MoJo Author Feeds: Hannah Levintova | Mother Jones Mother Jones logo en South Carolina Law Would Make Kids Study Second Amendment for 3 Weeks Every Year <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>In August of last year, a 16-year-old high-schooler in Summerville, South Carolina, turned in a creative writing assignment about shooting his neighbor's pet dinosaur. The school's "zero tolerance" policy for guns prompted a search of the student's belongings that turned up no weapons. Nonetheless, he was <a href="">arrested and suspended</a> for what he said was a joke, if one in questionable taste.</p> <p>South Carolina state Rep. Alan Clemmons hopes to use that incident to force public schools to dedicate three weeks each year to teaching a gun-focused curriculum developed or recommended by the National Rifle Association. Traditionally,<a href="" target="_blank"> zero tolerance policies</a> have applied to students bringing weapons to school or simulating their use with toys or hand gestures&mdash;not to academic discussion of guns. Still, in <a href="" target="_blank">the bill</a> Clemmons filed in the state legislature last month he states that these NRA-approved lessons are needed to combat an "intolerance for any discussion of guns or depiction of guns in writing or in assignments in public schools, which is an affront to First Amendment rights and harshly inhibits creative expression and academic freedom."</p> <p>"If anything comes up in a school setting that has to do with firearms, then it's a suspendable offense and criminal charges could ensue," Clemmons <a href="" target="_blank">told <em>WMBF News</em></a>. "The second amendment should be freely debated in schools and instead the second amendment is being squelched in our schools."</p> <p>If passed, the Second Amendment Education Act would require that three consecutive weeks of each year in elementary, middle, and high school be spent studying the second amendment. As Ian Millhiser at <a href=""><em>Think Progress</em></a> points out, that's an enormous chunk of the school year, especially given that some South Carolina schools devote just two weeks to slavery and a week and a half to World War II.</p> <p>The law would also require that every December 15&mdash;the day after the anniversary of the mass shooting at Sandy Hook school in Newtown&mdash;be designated "Second Amendment Awareness Day." To celebrate the occasion, schools will be required to hold mandatory poster or essay contests at every grade level, with the theme "The Right To Bear Arms; One American Right Protecting All Others." The South Carolina Legislative Sportsmen's Caucus will be in charge of choosing first, second, and third place winners in both contests.</p> <p>Both chambers of South Carolina's legislature are Republican-controlled, and Gov. Nikki Halley has an <a href="">A+ rating</a> from the NRA. Still, this bill may be too extreme to pass:</p> <p>"Even amongst a conservative constituency in South Carolina, I think they can rate that they have more abiding problems than this," says <a href="">Dr. Dave Woodard</a>, a political science professor at Clemson University who's long served as a political consultant to Republican candidates in South Carolina.</p> <p>"Most people are more concerned with math and science, and the fact that historically, South Carolina's rankings in education have been abysmal. Nobody, I think, would say 'The best way to improve education is to have a three-week segment on the Second Amendment. Boy, that'll move us up in the national rankings!'" says Woodard.</p> <p>The bill includes a list of gun-related topics that must be worked into the curriculum. Several&mdash;including the individual right to bear arms&mdash;are straight out of the <a href="">revisionist interpretation</a> of the Second Amendment that the NRA and its supporters have <a href="">helped popularize</a> since the 1970s.</p> <p>The curriculum would require students from first grade and up to get into the weeds of constitutional scholarship on the Second Amendment. Students will be asked to study Supreme Court cases "including the<em> United States v. Cruikshank</em>, the <em>United States v. Miller</em>, the <em>District of Columbia v. Heller</em>, and <em>McDonald v. Chicago."</em> (The majority arguments in <em>Heller</em> and <em>McDonald</em> <a href="" target="_blank">grew out of</a> the push by pro-gun researchers to redefine the Second Amendment.) The bill also mandates that students learn about "the constitutionality of gun control laws," the causes of mass shootings, and "the impact of legislative reactions to gun violence on Constitutional rights and the impact on reducing gun violence, if any."</p> <p>Clemmons <a href="" target="_blank">identifies as</a> a Second Amendment advocate. He has repeatedly received an <a href="" target="_blank">A rating</a> from the NRA, and has taken part in <a href="" target="_blank">events with the group</a> in his state. In 2013, he was featured on the <a href="" target="_blank">NRA's website</a> after <a href="" target="_blank">taking a trip</a> to Connecticut to convince gun manufacturers, put off by tightening gun control legislation in the state post-Newtown, to move their operations to South Carolina.</p> <p>It's unclear if Rep. Clemmons or his cosponsors have hashed out the logistics of the NRA's involvement in developing or approving a curriculum: Jennifer Baker, a spokeswoman for the NRA, tells <em>Mother Jones</em> that the NRA has not made any recommendations on the syllabus envisioned by the bill, nor have South Carolina legislators made plans with the NRA about the group's future role. Attempts by <em>Mother Jones</em> to contact Rep. Clemmons have not been answered, but we will update this story if we receive a response.</p></body></html> Politics Education Guns Top Stories NRA Wed, 14 Jan 2015 11:15:04 +0000 Hannah Levintova 268151 at Ohio Could Pass the Country's Most Extreme "Secret Executions" Bill <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p><em><strong>Update (12/12/2014): </strong><em>O</em>n Thursday, the Ohio Senate approved HB663 with a 20-10 vote. Next week, the bill will return to the Ohio House for consideration of the Senate's changes, and will then go to Gov. John Kasich, who <a href="" target="_blank">is expected</a> to sign it into law.</em></p> <p>The execution of Dennis McGuire on January 16 of this year did not go as planned. Injected with an untested cocktail of drugs, the&nbsp;Ohio death row inmate gasped, choked, and writhed in his restraints. McGuire was declared dead after 26 minutes, having endured the longest execution in the state's history.</p> <p>"To a degree of medical certainty, this was not a humane execution,"&nbsp;an anesthesiologist <a href="">testified</a> in a subsequent federal<strong> </strong><a href="" target="_blank">lawsuit</a> against the state's execution team. The lawsuit,&nbsp;filed by McGuire's children, declares the execution method used on McGuire cruel and unusual and seeks to block its further use in Ohio.</p> <p>Yet state lawmakers are now rushing to pass a <a href="" target="_blank">"secret executions" bill</a> that would make it harder to know what really happens in the death chamber. If passed, <a href="" target="_blank">HB663</a> will drop a veil of secrecy over the death penalty by<strong> </strong>exempting anyone participating in a lethal injection from public records requests that might reveal their identities or duties. It would apply to medical and nonmedical staff, companies transporting or preparing supplies or equipment used in executions, and the providers of the drugs used in the lethal injection.</p> <p>Introduced just two weeks ago in a lame-duck session, the bill sailed through committee and was passed by the state House last Thursday, <a href="" target="_blank">62 to 27</a>. The bill now moves to the Senate, which could vote on it as early as the first week of December. Most of the measure's support comes from Republicans, who control both chambers of the legislature. It is not clear whether Gov. John Kasich, a Republican who <a href="" target="_blank">supports</a> the death penalty but has been generous in <a href="" target="_blank">granting clemenc</a>y, will sign the bill if it comes to him. The Ohio chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) reports that the bill's sponsors have claimed that they have Kasich's support.