Breaking News: New York State’s Marriage Equality Act – Almost There? PASSED!

Tonight, the New York State Senate passed the religious exemptions amendment to Governor Cuomo’s Marriage Equality Act, 36-26. This is an exciting and important step forward, bringing the MEA much closer to becoming a reality.

State Senator Steve Saland (R-Poughkeepsie) made the all-important move from undecided to ‘Yes’.

Watch the live feed from the New York State Senate here, as Senator Saland is going to speak shortly.

Also, Rachel Maddow is covering this live.

10:30pm UPDATE!!! By a vote of 33-29, the New York State Senate becomes the first Republican-controlled legislative body to pass a Marriage Equality Bill.

“Calloo, Callay, O Frabjous Day!

(Updated) DADT vote in the Senate — REPEALED!!

UPDATE:  With a vote of 65 to 31, the odious policy of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell has been REPEALED.  All service members will now serve their country completely honorably.  This is a great day in America!

On this historic day, December 18, 2010, having gotten past the intransigent Senate filibuster of EVERYTHING, the odious policy of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell will come up for a vote.

A little background first. Prior to President Reagan, the policy had been that “homosexual conduct was inconsistent with military standards.” It was okay to be gay provided you didn’t do anything that was gay. Under Reagan, this was changed to “Homosexuality is inconsistent with military standards.” Now you couldn’t even be gay even if you were celibate your entire term of service. (There was actually a Senator who, during the DADT debate hearings, thought that it would be impossible for gay people to be celibate for four years. This same Senator was once married to Elizabeth Taylor. Go figure.)

The current policy concerning homosexuality in the military can be found here. Rep Patrick Murphy’s bill ( found here ) would not so much repeal DADT, but repeals Section 654 entirely. In other words, there would be no policy at all concerning gays serving in the military. There are already military rules against public displays of affection in uniform, and that would not change. So the idea that gays will start making out while in uniform is just plain wrong. They wouldn’t make out in uniform any more than straight people would. Passage of this law would repeal the “Policy concerning homosexuality in the armed forces.” Which would mean that being gay would not be an issue in and of itself.

Please join us in the comments section and watch the vote with us here.

Across The Pond: War in the Caucasus, Russia invades Georgia

add to : Add to Blinkslist : add to furl : add to ma.gnolia : Stumble It! : add to simpy : seed the vine : : : TailRank : post to facebook

It would be unnatural if the War in the Caucasus didn’t dominate all the news in Europe. We are, after all, a lot closer to there, than the US. Moreover, the imperialism of Putin’s Russia are alarming many of us.

A short summary of the situation, as I read it up and/or recall it: Georgia is one of the few democratic states of the former Soviet Union countries. Far from perfect, Sakashvili’s rule is less authoritarian than Putin’s or his successor/handpuppet Medvedew’s. Russia doesn’t like to have autonomous regions, most certainly not, where important oil pipelines are situated. So they busily destabilized the country by supporting the Abkhazian and South Ossetian breakaway provinces. The situation was more or less a draw, until the Georgian President Saakashvili misunderstood the support from the west, most prominently from the US as a kind of protection. So he proceeded to crack down on South Ossetian separatists, hoping the inevitable response by the Russians would catapult Georgia into the NATO. He was wrong.

The situation could be a forgotten war, like the one in Chechnya (an oil pipeline runs close to Grozny the capital), where unspeakable Russian atrocities have gone almost unnoticed by the world. But there are Georgian troops in Iraq and Georgia’s support for the US after 9/11. The US are now flying back much needed Georgian troops into the country and we should all take a minute to pray, that there won’t be any unpleasant incidents involving American and Russian troops.

Another story is developing around Pakistan’s President Pervez Musharraf. Pakistan seems to have been actively involved in transferring nuclear technology to North Korea, among others. And nuclear scientist Abdul Qadir Khan the alleged head of an international smuggling ring for nuclear materials was acting on the Musharraf government’s order. Musharraf, by the way, is going to be impeached for ruining his country. Well..

