Friday, May 16, 2014



In 2003 the United States Supreme Court held that consensual sex between men could not be criminalized. The Court's 6-3 decision concerned a Texas law. The majority held that the law was unconstitutional because it infringed on fundamental liberty and reflected "stigma" against homosexuals. Justice Antonin Scalia, wrote a sharp dissent. Scalia posited that the criminalization of gay sex is a legitimate state interest. "Many Americans do not want persons who openly engage in homosexual conduct as partners in their business, as scoutmasters for their children, as teachers in their children's schools, or as boarders in their home," he underlined.

 *  Special thanks to "Google Images", "The New Republic"
"The Washington Post", and "CNN"

by Felicity Blaze Noodleman
Los Angeles, CA

Thank you for joining us again this week!  This is our 108th. post which is to say that we now are going into our third year of Blogging!  Last week we covered the illness reported by the media which are invading the gay community and life style across the country.  This week we again will continue reporting on the gay agenda in Washington DC.  

We have been hearing a lot from the Democrats; from gay marriage to gay rights - gay this - gay that.  It seems as though the Democrats have forgotten about the rest of the country to focus on homosexuals. They have dropped children, the elderly, the disabled, Veterans and every one else in the country who truly need help!

Once again we have assembled a group of news articles from the main stream media to report this crises, but before we really begin we would like to post a story from "The New Republic" which is in fact a statistical case study involving AIDS numbers.  It is a rather long article and we are posting it in it's complete state.

"The New Republic"

May 12, 2014
Why Did AIDS Ravage The U.S. More Than Any Other Developed Country? Solving an Epidemiological Mystery
By Michael Hobbes Photo: 

Illustration by Álvaro Domínguez
So I’m getting AIDS tested the other day in Berlin. I’m sitting in the waiting room and feeling like a Bad Gay, because I’ve lived here for three years and this is my first time getting tested. I’m surrounded by all these scared-straight brochures about HIV and AIDS in Germany. Prevalence rates, treatment options, prevention methods, names and addresses of support groups. “Since the start of the epidemic,” one of them says, “more than 27,000 people have died of AIDS in Germany.”
Wait, that sounds triumphantly low for a country of 80 million people. I pull out my phone and check the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) website, which tells me that, in the United States, 636,000 people have died since the epidemic began. That’s 23 times higher than Germany, for a country with four times the population.
This makes no sense. Germany has big cities, it has gay men and sex workers and drug users, it has all the same temptations for them to be uncareful that the United States does. How could so many fewer people have died?
Maybe it’s a fluke. I visit the Public Health England website and it says 21,000 people have died of AIDS there in total. If the rates were the same as the United States, it would be 128,000.
The further down the Google-hole I go, the more mind-boggling the numbers get. Since the beginning of the epidemic, AIDS has claimed more people in New York City than in Spain, Italy, the Netherlands, and Switzerland combined.
Illustration by Álvaro Domínguez
The next day I start asking epidemiologists about this divergence. The first thing they tell me is that it is real, even accounting for differences in methodology.
Each country has a slightly different system for reporting HIV cases and AIDS deaths, and epidemiologists are often reluctant to make apples-to-apples comparisons: “It’s more like Red Delicious to Granny Smith,” one of them told me.
It’s better to think of the surveillance numbers as a range, subject to updates and back-calculations as more data comes in. But still, the differences in measurement are nowhere near enough to account for the gaps among countries. Measuring my income against, say, Oprah Winfrey’s would be subject to methodological fuzziness, too—she has capital gains, real estate appreciation, tax acrobatics—but it’s still fair to say she makes more money than I do
Scan the columns on the stats sheets—incidence, prevalence, deaths—and you find the United States with a two-digit lead going right back to the start of the epidemic. Still now, no matter how much we’ve learned about how to prevent and treat AIDS, the United States loses more than 15,000 people to it each year. Germany and the United Kingdom lose fewer than 800.
I’m comparing the United States with these two countries for the sake of simplicity and because I speak the languages and have access to epidemiologists there. The United Kingdom and Germany are on the high and low side, respectively, of the severity of the AIDS epidemic in Western Europe, but they’re not outliers by any means. You could compare the United States with France, the Netherlands, Italy, wherever, and you’d come up with basically the same story.

(Five Startling Statistics About America's Dreaful Record on HIV/AIDS)
The second thing they tell me is why. AIDS is the same virus no matter what country you’re in. But when it arrived in the United States, how it spread, who got it, and why—that’s more complicated, and not entirely flattering.

