Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Action Alert: Support Your Fellow College Democrats!!!

In case you haven't heard, Liberty Clown College University recently banned their school's College Democrats chapter.  Their reasons are that they are affiliated with the DNC whose positions go against the school's Christian affiliation, blah blah blah.

I know it's easy to brush this off as just another example of craziness from the Christian Right.  Even just now, I couldn't hold off from getting my snark on in the opening paragraph...  Though, as students and friends of the University of Notre Dame we should be able to identify with the kids at Liberty University, who despite their school administration's incredibly right wing positions, had the courage to start a chapter of College Democrats last fall in the heat of the election season.  As Notre Dame students, we've likely felt similar pressure from administration and fellow students when we have chosen to stand up and speak out for what we believe in.  Thankfully we attend an outstanding educational institution that welcomes (however grudgingly) perspectives from all sides of issues.  Let us take a moment to help out our fellow College Dems who do not share in that luxury.

I just received an update on Facebook from the national College Democrats of America organization, asking us to fill in this form letter (or better yet, write your own) and email it to the chancellor of Liberty University.  Please take a few moments to take this small action to help out your fellow College Dems!  ...Even the conservatives who troll our site should be willing to help with this.  Surely they too support freedom of speech and political identification.

E-mail address:

E-mail Text:
Dr. Chancellor Falwell,

Last week you suspended the chapter of College Democrats at Liberty University. As a student at ___________ I am deeply concerned by this decision. The students at Liberty University are dedicated to their Christian beliefs, ideals, values, and candidates represented by the Democratic Party. Limiting their participation and the discourse on your campus will diminish the quality of education for students and the credibility of your institution. We hope you decide to rescind your decision, as a student's right to support a political candidate or cause should not stop at the campus gates.

(insert your name) 

Thank you all for taking the time to do this!

Also, check out this interesting column from a student who transfered to Liberty University for a semester in order to do research for a book that looks to be insightful reading!

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

California Equality Fail

The California Supreme Court ruled today 6-1 in favor of upholding Proposition 8, the state's ban on same-sex marriage.  Obviously this is a huge blow to equal rights activists, the gay community and thousands of committed same-sex couples who continue to be viewed by the state of California as second class citizens.  I was hoping that this decision would have gone the other way, I've often taken pride in the fact that my home state typically serves as a leader of progressive thought for the rest of the country.  

Though today's decision is disheartening, it is not the end of the struggle for equal rights in California.  There will undoubtedly be a ballot initiative in the 2010 election to amend the constitution once again, this time reversing Proposition 8.  The chances of such an initiative passing are rather good.  Public support for gay marriage in CA increased only weeks after last year's election, once people saw through the bullshit promulgated by the Mormon Church, and realized that religious freedom was not threatened by gay marriage, and that this was quite simply a bigoted ballot measure.  Despite how discriminatory Prop 8 was, I'm actually not surprised at the court's decision.  It is quite a challenge to argue that a popularly elected amendment to the Constitution is "unconstitutional" when the constitution itself has been amended by the people to define marriage as between a man and a woman.  So for now, Prop 8 is legal... it just means 52% of Californians are bigots.

The upside to today's outcome is that this issue will return to the ballot box.  When gay marriage becomes legal in this fashion, as it inevitably will, conservatives can't logically argue that "activist judges" are making social policy.

Here are a couple key points about this issue:
  • The 18,000 or so marriages which took place when the court previously ruled 4-3 that it was unconstitutional to deny the right of gay couples to marry are still valid.
  • This does not affect a gay couple's right to form legally recognized domestic partnerships.
  • This ruling also has no affect on a gay couple's right to adopt and raise children (something many people who oppose gay marriage in this state don't realize is already legal).
The majority opinion argued that they must interpret the constitution "setting aside our own personal beliefs and values."  In this respect, I disagree.  Do we not appoint or elect officials to our legislature and courts exactly because of their beliefs and values?  

The lone dissenting opinion of Justice Carlos Moreno wrote that Proposition 8 "strikes at the core of the promise of equality that underlies our California Constitution," and, "places at risk the state constitutional rights of all disfavored minorities."

Opponents of Prop 8 could take their case to the Supreme Court.  I'd have to defer to some of our other writers, who know more about SCOTUS than I, as to how such a challenge might play out.  Though, as far as Californians are concerned, the best path for us to follow is to gear up for an electoral ballot initiative fight, which we would likely win and couldn't be turned into a wedge issue by the right as easily as a judicial decision could be.

And so it goes, we must amend California's Constitution once again... a ridiculous process that I personally think we should do away with.  I've argued for years that it makes our state virtually ungovernable (an opinion some people are coming around to)... an issue I may tackle in more depth in the future.  In the meantime, Californians need to look to progressive leaders like Iowa (wtf, did I just say that?) for a lesson in morality and civil rights before November 2010.