Tom Price’s confirmation as health secretary is a bad sign for LGBTQ Americans

  • On Friday morning, Tom Price was sworn in as secretary of health and human services after a vote that took place at 2:00 AM.
  • Even a quick glance at his stance on most issues might cause LGBTQ Americans to worry. 
  • As a member of Congress from Georgia, he voted to allow job discrimination based on sexual orientation and voted to define marriage constitutionally as between one man and one woman.
  • In an interview with BuzzFeed, American Civil Liberties Union legislative representative called Price a “longtime opponent” of LGBTQ rights who has “consistently supported efforts to use religion to discriminate." 
  • The Human Rights Campaign, an advocacy group dedicated to LGBTQ rights, gave Price a 0 rating — out of 100 — three years in a row when it came to defending queer rights in Congress. Read more (2/10/17 1:04 PM)

Do none of y’all actually read the text of bills Tumblr people hype up?

The FCC, the commission who’s only mandate is to regulate and control (keyword) communications inside the US (including censorship laws), reclassified all internet services as ‘telecommunications’ so that internet communications and commerce would fall under their jurisdiction.  AKA, the Government, through the FCC, took control of the internet in February of 2015.
They used the pretense of “Net Neutrality” to justify their power grab, but make no mistake.  For all the flowery language, the end result was that the FCC took control of the internet, and it is now within their rights to censor and regulate everything Americans can access online.

The FCC’s own report, in the paragraphs of so called ‘justification’ for their take-over, acknowledge that no ISP was actually threatening net neutrality.  There were no active examples of ISPs playing favorites.  When the FCC took over the Internet, not a single ISP was trying to “deceive consumers, degrade content, or disfavor … content”. All the FCC could say was that the ISPs had the tools to do it.  Well, guess what, they have since Internet became a thing, and not one of the ISPs has ever engaged in any such anti-consumer practices.  No paid slow-downs, no preferred content, nothing.  None of it ever actually happened, and there was no evidence that any ISP was even planning to do it.  But the FCC took control anyways.

S.993, the bill you’re saying will ‘kill net neutrality’, is literally one paragraph of simple english.  Its only purpose is to undo what I just described.  Here, let me quote it to you verbatim:

In General.—The rule adopted by the Federal Communications Commission in GN Docket No. 14–28 on February 26, 2015 (relating to broadband Internet access service), shall have no force or effect, and the Commission may not reissue such rule in substantially the same form, or issue a new rule that is substantially the same as such rule, unless the reissued or new rule is specifically authorized by a law enacted after the date of enactment of this Act.

In common, non-legalese, the bill says, “Hey, FCC.  This is Congress.  That wasn’t cool.  The internet is not yours to regulate.  We’re stopping you from enforcing that nonsense, and no, you can’t just write up an identical rule again.  Knock it off.”

It took me less than ten minutes of research and I think a total of 5 mouse clicks to get this information.  True, not everyone is fluent in legalese, but it’s not that complicated to understand.

DO NOT trust overhyped, unresearched opinions on proposed legislation as being representative of what’s actually contained in that legislation.  This bill is literally the Congress saying “Yo!  We shouldn’t be able to control the internet through the FCC!”  And that’s all it is!  There’s nothing else to it!

Do your research, people.  That’s what your precious internet is good for, isn’t it?


For all its imperfections (sometimes its circus-like sessions, the drama, the anger), the Philippine Senate, the upper chamber of the Congress of the Philippines, has always been an institution that safeguarded freedom. I know it is hard to look at it that way, but if one views it from the impartial lens of history, one sees a trend.

Every time the Senate is padlocked, or abolished, the Legislature of the country would be ridden with corruption (easily pressured by the Executive branch), oligarchy, herd mentality, and would be resistant to reform. That’s not to say that the current congress doesn’t have these problems, or that unicameralism (a one chamber legislature, as opposed to bicameralism of two chambers) is bad. For a type of Legislature may work best on a certain country or nation which has its own cultural and historical context, but another type may not.

