On this special day, we have three segments. Our first segment shows that special bond between mother and son in A Mother and Son in a Global Rythmn. Our second segment takes us to a conversation with a same sex Mom. Our third and final segment is a conversation and concert with Patrice Rushen.
We’ve just celebrated the 54th anniversary of the passage of Brown v. Board of Education. The Brown decision overturned Plessy v. Ferguson which gave birth to the separate but equal doctrine.
Although the U.S. Supreme Court struck down the separate but equal doctrine, this country still practice it in the form of civil unions. This practice also runs afoul of the separation of Church and State.
Citing equal protection under the law which is afforded through the 5th and 14th amendment of the U.S. Constitution, Eugene Robinson states in his latest post that it’s time for President Obama to put an end to this practice. Take a read and see if you agree.
MIA ON GAY MARRIAGE
By Eugene Robinson
Friday, May 8, 2009
Believe it or not, often I can see the other side of an argument. I know that tough gun control laws save lives and make our communities safer, for example, but I also see clarity in the Second Amendment. I support affirmative action, but I realize that providing opportunity to some worthy individuals can mean denying opportunity to others. Thinking about some issues involves discerning among subtly graded shades of gray.
On some issues, though, I really don’t see anything but black and white. Among them is the “question” of granting full equal rights to gay and lesbian Americans, which really isn’t a question at all. It’s a long-overdue imperative, one that the nation is finally beginning to acknowledge.
Before his inauguration, President Obama called himself a “fierce advocate of equality for gay and lesbian Americans.” Now, with the same-sex marriage issue percolating in state after state and with the Pentagon’s “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy ripe for repeal, it’s time for Obama to put some of his political capital where his rhetoric is.
On Wednesday, Maine became the fifth state to legalize gay marriage; similar legislation in New Hampshire has been sent to the governor. Politicians in Washington who want to avoid what they see as a dangerous controversy have a convenient escape: They can say that the marriage issue should be left to the states and that the question of whether a legal gay marriage in one state should be recognized everywhere has already been addressed by Congress and ultimately will be settled by the courts.
But that’s a dodge, not a stance. It certainly can’t be confused with leadership.
Favoring “civil unions” that accord all the rights and benefits of marriage — but that withhold the word marriage, and with it, I guess, society’s approval — amounts to another dodge. I’m concerned here with the way the law sees the relationship, not the way any particular church or religious leader sees it; that’s for worshipers, clergy and the Almighty to work out. Marriage is not just a sacrament but also a contract, and the contractual aspect is a matter of statute, not scripture.
Obama took the “civil unions” route during last year’s campaign and has stuck with it. While I see the political calculation — that was basically the position of all the major Democratic candidates — I never understood the logic. If semantics are the only difference between a civil union and a marriage, why go to the trouble of drawing a distinction? If there are genuine differences that the law should recognize, what are they?
It seems to me that equality means equality, and either you’re for it or you’re not. I believe gay marriage should be legal, and it’s hard for me to imagine how any “fierce advocate of equality” could think otherwise.
Obama sensibly advocates the repeal of “don’t ask, don’t tell.” He should press the case by publicly reminding opponents of letting gays serve openly in the military that their arguments — it would hurt morale, damage cohesion and readiness, discourage reenlistment — are often the same, almost word for word, as the arguments made 60 years ago against racial integration in the armed forces. It was bigotry then, and it’s bigotry now.
Obama should also make the obvious case that forcibly discharging capable, fully trained servicemen and servicewomen for being gay, at a time when our overstretched military is fighting two big wars, can only be described as insane.
What the president shouldn’t do is stay away from the marriage debate on the grounds that it’s not a matter for the federal government. For one thing, he’s on record as favoring repeal of the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act — a law that blocked federal recognition of same-sex marriages and relieved states of any obligation to recognize out-of-state gay marriages.
Does Obama’s stance in favor of repeal mean that he believes the federal government should recognize same-sex marriages? Does he also believe that, say, the state of Alabama should recognize a gay marriage performed in Iowa? If so, what is the practical difference between this position and just saying in plain language that gay marriages ought to be legal and recognized in all 50 states?
I’m not being unrealistic. I know that public acceptance of homosexuality in this country is still far from universal. But attitudes have changed dramatically — more than enough for a popular, progressive president to speak loudly and clearly about a matter of fundamental human and civil rights.
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Samatha Orobator faced death by firing squad in Laos on drug trafficking charges, but will be spared because she's pregnant.
A British woman facing possible execution in Laos will escape the death sentence because she is pregnant, a spokesman for the Laotian Foreign Ministry said Tuesday.