Looking at the data on AIDS deaths, you see that the virus hit the United States early—and hard. In 1982, the first year of nationwide CDC surveillance, 451 people died of AIDS in America. Just five died in Britain. In 1985, when Germany started reporting, it had 170 AIDS deaths. The United States had almost 7,000.
Jonathan Engel, the author of The Epidemic: A Global History of AIDS, walks me through the timeline: AIDS first appears in humans in central Africa in the 1950s. A few isolated cases make it from there to the United States and Western Europe, but it fails to catch fire. The virus finally finds a host country in Haiti, ferried to and fro in the veins of guest workers in Africa. By the mid-’70s, Port-au-Prince is a popular tourist and cruise-ship destination—“a gay Bangkok” is how Engel’s book puts it—and the virus jumps from male prostitutes to gay American vacationers, to their friends and lovers back home.
Or abroad. One of the first U.K. surveillance reports, from 1983, announces 14 cases of AIDS, then adds: “seven of the cases were known to have had contact with US nationals, suggesting that the present UK situation is simply part of the American epidemic.”
But it isn’t just that the virus arrived in the United States earlier. As Dr. James Curran, dean of the Rollins School of Public Health at Emory University, points out, Belgium and France had significant central African and Haitian populations; Haiti was a destination for them, too. “But the disease wasn’t able to spread through them like it went through American gays,” he says.
Which leads to the next factor explaining the larger scale of the HIV epidemic in the United States: the clustering of our high-risk populations. The United States has more people than any Western European country, as well as more mobility, giving rise to larger numbers of and more tightly grouped gay men and intravenous-drug users. Engel’s book quotes Frances FitzGerald, writing in The New Yorker in 1986, saying “the sheer concentration of gay people in San Francisco may have had no parallel in history.”
These clusters were also engaged in riskier behavior. The United States had higher rates of STDs and intravenous-drug use (epidemiologists used to call shooting up “the American disease”) before AIDS arrived. All of this, combined with the virus’s devious characteristic of being maximally spreadable right after infection, laid the infrastructure for the disease to maraud through one population and jump to others.
The closest thing to a natural experiment on this clustering phenomenon is right in my own backyard. East and West Berlin had the same language, history, and culture—everything but the political and economic structures that allowed gay men to find each other and addicts to find drugs.
“Before the Berlin Wall came down, East Berlin had two gay cafés and two gay bars, for a population of 1.3 million people,” says Michael Bochow, a sociologist in Berlin who has been researching HIV in Germany since the beginning of the epidemic. “East Berlin had no bathhouse, no bar with a back room.”
Guys in East Berlin were still hooking up with each other—of course they were—but the low labor mobility, combined with the logistical barriers to participating in gay life and getting intravenous drugs, kept clusters from forming.
In 1989, when the Berlin Wall came down, West Germany had about 35,000 people infected with HIV. East Germany had fewer than 500.
I don’t want to overstate the case here. This clustering effect is almost inherently un-measurable (drug use and gayness weren’t exactly on the census), and there’s no way to know if San Francisco and New York really had higher proportions of gay people than London, Paris, or Berlin. We do know that the virus spread faster through U.S. cities than European ones, but we don’t know, may never know, precisely why.
The third explanation for how the HIV epidemic in the United States got so severe so early has to do with intravenous-drug use—and the policies that tried to prevent it. One of the most staggering numbers I came across was that, from the beginning of the epidemic until HIV treatment became widely available in 1996, 124,800 intravenous-drug users were diagnosed with HIV in the United States. In the United Kingdom, it was just 3,400.
Don Des Jarlais, research director of the de Rothschild Chemical Dependency Institute in New York, says HIV in drug users followed a similar trajectory as HIV in gay men. It arrived earlier than in Europe, and it had a more fertile spreading ground thanks to the higher prevalence of drug use.
No one knew how severe the epidemic was among drug users until 1984, when the still-under-development antibody test found that 50 percent of drug users in New York City and Edinburgh and 30 percent in Amsterdam were already infected. (Des Jarlais says genetic tests have since shown that the epidemic in Amsterdam originated in New York.)
Here’s where the differences come in. Almost immediately after those first tests, Western European countries installed needle-exchange programs, gave out free syringes, and established opiate-substitution treatment. Germany even got needle vending machines. By 1997, England and Wales were giving out 25 million free syringes per year. Anything to keep the virus from spreading, even if it meant making it a little easier to be a heroin addict that day.
The United States, on the other hand, refused to provide federal funds for needle exchanges or even fund research into whether they were effective. Exchanges were established in some cities—by 1990, New York City was distributing 250,000 syringes a year—but they never achieved the coverage of the countrywide programs in Western Europe.
This sounds like just another episode to file under “Western Europe enlightened, U.S. myopic,” but remember how different the context was. The mid-’80s was America’s heyday of stigmatizing drug users. This was the era of “Just Say No,” Nancy Reagan on “Diff’rent Strokes,” McGruff the Crime Dog. America was in the middle of a crack epidemic. All of the negative impacts of that epidemic—the gang violence to prolong it, the War on Drugs to end it—were concentrated in poor, mostly African American communities. Just possessing syringes was illegal in most states. Handing them out in the millions, facilitating one epidemic to end another, seemed like a cruel joke.
“They were saying, ‘Why don’t you just get rid of drug use from our communities?’ ” Des Jarlais says. “ ‘You’re letting these drugs come in because you don’t care about our communities, and now you want to make things worse by giving out syringes.’ ” This gave national politicians the excuse they needed. The ban on federal funding for needle exchanges wasn’t lifted until 2009.
As I’m calling up epidemiologists, hearing these explanations, it feels like something’s missing: What about all those public-information campaigns I remember from growing up? After-school specials, PSAs, the time my Seattle public middle school gave us all a stack of condoms and told us to put them on fruit at home? Did Western European countries implement different, more effective kinds of programs?
Prevention efforts did indeed differ among countries. Germany threw funding at gay community NGOs and gave them carte blanche to devise their own prevention projects. Britain put a John Hurt voice-over on top of Mordor imagery, called it “AIDS: Don’t Die of Ignorance,” and beamed it to the whole country.
Engel points out that, in the United States, despite Ronald Reagan’s sloth-like funding of HIV research and the government’s stinginess in supporting NGOs, gay activists were on the streets and in the bathhouses from the earliest stages of the epidemic, condoms in hand, telling people how to protect themselves. At the national level, C. Everett Koop sent a pamphlet to every household in America (literally!), telling them about the disease and achieving the goal, like the British mass campaigns, of scaring us all shitless.
The efforts of gay community groups during this time have been (rightly) lionized in movies like We Were Here and How to Survive a Plague. Less well known is that intravenous-drug users were also educating each other about how to reduce risks. Drug users started sharing needles with fewer partners, even setting up their own needle exchanges, pilfering clean needles from hospitals, or importing them from Canada. Des Jarlais told me about doctors who used to place boxes of clean syringes around emergency rooms, knowing they’d be taken by drug users and sold or given onward.
The messages and methodologies of these efforts may have differed among the United States, the United Kingdom, and Germany, but their effect appears to be equally decisive. By the mid-’80s, gay men and drug users knew about HIV, they knew about their risks, and they were making changes to reduce them. In all three countries, HIV incidence—the number of people contracting HIV each year—peaked in the mid-’80s, then started to drop as people de-risked their sex and drug use.
But for those already infected, none of that mattered; the number of deaths rose steadily through the late ’80s and early ’90s. The avalanche had been loosed, and there was little anyone—NGOs, doctors, politicians—could do to stop it.