The Philippines has tried a unicameral legislature (that is, without a senate) several times: under the un-amended 1935 Constitution (from 1935 – 1941), under the 1943 Constitution of a Philippines under Japanese Occupation (from 1943-1945), and under the 1973 Constitution of the Marcos regime (from 1973 to 1986), and in those three instances, the two latter set ups had the people’s voice repressed and/or silenced.

So what gives? The Senate, as compared to the House, is elected nationally, unlike in the House wherein representatives are elected by the regions they represent (thru legislative districts). As such, the Senate has a national view of things. Seeing however its shortcomings by missing the forest for the trees, the House of Representatives balances it. The Senate’s edge is its national outlook, hence, it is the testing ground for those who aspire for the highest government office in the land–the Presidency. The Senate is best seen in the spectrum of the past. Let’s look at it from the very colorful political life we had after World War II. 

The post-war Senate was legendary, in that, as intended by the framers of the 1935 constitution, it became the foremost venue for debate on national policy. In fact, the Senate would attract a large following (media and political analysts) in its sessions. And the senators then were very good with the arguments. These senators were not totally incorruptible, but reading the news articles of that time would give one the sense that these senators had the experience, the bravado, and the training to engage an impressive intelligent public discourse. The debates in the Senate and the exposé made by senators on the senate floor created waves in the media. And the people reacted and interacted.

The Senate has therefore been naturally on the forefront of opposition when the Chief Executive committed excesses. Take for example the bombing of Plaza Miranda on August 21, 1971, where in the Liberal Party’s miting de avance, several people were injured, including some senators. President Marcos immediately suspended the Writ of Habeas Corpus nationwide. The Senate opposed the move saying it was uncalled for since the bombing was not national in scope. Public opinion at the time said it was President Marcos who planned the bombing. It was Senator Eva Estrada Kalaw who urged the public to wait a little longer for the next presidential election lest the violent demonstrations that resulted be used as an excuse for martial law. In the 1971 midterm elections, the opposition won the majority seats in the Senate, a fitting reflection of public opinion that had swung against Marcos.

Seeing that the only recourse for extension of presidential term was for the Senate (a thorn in Marcos’ side) to be derailed or abolished, President Marcos planned to declare martial law, in the guise of preserving peace and order, on September 21, 1972, the date of the supposed adjournment of both Senate and House of Representatives. It was Senator Benigno Aquino Jr. in his famous privilege speech on the Senate Floor days before the 21st that revealed a secret plan of the administration, called “Oplan Sagittarius,” to use the military to take control of the country and impose martial rule. Marcos denied the allegations, not even telling his close associates the plan.

On the last minute, Congress scheduled a special session on September 21, moving the adjournment to September 23, 1972. And thus it was only on the midnight of September 23 that martial law was implemented, beginning with the arrests of key senators: Senators Benigno “Ninoy” Aquino Jr., Jose “Pepe” Diokno, Ramon Mitra, and Francisco “Soc” Rodrigo. Senator Salvador “Doy” Laurel was one of those on the list of arrest but was out of the country when it happened.

As the imprisoned senators, with approximately 8,000 individuals (composed of journalists and opposition leaders) clamored for the unconstitutionality of Marcos’ martial law declaration, initially Marcos promised never to supersede the 1935 constitution. But this was only lip service. Before the opening of congress on January 22, 1973 as set by the 1935 constitution, Marcos engineered the process of the creation of a new constitution, the 1973 constitution, which was quickly (minadali) ratified before the said date. The new constitution gave him almost absolute dictatorial powers, and it abolished Congress. Thus, when the legislators arrived on January 22, at the Legislative Building, the Senate and House Session Halls were found padlocked.

Martial law ended that era of that verve of political life for the country. Perhaps there is truth in the thought that the Senate today is but a specter or a shadow of the Pre-Martial Law Senate. But the institution, no matter how imperfect, is still a reflection of public opinion, and of our aspiration as an independent people of democracy.