Samantha Orobator, 20, was arrested at Wattay airport in August after allegedly being caught with 680g (1.5lb) of heroin while she was trying to board a plane to Thailand.
Normally anyone found in Laos with more than 500g of heroin faces the death penalty by firing squad.
During her eight months in custody, Ms. Orobator who is believed to be five months pregnant was without legal representation. Doing the math, it appears that Orobator became pregnant while in custody in the notorious Phonthong prison, possibly as a result of rape.
This unfortunate fact has worked in her favor, since another provision of the law prohibits the execution of pregnant women.
Authorities have indicated that Orobator might have already been pregnant when she was arrested, and that she lost the first baby while in prison.
Allegedly, Orobator declared on the day of her arrest in August that she was two months pregnant by her boyfriend. After she had already been in jail for some time, Orobator supposedly asked for medication to cure a vaginal infection. It is believed it caused her to lose the child.
Laos authorities said officials are investigating Orobator’s pregnancy.
Amnesty International says there have been no executions in Laos since 1989. Those sentenced to death are believed to have remained on death row.
Orobator’s mother a student at Trinity College Dublin, said she found out about her daughter’s pregnancy in January. Jane Orobator told CNN she heard the news from the British Foreign Office, which has been monitoring the case.
There is no British Embassy in Laos; a British vice-consul arrived in the country over the weekend, the British Foreign Office said.
Jane Orobator said she cannot believe her daughter was involved in drug trafficking, and she was surprised to learn she was in Laos.
“I don’t know” what she was doing there, she said from her home in Dublin, Ireland. “The last time she spoke with me, she said she was on holiday in London and she would come to see us in Dublin before returning to the UK in July.
“She is not the type of person who would be involved in drugs,” she added.
Supporters are worried about her health, especially given her pregnancy, states barrister Anna Morris who is acting as legal counsel for Ms. Orobator. “She became pregnant in prison. We are concerned that it may not have been consensual and we are concerned that someone who finds herself in prison at 20 is subject to exploitation,” she said. Morris was sent from London to Laos to try to help Orobator.
The lawyer arrived there on Sunday and is hoping to visit Orobator on Tuesday. A British consul has also arrived in the country.
“I am the first British lawyer who has asked for access to her,” Morris said. “She needs to have a local lawyer appointed to her. We are pressing very hard for the local authorities to appoint one.”
She said it was normal in the Laotian justice system for a defendant to get a lawyer only days before a trial.
Samantha Orobator was born in Nigeria and moved to London with her family when she was 8, her mother said.
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US Supreme Court Justice David Souter has announced that he will be retiring at the end of the term or next month. President Barack Obama now has the opportunity to name a replacement and put his stamp on the high court.
President Obama vows to have a replacement on the bench by the time the court begins its’ new term on the first Monday in October. Hmmm, sounds like a movie.
“Now, the process of selecting someone to replace Justice Souter is among my most serious responsibilities as president, so I’ll seek someone with a sharp and independent mind and a record of excellence and integrity,” Obama said.
Obama is said to prefer a woman for the job. His spokesman Robert Gibbs said Obama, a former constitutional law professor in Chicago, was seeking “diversity of experience” in his nominee, and that a “rigorous” vetting process would be launched.
Only two women have served as justices –Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Sandra Day O’Connor who retired in 2006 — and only two African-American men, Thurgood Marshall and current Justice Clarence Thomas, who up until recently appeared to be no more than a rubber stamp Scalia conservative.
Currently four conservatives and four liberals — with moderate Anthony Kennedy, 72, holding the middle ground — compose a balance on the court.
Obama’s choice is likely to prevail in the US Senate, where Democrats hold 59 seats to the Republican’s 40, but wrangling over a successor could push the appointment beyond when court reconvenes in October.
“I trust the president will choose a nominee for the upcoming vacancy based on their experience and even-handed reading of the law, and not their partisan leanings or ability to pass litmus tests,” Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell said in a statement.
The cable news pundits are making speculations as to whom will be selected.
Among the pundit’s leading contenders are solicitor general Elena Kagan, 49, a former dean of Harvard Law School who currently represents the government before the court; Hispanic judge Sonia Sotomayor, 54, who sits on the US Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit; and federal judge Diane Wood, 58, who taught at the University of Chicago at the same time as Obama.
