Cheers and Jeers

High Court Strikes DOMA; Perry Fights for Abortion Ban

Saturday, June 29, 2013

The Supreme Court declared that same-sex couples who are legally married deserve equal rights to the benefits under federal law. In Texas, Gov. Rick Perry has called a special legislative session to pass an abortion law.




Celebrations in Oakland, Calif., following the Supreme Court's decisions to reverse DOMA and Proposition 8 on June 26, 2013.
Celebrations in Oakland, Calif., following the Supreme Court's decisions to reverse DOMA and Proposition 8 on June 26, 2013.

Credit: Oakland Local on Flickr, under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0).

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(WOMENSENEWS)--

Cheers

Finding a key part of the federal Defense of Marriage Act to be unconstitutional, the Supreme Court declared that same-sex couples who are legally married deserve equal rights to the benefits under federal law that go to all other married couples, reported the Los Angeles Times June 26. Justice Anthony Kennedy, speaking for the 5-4 majority, said the law, known as DOMA, was unconstitutional because it violated the right to liberty and to equal protection for same-sex couples. "By seeking to displace this protection and treating those persons as living in marriages less respected than others, the federal statute" violates the Constitution," he said.

Minutes later the High Court nullified California's Proposition 8, which banned same-sex marriage, reported the Huffington Post. The court ruled that the private parties who brought Prop 8 to the court had no legal standing to bring up such measures, effectively restoring same-sex marriage to California.

More News to Cheer This Week:

New York City is becoming the most populous place in the United States to require businesses to provide workers with paid sick time, after lawmakers overrode a mayoral veto early June 27 to pass a law expected to affect more than 1 million workers, reported the Associated Press. Under the new law steered by Councilwoman Gale Brewer, employees of businesses with 20 or more workers would get up to five paid sick days a year beginning in April 2014; the benefit would kick in by October 2015 at enterprises with 15 to 19 workers.

For the first time in two decades, the number of new HIV infections reported among black women -- a group bearing the brunt of one of the nation's most disproportionately high HIV-infection rates -- has declined, the Root reported June 27. The number of new infections among black women slid a full 21 percent.

The Texas Department of Public Safety has settled a lawsuit with two Irving women who claimed they were humiliated after they were subjected to an illegal cavity search by police during a traffic stop last July, CBS News reported June 28. Angel Dobbs and her niece, Ashley Dobbs, received a settlement of $185,000 in the federal civil rights case.

The Turkish Gynecologists and Obstetricians' Association spoke out June 25, saying that thousands of gynecologists are offended by a recent comment made by Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan who called abortions "murder" and Caesarian sections a plot to "sterilize women," Today's Zaman reported June 25.

Turkish women's participation in the non-agricultural work force rose to around 4.8 million in February 2013, up from 3.2 million in February 2008, a rise of about 50 percent within six years, the Hurriyet Daily News reported June 24.

One suspect has been arrested on charges related to allegations that four police raped a 16-year-old girl in southeastern Turkey, a case that has caused great public outcry following the release of all four suspects, the Hurriyet Daily News reported June 25.

In a Colorado case concerning a transgender first grader, the state's civil rights division determined the future policies on state antidiscrimination applied to transgender students. A Colorado school district barred a female identified transgender student from the girls' restrooms, which the court ruled needlessly created a situation in which the student, Coy Mathis, would be subject to harassment, The New York Times reported June 23.

A variety of activist groups were cheering on June 24 the vote by the New York State Assembly to pass the "No Condoms as Evidence" bill, the No Condoms as Evidence Coalition said in a press statement. Video and testimony of the hearing are available here.

Jeers

A day after a filibuster and a raucous crowd in the Texas state Capitol foiled passage of a bill that would have imposed strict new regulations on abortion in Texas, Gov. Rick Perry vowed to try again, CNN reported June 28. Perry said the legislature would convene July 1 in special session to take up the abortion bill, which was declared dead before dawn June 26. The bill failed after a night of drama in Austin during which Sen. Wendy Davis, D-Fort Worth, talked for more than 10 hours to run out the clock on a special session. Read more about Davis' efforts in the WeNews story "Pro-Choice Texan Winds Up Winning in the Wee Hours."

The bill requires abortion clinics to meet hospital standards in order to remain open and would close most of the state's clinics if passed. Among the Republican lawmakers who supported the bill was Rep. Jody Laubenberg, who suggested that a rape-testing kit was a form of abortion. "In the emergency room they have what's called rape kits where a woman can get cleaned out," the Associated Press quoted the lawmaker as saying June 24 as a reason for not including an exception for rape victims.

More News to Jeer This Week:

The Ohio legislature approved June 27 a budget bill that includes several serious attacks on women's reproductive freedom, Think Progress reported. The proposed budget would defund Planned Parenthood, strip funding from rape crisis centers that give their clients information about abortion, force some abortion clinics to close and require doctors to give women information about the fetal heartbeat before proceeding with an abortion. The majority of Ohio voters don't support the provisions in the state budget related to limiting women's reproductive rights, according to a new poll from Public Policy Polling.

Intense shelling by Syrian government troops on a village in the country's south killed at least eight women and girls, the Associated Press reported June 28.

Two women were allegedly raped in a car as they traveled on a highway near New Delhi in the early hours of the morning of June 27, the Wall Street Journal reported. The police detained four men in connection with the rape.

In a health care decision giving hope to opponents of the federal birth control coverage mandate, a federal appeals court ruled June 27 that Hobby Lobby stores won't have to start paying millions of dollars in fines next week for not complying with the requirement, the Associated Press reported June 27.

The National Partnership for Women and Families slammed the June 24 decision by the U.S. Supreme Court in Maetta Vance v. Ball State University as deeply troubling and a show of callous disregard for victims of harassment. "It will undermine efforts to end harassment and advance equal opportunity," the group said in a press statement.

A private school outside Atlanta recently informed 12-year-old Madison Baxter that she would not be welcome at tryouts for the seventh-grade football team, because her male teammates are beginning to have "impure thoughts" about her, Think Progress reported June 24.

After more than five months of advocacy by the governor, New York lawmakers ended their annual session over the weekend without approving a single element of a women's equality proposal, in large part because one of the measure's provisions would have strengthened abortion rights language in state law, The New York Times reported June 24.

In Turkey, during the first three months of 2013, 47 women were killed as a result of domestic violence and a further 38 were victims of rape, Today's Zaman reported June 25.

An 18-year-old Pakistani actress, known as Bushra and popular in the northwest for her film, television and theater appearances, was attacked with acid while asleep at her home in the town of Nowshera, 92 miles northwest of Islamabad, Agence France Presse reported June 22.

Noted:

A comprehensive immigration reform bill passed with strong support in the Senate June 27, bringing Washington one step closer to accomplishing a major milestone that both Democrats and Republicans have long sought, reported CBS News June 27. The final decision rests with the Republican-led House of Representatives.

Just three years after a political coup that secured her spot in the highest chair, Australia's first female prime minister, Julia Gillard, was elected out of office, reported The Washington Post June 27.

Hillary Clinton ignited further speculation around a potential 2016 presidential run by declaring last week in Toronto that she hopes "we have a woman president in my lifetime," Forbes reported June 26.

Women from across six of the Republican party's top campaign committees gathered June 27 to launch a new project, "Women on the Right Unite," designed to promote the recruitment of female GOP candidates, The Hill reported. The party looks to repair its image among a demographic that broke 55-43 percent for President Barack Obama in 2012.

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