Thus, on its 99th year since it was established via Jones Law in 1916, let us give a virtual/digital toast to our Senate, wishing that they would live up to the trust we have given them.

Photos above:

(1) Senators Doy Laurel, Eva Estrada Kalaw, Ramon Mitra, Gerry Roxas, and Jovito Salonga in 1973, outside the padlocked Senate Session Hall. (Photo from the Presidential Communications Development and Strategic Planning Office, PCDSPO)

(2) The pre-war interior of the Senate Session Hall in the Legislative Building (now the National Art Gallery of the National Museum of the Philippines). The room was not used during the Martial Law Period. In 1987 the reestablished Senate opened again its session here. The Senate eventually moved to the GSIS Building in Pasay in 1997. (Photo courtesy of the National Museum of the Philippines)

Fight For America

I’ll be on the streets taking part in Anti-Trump protests this weekend and I signed the change.org petition on challenging the electoral college (tho I don’t see much value on online petitions post-elections, coz ma babies ppl should have voted instead, but I understand taking whatever shot you got no matter how little), I’m more of a realist and pragmatic in my politics and activism. 

In short, I just don’t want to be loud, I want to get things done.

While we suffered devastating blow, we are not as powerless as we think. There’s much we can do NOW, not simply wait around and try to survive the next four years. In that process of survival, we can either be divided and let it be survival of the fittest, or move forward as one and be stronger together.

Trump will be in the White House for the next four years. While we can reject him as our legitimate president, we have to face the fact that he’ll most likely be in the Oval Office for the next four years, making decisions that will harm us and the rest of the world. But we are going to be his check and balance.

Here are stuff we can do from now until November 2020, and for most of them, they require little effort or time from us:


- protect the Filibuster. Right now, Democrats in the Congress only has the Filibuster in their arsenal, and GOP now wants to eliminate it and they can. Write letters and emails to your representatives, tweet or facebook them, and let them know you want the Filibuster to remain. Even and especially if your representative or senator is a Republican. They said they will serve as check and balance on the President no matter who it is, hold them to that. If Donald Trump wants something crazy passed through legislation, Democrats should have the ability to Filibuster it. If GOP can’t publicly oppose Trump, they need to let Dems have the means to do it. 

- Organize. Help the DNC (or a decent third party, if you’re so inclined) build their infrastructure and ground game. Canvass. Phone Bank. Register voters. Support local campaigns. We need democrats, liberals and progressives in our local and state governments, not just in Washington. And the work starts now, not during election years. Don’t bitch about the DNC a couple months before the elections, you’re too late. 

- Contact elected officials. Get to know your current councilors, mayors, state legislators, representatives, governors, AGs, etc. Let them know where you stand on issues, no matter their political affiliation. They serve you too.

-Subscribe to your local newspapers/ Watch local news. They are the ones who keep tabs on what your local government is doing and keep the citizens informed. National media depend on them to find out what’s going on in the country. Keep them in business. Write letters to the editor. Let them help you amplify your voice.

-Volunteer. Find the organizations that work on causes you are passionate about and take time to volunteer or give money. Subscribe to their newsletters. Follow their social media. Keep informed on what’s going on without the national media spin. 

- Pit Trump and GOP Congress against each other. This is where we get dirty, but we know Trump don’t have a good relationship with GOP Leadership. He’ll make Mike Pence work with them instead. So let’s then divide and conquer. We know Trump loves polls, and for better or worse, his loyalty is not to the GOP, it’s to his constituents. But polling will not be just from his supporters, it will be from Americans whatever their political leaning. What is consistent with Trump is he pay attention to the polls more than the GOP leadership. I’m not saying now we lay in bed with Trump, but by making GOP our common enemy, we might be able to trick him into allying with us. It’s not a far fetched idea, since his position is all over the place. 

At the very least, we can keep Trump occupied with designing and figuring out how to build his wall, and prevent him from focusing on anything else. 


We got work to do.

Senate midterm elections. 34 seats are up fro grabs. 26 are Democrats. 8 are Republicans. 