Graphs of AIDS deaths in almost every developed country look like a wave about to break on the shore. Starting from zero, deaths rise steadily through the ’80s, a bit faster in the ’90s, then suddenly, around 1995 or 1996, plummet downward.
“That’s the beginning of the HAART era,” says Caroline Sabin, a professor of medical statistics and epidemiology at University College London. She’s talking about highly active anti-retroviral therapy, the cocktail of medications that, 15 years after the virus appeared, marked the first truly effective rampart against it.
The next thing you notice about those graphs is that death rates in the United States didn’t fall to the same lows as the rest of the developed world. (Check out how great the discrepancy is in the chart above.) Sabin points me to a 2013 study that found the United States with four-year HIV mortality rates roughly equal to those in South Africa.
And it’s not just the death rates that stayed high. In 2010, the United States had 47,500 new HIV infections. The entire European Union—with a population more than one and a half times that of the United States—had just 31,400.
So what gives? “Keeping people alive is about getting them diagnosed, getting them into care, then making sure they stay in care and on HAART,” Sabin says. “And that, unfortunately, is where the U.S. differs from the U.K.” It turns out that, just as the AIDS virus seems almost designed to perfectly exploit the weaknesses of the human immune system, treating it seems designed to exploit the weaknesses of our national health care system.
Let’s start with diagnosis, the first stage of what epidemiologists call the “cascade of care.” An undiagnosed HIV infection is a ticking time bomb for the people carrying it. Each day that goes by, the virus chips away at their immune systems, reducing life expectancies and increasing the cost and chances of complications once they finally get on treatment. They also, crucially, remain more infectious. Up to 50 percent of new HIV infections are transmitted by people who don’t know they have it.
Getting an HIV test is, logistically speaking, pretty easy in all three countries. The next stage of the cascade, getting linked to another round of tests and into treatment, is more challenging. In the United Kingdom and Germany, if you test positive for HIV, you’ll immediately be referred to an HIV clinic for tests to measure how much of the virus is in your blood and how well your immune system is holding up.
Three-quarters of Brits diagnosed with HIV get to this next stage of care within two weeks, and 97 percent make it within three months. This is not just some nationwide codification of English politeness. Clinics that provide testing are required to get HIV-positive people to the next round of tests or they don’t get fully reimbursed. If you screen positive and skip your viral-load test, you’ll get a call from the clinic asking why you didn’t show up. Some testing centers will walk you straight to the hospital to make an appointment.
In the United States, only 65 percent of people with HIV get linked to a hospital or clinic within three months. A survey in Philadelphia published in 2010 found that the median time between diagnosis and treatment was eight months. The effect of the wait can be devastating. A 2008 study found that gay men who had full-blown AIDS before they were diagnosed were 75 percent more likely to die within three years, even if they got on treatment. For people whose viral load is high and T-cell count is low, getting on HAART is like putting on sunscreen after they’ve already been at the beach for two hours.
The next stage of HIV care is receiving HAART pills and staying on them. People who get medication rapidly and take it consistently aren’t just less likely to die of the virus; they’re less likely to pass it on. The epidemio-speak term for this is having a “suppressed viral load”: The levels of the virus in your blood are so low that tests can’t pick them up anymore—and your sex and drug partners are also a lot less likely to.
This is the holy grail of HIV treatment, and arriving there requires at least 90 percent adherence to the pill regimen. If you stop taking the pills then start again, or forget to take them more than once in awhile, the virus could spike or you could develop resistance to the drugs.
In Britain and Germany, two-thirds of people with HIV have a prescription for HAART. In America? Only one-third. Forty-eight percent of Brits with HIV have a suppressed viral load. In the United States, only 25 percent of them do.
The most obvious reason for this gap is cost. In the United Kingdom, HIV treatment is completely free. Some clinics even reimburse you for your bus fare. In Germany, drugs might cost you a co-pay of 5 euros ($7.50), but that’s subsidized if you’re unemployed or below an income threshold.
Neither the CDC nor the National Institutes of Health tracks the out-of-pocket costs of anti-retrovirals, but Stephanie Cohen of the San Francisco Department of Public Health tells me that someone without insurance and earning too much to qualify for Medicaid could pay as much as $2,000 a month. And that’s just the pills. Clinic visits, infections, hospitalizations: The costs of treatment multiply as fast as the virus does without it.
But before we all rush to Twitter to make easy political points about how America is the land of the nothing-is-free, again consider the context. The United States has put tremendous effort and resources ($14 billion per year now) into HIV treatment and has considerable achievements to show for it. Medicaid covers HAART for the poor. The Ryan White Program, with $2.4 billion in annual federal funding, provides it for the less poor. Some cities, including San Francisco, have better treatment stats than the United Kingdom or Germany.