</p> <p>After McGuire's botched execution, a federal judge issued a moratorium on capital punishment in Ohio until <a href="" target="_blank">January 2015</a>. The state's next execution is scheduled for <a href="" target="_blank">February</a>. This imminent deadline is part of what's driving the legislature's urgency to pass the execution secrecy bill. The European suppliers of the state's preferred execution drug, pentobarbital, now <a href="" target="_blank">refuse to sell it</a> for use in executions. <a href="" target="_blank">Lawmakers hope</a> that the promise of anonymity will goad local compounding pharmacies into providing the drug.</p> <p>If it goes into law, the bill would make it exceedingly difficult for the public or the press to investigate executions. Under the law, participants in executions <a href="" target="_blank">may be sued</a> if they reveal any confidential information or identities. The law also would undermine prisoners' due process rights, according to the <a href="" target="_blank">ACLU</a>: By<strong> </strong>exempting the participants in lethal injections from subpoenas<strong> </strong>and discovery proceedings, the law would make it virtually impossible for inmates' lawyers or courts to depose or question anyone with knowledge of a particular execution or death-penalty protocol. A late amendment to the bill does make limited room for disclosure through private judicial hearings.</p> <p>Thirteen other states have passed or tried to pass these sorts of gag rules. The bills are also growing more broad.<strong> </strong>"The trend we see in the more recent confidentiality statutes is an enhancement of both the breadth and depth of secrecy surrounding execution procedures," notes <a href="" target="_blank">Megan McCracken</a>, an attorney at the death penalty clinic at the University of California-Berkeley law school.</p> <div class="inline inline-center" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/Map-SecrecyLaws2.jpg"></div> <p>But Ohio's bill goes even further. First, it would void any contract, domestic or international, that would hinder the state's ability to obtain execution drugs. It also extends professional immunity for participants in executions, stating that licensing organizations can not "<a href="">take any disciplinary action against</a>" physicians, pharmacists, or other staff. Many professional associations' codes of conduct prohibit participation in capital punishment, and the Ohio State Medical Association has <a href="" target="_blank">expressed concerns</a> about the bill's "intent to statutorily void" parts of the medical ethics code. "I think this is the most extreme lethal injection secrecy bill that we've seen nationwide," says Brickner.</p> <p>The original version of the bill,<strong>&nbsp;</strong>sponsored by state Rep. Jim Buchy (R-Greenville), sought to ensure permanent blanket secrecy. An amended version requires individuals and companies involved in executions to opt-in for anonymity, and would make their identities public 20 years after they finish their business with the state. "20 years later is a rather pointless exercise," says <a href="" target="_blank">Mike Brickner</a>, senior policy director at the ACLU of Ohio. "If the company has a 10-year contract, you wouldn't see that information in your lifetime."</p> <p>With <a href="" target="_blank">four botched executions in the last eight years</a>, Ohio's use of the death penalty has come under increasing scrutiny. Beyond practical considerations regarding lethal injection, the legislature's rush may also be an attempt to quiet the debate on capital punishment, notes Brickner. Yet it may have the opposite effect. "This bill is fundamentally broken," says Brickner. "There will be no shortage of lawsuits challenging it."</p></body></html> Politics Crime and Justice Prisons Top Stories Tue, 25 Nov 2014 11:00:07 +0000 Hannah Levintova 265296 at Is Giving Food to the Homeless Illegal in Your City Too? <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>Last week, 90-year-old World War II veteran Arnold Abbott made national headlines when he got busted by cops in Fort Lauderdale, Florida&nbsp;twice in one week&mdash;for giving out food to homeless people. While serving a public meal on November 2, Abbott told the <em><a href="">Sun-Sentinel</a></em>, "a policeman pulled my arm and said, 'Drop that plate right now,' like it was a gun." Abbott runs a nonprofit group that regularly distributes food in city parks. Because of an ordinance the city passed this October that restricts feeding the homeless in public, his charity work is now potentially illegal.</p> <p>Abbott was cited again three days later in a different city park. Now the retired jewelry salesman is facing up to 60 days in jail or a $500 fine. And he's not the only one risking jail time for<strong> </strong>generosity: 71 cities across the country have passed or tried to pass ordinances that criminalize feeding the homeless, according to Michael Stoops, director of community organizing at the National Coalition for the Homeless.</p> <div class="inline inline-center" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/FoodSharingBanMapNEW.PNG" style="width: 630px; height: 487px;"><div class="caption">National Coalition for the Homeless</div> </div> <p>The number of cities trying to pass these so-called "feeding bans" is on the rise, says Stoops. An <a href="">October report</a> by the National Coalition for the Homeless found that since January of 2013, 22 cities have successfully passed restrictions on food-sharing, and the legislation is pending in nine other cities. (Fort Lauderdale's measure passed a few days after the Coalition's report published.)</p> <p>Most of these measures regulate <a href="" target="_blank">public property use</a>, especially parks, by either requiring permits to share food on public property or banning the practice altogether. Citations for violating these laws are not uncommon. In Orlando in 2011, <a href="">more than 20 activists</a> got arrested while ladling food for about <a href="">35 people</a> in a park, in violation of the city's restrictions on feeding the homeless. In 2013, police threatened to arrest members of a <a href="">Raleigh, North Carolina</a> church group who regularly hand out coffee and sausage biscuits to the needy on weekend mornings. Just this May, six people in Daytona Beach, Florida were fined <a href="">more than $2,000</a> for feeding homeless people at a park. (The fines were ultimately dropped.)</p> <p>A few cities have imposed <a href="" target="_blank">food safety precautions</a>, like requiring charities to get a food handler's permit,<strong> </strong>or mandating that they only serve hot food prepared in approved locations or in the form of pre-packaged meals. These sorts of restrictions <a href="" target="_blank">regularly</a> <a href="" target="_blank">shut out</a> donated meals. And in many cases, they seem to be unfairly targeting the homeless: When the issue of food safety was raised during <a href="" target="_blank">a court hearing</a> on Myrtle Beach, South Carolina's food-sharing law, the legal director of the state's ACLU chapter pointed out that similar restrictions weren't being levied against family reunions in parks, for instance, and that it had never received a single report of homeless people getting sick from the food. A Utah state representative said <a href="" target="_blank">the same thing</a> about Salt Lake City's food-sharing law.</p> <p>Stoops says that the uptick in food-sharing restrictions is driven in part by what cities perceive to be the rising visibility of the homeless. "They don't want the homeless in the downtown areas. It interferes with business," Stoops says. "Cities have grown tired of the problem, so they think by criminalizing homelessness they'll get rid of the visible homeless populations."