House mindterm elections. 435 seats are up for grabs.

Gubernatorial elections. 36 states will elect or re-elect governors. Even if you’re in a blue state, don’t sit this one out. MD is a blue state and we were surprised when we ended up with a Republican governor. Low voter turn out.

If we take back the congress and got more Democrat governors elected, GOP and Trump power will even be more limited. Arugably, Governors will have more effect on their citizens more than the federal government will. 


ONLY Democrats will have primary elections. Though let’s not be surprised if GOP holds one too, depending on how Trump’s first two years bodes for them.

Join campaigns of your candidates as early as you can, or if you don’t know who to support yet, at least take part in GOTV efforts, learn where they truly stand on issues, keep the campaigns positive. Donate. If we don’t want them depending on big money, then we have to donate ourselves, even if it’s just a dollar a month. 


No matter who wins the primary elections, let’s support the candidate. Let’s have one hell of a Convention once more without the drama. Let’s learn from the mistakes we made and do better. Most of all, whatever happens in Trump’s first term, let’s keep amplifying minority voices and our issues. We can’t make our national elections be just about White people and their anxiety. 

We are America, too. 

Many of these are quiet hard work. There will be days when it seems pointless or you’re only affecting three blocks within your neighborhood. We will have setbacks. We will get knock down. The Fight For America won’t always be the hot topic of the day. You’ll be doing work while the rest of the country seem to have forgotten, become apathetic, checked out, and now focused on other things.

But anytime we get knocked down, we get back up. And remember:

“Never Stop Believing That Fighting For What’s Right Is Worth It”

Texas State Legislature (again)

The Texas House of Representatives approved legislation Monday that would require transgender schoolchildren to use bathrooms that correspond to their “biological sex,” putting the state on the verge of enacting a “bathroom bill” similar to one that drew controversy in North Carolina.

The bathroom measure moving in Austin was attached as an amendment to an unrelated school hazard preparedness bill Sunday night, and that bill then won final approval from the Republican-led House early Monday on a 94-51 vote. It is considered likely that a version of the measure will pass the Republican-led Senate.

Gov. Greg Abbott ® has in the past expressed support for bathroom restrictions and is expected to sign a measure if it reaches desk. If it becomes law, Texas would be the only state with a statute restricting bathrooms for transgender schoolchildren. (WAPO)

Right. Despite the monumental failure and economic calamity that was HB2 in North Carolina (Which has been repealed but not fixed), the great state of Texas has decided that they need to do similar. The bill requires that schools, and only schools, have separate, single-stall bathrooms available for those that feel uncomfortable using the usual bathrooms. 

The argument in favor of the bill boils down to protecting their daughters. 

The argument in opposition of the bill boils down to Separate but Equal has already been struck down. 

The Texas Legislature had two other bills that would apply similar laws to all public buildings, but they failed to pass after backlash from businesses.

Macron will ride the wave of victory to bring sweeping reforms to France

French President Emmanuel Macron’s upstart party, En Marche! (Forward!), won a stunning victory in Sunday’s legislative elections. With this latest big boost, the youngest president in the six decade-long Fifth Republic has transformed the country’s political landscape in a matter of weeks and has potential to become one of the country’s most successful ever political leaders.

Yet, his ultimate success in coming years is still by no means guaranteed. This is not least because new legislators representing En Marche!, whose average age is early to mid-40s compared to the 60-70 of the outgoing lawmakers in the lower chamber, are drawn from a broad spectrum of political views and the cohesiveness of the bloc is uncertain.

Moreover, France’s political mood remains volatile and one indicator of remaining voter unease is the exceptionally low turnout in the legislative elections estimated at 43 per cent. Although the electorate has decided to favour hope over anger in this ballot, the tide could still turn against Macron if he fails to address widespread anti-establishment discontent fuelled by economic pain which has seen the country suffer years of double digit unemployment but also low growth.