Consider, too, the scale of the epidemic in the United States. When HAART first became available in 1995, the United Kingdom had around 30,000 people diagnosed with HIV. Germany had 38,000. The United States had 759,000 and more new infections every year than the United Kingdom or Germany had in total. Providing testing, treatment, and follow-up to all those people would have been a Hoover Dam–size investment. One we were not, as a country, willing to make.
It’s not just a question of money or political will. In the last two decades, as the United States has put so much effort into filling the cracks in HIV care, the virus has moved into the populations most likely to fall into them.
From its origins as a concentrated, urban epidemic, HIV has migrated resolutely outward and southward. “People test positive and they just go home. Then they come and get tested again,” says Susan Reif of Duke University’s Center for Health Policy and Inequality Research.
I didn’t know it was possible to get a lump in your throat from lists of two-digit numbers, but then Reif shows me the data on HIV in the Deep South versus the rest of the country. HIV prevalence: 2.3 cases per 100,000 people in Vermont; 36.6 in Louisiana. Death rates: 9.6 per 1,000 person-years in Idaho; 32.9 in Mississippi. In 2011, nine of the top ten cities for new HIV infections were in the South. In Louisiana, only 68 percent of people with HIV saw a doctor that year.
Meanwhile, in 2012, AIDS dropped off the list of New York City’s top ten causes of death for the first time since 1983.
As the geography of HIV has shifted, so have its demographics. Ethnic minorities, rural drug users, impoverished heterosexuals: The virus has found the people least likely to seek—and have access to—health insurance and specialized clinics.
You could drown in the numbers on this if you wanted to, but a study that stuck out to me was one from 2012 that found uneducated black men had an AIDS mortality rate 30 times higher than educated white men. Among uneducated black women, it found that the introduction of HAART barely dropped mortality rates at all. In 2011, AIDS was the ninth-highest cause of death for blacks and twenty-fourth for whites.
Higher levels of stigma, poor infrastructure for treatment in rural areas, abstinence-only education—Reif says they all contribute to the higher rates of diagnoses and deaths. Syringe exchanges are still illegal in almost every Southern state. An estimated 60,000 uninsured or low-income people with HIV live in states that have rejected the Medicaid expansion under Obamacare.
“Each state has a different Medicaid program in terms of whether you’re eligible and what your co-pays are,” she says. “Some Medicaid programs will only cover a certain number of drugs. So you get five. And you have to pick which five.”
Just as explaining the differences between Europe and America requires accounting for the weight of their histories and social structures, so does explaining the differences between the South and the rest of the United States. “The disease burden in the South is high for other diseases, too,” Reif says. “A lot of it goes back to institutionalized racism, poverty, the legacy of Tuskegee. There’s a lack of trust in health care. The states say they don’t have the money [to expand Medicaid]—and there’s some truth to that.”
No health care system in the world has solved the problem of AIDS. The United Kingdom and Germany have gaps in their cascades, too. They struggle to control costs and reach marginalized populations the same as the States. They just have less margin to reach.
But in trying to explain these numbers, I don’t want to excuse them. Some of the reasons the AIDS epidemic has been so devastating in the United States were chosen for us by history. Others we have chosen ourselves.
“At the end of the day, it’s best understood as a function of health disparities writ large,” says Chris Beyrer, the director of the Johns Hopkins Fogarty AIDS International Training and Research Program. The core difference between the United States and Western Europe, he says, is that “we’re a much bigger, much more complex, and much more unjust country.” 
Each country has a slightly different system for reporting HIV cases and AIDS deaths, and epidemiologists are often reluctant to make apples-to-apples comparisons: “It’s more like Red Delicious to Granny Smith,” one of them told me.
It’s better to think of the surveillance numbers as a range, subject to updates and back-calculations as more data comes in. But still, the differences in measurement are nowhere near enough to account for the gaps among countries. Measuring my income against, say, Oprah Winfrey’s would be subject to methodological fuzziness, too—she has capital gains, real estate appreciation, tax acrobatics—but it’s still fair to say she makes more money than I do
I’m comparing the United States with these two countries for the sake of simplicity and because I speak the languages and have access to epidemiologists there. The United Kingdom and Germany are on the high and low side, respectively, of the severity of the AIDS epidemic in Western Europe, but they’re not outliers by any means. You could compare the United States with France, the Netherlands, Italy, wherever, and you’d come up with basically the same story.
Michael Hobbes is a human rights consultant in Berlin. He has written for Slate, Pacific Standard, and The Billfold.