Elena Kagan –In 1999, President Clinton tapped Kagan for the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, only to have the nomination blocked by the Senate Judiciary Committee, then controlled by Republicans. But many think an Obama administration wouldn’t hesitate to tap her for a vacancy on the U.S. Supreme Court. As dean, she managed to steer Harvard Law’s first-year curriculum from a 130-year-old case law approach to a more modern problem-solving model, gaining unanimous approval for the plan in a 2006 faculty vote. Kagan, 48, whose academic work focused on First Amendment issues and administrative law, is considered a skilled consensus builder. She clerked for Judge Abner Mikva in the D.C. Circuit and Justice Thurgood Marshall in the Supreme Court, and held a series of policy positions in the Clinton administration.
Judge Sonia Sotomayer
Sonia Sotomayor — A political centrist, the Bronx-born Sotomayor has been regarded as a potential high court nominee by several presidents, both Republican and Democrat. Reared by her widowed mother after the death of her father, a tool-and-die worker, she has an attractive life narrative and an even more attractive resumé. She was an editor of the Yale Law Review, did heavy lifting as a prosecutor under legendary New York County District Attorney Robert Morgenthau, and worked in private practice as an intellectual property litigator.
She was first appointed to the federal bench by President George H.W. Bush, then to the appeals court by President Clinton. In 1995, she won the gratitude of baseball fans by issuing an injunction against team owners, setting the stage for the end of the eight-month strike that led to the cancellation of the 1994 World Series.
Judge Diane Wood
Diane Wood — Judge Wood reminds some of Justice Antonin Scalia; in her opinions, like his, seeds are often planted for future cases. A Clinton appointee to the appeals court, Wood is seen as one of the country’s smartest judges. She’s a liberal who has authored a fair amount of high-profile dissents in the conservative 7th Circuit. In 2002, one such case regarded an Indiana law mandating in-clinic counseling for women seeking abortions. Bucking the majority, Wood wrote that the law was burdensome to women, particularly those in rural areas.
Also said to be a front-runner is Leah Ward Sears, 53, an African-American presiding over Georgia’s state supreme court.
Leah Ward Sears
Leah Ward Sears — Chief Justice Leah Ward Sears has achieved a distinguished position in Georgia’s history. She was the first African-American woman to serve as Superior Court Judge in Georgia. When appointed by the Governor of Georgia in February, 1992, she was the first woman and the youngest person ever to serve on Georgia’s Supreme Court. Also, in retaining her appointed position as a Supreme Court Justice, Justice Sears became the first woman to win a contested state-wide election in Georgia.
Missing off the pundit’s list is Kathleen M. Sullivan.
Kathleen M. Sullivan
Kathleen M. Sullivan — Sullivan, 53, was dean of Stanford Law School from 1999 to 2004, and in private practice she’s represented a wide variety of corporate clients and trade associations. But she may be more widely known for her pro bono work in high-profile cases involving civil rights and civil liberties. Considered a constitutional scholar with the ability to find clarity in complex legal concepts, Sullivan has argued four cases before the Supreme Court. She now chairs the national appellate practice group at Quinn Emanuel and is licensed to practice in California, Massachusetts and New York. Sullivan still teaches at Stanford, but she counts as her mentor Harvard professor Laurence Tribe, an avid Obama supporter.
Florida Chief Justice Peggy A. Quince
The President as well as the cable pundits need to travel a little further south and take a serious look at Florida’s Chief Supreme Court Justice Peggy A. Quince.
Born in Norfolk, Va., Quince was educated and began her career in Washington, D.C. After earning a bachelor’s degree from Howard University in 1970 and a law degree from The Catholic University of America in 1975, she went to work as a hearing officer for Washington’s Rental Accommodations Office, which administered what was then a new rent-control law.
After a brief return to Norfolk, she opened a law office in 1978 in Bradenton, Fla.
Quince joined the state attorney general’s office in 1980 where she headed the busy Tampa bureau for five of her nearly 14 years as an assistant attorney general, handling death-penalty appeals for another three. Governor Lawton Chiles tapped her for an appellate court seat in 1993, and then during the last days of his term as Florida’s governor made her the first African American woman to serve on the state Supreme Court late in 1998. Chiles who is a legendary figure in Florida politics died four days later. Chiles’ incoming successor, Republican Jeb Bush supported Quince’s appointment, making Quince the first justice to be appointed by two different governors from differeing poltical parties.
When Quince was sworn in at a 1999 ceremony, she reserved six rows of seats for young people from her Tampa church, New Hope Missionary Baptist Church. Her civic and community activities include membership in Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc., Jack and Jill of America, Inc., the Urban League, the NAACP, and The Links, Inc.
Justice Quince has received numerous honors and awards.