</p> <p>Data doesn't back up the notion that homelessness has grown more apparent: Between 2007 and 2014, homelessness decreased by <a href="" target="_blank">11 percent</a>, according to the Department of Housing and Urban Development's point-in-time counts, considered the most scientific census of the homeless. Numbers of the unsheltered homeless, who are typically more visible, fell by <a href="" target="_blank">23 percent</a> between 2007 and 2013.</p> <p>Still, visibility persists as an oft-cited motivator for those who <a href="">support</a> these measures. "The food sharing itself was not necessarily the issue, but there was a host of ancillary behaviors when people gathered after the food sharing," Kelly McAdoo, the assistant city manager of Hayward, California, told <a href="" target="_blank">NBC</a> after the city enacted restrictions for food-sharing on public property this past February. She said people would stay in the public park drinking, relieving themselves, and fighting; other residents "wouldn't feel comfortable coming to these parks."</p> <p>Others say that food-sharing should be curbed because it enables homeless people to stay homeless. Stoops disagrees with that view. He <a href="">notes that</a> challenges like lack of job opportunity and mental or physical disability are what cause homelessness&mdash;not the occasional free meal.</p> <p>For now, all eyes are still on Fort Lauderdale. Abbott has gotten calls from <a href="">all over the world</a>, and he confronted the city's mayor on live TV this past Sunday. Now he's <a href="">bracing himself</a> for more altercations with police. Last weekend, <a href="" target="_blank">Abbott promised</a> to return<strong> </strong>to the park where he's served meals to the homeless for more than two decades: "We will continue as long as there is breath in my body."</p></body></html> Politics Economy Income Inequality Top Stories Thu, 13 Nov 2014 11:00:06 +0000 Hannah Levintova 264616 at Russians Dismantle Steve Jobs Memorial After Tim Cook Comes Out as Gay <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>Russian media is <a href="" target="_blank">reporting</a> that a memorial to Steve Jobs in St. Petersburg was dismantled on Friday, one day after current Apple CEO Tim Cook <a href="" target="_blank">came out</a> as gay.</p> <p>A group of Russian companies called the Western European Fiscal Union (ZEFS) erected the more than six-foot tall monument, shaped like an iPhone and featuring an interactive screen that showed information about the Apple founder, in January of 2013, outside of an IT research university in St. Petersburg.</p> <p>The ZEFS press office said the monument was taken down in order to comply with <a href="">Russia's law</a> prohibiting "propaganda of nontraditional sexual relations to minors" a broadly-worded law passed in June 2013 that effectively criminalizes most LGBT expression.</p> <p><a href="">ZEFS noted</a> in their statement that the&nbsp;memorial had been "in an&nbsp;area of&nbsp;direct access for&nbsp;young students and&nbsp;scholars."</p> <p>"After Apple CEO Tim Cook publicly called for&nbsp;sodomy, the&nbsp;monument was taken down to&nbsp;abide by the Russian federal law protecting children from&nbsp;information promoting denial of&nbsp;traditional family values."</p> <p>Shortly after Cook wrote publicly about being gay, famously anti-gay St. Petersburg legislator Vitaly Milonov <a href="">suggested that</a> Cook be banned from Russia forever, because he might bring Ebola, AIDs, and gonorrhea into the country.</p> <p>According to <a href="">Russian media reports</a>, ZEFS gave a second reason for the monument's removal: revelations by Edward Snowden that Apple sends information about its users to America's National Security Agency. (When these revelations first came to light, <a href="">Apple denied</a> having knowledge of the NSA's surveillance.)</p> <p>Russian media also <a href="" target="_blank">reported</a> that the head of ZEFS said he wouldn't be opposed to re-installing the monument, provided that it had the capability to send a message to the US rejecting all Apple products.&nbsp;</p> <p>So the next logical step here would be for Russia's elite to give up their personal iPhones, right? Well, <a href="">fat chance</a>.</p></body></html> Mixed Media Gay Rights International Mon, 03 Nov 2014 20:43:23 +0000 Hannah Levintova 263846 at 7 Big Gun Fights to Watch on Election Day <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>No election cycle in recent memory has seen the guns issue heat up the way this year's has. The National Rifle Association, continuing a long-running strategy of campaign spending, earmarked over $11 million for this year's elections&mdash;but for the first time in decades the nation's leading gun lobby is facing some truly formidable opposition. Americans for Responsible Solutions, launched by former congresswoman and mass shooting survivor Gabby Giffords, and Everytown for Gun Safety, bankrolled by former New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg, have spent millions of their own <a href="" target="_blank">to try to vanquish the NRA's influence</a>. How will it play out? Here are key races to watch on Tuesday:</p> <h2><strong>Washington</strong></h2> <p><strong>Spending by the NRA</strong>: $<a href=";year=2014&amp;type=initiative" target="_blank">485,000</a></p> <p><strong>Spending by gun control groups</strong>: Everytown/Bloomberg, $<a href=";year=2014&amp;type=initiative" target="_blank">2.6 million</a>; Bill &amp; Melinda Gates Foundation, $<a href=";year=2014&amp;type=initiative" target="_blank">1 million</a>. [Update: A new press release from Everytown lists their total Washington spending at $<a href="" target="_blank">4 million</a>.]</p> <p><strong>The showdown:</strong> In perhaps the most-watched race on guns, voters will decide on <a href="">two competing ballot measures</a> on the issue of background checks. Initiative 594 would expand background checks for gun purchases online, at gun shows, or through private transactions, closing the so-called loophole in federal law.&nbsp; The Washington Alliance for Gun Responsibility, which is leading the campaign for I-594, has received <a href=";year=2014&amp;type=initiative">financial support</a> totaling more than $2.5 million from both Everytown for Gun Safety and from Bloomberg personally. Bill and Melinda Gates also gave more than $1 million.</p> <p>The gun lobby counterattacked with Initiative 591, <a href="">sponsored by</a> Alan Gottlieb, president of the Washington-based <a href="">Second Amendment Foundation</a>. I-591 would prohibit the state from requiring background checks unless a "uniform national standard" for those checks is created. If passed, I-591 could create several confusing legal scenarios: This sort of state-level prohibition could contradict federal law, which already allows states to mandate additional background checks. And if both I-591 and I-594 pass, they may negate each other and lead to a protracted legal battle.</p> <p><strong>Ricochet:</strong> Speaking out against I-594 in July, the NRA's chief lobbyist in Washington state, Brian Judy, raised the specter of, what else, <a href="" target="_blank">Nazi Germany</a>. Referring to venture capitalist Nick Hanauer, who pledged $500,000 to back I-594 and who is Jewish, Judy said: "Now, he has put half-a-million dollars toward this policy, the same policy that led to his family getting run out of Germany by the Nazis...It&rsquo;s like any Jewish people that I meet who are anti-gun, I think, 'Are you serious? Do you not remember what happened?'"<br> &nbsp;</p> <h2 class="subhed"><strong>North Carolina</strong></h2> <p><strong>Spending by the NRA</strong>: <a href=";cycle=2014">$5.1 million</a></p> <p><strong>Spending by gun control groups</strong>: Americans for Responsible Solutions, <a href=";cycle=2014" target="_blank">$944,000</a></p> <div><div id="mininav" class="inline-subnav"> <!-- header content --> <div id="mininav-header-content"> <div id="mininav-header-image"> <img src="/files/images/motherjones_mininav/guns-mini-nav220_0.jpg" width="220" border="0"></div> </div> <!