, politics and economics as well as personal matters such as sexual intercourse, fasting, prayer, diet and hygiene.
The new law could see citizens stoned for adultery or having a limb amputated for theft. Lesser offenses, such as drinking alcohol or abortion, could result in flogging and/or caning. In addition, the law imposes harsh laws with regards to women and allows for child marriage.
Ever heard of the term ‘Dearbornistan’? The largest mosque in North America is in Dearborn, Michigan. Some 40,000 Arab-Americans live there, about half of the towns population. It also has the largest Lebanese-American population in America. I am a little suprised there isnt any strife there connected to Syria at all. The city has the largest proportion of Arab-Americans in the US. So it only makes sense that Shriah is first implemented here. Thoughts? Shariah is here in America!
Yesterday evening, the City Emergency Manager Kevyn Orr, who had been picked by Governor Rick Snyder to keep Detroit from filing for bankruptcy, raced to the courthouse to submit a filing indicating that Detroit Michigan would seek bankruptcy reorganization. Immediately, the news and pundits went in to high gear.
Detroit isn’t the first big city to declare bankruptcy. Stockton, CA, did so in 2012. So too did several other California cities as well as Alabama’s Jefferson County (the county where Birmingham is located) but Detroit is the largest and most noteworthy to make the attempt. Several other high profile cities/regions managed to avoid that ignominious outcome, including New York City and Nassau and Suffolk Counties in New York (all three of which had major state support to avoid the bankruptcy process).
The thing is that Detroit’s situation was a long time coming and was a combination of a shrinking tax base, shrinking industrial base, and a government that didn’t adjust its spending habits accordingly to say nothing of the rampant corruption and graft among top officials.
Having a bunch of billionaires who held the city over a barrel doesn’t help. When significant parts of the city are under the control of one guy (or a small group of very powerful real estate interests), who do absolutely nothing to maintain or revitalize those areas, something is wrong - with that billionaire.
Epitomizing this mindset is Manuel Maroun - the same guy who’s fighting to prevent the Canadians building a bridge to the US free to US taxpayers because it would supposedly devalue his bridge monopoly (or force him to make significant improvements to his bridge, which he’s been fighting every step of the way). He’s hardly alone, Michael G. Kelly who owns more than a 1,000 parcels, many of which are dilapidated and who has been slapped with $100k in blight violations since 2005.
For instance, Kelly bought up a bunch of plots that are where the alternative to Maroun’s bridge would be located - so if it happens, Kelly stands to hit the jackpot.
Kelly and Maroun are flippers, but without actually improving the properties they buy in the interim. More than a third of Detroit properties are vacant. They wont improve the properties themselves, and are instead waiting for municipal or state revitalization projects so that they can sell them back to the state at a substantial profit.
It’s a dysfunctional situation, and a successful bankruptcy filing would potentially shed significant debt from the Detroit ledger, but the city has to reform the tax rolls, get properties back on to the tax rolls, change the implementation of municipal services across the entire municipality to address the reduction in population, and will need to reconsider bulldozing and consolidating areas to reduce the burden on the government.
Most significantly is that it would mean addressing the pension obligations to current and former municipal employees -many of whom still live in the area, and there’s going to be a whole ton of pain for those living in and around Detroit.
These are issues that the Emergency Manager was supposed to be tackling, but he ended up going the bankruptcy route as the solution to the problems, instead of doing everything possible to avoid that outcome.
Despite the chorus of cheers and smugness from conservatives who thought that this somehow meant that their worldview was superior to those of liberals because a longtime Democratic city has been felled by economic troubles, the filing itself is in trouble.
Detroit bankruptcy unconstitutional, judge orders http://t.co/CSMYxIKA96
The Detroit bankruptcy filing is unconstitutional according to a court ruling earlier today because the filing violates the state constitution, which prohibits any action that threatens to cut the pension benefits of public employees. Ingham Circuit Judge Rosemarie Aquilina issued a declaratory judgment Friday finding the filing violates Article IX, Section 24 of the Michigan Constitution that protects accrued pension benefits.
In other words, the Emergency Manager and Governor Synder are in violation of the State Constitution for attempting to file for bankruptcy (and which just barely made it with minutes to spare before the court ruled on several other matters yesterday afternoon)
The State AG and Gov. Synder are already filing an appeal against the ruling.
They’re going to hope that the appellate courts all ignore the state’s constitutional protections for pension benefits so as to eliminate the obligations to current and former state and local workers. If that fails, watch Gov. Synder and GOP move to expunge that protection from the constitution.
Even though Detroit is in serious economic trouble, there are those who are betting on a positive future for the city. That includes folks like Dan Gilbert, who’s bought up 1.8m sf of space downtown, making him the biggest property owner downtown besides GM and the City of Detroit itself. He’s betting on revitalization - and hoping for the city’s financial picture to turn around (though how that happens he wasn’t sure when he was asked in 2012 - before the bankruptcy came down).
A federal judge has ruled that a challenge to Michigan’s statewide ban on same-sex marriages can proceed, citing the Supreme Court’s decision to strike down the Defense of Marriage Act.