Given the very high expectations now surrounding his presidency, Macron will be acutely aware that, despite early optimism over the election of the last two incumbents – Nicholas Sarkozy and Francois Hollande – both ultimately became unpopular one-term heads of state, despite also enjoying legislative majorities. Indeed, Hollande – who became the least popular president since records began – decided last year not to even seek re-election, the first incumbent not to try for a second term in the Fifth Republic.

The new president knows only too well that, if he fails with his programme, the primary beneficiaries of any discontent may well be other anti-establishment figures such as National Front leader Marine Le Pen and/or hard left veteran Jean-Luc Melenchon, who finished second and fourth respectively in last month’s presidential elections. Le Pen is perhaps the biggest threat, despite the fact that she got comprehensively beaten last month by Macron, given that she secured more than 40 per cent of the final round vote and is young enough to run potentially in several more French presidential elections.

In this context, Macron is now likely to try to push as fast as possible with his reformist agenda to overhaul the country’s politics and economy. This includes proposed labour laws to try to reduce the unemployment rate of around 10 per cent and also re-industrialise France through innovation-led policies. Collectively, this could provide a major fillip to the Eurozone’s second largest economy.

Macron wants to try to push his agenda as hard as he can in his first 100 days not just so he can secure as many successes as possible during his extended political honeymoon. In addition, he knows his opponents remain, at least temporarily, disorientated by his remarkable accomplishments over the last few weeks which have upended the traditional two party-politics status quo of centre-left Socialists and centre-right Republicans.

Not only did last month’s final round presidential election put the country into unchartered territory by being the first in the country’s modern history that neither the Republicans nor Socialists managed to qualify. Now En Marche! has handsomely beat both parties in the legislative ballots in a way that many people thought most unlikely even a few weeks ago given that the party was only founded in April 2016 and only had a relatively small number of candidates in place before Macron’s presidential victory last month.

Previously, many had thought the most likely outcome on Sunday would be En Marche! emerging as the largest single party, but without a majority, which could have left much of Macron’s agenda stymied. For much of the Fifth Republic, the incumbent president has enjoyed the support of a relatively secure legislative majority in the lower chamber from his own party.

Yet, Macron has defied the political odds and has not just won an outright working majority of more than 289 seats, but won one of the more sizeable majorities since former president Charles de Gaulle’s 1968 landslide victory. This could now help realign French politics, especially given that key figures from both the Socialists and Republicans have now rallied behind En Marche!

Aside from the rise of Macron and En Marche!, one of the stand-out results of the 2017 elections has been the decline of the Socialists. The party finished fifth in last month’s presidential ballot, and lost its status as the largest single party in the lower chamber on Sunday falling to less than 50 seats, the lowest ever tally by the Socialists.

The Republicans fared somewhat better, and will become the largest opposition force, but with less than 150 seats, down on the 200 seats last time around. Meanwhile, the National Front has barely improved on the two deputies it had in the previous legislature.

Taken overall, Sunday’s elections have significantly increased the prospects of Macron’s agenda being enacted and he will now press ahead as fast as he can with his reforms. Yet, given sky high expectations and the volatile public mood, there remains a key danger that he will not be able to realise the hopes that are held about his new presidency.

Andrew Hammond is an Associate at LSE IDEAS at the London School of Economics

anonymous asked:

Hi what is it that bothers you about gay marriage becoming legal in the US?

