What we missed while the nation celebrated marriage equality

Posted on 03 Jul 2015 at 8:30am

Smoke rises from Mount Zion African Methodist Episcopal Church, which caught fire Tuesday night, June 30, in Greeleyville, S.C. This was the seventh black church to burn since the murders of nine people inside Mother Emmanuel AME Church in Charleston on June 17. Some earlier fires have been determined to be arson, but the Mount Zion fire was started by lightening, officials say. (Veasey Conway/The Morning News via AP)


JAMES RUSSELL  |  Staff Writer

While hundreds of thousands of LGBT people and their allies were celebrating the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision upholding marriage equality, black churches in the south were burning; New Jersey’s Republican Gov Chris Christie was preparing to launch his presidential campaign; and Texas Eagle Forum’s Cathie Adams was spewing pea soup.

Yes, the world didn’t stop despite the decision. But a paper like ours, run by a small but effective staff, could only cover so much.

That doesn’t mean other issues were not important. We were just swamped. Now that we’ve had a chance to breathe at Dallas Voice, here’s what else happened across the nation since Friday, June 26.

Pivotal LGBT rights anniversaries

June 28 marked two key anniversaries in LGBT history: the 46th anniversary of the Stonewall Inn raid in New York City and the raid on the Rainbow Lounge in Fort Worth. Both blazed a trail for LGBT equality.

The Stonewall Riots sparked a national movement; timing of the Rainbow Lounge was pivotal, considering that it happened on the 40th anniversary of Stonewall. The Rainbow Lounge raid sparked a new spirit of activism in Fort Worth’s LGBT community, birthing the creation of Fairness Fort Worth and prompting a wave of much-needed reforms and outreach in city government.

Other Supreme Court rulings

• In King v Burwell, the court in a 6-3 decision dismissed a challenge to the subsidies for Americans to buy health insurance, a pivotal part of the Affordable Care Act. Chief Justice John Roberts joined the majority.

The ruling was a victory for President Barack Obama and the Democrats who passed the ACA. It didn’t come without criticism from the majority, however. The justices implied in their opinion many passages in the act are poorly written and must be addressed by Congress.
The ruling particularly affects Texas because the suit took aim at states — like Texas — that didn’t create their own health insurance exchanges.

For people with HIV, the ACA has meant being able to see a private doctor and go to a hospital other than Parkland. For AIDS agencies providing direct healthcare, it’s meant a new revenue source and the ability to help more people without insurance.

• In Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs v The Inclusive Communities Project, the court upheld in a 5-4 decision the Fair Housing Act of 1968. Attorney Mike Daniel, former husband of County Commissioner Theresa Daniel, represented Dallas’ Inclusive Communities Project, and prevailed in the U.S. Supreme Court.

The decision allows the Dallas nonprofit to sue for discrimination, even if the bias wasn’t intentional. Money for housing projects usually went to Dallas’ poorest neighborhoods rather than placing low-income housing throughout the city. That could affect plans for Dallas Housing Authority’s largest project, slated for Kings Road between Maple Avenue and Cedar Springs Road.

“Disparate impact claims under the Fair Housing Act are key to addressing systemic housing discrimination and segregation in the United States, including against LGBT people,” said Human Rights Campaign Legal Director Sarah Warbelow following the decision.

• In Arizona State Legislature v Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission, the court ruled in a 5-4 decision that Arizona voters could remove state legislators from the decennial redistricting process. The panel was established after a 2000 voter referendum. Arizona is one of two states where citizens lead the redistricting process without pressure from legislators. California is the other.

• In Glossip v Gross, the court ruled in a 5-4 decision that prisons could still use a drug linked to botched executions in Oklahoma for executions. Three inmates brought the case, alleging a drug was ineffectively used as a sedative before a painful lethal injection.
In three cases, blows against the Environmental Protection Agency, the court ruled in a 5-4 decision that Environmental Protection Agency violated the Clean Air Act because it did not conduct a cost-benefit analysis before limiting power plants’ mercury emissions as well as other pollutants.

• The court also issued an order delaying the enforcement of HB 2, the restrictive anti-abortion law passed in the state legislature in 2013. The law is delayed while a case against the law is appealed to the Supreme Court.

Arsonists blamed for multiple Southern church fires

Following the tragic shooting of nine members of an historic black church by a white supremacist in Charleston, S.C., the hate didn’t stop.

At least five Southern churches, most predominately black, have since been set on fire.

However, the FBI, working with the National Weather Service, believes a lightning strike caused a fire at Mount Zion African Methodist Episcopal Church in Greeleyville, S.C., the most recent of the church fires. Arson was originally suspected in that case, too, because two members of the Klu Klux Klan burned down the original structure 20  years ago.

Arson has been determined as the cause of two fires — one in Charlotte, N.C., and one in Knoxville, Tenn. — but arson is only suspected in two other fires, in Georgia and South Carolina.

Whether unrelated to the tragedy in Charleston or not, the NAACP tweeted “State Conferences and units are now alerting black churches to take necessary precautions. #WhoIsBurningBlackChurches.”

Republican buffoonery, questions over Hillary’s e-mails


Donald Trump


Another day, another Republican presidential nominee.

On Tuesday, June 30, New Jersey Gov Chris Christie announced his long-shot bid for the GOP’s presidential nomination. Once considered a frontrunner, the brash governor has been mired in controversy following reports that his office sought revenge against a mayor who declined to endorse the governor for re-election by bringing traffic to a halt. The town serves as a gateway for commuters from New Jersey who work in New York City.

And really, another day, another Republican presidential nominee doing something dumb.

In a stump speech, erstwhile candidate and billionaire real estate magnate Donald Trump made racist statements about Mexican immigrants.

“When Mexico sends its people, they’re not sending their best…They’re sending people who have lots of problems,” Trump said in the speech. “They’re bringing drugs, they’re bringing crime, they’re rapists, and some, I assume, are good people.”

After a public outcry, broadcast television networks NBC Universal and Univision announced they would no longer air the Miss USA pageant, scheduled for July 12, or the Miss Universe pageant in January.

Macy’s also announced they were dumping Trump’s merchandise label as a result of his comments.

After a legal tussle and outcry over her use of a private server to communicate with State Department officials, former Secretary of State and Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton released 3,000 e-mails on Tuesday, June 30. While most were mundane, some reveal important facts — for instance, she struggled with an office fax machine.

“I thought it was supposed to be off hook to work?” Clinton wrote to aide Huma Abedin.

As for the Voice, we’re already getting back to work.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition July 3, 2015.

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