"The New Republic"

So do we have your attention yet?  Are we ready to look at Gay Rights in Washington DC and ask  Democrats, "if there is such a health epidemic in this country  associated with homosexuals - why is Congress now trying to give them more rights than other Americans"?

 "The Washington Post"

Is Gay Rights A Civil Rights Issue? Two Lawyers From Opposite Ends Of The Ideological Spectrum Say, “Yes.”
By Jaime Fuller
April 8 at 4:21 pm

The two attorneys who argued for the repeal of Proposition 8 in front of the Supreme Court last June -- Theodore B. Olson and David Boies -- opened up this week's Civil Rights Summit in Austin with a discussion about gay rights as a civil rights issue.

Larry Pascua celebrated the Supreme Court's rulings on Proposition 8 and the Defense of Marriage Act in San Francisco last June.  (AP Photo/Mathew Sumner)
Daily Beast editor John Avlon moderated the conversation, introducing the pair as a "legal odd couple." The "star legal duo" first worked the Supreme Court in Bush v. Gore, where they faced off from opposite sides. However, both Olson, a conservative, and Boies, definitely not a conservative, believe that there is no legal argument to support denying LGBT couples the right to marry.

"Part of being good lawyer is guessing arguments of the other side," Boies said. "I'm usually pretty good at that. The other side doesn't have any good arguments. They have a bumper sticker that says marriage is between a man and a woman."

