In October of 2011, Governor Jerry Brown signed into law the California Dream Act—which allows undocumented but high-achieving immigrant students to receive state funds to help pay for college. It was a monumental victory for tolerance and the culmination of a long fight—Arnold Schwarzenegger repeatedly vetoed similar measures during his tenure in the California governor’s office.
Come November 6, however, that fight could begin all over again if California’s Proposition 32 passes. The initiative will outlaw the use of automatic payroll deductions from union members and corporations for political purposes, crippling union political activity and empowering the measure’s billionaire backers to impose their political will on the state. While state unions passionately fought for the California Dream Act’s passage, they were opposed by politicians with ties to Prop. 32’s backers. Though they might not be rabid with anti-immigrant bile, Prop. 32’s moneymen have no problem funneling money to politicians who are.
Brothers David and Charles Koch, and other libertarian billionaire backers of Proposition 32, including Charles Munger Jr., like to wrap themselves in the toga of individual freedom. However, despite their supposed ideological fervor for personal liberties, they have allied themselves with some of the nation’s most vociferously anti-gay religious activists – all for a campaign to outlaw the use of automatic payroll deductions from union members and corporations for political purposes. Although it is not widely seen as a “gay issue,” Prop. 32’s passage could have far-reaching consequences for California’s gays and lesbians.
“If we lose organized labor as a funded political ally in California, the LGBT movement is in big trouble,” says Courage Campaign founder and LGBT activist Rick Jacobs. “Would you rather have Howard Ahmanson thinking about your rights in the workplace, or organized labor? That’s what this is about. Mark my words, people like the Kochs and Ahmanson are not thinking about how LGBT people are welcome in the workplace and not discriminated against.”
(The following post is an abbreviated version of a longer feature that appears behind a subscription wall on The Nation‘s site. The full post can be read here with the author’s permission.)
There’s nothing all that remarkable about Rustin High School in West Chester, Pennsylvania—except that it is named for a gay black man who was a pacifist and a socialist. Even more amazing is that it was a Republican-dominated school board, in a conservative district that’s 89 percent white, that voted in 2002 to name the new school after Bayard Rustin, who grew up in West Chester.
Rustin helped catalyze the civil rights movement with courageous acts of resistance. In 1947 he led the first Freedom Rides and wound up serving 30 days on a chain gang, one of many times he was arrested for civil disobedience. He was the chief behind-the-scenes organizer of the 1963 March on Washington.
The 20th anniversary of the Los Angeles riots has triggered a number of fascinating reports examining the underlying causes of the unrest and the changes (in attitudes and actions) that have taken place in the past two decades.
Scholars at the University of Southern California produced a report called L.A. Rising: The 1992 Civil Unrest, the Arc of Social Justice Organizing, and the Lessons for Today’s Movement Building. Their counterparts at L.A.’s Loyola Marymount University, published 20th Anniversary of the Los Angeles Riots Survey. And my colleagues at the Los Angeles Alliance for a New Economy (on whose board I proudly serve) published a series of reflections by L.A. activists called Rage and Reflection: Meditations on LA’s 1992 Civil Unrest and the Ongoing Transformation of a City.
Here’s a fun fact you probably didn’t know: Arizona’s notorious SB 1070 law was born in a Walmart.
Yes, the inspiration for the most draconian anti-immigrant legislation in the nation, a measure that permits law enforcement to ask about immigration status, one that swings the door wide open for racial profiling—SB 1070—reportedly sprang from a moment of inspiration at a Walmart checkstand.
This origins story is brought to you courtesy of the Ministry of Citizenship, a faux MinuteMan-style group that purports to be a fan of the legislation. According to the Ministry, it happened this way: state representative Russell Pearce, the measure’s sponsor, “hatched the idea for SB 1070 late one night while waiting in the checkout line at Walmart.”
“Here I was just trying to buy some Cheetos and cat litter, and the crowds were just horrendous,” the Ministry quotes Pearce as saying.