-- linked stories --> <div id="mininav-linked-stories"> <ul><span id="linked-story-266106"> <li><a href="/politics/2014/12/fatal-school-shootings-data-since-sandy-hook-newtown"> America's Many Fatal School Shootings Since Newtown</a></li> </span> <span id="linked-story-264166"> <li><a href="/politics/2014/11/washington-state-guns-background-checks-nra-everytown"> Washington Voters Just Passed the Gun Law Congress Couldn't</a></li> </span> <span id="linked-story-260221"> <li><a href="/politics/2014/09/nra-women-sexism-guns"> How the NRA Degrades and Objectifies Women</a></li> </span> <span id="linked-story-256776"> <li><a href="/politics/2014/07/robert-dowlut-nra-murder-mystery"> When the NRA's Top Lawyer Went on Trial for Murder</a></li> </span> <span id="linked-story-251606"> <li><a href="/politics/2014/05/guns-bullying-open-carry-women-moms-texas"> Spitting, Stalking, Rape Threats: How Gun Extremists Target Women</a></li> </span> <span id="linked-story-257246"> <li><a href="/politics/2014/09/moms-demand-action-guns-madd-shannon-watts-nra"> These Women Are the NRA's Worst Nightmare</a></li> </span> <span id="linked-story-186991"> <li><a href="/politics/2012/07/mass-shootings-map"> A Guide to Mass Shootings in America</a></li> </span> <span id="linked-story-214686"> <li><a href="/politics/2013/01/pro-gun-myths-fact-check"> 10 Pro-Gun Myths, Shot Down</a></li> </span> </ul></div> <!-- footer content --> <div id="mininav-footer-content"> <div id="mininav-footer-text" class="mininav-footer-text"> <p class="mininav-footer-text" style="margin: 0; padding: 0.75em; font-size: 11px; font-weight: bold; line-height: 1.2em; background-color: rgb(221, 221, 221);"> See our special reports on <a href="">mass shootings</a> and <a href="">child gun deaths</a> </p> </div> </div> </div> </div> <p><strong>The showdown: </strong>The NRA has spent millions on Thom Tillis, speaker of the North Carolina house and GOP candidate for US Senate. That's the case despite the fact that Tillis' opponent,&nbsp;incumbent Sen. Kay Hagan, has been a strong supporter of gun rights, having voted against bans on <a href="">assault weapons</a> and <a href="">high-capacity magazines</a>. She did, however, vote for the Manchin-Toomey amendment to expand background checks. The two candidates are in a <a href="">tight race</a> that could decide control of the Senate. In September, the NRA made a $1.4 million <a href="">TV ad buy</a> highlighting Tillis' record on Second Amendment issues.</p> <p><strong>Ricochet</strong>: Tillis has an <a href="">A+ rating</a> from the NRA, not least because he supports the NRA's agenda of legalizing guns all over the place. During his tenure in the North Carolina house, Tillis helped pass a bill <a href="">expanding concealed carry</a> in North Carolina to school parking lots, public parks, and restaurants serving alcohol.<br> &nbsp;</p> <h2>Colorado</h2> <p><strong>Spending by the NRA</strong>: <a href=";cycle=2014" target="_blank">$4.7 million</a></p> <p><strong>Spending by gun control groups</strong>: Americans for Responsible Solutions, <a href=";cycle=2014" target="_blank">$272,000</a></p> <div class="inline inline-left" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/Sudden_Impact300.jpg"><div class="caption"><strong>&nbsp;</strong>Bill Gold/ Warner Bros./ Wikipedia</div> </div> <p><strong>The showdown: </strong>The NRA has worked vigorously against incumbent Democratic Sen. Mark Udall in another of this year's key senate battlegrounds. A week after the Sandy Hook massacre in December 2012, Udall came out <a href="">in favor of</a> stricter gun control legislation, and he voted for the Manchin-Toomey bill the following April. His opponent, Republican Rep. Cory Gardner, is decidely <a href="">pro-gun rights</a>; the NRA spent $1.3 million on a TV ad supporting Gardner. For its part, Americans for Responsible Solutions has targeted voters with digital and direct mail ads in support of Udall.</p> <p><strong>Ricochet:</strong> So-called "Make My Day" protections seek to allow Colorado homeowners to use deadly force if they feel threatened&mdash;and as a state representative, Gardner introduced a "Make My Day Better" law (a term <a href="" target="_blank">he coined</a>) no less than <a href="">four times</a>. Had it passed, it would have extended these self-defense protections to business-owners and employees.<br> &nbsp;</p> <h2><strong>Arkansas</strong></h2> <p><strong>Spending by the NRA</strong>: <a href=";cycle=2014" target="_blank">$2.9 million</a></p> <p><strong>Spending by gun control groups</strong>: $0</p> <p><strong>The showdown: </strong>The NRA has spent big on this key Senate race, investing in Republican Rep. Tom Cotton, with <a href="">$1.4 million</a> going towards TV ads. In 2013, Cotton co-sponsored "<a href="" target="_blank">The National Right to Carry Reciprocity Act</a>," which would have allowed concealed carry license holders to pack heat in all states that permit concealed carry.</p> <p><strong>Ricochet</strong>:&nbsp; In 2013, the NRA ran <a href="">radio ads</a> praising Cotton's opponent, incumbent Democratic Sen. Mark Pryor, after he voted against the Manchin-Toomey bill, which Pryor did in spite of <a href="" target="_blank">direct pleas</a> from family members of Sandy Hook victims. But gun control groups generally have <a href="" target="_blank">not targeted</a> Pryor for that vote, given his vulnerability in a deep-red state. (Everytown ran a TV ad in Arkansas <a href="" target="_blank">criticizing Pryor</a> shortly after his vote against Manchin-Toomey, but an Everytown spokesperson told <em>Mother Jones </em>that the group hasn't taken any action against Pryor this election season.)<br> &nbsp;</p> <h2><strong>Iowa</strong></h2> <p><strong>Spending by the NRA: </strong>$663,000 (House) + $3.4 million (Senate)</p> <p><strong>Spending by gun control groups</strong>: Americans for Responsible Solutions, $269,000&nbsp;(House) + $470,700 (Senate)</p> <p><strong>The showdown:</strong> The third congressional district race in Iowa is one of the most heated with respect to guns, with both Americans for Responsible Solutions and the NRA making six-figure buys for TV attack ads. The Republican candidate, David Young, helped block the Manchin-Toomey bill while working as Sen. Chuck Grassley's (R-Iowa) chief of staff. An ARS ad focuses on how that makes it easier for <a href="" target="_blank">domestic abusers to get guns</a>:</p> <p><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="354" src="//" width="630"></iframe></p> <p>Young's challenger, former state Sen. Staci Appel, by contrast, voted for a law prohibiting gun possession by perpetrators of domestic violence in 2010.&nbsp;The <a href="" target="_blank">NRA's ad</a> goes after her by linking her with former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg.</p> <p>In the state's tight Senate race, the NRA has so far spent more money against Democratic Rep. Bruce Braley than on any other candidate this year, throwing its support behind Republican state Sen. Joni Ernst. Ernst has <a href="">consistently voted</a> for pro-gun policies. The NRA recently aired a provocative ad in her support: A mom is putting her kids to bed and texting with her spouse, who is on his way home from the airport. Suddenly a man breaks in, and the clip cuts to yellow caution tape, while a narrator intones, "Bruce Braley voted to take away your gun rights."</p> <p><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="354" src="//" width="630"></iframe></p> <p>Americans for Responsible Solutions fired back a few days ago with <a href="">its own ad</a>, which features a county sheriff and highlights Ernst's opposition to universal background checks.</p> <p><strong>Ricochet</strong>: The NRA has used versions of its Ernst ad in <a href="">several other states</a>, including <a href="" target="_blank">Louisiana</a>, <a href="" target="_blank">Georgia</a>, and <a href="" target="_blank">West Virginia</a>.