His statement is backed up by the legal reasoning of the more than 30 federal judges who have considered this issue since California's Proposition 8 -- which banned same-sex marriage in that state -- was struck down last June.

"Every single one of them," Boies said, "all ruled the same way. All ruled that marriage is a constitutional right. That's extraordinary."

The two also discussed how quickly public opinion has shifted on the matter. In the late 1960s, only a few years after the Civil Rights Act of 1964 was signed by President Lyndon B. Johnson -- whose library hosted the event where Olson and Boies were speaking -- a group petitioned the Civil Rights Commission to regulate existing rules that prohibited openly gay people from working for the government. The petition was denied. Up until Lawrence v. Texas in 2003, it was illegal to engage in "homosexual behavior" in Texas.

When Olson and Boies began working on the Prop. 8 case in March 2009, a majority of the country opposed same-sex marriage -- by a margin of 17 percent. When they won the case in June, a majority of the public approved of same-sex marriage, shifting upward by a margin of 25 percent. Now, five years later, about 10 percent or 11 percent more of the public supports same-sex marriage than opposes it.

Olson and Boies are targeting Virginia as their next fight for expanding same-sex marriage rights. Not only does Virginia's constitutional ban have some of the strongest-worded limitations on same-sex marriage, the state also provides an important symbolic background because of the 1967 case on interracial marriage, Loving v. Virginia. As Olson reminded the audience, President Obama's parents would have been guilty of a felony if they had tried to move to Virginia and get married before the landmark Supreme Court case.

Olson, who has lived in the state since the 1980s, listed the names of the founding fathers who had lived in Virginia. Boies said he and Olson wanted to "implement the principles the founding fathers articulated in Virginia."  They will argue the case Bostic v. Schaefer at the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals in Richmond on May 13.

They have also expressed interest in working on cases involving same-sex marriage bans in Utah and Oklahoma.

An HBO documentary on the Prop 8 case, "The Case Against 8," comes out in June, and the pair's book on their experience with the case, "Redeeming the Dream," will be out later this year. Both lawyers said they were excited for the world to finally meet the plaintiffs through the film and book. Boies said he regrets that the Supreme Court decided not to allow the case to be televised because you could not listen to the plaintiffs on the stand "and not be moved. They were our best evidence."

As for the future of same-sex marriage, Boies said he was quite sure this would be a settled issue in 10 years, given that people under age 30 show broad support for gay rights and that state legislatures are coming onboard. But he conceded that this issue was far from being won across the globe. He compared the current battle over gay rights to the civil rights era of the mid-20th century. When President Harry Truman desegregated the armed forces and the Supreme Court ruled on Brown v. Board of Education, Congress was not on the same page. It took a decade before lawmakers passed the Civil Rights Act.

"I'm quite hopeful that we'll see bipartisan cooperation on this issue as we move forward," Boies said, citing the work of Republicans Paul Singer, Ken Mehlman and Olson -- and the minds Olson and Boies had already changed, such as conservative David Blankenhorn. "It's extremely important that we present this not as a left or right issue ... but as a constitutional civil rights issue," he said as the audience applauded.

Boies and Olson also explained their legal reasoning for supporting same-sex marriage. Olson spoke of the conservative values inherent in expanding marriage, while Boies cited the discrimination involved in denying equal rights to a subsection of the population. Both said that, at heart, same-sex marriage is about the 14th Amendment, just like the Civil Rights Act was: Equal protection under the law and due process mean that you can't deny gay couples from having relationships open to the rest of the public. They also added the First Amendment to the mix, which forbids people from imposing their protected religious beliefs on others.

"We don't want to jam this issue down people's throat" Boies said. "We just want them to understand what this country is all about."
Everyone in the United States has discriminated against someone, Boies said, "especially anyone as old as Ted and I are."

He added: "We need redemption, and everyone else does, too."

Jaime Fuller reports on national politics for "The Fix" and Post Politics. She worked previously as an associate editor at the American Prospect, a political magazine based in Washington, D.C.

"The Washington Post"

Holder Calls LGBT Rights One Of The ‘Civil Rights Challenges Of Our Time’
By Jaime Fuller
February 4 at 1:57 pm

Speaking in Sweden Tuesday, U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder made perhaps the strongest statement of his career at the Justice Department in favor of expanding LGBT rights. The call for an international fight against discrimination happens days before the Olympics are set to start in Sochi, where LGBT rights are likely to be a recurring theme.