The case involves a lesbian couple that wants to adopt three children, but is barred from it under both a state constitutional amendment and a state statute. As Marty Lederman at SCOTUSblog explains, the constitutional amendment, “enacted in 2004, provides that ‘[t]o secure and preserve the benefits of marriage for our society and for future generations of children, the union of one man and one woman in marriage shall be the only agreement recognized as a marriage or similar union for any purpose.’” The state statute limits adoption to single people or married couples. Thus since they are not considered married under state law, the couple cannot adopt.
Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder (R) first indicated his support for Obamacare’s Medicaid expansion back in February. But since then, he’s encountered many of the same roadblocks that other leaders in red states have faced — largely thanks to an intransigent legislature that’s refusing to cooperate with the health reform law at any cost. Now, the GOP governor is redoubling his efforts to convince his fellow Republicans to expand the public insurance program under President Obama’s health law.
Snyder is hardly the only GOP leader in this situation. In Arizona, Gov. Jan Brewer (R) essentially shut down lawmaking while her party blocked Medicaid expansion, vetoing every bill that came to her desk until the Republican House Speaker finally agreed to schedule a vote on the Obamacare policy. In Ohio, Gov. John Kasich (R) implored his party to consider Medicaid expansion by invoking Ronald Reagan, pointing out that the former Republican president would have supported the initiative.
Not only is Rick Snyder one of the most unpopular governors in the country, but he is trailing his Democratic opponent Mark Schauer, 42%-38%.
According to PPP, Gov. Snyder continues to be one of the most unpopular governors in the country. His disapproval rating (52%) is 12 points higher than his approval rating (40%). Snyder’s approval rating with Independents is just 40%, and his disapproval is 51%. Snyder’s biggest problem is that Democrats disapprove of him more (78%) than Republicans approve of him (68%). Snyder is still being hurt by the right to work legislation that he rammed through. By a margin of 50%-40% those surveyed oppose right to work. The Republicans in the state legislature also have a 59% unfavorable rating, and respondents supported raising the minimum wage to $10 an hour by a margin of 49%-43%.
For the last six months, the polling in Michigan has been consistent. Rick Snyder’s disapproval ratings are high, and voters are angry about the right to work legislation.
Before the 2010 election Snyder led with Independents 58%-18%. Today he trails Mark Schauer with Independents 39%-37%. The governor has see his Democratic support dip from 17% to 10%, and his Republican support drop from 82% to 75%. The unpopularity of the governor and his fellow Republicans in the state legislature could be setting up a potential Michigan Democratic wave in 2014. Governorships in Michigan and Pennsylvania fell into Republican hands because Democrats did not show up in large enough numbers in 2010.
LANSING — Michigan-born rocker Ted Nugent struck a nerve today when he savaged the popular Pure Michigan tourism campaign and criticized Holland’s Tulip Time Festival in a radio interview.
Nugent said during a telephone interview on the Lansing-based syndicated program “Michigan’s Big Show starring Michael Patrick Shiels” that liberalism and political correctness prevent Pure Michigan officials from highlighting in its ads what he said are the state’s biggest draws — hunting and fishing.
“How dare the Pure Michigan campaign not mention any of that because some Hash Bash hippie in charge of Michigan’s promotional campaigns is afraid to put a dead salmon, or a dead grouse, or a dead deer on the tourist brochure; but will put paragliding and tulip festivals on that brochure when no one is going to come to Michigan to go hang gliding or to go to the tulip festival?” Nugent asked.
The comments provoked an anti-Nugent eruption on social media by residents who described the 1970s rocker known as the Motor City Madman as an irrelevant has-been who shouldn’t criticize now that he has moved to Texas.
Nobody at the Michigan Economic Development Corp., which oversees the award-winning Pure Michigan campaign, would admit today to being a “Hash Bash hippie.”
Read more at Freep (Detroit Free Press, not Free Republic)
Republicans need to win just six seats to gain control of the U.S. Senate in next year’s election, but the AP reports that the GOP is struggling mightily to recruit candidates.
The 2014 elections represent a big chance for Republicans as Democrats will be defending 21 seats to Republicans’ 14. In addition, retirement announcements by several senior Democrats — in Iowa, Michigan, and Montana — have given the GOP a chance to not face an incumbent.
But so far there’s been a combination of lack of interest from prospective Republican candidates and a lack of consensus in the party on who might be the best candidate.
From The Detroit News:
An Ingham County judge on Wednesday rejected the state of Michigan’s request to dismiss a lawsuit challenging the week-old right-to-work law on grounds the public was unlawfully locked out of the Capitol during heated debate on the bill in December.
Circuit Judge William Collette is allowing the suit brought by the ACLU of Michigan and labor unions to move forward. The plaintiffs allege the Michigan State Police and Legislature violated the Open Meetings Act when protesters were locked out of the Capitol during debate on the controversial legislation.
Two right-to-work laws went into effect last Thursday banning public and private sector union contracts from requiring financial support of the union as a condition of employment. Police and firefighters were exempted from the law, a carve-out that is the subject of a separate legal challenge of the law.
Lawmakers rushed the legislation to Gov. Rick Snyder’s desk in five days in December, bypassing the normal public hearing process during the Legislature’s lame duck session.