<br> &nbsp;</p> <h2><strong>Arizona</strong></h2> <p><strong>Spending by the NRA</strong>: $<a href=";cycle=2014" target="_blank">14,000</a></p> <p><strong>Spending by gun control groups: </strong>Americans for Responsible Solutions, $<a href=";cycle=2014" target="_blank">1.8 million</a></p> <p><strong>The showdown: </strong>Gabby Giffords represented Arizona's 2nd congressional district before she was shot in the head during a community event in Tucson in January 2011. Now, in what is shaping up to be one of the nation's tightest House races, Giffords' Americans for Responsible Solutions has spent more money opposing Republican Martha McSally than it has spent on any other candidate. Incumbent Democratic Rep. Ron Barber beat McSally in the 2012 House race. Barber had served as Giffords' district director,<strong> </strong>and was also wounded in the 2011 mass shooting.</p> <p>ARS aired <a href="" target="_blank">two commercials</a> in September highlighting McSally's opposition to closing the loophole on background checks at gun shows and online. The group debuted another ad <a href="">this week.</a></p> <p><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="354" src="//" width="630"></iframe></p> <p><strong>Ricochet</strong>: In September, ARS ran a controversial ad criticizing McSally's stance on laws that would have made it harder for convicted stalkers to get a gun. ARS yanked the ad after McSally <a href="">announced</a> <a href="">that</a> she had been a stalking victim and would support laws that would make it illegal for misdemeanant stalkers to buy guns.<br> &nbsp;</p> <h2><strong>New Hampshire</strong></h2> <p><strong>Spending by the NRA</strong>: <a href=";cycle=2014" target="_blank">$89,000</a></p> <p><strong>Spending by gun control groups: </strong>Americans for Responsible Solutions, <a href=";cycle=2014" target="_blank">$1.1 million</a></p> <p><strong>The showdown:</strong> In the first and second congressional districts, ARS has spent big on TV ads that highlight former Republican Rep. <a href=";">Frank Guinta</a> and state Rep. <a href=";">Marilinda Garcia</a>&rsquo;s opposition to universal background checks. While in Congress, Guinta cosponsored a bill for reciprocity of conceal carry permits across state lines.</p> <p><strong>Ricochet:</strong> In 2011, Republican congressmen read the Constitution aloud in its entirety on the House floor for the first time. <a href="">Guinta read</a> the Second Amendment, to the envy of <a href="">some colleagues</a>.</p> <p><em>All spending totals as of October 29, 2014</em></p></body></html> Politics Elections Guns Top Stories Thu, 30 Oct 2014 10:15:06 +0000 Hannah Levintova 263391 at NBA Player Kisses Sideline Reporter, Calls Her the Wrong Name <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>Before Tristan Thompson of the Cleveland Cavaliers took the court Friday to play the Dallas Mavericks, Allie Clifton, a Fox News Ohio reporter, tried to interview him about his game strategy.</p> <p>After haphazardly answering one of her questions, Thompson calls her "Tina," winks at the camera, and then kisses her on the cheek before running away.</p> <p>Here's video of the incident:</p> <p><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="354" src="//" width="630"></iframe></p> <p>Contrary to some of the sports media's reporting, kissing a reporter on air while she is working is not "<a href="">an unexpected gift</a>" or "<a href="">harmless, and nothing more than an awkward one-sided exchange</a>." It's downright uncomfortable and belittling, even if Clifton maintained utter professionalism throughout. As Kelly Dwyer at <a href="" target="_blank"><em>Yahoo Sports</em></a> put it: "This isn't cute or funny or meme-worthy&hellip;Just because you're working with someone of the opposite sex, it doesn't mean a sly innuendo, pat on the rear, or kiss on national television is in any way appropriate."</p></body></html> MoJo Sex and Gender Sports Sun, 19 Oct 2014 16:56:15 +0000 Hannah Levintova 262836 at Women Harassed Out of Their Homes. Mass Shooting Threats. How #Gamergate Morphed Into a Monster. <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>Video game critic and feminist author Anita Sarkeesian canceled a speaking engagement at Utah State University on Tuesday after <a href="" target="_blank">an email from an unknown source</a> promised "the deadliest school shooting in American history" and threatened that Sarkeesian would "die screaming like the craven little whore that she is if you let her come to USU." Sarkeesian is the creator of an <a href="" target="_blank">online video series</a> that critiques mainstream video games for misogyny; she has long been the target of violent threats from online trolls. Despite that Sarkeesian had every reason to be concerned about the specter of <a href="" target="_blank">vicious misogyny mixed with guns</a>, USU officials <a href="" target="blank">said</a> that under state law concealed weapons could not be barred from the event. She blasted the university late Wednesday for how it handled the situation:</p> <blockquote class="twitter-tweet" lang="en"> <p>USU acted irresponsibly. They did not even inform me of the threat. I learned about it via news stories on Twitter after I landed in Utah.</p> &mdash; Feminist Frequency (@femfreq) <a href="">October 16, 2014</a></blockquote> <script async src="//" charset="utf-8"></script><p>Sarkeesian <a href="" target="_blank">noted recently</a> that she has been "subjected to the worst harassment I've ever faced" as part of a convoluted conflict known as #Gamergate, which has been <a href="" target="blank">roiling</a> the gaming industry since August. Playing out primarily on social media, #Gamergate centers around several women who work in the industry and have criticized its dominant macho culture and frequent&nbsp;sexualization of women. Their critique has met with intense harassment and bullying. The FBI is currently investigating the threats against Sarkeesian and others, according to <em><a href="" target="blank">Vice</a></em>.</p> <p class="subhed" target="blank">On one level, #Gamergate is an internal squabble between ideologically opposed factions within the gaming world. But now, disturbing developments such as Sarkeesian's canceled appearance reflect how the controversy has blown up beyond the familiar trappings of online nastiness and spilled into real life&mdash;with serious consequences. At least two women involved in #Gamergate have said that they had to flee their homes, fearing for their safety. Kyle Wagner at <em>Deadspin</em> <a href="" target="blank">suggests</a> that #Gamergate may be no less than "the future of grievance politics as they will be carried out by people who grew up online."</p> <p><strong>So what is #Gamergate and how did this all start?</strong><br> #Gamergate is essentially an escalating fight about the direction of gaming culture. It pits a group of feminists and their supporters&mdash;who advocate for expanding beyond the testosterone-fueled games that dominate the industry&mdash;against a vocal faction that is openly hostile toward their views. The conflict first blew up in August after a programmer named <a href="" target="_blank">Eron Gonji</a> wrote a revenge post about his breakup with developer Zoe Quinn, the creator of <a href="" target="blank">Depression Quest</a>, a critically acclaimed game whose purpose is to illustrate the challenges of coping with depression.</p> <p>The post implied Quinn had a romantic relationship with a writer for <em>Kotaku</em>, the gaming site run by Gawker Media, supposedly to receive favorable coverage of Depression Quest. In fact, <em>Kotaku</em> never reviewed the game, but nasty attacks against Quinn&mdash;<a href="" target="blank">including</a> the circulation of nude photos, death threats, and rape threats&mdash;quickly flooded sites like Reddit and 4chan. Sarkeesian experienced similar threats just a few days later, after publishing a new video in her series on women and gaming. Brianna Wu, a developer behind <a href="" target="_blank">a game</a> with all female lead characters, has <a href="" target="blank">written</a> about harassment of women in the industry; she received a series of graphic death threats last week after&nbsp;<a href="" target="blank">sharing a meme</a> making fun of #Gamergate. She said she had to flee her home as a result.