(AP Photo/Matt Rourke)

"Just as our forebears came together to overcome tremendous adversity -- and to forge the more just and more equal societies in which we now live -- so, too, must the current generation rise to the causes that have become the struggles of our day; the defining civil rights challenges of our time," he said. "I believe one of these struggles is the fight for equality for our lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender -- or LGBT -- citizens."

Holder's stop at the Swedish Parliament is part of a European tour that served the bookends to a conference in Poland last Thursday. He praised Swedish lawmakers for legalizing same-sex marriage in 2009 --  by an overwhelming margin -- making Sweden the seventh country to do so. "You've freed countless people to achieve whatever their dreams, their talents, and their own hard work will allow," Holder said, "without fear of discrimination on the basis of sex, ethnicity, religion or other belief, disability, age, gender identity or expression, or sexual orientation. By becoming the seventh nation in the world to extend the right to marry to gay and lesbian couples, you've stabilized families and expanded individual liberty."

This speech comes three years after the Justice Department announced it wouldn't defend cases involving the Defense of Marriage Act in court, The Supreme Court declared DOMA unconstitutional last year, which Holder also mentioned in his speech Tuesday: "This marked a major victory for the cause of equal protection under U.S. law, and a significant step forward for committed and loving couples throughout the country." Holder also mentioned the end of the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy against gays serving openly in the military and the protections for LGBT domestic violence victims added to the Violence Against Women Act as other successes of the Obama administration on this issue. Earlier in January, Holder announced that same-sex marriages in Utah -- which are not recognized by state officials despite an overturned ban -- were still legal under federal law.

Holder also mentioned other civil rights problems in his address -- human trafficking, gender, economic and racial discrimination -- as well as Sweden's efforts in trying to eradicate them.

When Obama visited Sweden last September, he also mentioned gay rights, but did not build his remarks around the issue as Holder did Tuesday. He said the two countries shared a belief that "our gay and lesbian brothers and sisters must be treated equally under the law; that our societies are strengthened and not weakened by diversity." Obama echoed this sentiment in last week's State of the Union -- while tying the issue to next week's Olympic Games, where LGBT issues have been in the foreground since Russia was announced as the host.

Jaime Fuller reports on national politics for "The Fix" and Post Politics. She worked previously as an associate editor at the American Prospect, a political magazine based in Washington, D.C.

The President and his Attorney General Eric Holder seem to be hopelessly hung up on "Civil Rights".  We could say that for them it is the Holy Grail of politics!    The "Civil Rights Act of 1964"  was enacted as a "crutch" to aid what was seen at that time as disadvantaged African Americans whom society had by passed some how.  Many at the time felt this act was unconstitutional as it gave preferential treatment to one group of Americans over the rest of the CountryIt was seen as discrimination 

African Americans were recognised by Congress much earlier in the history of this Country when they were given the vote in 1870 with the Fifteenth Amendment to the ConstitutionIn fact Congress has dedicated many "Acts" for African Americans since the beginning of The United States to include the "Emancipation Proclamation" in 1863. 

An interesting story emerged from the Supreme Court in April which may be the beginning of the end for the "Civil Rights of 1964".  Is it time for the Country to remove this "crutch" from US Law?

Michigan's Ban On Affirmative Action Upheld By Supreme Court

By Bill Mears, CNN Supreme Court Producer
updated 10:22 AM EDT, Wed April 23, 2014

Washington (CNN) -- The Supreme Court on Tuesday upheld a Michigan law banning the use of racial criteria in college admissions, a key decision in an unfolding legal and political battle nationally over affirmative action.

The justices found 6-2 that a lower court did not have the authority to set aside the measure approved in a 2006 referendum supported by 58% of voters.
It bars publicly funded colleges from granting "preferential treatment to any individual or group on the basis of race, sex, color, ethnicity or national origin."

Justice Sonia Sotomayor reacted sharply in disagreeing with the decision.
"For members of historically marginalized groups, which rely on the federal courts to protect their constitutional rights, the decision can hardly bolster hope for a vision of democracy that preserves for all the right to participate meaningfully and equally in self-government," Sotomayor wrote.

But three justices in the majority, Chief Justice John Roberts, Anthony Kennedy and Samuel Alito. concluded that the lower court did not have the authority to set aside the law.

"This case is not about how the debate about racial preferences should be resolved. It is about who may resolve it," Kennedy wrote.

"Michigan voters used the initiative system to bypass public officials who were deemed not responsive to the concerns of a majority of the voters with respect to a policy of granting race-based preferences that raises difficult and delicate issues," he added.