As I am not blogging on the Olympics, there is not much more to tell from here. The Caucasus crisis is deteriorating as I am writing this, so, back I’m going to watch this and let’s hope nothing even worse comes of it.

Ohhhhhh, that’s rich…

The Rawstory

The United States opposes China’s detention of dissidents and other activists, President George W. Bush will say Thursday in a pointed message on human rights on the eve of the Beijing Olympics.

According to an advance copy of the speech he will give in Thailand before going to China for the opening ceremony of the Games, Bush insisted that the criticisms were not intended to “antagonise” the Beijing leadership.

I see….the US is against China detaining dissidents and activists, even while we do the same things, and will say so in a speech on Thursday that will likely get worldwide coverage, but….. “Know whatahmean, know whatahmean, nudge nudge, know whatahmean, say no more?”  **terrorist fist jab**

“The United States believes the people of China deserve the fundamental liberty that is the natural right of all human beings,” he said in the prepared remarks, to be delivered during his last trip to East Asia as president.

“America stands in firm opposition to China’s detention of political dissidents, human rights advocates and religious activists,” Bush said.

“We speak out for a free press, freedom of assembly and labour rights not to antagonise China’s leaders, but because trusting its people with greater freedom is the only way for China to develop its full potential.”

“We press for openness and justice not to impose our beliefs, but to allow the Chinese people to express theirs,” he said.

I’ll bet $1 that even the Boy King can’t say that with a straight face.  Maybe I’ve just turned a corner into terminal cynicism.

Oregon Domestic Partnership Law Halted

AP, by Sarah Skidmore, via Common Dreams:

PORTLAND, Ore. – A federal judge on Friday placed on hold a state domestic partnership law that was set to take effect Jan. 1, pending a February hearing.

The law would give some spousal rights to same-sex couples.

Opponents asked U.S. District Judge Michael W. Mosman to intercede after the Oregon secretary of state’s office ruled in October that they had failed to collect enough valid signatures on a referendum to block the law.

The Oregon measure covers benefits related to inheritance rights, child-rearing and custody, joint state tax filings, joint health, auto and homeowners insurance policies, visitation rights at hospitals and others. It does not affect federal benefits for married couples, including Social Security and joint filing of federal tax returns.

After the Legislature approved the domestic partnership law this year, gay rights opponents launched an effort to collect enough signatures to suspend the law and place it on the November 2008 ballot for a statewide vote.

But state elections officials said this fall that the effort fell 116 valid signatures short of the 55,179 needed to suspend the law.

Funny how certain people try so hard to keep basic rights away from an entire segment of our population, especially when it costs them none of their own rights.

Some might say it’s the “gay,” but I think it’s just the “hate.”

Read the rest of the article here.

Good Morning from Europe – Saturday and 408 Days to Go!

White House: Measures afforded Gitmo detainees ‘remarkable’, historically speaking. As compared to what? Gunning down everybody, men, women, children alike? Torture?

The support for President Bush is waning in military families, too. Only 37% approve of the job President Bush is doing and only 36 % approve of the Iraq war.

The same trend holds true on the question of the treatment of active-duty military, veterans and their families. The poll finds that only 29 percent of all poll respondents say they believe the Bush administration is doing a good job handling those needs. Among military families, who directly benefit from those programs, 35 percent say the administration is doing a good job.

Hillary Clinton is doing the Stateswoman thing again. She met with Mr. Ian Paisley and Mr. Martin McGuiness on their American charm offensive tour. Ireland has found peace only lately after decades of a bitter civil war, which was fueled by said gentlemen, among others. Now the Irish reconciliation is praised as a model for peace making:

Northern Ireland is increasingly being touted at a global model for reconciliation, with Mr McGuinness advising Iraqis on how to settle sectarian, religious and tribal differences.

It took Ireland almost 90 years to achieve Peace.