</p> <div class="inline inline-left" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="gamergate" class="image" src="/files/gamergate.png"><br> &nbsp;</div> <script async src="//" charset="utf-8"></script><p>Wu posted a fierce <a href="" target="_blank">counterattack</a> on Thursday morning:</p> <p class="ng-scope">"Ordinarily, I develop videogames with female characters that aren't girlfriends, bimbos and sidekicks," she wrote. "I am a software engineer, a popular public speaker and an expert in the Unreal engine. Today, I'm being targeted by a delusional mob." That's the tame part: "<span class="ng-scope" itemscope="" itemtype="">They threatened the wrong woman this time. I am the Godzilla of bitches. I have a backbone of pure adamantium, and I'm sick of seeing them abuse my friends."</span></p> <p><strong>Who is responsible for all this nastiness?</strong><br> It's hard to say: Most of the viciousness comes from anonymous trolls. However, a couple of particular players have helped inflame the situation:</p> <p>Adam Baldwin, perhaps best known for portraying paranoid mercenary Jayne Cobb in <em>Firefly</em> and for voicing strident political views on social media, chimed in:</p> <blockquote class="twitter-tweet" lang="en"> <p>Patterns of Failure: <a href="">#GunGrabbers</a> exploit dead children to advance their political agenda. Anti- <a href="">#GamerGate</a>&rsquo;rs exploit anon-troll threats.</p> &mdash; Adam Baldwin (@AdamBaldwin) <a href="">October 12, 2014</a></blockquote> <script async src="//" charset="utf-8"></script><blockquote class="twitter-tweet" lang="en"> <p>Hi <a href="">@BoingBoing</a>: What hard evidence do U have <a href="">@Spacekatgal</a> was &ldquo;targeted [by <a href="">#Gamergate</a>] with credible threats after speaking out on sexism&rdquo;?</p> &mdash; Adam Baldwin (@AdamBaldwin) <a href="">October 12, 2014</a></blockquote> <script async src="//" charset="utf-8"></script><blockquote class="twitter-tweet" lang="en"> <p>This is actor <a href="">@AdamBaldwin</a> and the standards he holds himself to. <a href=""></a></p> &mdash; Brianna Wu (@Spacekatgal) <a href="">October 14, 2014</a></blockquote> <script async src="//" charset="utf-8"></script><p>Milo Yiannopoulos, associate editor at <em></em>, also helped fuel the haters with a <a href="" target="blank">blog post </a>in which he declared "an army of sociopathic feminist programmers and campaigners, abetted by achingly politically correct American tech bloggers, are terrorising the entire community."</p> <p><strong>What's the deal with those strange hashtags and other terms?</strong><br> Here's a quick primer:</p> <p><strong>8chan:</strong> A site that allows anyone to anonymously create their own message board. Threads related to #Gamergate originally sprung up on 4chan, but were banned for breaking the site's policy on distributing personal information. At that point, the conversation largely <a href="" target="_blank">moved</a> to 8chan.</p> <p><strong>"Social justice warrior" (or SJW):</strong> A derisive term used by many in the #Gamergate crowd to describe its feminist and otherwise inclusion-minded critics. It's largely synonymous with "PC police."</p> <p><strong><a href="" target="blank">#NotYourShield</a>: </strong>A Twitter hashtag used to point out that not all #Gamergate supporters are white and/or male. It's been used by women and people of color sympathetic to the cause to counter claims that the movement is inherently misogynistic or comprised solely of gaming's status quo. Some claim that many "sock puppets," or fake accounts, have been created to make the tag appear more popular than it is; there is no way to confirm or deny this.</p> <p><strong><a href=";src=tyah" target="blank">#StopGamerGate2014</a>: </strong>A Twitter hashtag that has <a href=";q2=%23gamergate&amp;via=Topsy" target="blank">garnered</a> around 75,000 tweets since it first appeared late Tuesday night (#Gamergate has been getting around 100,000 tweets a day). It's essentially&nbsp;a form of counterprotest.</p> <p><strong>So what is this really all about?</strong><br> #Gamergaters, as they're called, say their target isn't women but instead what they deem to be corrupt journalism. They claim the fact that a game developer like Quinn once had a romantic relationship with a writer at&nbsp;<em>Kotaku</em>&nbsp;is evidence that media coverage of games can be bought and sold with sexual favors. But the writer in question never reviewed Quinn's game, and nor did anyone else at&nbsp;<em>Kotaku</em>.&nbsp;<em>Kotaku</em>&nbsp;<a href="" target="blank">looked into</a>&nbsp;the accusations and said it found no evidence of a conflict of interest.</p> <p>#Gamergaters argue more broadly that journalists are <a href="" target="blank">too cozy</a>&nbsp;with game developers&mdash;they fund their projects, date them, and are sometimes roommates or friends with them&mdash;which makes it impossible, they say, for gamers to trust reviews from gaming news sites. <em>Polygon</em>,&nbsp;<em>Kotaku</em>, and the <em>Verge</em> have come under attack along these lines. (You can read about their ethics policies&nbsp;<a href="" target="blank">her</a><a href="" target="blank">e, here</a>, and&nbsp;<a href="" target="blank">here</a>.) Other #Gamergaters take issue with a growing pool&nbsp;of gaming writers and editors interested in issues of&nbsp;diversity, inclusion, sexism, and violence in video games. "Headlines are becoming less about gaming and more about&nbsp;mysoginy&nbsp;[sic], feminism, and are reduced to click-grabbing disappointments," <a href="" target="blank">laments</a>&nbsp;one manifesto.</p> <p>Meanwhile, there is an email listserv called&nbsp;GamingJournoPros&nbsp;that some industry writers use to discuss trends and new releases; its recent "<a href="" target="blank">discovery</a>" by <em></em> has prompted additional outrage among #Gamergaters, despite that there are multitudes of such listservs in journalism. (Read more from its moderator&nbsp;<a href="" target="blank">here</a>.) On the other hand, popular gaming critic Leigh Alexander has <a href="" target="_blank">compiled</a> a list of more substantive ethics issues in the trade. For instance, "One of the US's most long-running and successful print game publications is owned by one of the world's best-known game retailers, and few of the magazine's consumers seem aware of what, if any impact that relationship might have."</p> <p>And if you're still wondering whether #Gamergate is about journalism ethics, read <a href="" target="_blank">this piece</a> from Amanda Marcotte, who calls total bullshit. (Well, "horseshit," to be precise.)</p> <p><strong>How are tech and social media companies reacting?</strong><br> Intel was pulled into #Gamergate early this month when it bowed to pressure from an email blizzard <a href="" target="blank">by yanking it ads from <em>Gamasutra</em></a>, one of several sites that have published essays critical of rampant sexism in gamer culture. Subsequently criticized for that move, the company <a href="" target="blank">apologized two days later</a> but hasn't reinstated the ads.</p> <p>Though #Gamergate first <a href="" target="_blank">caught fire on 4chan</a>, it exploded on more mainstream social media outlets such as Reddit and Twitter, which have been criticized for providing a platform for its worst elements. On Saturday, for example, developer Brianna Wu left her home after a Twitter user <a href="" target="blank">sent her a string of threats</a> including a pledge to choke her to death with her husband's penis. Though Twitter has suspended those accounts, critics argue<a href="" target="blank"> it could do much more</a> by, say, actively detecting hostile behavior, limiting fake accounts, and making it easier to block users. Twitter spokesman Nu Wexler referred <em>Mother Jones</em> to the company's user rules <a href="" target="blank">banning targeted abuse</a>. He declined to say how many accounts have been suspended in relation to #Gamergate or if any have been referred to law enforcement.