What am I supposed to celebrate here? That cis white gay people were successfully able to co-opt a protest against police brutality to push their agenda of “marriage equality”? That “marriage equality” represents the mainstream racist and classist gay rights movement that compares “not being able to marry” to racial apartheid? That liberals managed to turn a potentially radical movement into assimilationist notions of “marriage equality” and “gay pride”? That Uncle Sam has managed to tame the Radical Queer by telling him that all he needs is the ability to marry and have children like straight people, thus making him into another happy consumer who does not challenge the hegemony of a capitalist system? That every time a warmongering US senator or money-hoarding CEO “comes out”, gay people wear it as a badge of honor? That “marriage equality” has become a marker for progress in LGBT rights and it purposely glosses over racial violence, class inequalities, homelessness, discrimination, transphobia, police abuse, prisoner abuse? That by pushing for such legislation, LGBT rights activists have effectively strengthened the state and allowed it to regulate their sexualities and gender identities? That the state can now use gay poster boys to legitimize its discrimination against the new social others? That such legislation is supported by gay people in the military who rape, torture, murder people like me? That gay people take pride in working for the US army and bombing my homeland and killing innocent children? That such legislation relies on and perpetuates a nationalistic narrative that also legitimizes the abuse and torture of people from Third World countries? That such legislation represents precisely how homosexuality has been used as a tool of torture by US soldiers? That people in the US can now wave “marriage equality” and “gay rights” in my face to prove how progressive and modern they are, as compared to a “barbaric”, “illiterate”, “Moslem terrorist” like me? That democrats like Obama who have been pushing for “marriage equality” legislation for a long time can now finally use the “gay card” in the international political landscape to pinkwash US and bully other states into accepting their demands? That such legislation has potentially paved the way for US to use human rights abuses against LGBT people in Third World countries as an excuse to wage wars and pass economic sanctions in the future? That “LGBT rights” organizations working in the US can now hijack the struggles and experiences of queer people from Pakistan like me and use that to define the trajectory of queer rights movements working in my country? That such organizations can now open chapters in countries like Pakistan to “liberate the poor oppressed gays” and jeopardize the local movements and patronize the local activists because they can pretend to be superior on the basis of “marriage equality” in US? That people in the US can now look down upon me and my fellow brothers and sisters as some “backward homophobes” because our main priority is not to have gay weddings and glittered parades? What am I supposed to celebrate? That “gay” just became more capitalist and imperialist?


I did a shoot for the Guest Worker’s Alliance; they’re an organization bringing attention to the new ways people are earning income and the lack of support for freelance workers in current legislation. I was representing the “maker” demographic; people who run small craft businesses or freelance craftspeople/tradespeople. These are my favorite photos from the proofs they sent me!

Concerned Residents, Elected Officials, Rally in Response to Refugio Beach Spill

Urge Gov. Brown to Place Moratorium on Fracking and Support Federal Legislation to Block Dangerous Offshore Drilling

SANTA BARBARA, CA – Outraged over an oil pipeline burst that Tuesday spilled at least 105,000 gallons of oil into a nine-mile slick along the Pacific Coast near Santa Barbara, at least 150 community members joined non-profit leaders and local elected officials for a rally and press conference today at Santa Barbara County Courthouse to express the urgent need to place a moratorium on fracking and phase out oil development in California.  

“This spill of more than 100,000 gallons of oil is a consequence of the expansion of oil and gas drilling,” said Becca Claassen, Santa Barbara County organizer with Food & Water Watch. “In order to protect our coastline, our health and our future from toxic emergencies like this spill, Governor Brown must begin phase out oil production in California, starting with a ban on fracking and other dangerous extraction techniques both onshore and offshore.”

Participants called on Governor Brown to take immediate action to ban fracking both on shore and off shore within California waters and to support legislation introduced by U.S. Representative Lois Capps to stop new offshore oil and gas leases off the California coast and place a moratorium on offshore fracking in California.

“As we learn more about the cause of this accident, we must also focus on how to prevent future spills,” said Santa Barbara Mayor Helene Schneider. “We need to get ourselves to a place that’s less reliant on oil and more reliant on new clean and renewable technologies that do not put our precious and fragile coastline and beaches at risk, like solar and wind. And we need to make the shift in a way that is economically viable for the workers within the industry as well as all of us who use the energy sources. California and the nation can and should be a leader on these issues.”

The action came the day after Governor Jerry Brown declared a State of Emergency in an effort to facilitate clean up of the toxic, smelly mess centered at Refugio State Beach.

“The significant environmental and economic damage that has resulted from this recent oil spill highlights the fact that we must make decreasing our reliance on fossil fuels a top priority by expanding green energy alternatives,” said Santa Barbara County First District Supervisor Salud Carbajal.