In essence, Peggy A. Quince fits all the qualifications including those of Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell for the next U.S. Supreme Justice.
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LOUISVILLE, Ky. – Mike Sprowl surveyed the placid lunchtime scene in downtown Louisville just two days before the Kentucky Derby.
Perhaps the threat of rain held down the turnout, he ventured.
“Or it could be the economy,” the longtime Louisville resident added.
For many years, Derby Week has provided a jolt for Louisville’s economy as celebrities and ordinary fans alike overrun hotels, restaurants and shops.
In boom years, the bonanza amounts to nearly $120 million for area businesses, according to Jim Wood, president and CEO of the Louisville Convention & Visitors Bureau.
This year, the recession has reined in some of the usual spending spree for an event that not only kicks off horse racing’s Triple Crown season but amounts to a giant party featuring mint juleps and brightly plumed hats.
Deep-pocketed corporations made Louisville a favorite destination in years past, but in these tough times some companies that used to reward top employees or customers with lavish Derby trips stayed away.
The odds of prime downtown hotels having vacancies leading up to the Derby once seemed more remote than a longshot winning the Run for the Roses. Yet the Galt House Hotel, a downtown fixture, still had about 200 vacancies Thursday, and that was after a late surge in reservations, a hotel official said.
“This is the first time we’ve ever had rooms available for Derby, so we definitely know it’s a reflection of the slow economy,” said Rita Reedy, a marketing director for the company that owns the Galt House.
Wood predicted overall business will drop by 12 percent to 15 percent for hotels, restaurants and other hospitality businesses. Corporate business could be off by up to 40 percent, he said.
At the downtown Maker’s Mark Bourbon House & Lounge, two party rooms typically booked by corporate customers went unclaimed this year for Friday and Saturday nights, said assistant general manager Marc Dempsey.
One room typically was rented out for $10,000 per night on Derby-eve and Derby night; the other room would go for $5,000. This year, the rooms are being converted for regular dining room seating.
“People are basically saying right now, ‘Do you want to get paid or do you want to do a corporate party?”’ Dempsey said.
The regular diners had the Maker’s Mark lounge completely booked Thursday through Saturday nights, yet Dempsey still expects overall business to be down from last year. He also expects that to be commonplace in town.
“You want to be conscious of what you’re spending,” said Matt Kohan of Chicago, who grabbed lunch at Dempsey’s place after getting into town earlier Thursday. “But at the same time, if you’re here you’re going to make it worth your while. I think there’s a little constraint on the excess.”
According to her tweet, Star Jones who is in town for the Derby found a bargain last evening in dining at The Chicken King. “Lord have mercy! At the Chicken King in Louisville we got chicken shrimp yams cabbage potato salad red beans & rice and desert for $15!!!”
Not everyone is scrimping, though.
Four friends in town from Louisiana planned to spend about up to $8,000 per couple on airline tickets, hotel rooms, prime Derby tickets near the finish line, meals and new outfits for the big day at Churchill Downs. And that didn’t even include the amount they planned to plunk down on wagers.
“Do it right,” said Dale Thibodeaux of Midland, La. “It might be the only time we come.”
The couples had planned the Derby trip for some time as a 50th birthday celebration for one of them.
Meanwhile, lower demand among corporations created opportunities for others to snatch up Derby tickets.
The result could be a bigger turnout on Derby Day by people from the region, Wood said.
In the past, hotels were fully booked months in advance of the big race. Wood said he’s never seen a year when people waited so long to decide whether to attend.
“The uncertainty of the economy has caused people to delay their decisions,” he said.
Churchill Downs announced several months ago that it was freezing most Derby ticket prices this year as a result of the struggling economy. Derby tickets range from $88 to $804 apiece. Derby general admission is $40.
Even if some race fans passed up this year’s Derby, Churchill wasn’t worried.
“Over the years, we’ve always had more demand than we’ve had supply,” said Kevin Flanery, a Churchill senior vice president.
The struggling economy has also been showing up in wagering on thoroughbred racing.
Through March of this year, wagering on U.S. thoroughbred racing was down 9.35 percent from a year ago, according to Equibase. Wagering last year totaled nearly $13.7 billion, down 7.2 percent from 2007.
“We’re seeing declines just like every other sector. Not as bad as others,” said Alex Waldrop, president and CEO of the National Thoroughbred Racing Association.
Last year, $114.6 million was wagered on the Derby.
This year’s slowdown in Derby-related spending has many looking toward next year, with hope things will be better.
“We really feel like it’s a one-time blip,” Reedy said.