</p> <p>On Reddit, <a href="" target="blank">a group devoted to #Gamergate</a> has more than 11,000 subscribers. Many of the comments in these threads <a href="" target="blank">are misogynistic</a>, and Zoe Quinn <a href="" target="blank">has produced logs</a> of Reddit chatrooms that show gamers planning to hack her personal accounts. Even so, Reddit's moderators haven't shut down its main #Gamergate page. (In contrast, a #Gamergate forum on Github <a href="" target="blank">has been disabled</a> by the site's staff.) "We received a number of contacts related to this issue," Reddit spokeswoman Victoria Taylor wrote in response to questions from <em>Mother Jones</em>. "Anything that we found or that was reported to us that broke our <a href="" target="_blank">rules</a> was removed and the user banned." But it seems that the fallout from #Gamergate hasn't prompted much concern or soul searching at Reddit: "We do not plan on changing any site policies due to the occurrence of this event."</p> <p><strong>How have leaders in the gaming industry responded?</strong><br> Pushback on the nastiness from the world of gaming journalism has included comments from Stephen Totilo, the editor in chief of <em>Kotaku</em> (and #Gamergate's<a href="" target="blank"> journalistic enemy No. 1</a>), who <a href="" target="blank">published a piece</a> criticizing the movement and its tactics:</p> <p>"All of us at <em>Kotaku</em> condemn the sort of harassment that's being carried out against critics, developers, journalists, and other members of the gaming community. If you're someone who harasses people online, you're not a part of the community we want to foster at <em>Kotaku</em>, and you're actively hurting people and driving important voices away from the video game scene. Enough."</p> <p>Chris Plante at <em>Polygon</em>, the Vox Media-owned video game site and frequent #Gamergate punching bag, <a href="" target="blank">scolded</a>:</p> <p>"This week, the obstinate child threw a temper tantrum, and the industry was stuck in the metaphorical grocery store as everyone was forced to suffer through it together. But unlike a child, the people behind these temper tantrums are hurting others. It's time to grow up."</p> <p>And <a href="" target="blank">Keith Stuart, games editor of the <em>Guardian</em>,</a> wrote:</p> <p>"I have found a lot of the actions of self-confessed hardcore gamers horrendous, upsetting and unjustifiable over the past two weeks&hellip;I don't have a problem with the term 'gamer'&hellip;I have a problem with gamers who deny that this industry needs to improve its representation&mdash;in terms of race, gender and sexuality."</p> <p>On Wednesday, the Entertainment Software Association, gaming's largest industry group, issued a short statement:</p> <p>"Threats of violence and harassment are wrong&hellip;They have to stop. There is no place in the video game community&mdash;or our society&mdash;for personal attacks and threats."</p> <p>And developer Andreas Zecher wrote a widely circulated <a href="" target="blank">"open letter to the gaming community"</a> posted to Medium:</p> <p>"We believe that everyone, no matter what gender, sexual orientation, ethnicity, religion or disability has the right to play games, criticize games and make games without getting harassed or threatened&hellip;If you see hateful, harassing speech, take a public stand against it and make the gaming community a more enjoyable space to be in."</p> <p>The letter was signed by hundreds in the gaming community, including people from big-time studios like Electronic Arts, Microsoft, Ubisoft, and Nintendo.</p> <p>From the indie community, developer Phil Fish has led the charge to defend Quinn and others:</p> <div class="inline inline-center" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/fish_0.jpg"></div></body></html> Media Media Sex and Gender Tech Top Stories Thu, 16 Oct 2014 10:15:05 +0000 — By the Mother Jones news team 262626 at Book Review: The Birth of the Pill <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><div class="inline inline-left" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="birth of the pill" class="image" src="/files/birth-pill-250.jpg"></div> <p><strong>The Birth of the Pill</strong></p> <p>By Jonathan Eig</p> <p>NORTON</p> <p>Seventy years ago, birth control&mdash;illegal, crude, and unreliable&mdash;was reserved for women with means whose men were willing to go along. Jonathan Eig's gripping history recounts how two men and two women fought science and society for a pill to enable smaller families (and low-risk recreational sex). Their campaign, which touted pragmatism (population control, economics) over pleasure, won some unlikely victories: the support of a devout Catholic OB-GYN, for instance, and the backing of a feisty heiress who once smuggled more than 1,000 diaphragms into the States, sewn into the folds of the latest European fashions. The pill is utterly ordinary today. The story of how we got here is anything but.</p> <p><em>This review originally appeared in our <a href="" target="_blank">September/October issue</a> of</em> Mother Jones.&nbsp;</p></body></html> Mixed Media Books Reproductive Rights Sex and Gender Tue, 14 Oct 2014 21:24:09 +0000 Hannah Levintova 258976 at This Anti-Gay Candidate's Message Is Bigger in Moscow Than Massachusetts <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>Even though he's running to be the governor of Massachusetts, Scott Lively makes no secret of his extreme anti-gay views. The evangelical pastor, who's being sued by gay-rights groups for his <a href="" target="_blank">involvement in Uganda's "Kill the Gays" bill</a>, has <a href="" target="_blank">gotten flack</a> on the campaign trail for his beliefs, even encountering some <a href="" target="_blank">raucous booing</a> at a gubernatorial forum earlier in the year.</p> <div class="sidebar-small-right"><strong>Read more: </strong><a href="" target="_blank">Meet the American pastor behind Uganda's anti-gay crackdown</a></div> <p>Lively knows that his focus on traditional values makes him an unpopular choice in the first state to legalize same-sex marriage. "The only way Scott Lively is going to become governor of Massachusetts is by a miracle of God," he <a href="">told <em>MassLive</em></a> last month.</p> <p>While Lively's views can't find much domestic audience, they play well in Vladimir Putin's Russia. Lively's anti-gay zeal is on display in <em>Sodom</em>, a new documentary that aired on Russian television last month, to much acclaim. The film was produced by famously anti-gay TV host Arkady Mamontov, who once implied that the <a href="" target="_blank">Chelyabinsk meteorite explosion</a> was caused by the gay rights movement. The film aired on Rossiya-1, Russia's main government-funded TV channel.</p> <p>"For American homosexuals, this man, Scott Lively, is public enemy number one," intones the film's narrator. On camera, Lively speaks about the gay "agenda," which seeks "anti-discrimination policy" in the name of ultimate "societal conquest." Lively insists that "The average American is not in favor of homosexuality. But they are afraid to speak publicly about it, because the gays have so much power and they can do harm to those people."</p> <p>Lively brings the film's producers to the headquarters of the Human Rights Campaign in Washington, DC. Set against a dramatic soundtrack, Lively paces outside. "This organization, instead of focusing on the true needs of people around the world, they are trying to declare that homosexuality is a human right," Lively says. "They spend vast amounts of money to promote this agenda around the world instead of defending genuine human rights."</p> <p>This is just the latest entry on Lively's anti-gay r&eacute;sum&eacute;, as my colleague Mariah Blake <a href="" target="_blank">has reported</a>. In 1995, Lively coauthored <em>The Pink Swastika</em>, a book that argues that gay Nazis inspired the Holocaust because Judaism forbids homosexuality. In 2007, Lively went on a 50-city tour of Russia and other ex-Soviet republics to warn of the "homosexual agenda." In 2009, he gave a five-hour presentation on Ugandan national television calling homosexuality a disease and claiming that gays aggressively recruit children.</p> <p>It's unclear if Lively's segment in this film was shot before he declared his candidacy for governor in <a href="">September 2013</a>. Yet it's a revealing comment on the state of American (and Russian) politics that a candidate can find more traction for his extreme anti-gay views in Moscow than Mattapan.