Justices Antonin Scalia, Stephen Breyer and Clarence Thomas voted in the majority as part of concurring opinions.

Sotomayor and Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg dissented, and Justice Elena Kagan took no part in the case.
The court's first Latina justice, Sotomayor, took the unusual step of reading part of her powerful dissent from the bench, taking more than 15 minutes to express her concern about the ruling's impact.

"This refusal to accept the stark reality that race matters is regrettable. The way to stop discrimination on the basis of race is to speak openly and candidly on the subject of race, and to apply the Constitution with eyes open to the unfortunate effects of centuries of racial discrimination," she said.

"As members of the judiciary tasked with intervening to carry out the guarantee of equal protection, we ought not sit back and wish away, rather than confront, the racial inequality that exists in our society," she added.
The latest step

The decision was the latest step in a legal and political battle over whether state colleges can use race and gender as a factor in choosing what students to admit.

The debate in recent years has centered around whether and when affirmative action programs -- while constitutionally permissible now -- would eventually have to be phased out as the goal of obtaining diversity is met.

Last year, the court affirmed the use of race at the University of Texas, but made it harder for institutions to justify such policies to achieve diversity.
In that dispute, a white student said the college's existing affirmative action policy violated her "equal protection" rights. Civil rights supporters of such programs claim Michigan's ban also has the same effect, and a federal appeals court agreed.

The Supreme Court ruled in 2003 that while state universities could use race as a factor in choosing which students to admit, they could not make race the determining factor in deciding whether applicants are accepted.

Michigan has said minority enrollment at its flagship university, the University of Michigan, has not gone down since the measure was passed.

Civil rights groups dispute those figures and say other states have seen fewer African-American and Hispanic students attending highly competitive schools, especially in graduate level fields like law, medicine, and science.

"Students deserve a robust education where a variety of viewpoints are shared and debated," said Professor Kevin Gaines of the University of Michigan, one of the original plaintiffs. "Proposal 2 has meant less diversity in our universities, which has had a chilling effect on the quality of discourse in the classroom. Unfortunately, that will continue, at least for the time being, in Michigan."

But supporters of Michigan's policies applauded the high court's conclusions.
"The court emphasized the value of allowing hotly contested policy decisions to be debated in the states rather than encouraging one-size-fits-all orders from Washington," said Carrie Severino, chief counsel for Judicial Crisis Network.

"In preserving for the states and the people the right to pursue race-neutral policies with respect to hiring and higher education, the court reaffirmed the blessings of liberty and equality under law for another generation," Severino said.
Controversial efforts

The Michigan ban also prohibits the state from considering race and gender in public hiring and public contracting decisions. But the current high court case dealt only with the college admissions portion.
Efforts over decades to create a diverse classroom have been controversial.

The Brown vs. Board of Education high court ruling in 1954 ended segregation of public schools, but sparked nationwide protests and disobedience by states that initially refused to integrate.

In the 1978 Bakke case, the justices ruled universities have a compelling state interest in promoting diversity, and that allows for the use of affirmative action. That issue involved a discrimination claim by a white man denied admission to medical school.

The referendum issue has been around at least since 1996, when California voters endorsed Proposition 209, which bans use of race, sex, or ethnic background by state agencies in areas of education, and government hiring and contracts.

Six other states now have similar laws, and others may follow suit.

"With today's opinion, the court has placed responsibility for affirmative action squarely in the hands of the states. State universities can choose to adopt affirmative action admissions programs, and state voters can choose to discontinue them," said Jennifer Mason McAward, a law professor at the University of Notre Dame.

"The fact that this relatively simple judgment generated five separate opinions by the justices, however, points to a much more nuanced and heated debate among the justices regarding the permissibility and wisdom of racial preferences in general," McAward said.

Roberts has made the issue a key part of the court's docket in recent years and it could serve as a major legacy of the current conservative majority.

The case is Schuette v. Coalition to Defend Affirmative Action (12-682).
I was an affirmative action 'imposter'

CNN's Jason Hanna contributed to this report. 


The Roberts Court, 2010
Back row (left to right):
Sonia Sotomayor, Stephen G. Breyer, Samuel A. Alito, and Elena Kagan. Front row (left to right): Clarence Thomas, Antonin Scalia, Chief Justice John G. Roberts, Anthony Kennedy, and Ruth Bader Ginsburg

Many of us believe the "Bill of Rights" and the Constitution are the defining documents for ALL Americans.  To give exclusionary groups more rights than others is discriminatory and therefore unconstitutional.  I'm Felicity; that's it and that's all for the "Noodleman Group"! 

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