Friday, September 28, 2007

Pay Attention Gay Voters!

The Matthew Shepherd Hate Crimes Act had to pass out of the US Senate with a filibuster proof 60 votes, mostly because the GOP was determined to kill the bill. To avoid a promised veto by President Bush, the Democrats had to stick into the Defense reauthorization bill as an amendment. Now the President has a choice: Does he hate gay people enough to veto money for his war? We'll soon find out.

For all those Log Cabin Republicans who delude themselves into thinking that the GOP will EVER care for gay Americans, I offer these FACTS from the vote on adding sexual orientation to this nation's hate crimes laws:

Voting yes: 51 of 51 Democrats and Democratic-leaning independents (100.00%); 9 of 49 Republicans (18.37%)

Voting no: 0 of 51 Democrats and Democratic-leaning independents (0.00%); 39 of 49 Republicans (79.59%)

Not voting: McCain (R-AZ)

To be fair, and to applaud those FEW, LONELY GOP senators who voted YES to adding sexual orientation to our nation's hate crimes laws, here is the list of the 9:

1. Coleman (R-MN) - tough re-election in 2008 in a gay-friendly state

2. Collins (R-ME) - ditto, but the Maine "sisters" never have been ones to gay bash

3. Gregg (R-NH) - Another one facing a tough re-election in a newly blue state that just legalized gay civil unions that are marriage in everything but name.

4. Lugar (R-IN) - good for reason to vote yes, but did it because it was RIGHT

5. Smith (R-OR) - Generally a good, decent man who has a history of NOT beating up on gay people. Again, tough 2008 re-election in a blue state.

6. Snowe (R-ME) - good for her...stays true to her non-gay bashing past.

7. Specter (R-PA) Good for him too. Ever since reelection, he's been a thorn in the hard right's side.

8. Voinovich (R-OH) - scary re-election in 2008 where gay bashing hasn't done much to keep a corrupt GOP in office.

9. Warner (R-VA) - Retiring, so he can vote his conscience. Good for him!

Notice however, that if the Senator was a DEMOCRAT, he/she voted YES without any dissention. This includes relatively conservative senators like Nelson of Nebraska, and Tester of Idaho. Even Mr. Bathroom Sex himself voted that it was OK to let hatred of gays fuel your rage against them as you beat, maim, and kill gay people, just like what was done to Matthew Shephard nearly 10 years ago. There is no end to the depravity of the GOP closet.

But make no mistake, gay voters. The GOP does not like you. They will NOT support you in your lifetime. They will do WHATEVER they can as a party to suppress your right to live your life unmolested by bigotry, hatred, or violence. It is only that Democratic Party that elects openly gay people to leadership posts and keeps its promises to pass laws banning hate crimes based on sexual orientation, or ENDA to prevent us from being fired for the sole fact of our being gay. The Republicans would never have allowed these to come to a vote.

Remember that EVERY TIME you go into the voting booth.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Young Democrats of Georgia Support Jena 6 Action

(some material adapted from

The Young Democrats of Georgia want all young people around the state of Georgia to support intervention in the Jena 6 case. This is a situation of great injustice taking place in Jena, Louisiana, a town of 4,000 predominantly white people.

Unfortunately, as at hundreds of other schools across America, black and white students at Jena High School rarely sit together. The white students gather under a big shade tree in the courtyard, while black students congregate near the auditorium.

But last year, a few days into the first semester, a new student, a freshman African American, asked the principal at an assembly, if he, too, could sit under the tree. He was told he could sit anywhere he liked. Three white boys on the rodeo team apparently disagreed. The next morning, there were three nooses in the school’s colors hanging from the “white” shade tree in the courtyard.

The message was clear. "Those nooses meant the KKK, they meant 'Niggers, we're going to kill you, we're going to hang you till you die,'" Casteptla Bailey, a mother of one of the students, told the London Observer. Many in Jena's black community wanted the three white students expelled. But when the white superintendent and other school administrators investigated, they decided the nooses were a prank. Instead of expulsion or arrest, the three received in-school suspension for three days.

A few of the black athletes, the stars of the football team, took the lead in resisting. The day after the nooses were hung, they reportedly organized a silent protest under the tree. The school called in the cops and brought everyone to an assembly to be addressed by the district attorney, Reed Walters. The white kids sat on one side. The black kids on the other side. Walters told the students, “With one stroke of my pen, I can make your life disappear.” The black students said the statement was clearly directed toward them. Walters denies this.

Afterward, some whites felt triumphant; some blacks were resentful. Fights began to break out at the high school. But that year, the football team was having an unusually good season and the black athletes were a major reason why. So while there were fights throughout the fall, nobody wanted to take any action that would hurt the team. When the season was over, so was the truce.

A series of incidents of racially tinged violence occurred:

· Somebody burned down Jena High School. Whites thought blacks were responsible, blacks thought the opposite.

· Robert Bailey, a black kid, was attacked at a predominantly white party, beaten, his head split open by a bottle. The attacker was charged with battery, a misdemeanor.

· The next day, Bailey exchanged words with a white student who had been at the party. The white boy ran back to his truck and pulled out a pistol grip shotgun. Bailey ran after him and wrestled him for the gun. After some scuffling, Bailey and his friends took the gun away and brought it home. Bailey was eventually charged with theft of a firearm, second-degree robbery and disturbing the peace. The white student who pulled the weapon was not charged at all.

· Finally, Justin Barker was over heard bragging in the hallway about Robert Bailey getting his ass beat by a white man. When Justin walked into the court yard he was beaten by six black students. He went to the hospital. His injuries were declared superficial. He was released and went to a school function that night.

The six black students were arrested and charged with aggravated assault. The DA soon upped the charges to Second Degree Attempted Murder.

Six Black Jena High students, Robert Bailey (17), Theo Shaw (17), Carwin Jones (18), Bryant Purvis (17), Mychal Bell (16) and an unidentified minor, were expelled from school, arrested and charged with second-degree attempted murder. The difference between assault (misdemeanor) and aggravated assault (felony)? Use of a dangerous weapon. Sort of like the beer bottle cracked over Robert Bailey’s head. The weapon the Jena Six employed? A tennis shoe. The first trial ended last month, and Mychal Bell, who has been in prison since December, was convicted of aggravated battery and conspiracy to commit aggravated battery (both felonies) by an all-white jury in a trial where his public defender refused to mount any defense at all, instead resting his case immediately after two days of government presentation. A talented athlete, Bell had a real shot at a Division I football scholarship. He now faces up to 22 years in prison. The other five black students await trial on attempted murder charges. This week, conspiracy charges were thrown out against Mychal Bell on a technicality while the district attorney reduced attempted murder charges against two other black co-defendants.

The big shade tree in the courtyard has been chopped into firewood, but the injustice of the Jena 6 continues. There will be a rally in Jena on September 20th to bring media attention to this injustice.

Join the Young Democrats of Georgia in working to stop racial injustice in America and help turn things around by making it a political liability for the authorities of Jena to continue the racist status quo, and by demanding that the Democratic Governor of Louisiana, Kathleen Blanco, intervene. Please sign the Blanco petition and donate to the Jena 6 defense fund at

Buses will be leaving from Atlanta on September 19th to attend the September 20th rally in Jena, Louisiana. The following two contacts are specifically geared toward youth, and costs should be minimal. One is a part of a documentary and the second is sponsored by The Americans for Justice Network, Here is the contact info for some of the organizers:

Adrian Williams

Jeremy Cormier

Morehouse College
President, AUC Louisiana Club

For more information on this case, please visit here, here, here, here, here and here.

For more information on the Young Democrats of Georgia, please visit