The source of the spill was an 11-mile pipeline operated by Plains All American Pipeline, which, according to a Los Angeles Times report, “has accumulated 175 safety and maintenance infractions since 2006.”

“The oil crisis on the Santa Barbara coast is a call to action,” said Matt Renner, Executive Director of World Business Academy. “Our community is being called to lead the transition to a 100% renewable energy future. There’s no such thing as a ‘solar spill’; we call that a nice day. We have a unique opportunity to build a word-class energy system that can make this county fossil fuel-free in less than a decade. But we must act now.“

Linda Krop, Chief Counsel at Environmental Defense Center, pointed out that, the spill happened in spite of regulations to protect people and the environment. “No matter how strong the regulations and no matter how advanced the technology, there is no way to prevent a major oil spill,” Krop said.

The action was organized by Food & Water Watch, 350 Santa Barbara, Center for Biological Diversity, World Business Academy, Californians Against Fracking, Environmental Defense Center and Environment California.


Food & Water Watch works to ensure the food and water we consume is safe, accessible and sustainable. So we can all enjoy and trust in what we eat and drink, we help people take charge of where their food comes from, keep clean, affordable, public tap water flowing freely to our homes, protect the environmental quality of oceans, force government to do its job protecting citizens, and educate about the importance of keeping shared resources under public control.www.foodandwaterwatch.org


On Friday, March 18, 2016, in my city of Fayetteville Arkansas one of our city councilman Alderman La Tour entered a long-standing locally-owned business and harassed a respected employee, demanding she announce her gender for him.  During the exchange, he suggested he would prove his own gender by exposing himself in a public restaurant with children around.

Alderman La Tour’s disrespect for the image, staff, businesses and people of Fayetteville, and his deplorable public spectacle make him unfit to be our legislative representative.  We, the undersigned, demand his immediate resignation.

Sign this petition now:  https://www.change.org/p/alderman-john-la-tour-resign-from-fayetteville-city-council

Today, Wednesday, November 9, 2016, is my 18th birthday. The first thing I did when I woke up this morning was check the news. It was despairing. The United States of American had the opportunity to elect as the 45th president, a woman, for the first time in our country’s history, and we failed. Instead of crying over the news of an alleged sexual assaulter, chauvinist, sexist, homophobic, and racist person winning this election, I could have been crying tears of joy, that on my 18th birthday, the first female president was elected in the United States. That would have made me so proud of the country I love.

But that was not the world I woke up to. It was hard enough knowing that I missed being able to vote by a single day, but to have our country’s values skewed in such a way that we take steps backward in progress, and after the first African American president was elected, is terrifying.

I refuse to fear Donald Trump. He seems to thrive off of lies and hatred in order to further a personal agenda for power and money, and he represents everything I hate. What is really worrisome is what he represents. The fact that so many people have been convinced of his lies, empty promises, and regressive ideas that go against the true values of freedom and democracy that America is supposed to represent shows that we still have so much work to do.

I respect and love this country enough that I decided to study law and possibly devote a career to representing and fighting for the rights of the people of the United States. I believe we can do better, but I also know that it is much easier to succumb to fear than togetherness. Turmoil in the United States and across the world has always been there, but we have to decide how we react to those situations: with impulsive hostility or with measured foresight.

America has made an irreversible mistake, and though these words are nothing new to the ears of American citizens, they are essential to keep in mind. Law and government are supposed to represent change, our values, progress, and our democratic standard. If our government does not represent us, is not treating us in the way we deserve, it is in our hands to make that change. Bad laws are brought into being, but if they do not reflect us and the health of our society, we have the right to challenge them. Laws are malleable, not stagnant, and ever changing with progress. Never forget that our government works for the people, not for themselves. They represent all of us, not just a few. Regardless of personal beliefs and party affiliation, legislators’ responsibility is to represent everyone. 

