Wednesday’s Supreme Court rulings on same-sex marriage represented a major victory in the battle for social justice. But the Court stopped short of proclaiming same-sex marriage a basic right. It left it to the states to determine whether gay Americans have the same right to marry as their straight counterparts.
This is the same logic — states’ rights — that allowed the Court this week to weaken the Voting Rights Act of 1965, essentially giving states permission to discriminate against Blacks and Latinos in gerrymandering electoral districts and erecting obstacles to voting. Soon, we’re likely to see a number of Republican-controlled states, including Texas, redraw legislative boundaries to make it harder for minority candidates and white liberal candidates backed by minority voters (such as Texas State Sen. Wendy Davis, who courageously waged a filibuster this week to protect women’s reproductive rights) to win public office and to change state laws to make it harder for people to vote.
Yesterday’s historic Supreme Court rulings supporting marriage equality marked an important step forward for justice for all workers. Labor unions in California and across the nation have been strongly united for marriage equality for years. In fact, the California Labor Federation and 50 other labor organizations signed on to an amicus brief in support of marriage equality back when the challenges to Prop 8 first began nearly five years go.
Tim Paulson of the San Francisco Labor Council, which was one of the most vocal parties to the amicus brief, celebrated the announcement, which happens to coincide with the 43rd annual San Francisco Pride celebration that kicks off this weekend.
Here in San Francisco, where it all started, workers are celebrating this great civil rights victory. As we say, “an injury to one is an injury to all.” Now all of our LBGT members and their partners can be treated with equal respect.
The blowback from getting high for some people is starkly simple: Americans want drugs that ship through Mexico, and the resulting crime surrounding this commerce exacts a toll on both sides of that frontier. The devastation, of course, has been far worse in Mexico, where cartels battle each other, as well as the government and innocent citizens, in a hurricane of violence that seems to be surging out of control.
A delegation of Los Angeles writers and artists recently traveled to Mexico City and Cuernavaca for several days of dialogue about the crisis. The L.A. group, which included author and professor Rubén Martínez, playwright-activist Raquel Gutiérrez and multimedia artist Rafa Esparza, heard how Mexico’s artists face the violence of the drug war. They spoke to poet Javier Sicilia, whose son was murdered in a cartel-related crime in 2011; critic and “artivist” Mónica Mayer; singer-songwriter Leticia Servín; poets Gabriela Jáuregui and María Rivera, and journalist Daniel Hernández,
A group of nuns began their 6,500-mile bus journey late last month in New Jersey with a view of Ellis Island. Since then, their brightly-decorated blue bus with images of hands raised — to show support for families and immigration reform — has rolled for more than 5,000 miles down Eastern Seaboard roads and into the South. This week marks the California leg of the “Nuns on the Bus” tour supported by NETWORK, a national Catholic social justice group. The nuns’ goal during this 15-state, 40-city whirlwind event which ends on June 18: “Standing with immigrants, faith-filled activists, and Catholic Sisters who serve immigrant communities.”
Last Wednesday, the nuns were scheduled to speak with community groups in Nogales, Arizona and federal lawmakers in Phoenix. After the meeting with government leaders in Phoenix, they joined immigration groups to discuss the tour, the importance of family unity and citizenship for 11 million undocumented immigrants in the country,
Maria Elena Durazo serves as Executive Secretary-Treasurer of the Los Angeles County Federation of Labor, which represents more than 600,000 union workers. She is also the Chair of the National AFL-CIO’s Immigration Committee and recently spoke to Frying Pan News about the pending immigration bill in Congress, as well as a new student film competition that her organization and UNITE HERE are sponsoring. (Part 1 of this interview appeared yesterday.)
Frying Pan News: Is there something in particular that bugs you about the immigration bill?
Maria Elena Durazo: Yes! We want to make sure that there’s an alternative to the past guest worker model. We’re hopeful that we can fix the language through what’s commonly referred to as the Labor-Chamber agreement. There are three elements to it. One, that there be an objective, data-driven analysis of the future needs of workers in this country.