An exhibition on the third floor of a library in New York has the right wing blogosphere foaming at their collective mouths. It shows mug-shot style pictures of leading representatives of the Bush Administration, among them the Great Deciderer himself. The pictures should have been safe from the views of right-wingers, given that they were in a library, where nasty, truthfilled things, books are being on public display, but somehow the Righties found out and immediatedly retaliated:

Tammy Bruce, a rightwing radio talkshow host, said: “At first I wondered who put al-Qaida in charge of the New York public library, but then of course remembered the American left is doing their bidding for them.”

And finally, Iran definitely has had it. North Korea is not taking any more from the wimps and kicks them out of the Axis of Evil!

“Europeanview” wishes a safe and healthy Saturday to everybody! Take care!

Kidnapping Legal – No kidding

The United States of America have, for the first time in a court of law, confirmed that kidnapping foreign nationals and bringing them to the US is in fact legal. The practice, thought to be reserved for terrorists, is applicable to everybody prosecuted by US courts, as unexpectedly experienced by Gavin Tollman a member of a family of investors, wanted for bank fraud and tax evasion in the US. Gavin Tollman escaped an attempted abduction in Canada in 2005. During a hearing on the extradition request last month Alun Jones QC clarified the view of the United States:

“(Alun Jones).. said that if a person was kidnapped by the US authorities in another country and was brought back to face charges in America, no US court could rule that the abduction was illegal and free him: “If you kidnap a person outside the United States and you bring him there, the court has no jurisdiction to refuse — it goes back to bounty hunting days in the 1860s.”

If US citizens are threatened by criminal prosecution by, let’s say the International Criminal Court in The Hague, see how the US reacts:

By May 2002, the Bush Administration “unsigned” the Rome Satute.

The U.S. threatened to use military force if U.S. nationals were held at the Hague

The U.S. continues to pressure many countries to sign agreements not to surrender U.S. citizens to the ICC.

Good Morning from Europe – 418 Days to Go

This Morning’s news round-up turned almost into a Middle East Special. General Musharraf’s resignation as army chief is today’s news. The wrap-up to yesterdays Annapolis Declaration is covered broadly in the media and unsurprisingly the scepticism has returned after yesterday’s reveling in celebration of impending peace. Analysis sheds a dark light on the situation of the broader Middle East and the prospect of an attack on Iran. Iraqi refugees suffer the consequences of US and Iraqi government propaganda and are returning to Iraq in greater numbers, not always out of their own free will. France has suffered renewed violence and in Germany a landlord had his very own domestic surveillance program. For more detailed information on all of these topics, see the post below the fold. “Europeanview” wishes you all a happy, healthy day. Take care!

Continue reading

U.S. Has Different Priorities in Saudi Rape Case

By Sue Pleming, Reuters:

The U.S. wants its close ally Saudi Arabia to attend a Middle East conference next week, so offered weak criticism about the news of increased penalties to the victims in a gang rape case.

“This is a part of a judicial procedure overseas in the court of a sovereign country,” said State Department spokesman Sean McCormack when asked to comment on the case.

“That said, most would find this relatively astonishing that something like this happens,” added McCormack.

That’s all Sean?  Relative astonishment?  Wow.  I find it astounding that the victims (a woman and her male friend) in a gang rape case receive any consequences at all, having been kidnapped and gang-raped by seven men, but apparently it merits 90 lashes for having been in the presence of “unrelated men.”  The woman’s attorney had the gall to object to the light sentences of the rapists, ranging from ten months to five years, so his client and the male victim received increased sentences of 200 lashes and six months in prison.

Presidential candidate, Barack Obama, has written a letter to Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, urging her to say something — anything — about the human rights problems in Saudi Arabia.

“That the victim was sentenced at all is unjust, but that the court doubled the sentence because of efforts to call attention to the ruling is beyond unjust,” wrote the Illinois senator.

He also urged the State Department to give this “demeaning ruling” a prominent place in its annual human rights report of abuses worldwide, which is now being compiled.

Saudi Arabia has not committed to attending the Middle East conference next week, sort of like the U.S. is non-committal about basic human rights.

Read the whole story here.