I encourage everyone, especially young people, to not be passive and apathetic about politics and government because it is in our hands to decide change. If you claim that politics is unsavory, it is your job to fix it. Get involved, spread love, and stand strong in your beliefs because they belong to you and no one has the right to take them away.

BREAKING: Nineteen Lawmakers Urge NFL To Pay Cheerleaders Minimum Wage
In July, California became the first state to clarify its labor law to secure employment protections for professional sports teams cheerleaders.
By Lindsey Adler

Legislators representing eight states sent a letter to NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell on Wednesday urging him to implement a league-wide standard of classifying cheerleaders as employees – entitling them to minimum wage and other employee protections.

Currently, cheerleaders for NFL teams are classified as “independent contractors,” which allows teams to avoid paying minimum wage and impose a constant threat of being cut from the squad at any time. Few former and current NFL cheerleaders have spoken out about issue, and those who have brought lawsuits against their employers have spoken of being ostracized.

The letter from the lawmakers – representing California, New York, Texas, New Jersey, Illinois, Maryland, Ohio, and Pennsylvania – addressed directly to Goodell, reads in part:

Over the past year, the National Football League has been making headlines due to a series of wage theft lawsuits that have been filed by professional cheerleaders against their respective teams. To date, cheerleaders for the Oakland Raiders, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, New York Jets, Buffalo Bills, the Cincinnati Bengals have filed lawsuits alleging minimum wage violations. These class action complaints outline a system of abuses against cheerleaders including but not limited to failure to pay in a timely manner, reimburse for mandatory expenses, adhere to the notice and record keeping requirements under state labor laws, and penalties for minor infractions with unlawful deductions from earnings.

As you may know, legislation has been signed into law in California and introduced in New York that addresses these widespread wage theft cases. We write to you as this rampant misclassification of professional cheerleaders has come to the attention of legislators across the country where the issue of “employee” vs. “independent contractor” has been brought into question in various workforce sectors.

In July of this year, a bill introduced by California State Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez to clarify state labor law – classifying cheerleaders for professional teams as employees – was signed into law by Governor Jerry Brown. California is believed to be the first state to make this clarification, and Assemblywoman Gonzalez is one of nineteen signatures on the letter. New York Assemblywoman Nily Rozic and New York State Senator Diane Savino, both of whom introduced bills similar to Gonzalez’s in New York, signed the letter as well.

Gonzalez previously told BuzzFeed News that securing employment protections for all cheerleaders for professional sports teams could theoretically be accomplished by state-by-state legislation, but that the process would be unnecessarily tedious.

“The NFL needs to wake up and say they’ve been going about this the wrong way,” Gonzalez said in July. “They could fix this. The ball is in their court.”

The letter concludes with a reference to increased focus on the NFL’s handling of players accused of domestic and sexual assault:

“Over the past years, the NFL has had to address cases of sexual assault and domestic violence. Each of them resulting in negative headlines suggesting the League’s lack of support for women. With women currently making up 45% of the League’s fan base, it is clear that there is opportunity now to take a stance on issues that hinder economic and social progress in a nation that has come far in the fight for fair wages and equal rights.”

In an email to BuzzFeed News, NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy avoided a response to the letter’s request: “We support fair employment practices. The clubs that have cheerleaders are expected to comply with federal and state wage laws.” McCarthy did not respond to a request to clarify further.

Currently, the wage laws referenced by the NFL are vague, allowing NFL teams to classify cheerleaders as independent contractors, rather than employees. If the NFL does not agree to change policy league-wide, legislators can introduce bills similar to the one passed into law by California in July to clarify and re-classify cheerleaders as employees of their respective clubs.

In response to the NFL statement on the matter, Assemblywoman Gonzalez told BuzzFeed News in an email that the NFL “clearly doesn’t understand the term ‘fair employment practices’ and there have been numerous examples where its franchises have not lived up to their supposed expectation that wage laws are followed. This disregard for fair pay laws is what led to lawsuits by current and former cheerleaders and why lawmakers like myself have authored legislation to crack down on teams that are ripping off their female employees.”