</p> <p>Take a look at the video below. (The Lively segment starts at 8:17; he arrives at HRC at 12:00.)</p> <p><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="354" src="//" width="630"></iframe></p></body></html> MoJo Gay Rights International Mon, 13 Oct 2014 14:28:50 +0000 Hannah Levintova 262256 at The Supreme Court May Be About to Save—or Destroy—Gay Marriage <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>Supporters of gay marriage have <a href="" target="_blank">been on a roll</a>: In the past year, federal courts across the country have nullified same-sex marriage bans in <a href="" target="_blank">more than a dozen</a> states.</p> <p>Yet these victories are complicated by the lack of a national legal standard on gay marriage: For now, it remains a state-level question. But that could change if the US Supreme Court steps in. Last week, the high court announced that it will review a package of seven gay-marriage cases from five states in late September when it chooses which cases to consider in their 2014-2015 term.</p> <p>Legal experts say <a href="" target="_blank">it's likely</a> that the court will hear at least one of the cases. "I think they're going to take a case," says <a href="">Dale Carpenter</a>, a professor of civil liberties law at the University of Minnesota law school. "The only question is which one. They know whichever they take, it's going to be momentous."</p> <p>This cluster of cases centers on two key questions: All seven ask SCOTUS to consider whether a state law limiting marriage to a union between a man and a woman violates the 14th Amendment. Six of the seven cases also raise the question of whether states must recognize same-sex marriages performed in other states.</p> <p>The Supreme Court ruled on two landmark gay marriage cases in 2013: <em>Hollingsworth v. Perry,</em> which overturned California's <a href="" target="_blank">Proposition 8</a>, and <em>US v. Windsor</em>, which invalidated the <a href="" target="_blank">Defense of Marriage Act</a>. But neither weighed in on the constitutionality of same-sex marriage bans, leaving the choice to allow gay marriage up to each individual state. If the court takes one of these new cases, it's likely that its decision will have a broad and more definitive impact. "Should they decide that the 14th Amendment actually protects the rights of same-sex marriage, that would have the effect of being binding on the federal government," says <a href="">Jane Schacter</a>, a professor at Stanford Law School.</p> <p>The cases before the court involve the 14th Amendment's guarantees to equal protection under law and due process. If the high court rules that it is a violation of either promise for one state to deny a marriage license to a same sex couple, then it would become unconstitutional for any state to do so. Any state that failed to comply with the ruling, Carpenter elaborates, "would face immediate lawsuits&mdash;a complete waste of time and money."</p> <p>It's anyone's guess which case (or cases) SCOTUS may choose. The justices will choose between three Virginia cases, and one each from Utah, Indiana, Oklahoma, and Wisconsin. Ted Olson and David Boies, the attorneys on one of the Virginia cases, successfully argued <em>Hollingsworth v. Perry</em> last year. The attorney on one of the other Virginia cases is Paul Smith, who has argued multiple cases before SCOTUS, including <em>Lawrence v. Texas</em> in 2003, which struck down state sodomy laws. Carpenter says that the cases from Utah, Indiana, or Wisconsin might prove the most comprehensive choices for the court. "Utah, Indiana, and Wisconsin involve the marriage issue <em>and</em> the recognition issue <em>and</em> the state attorney generals are fully defending those laws. You have all the elements together in those cases," he says. "The Supreme Court might want to just take a very clean case in which you've got the state squarely taking the position and defending its law."</p> <p>The Supreme Court could take multiple cases or all of them. It could also consolidate cases, something the court has done in the past with hot-button issues. (For example, 1954's landmark <a href="" target="_blank"><em>Brown v. Board</em> <em>of Education</em></a> combined six desegregation cases.) "All these plaintiffs want to be the chosen one," says Schacter. "But it wouldn't surprise me at all if they take more than one case."</p> <p>Here's a closer look at all seven cases being considered by the court, and what's at stake in each:</p> <p><strong>1. <em><a href="">Herbert v. Kitchen&nbsp;</a></em>(Utah):</strong> SCOTUS briefly dealt with this case earlier this year. In December 2013, a federal district court struck down Utah's ban on same-sex marriage. Weddings began immediately. In January, the high court issued a temporary stay, putting a halt to marriages while the state's appeal was considered. In June, the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the lower court's ruling that the state's same-sex marriage ban was unconstitutional.</p> <p><strong>2. <em>Smith v. Bishop </em>(Oklahoma): </strong>First filed in 2004, this case originally sought both to overturn Oklahoma's ban on same-sex marriages and to recognize marriages performed in other jurisdictions. In January, a district court judge ruled that the state's ban is unconstitutional, but dismissed the portion of the lawsuit addressing marriages from other states, ruling that the plaintiffs lacked standing. Both sides appealed to the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals, which affirmed the district court on both counts. In its appeal to SCOTUS, the state of Oklahoma is <a href="">asking the court</a> to rule exclusively on the marriage question.</p> <p><strong>3. <a href=""><em>Bogan v. Baskin</em>&nbsp;</a>(Indiana):</strong> <a href="">This case</a> began as three separate suits filed on behalf of a widow and 11 couples. Several plaintiffs have same-sex marriage licenses from other states that are unrecognized in Indiana. In June, a district court judge consolidated the suits into <em>Baskin</em>, and struck down the state's ban on gay marriage. He did not stay the decision, allowing marriage licenses to be issued immediately. Earlier this month, the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the lower court's decision.</p> <p><strong>4. <em><a href="">Walker v. Wolf&nbsp;</a></em>(Wisconsin):</strong> In February, the American Civil Liberties Union filed this case on behalf of eight same-sex couples, three of whom had married in other places. In March, a district court judge denied the state's requests to dismiss the case. In June she ruled in favor of the plaintiffs, overturning Wisconsin's ban on same-sex marriage. Her ruling was unclear on whether marriages could begin or not: Still, clerks in some cities <a href="">began marrying couples</a> immediately. Earlier this month, the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the lower court's decision.</p> <p><strong>5, 6, and 7. <em>Rainey v. </em><em>Bosti</em>c, <em>Schaefer v. Bostic</em>, and <a href=""><em>McQuigg v. Bostic</em></a> (Virginia): </strong>These <a href="">three cases</a> are different iterations of a suit filed in July 2013 by plaintiffs Timothy Bostic and Tony London, who seek to get married in Virginia. Carol Schall and Mary Townley joined the case in September 2013. They were legally married in California in 2008, but their union is not recognized in the Old Dominion. This has made it impossible for Schall to formally adopt her own daughter. In February, a district court judge <a href="">ruled</a> on all three cases, concluding that the state's laws barring in-state gay marriages and prohibiting recognition of out-of-state marriage licenses is unconstitutional. In July, the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed the lower court's ruling. A fourth case, <em><a href="">Harris v. Rainey</a></em>, a class action suit, has been incorporated into <em>Rainey v. Bostic</em>.</p></body></html> Politics Gay Rights Supreme Court Top Stories Mon, 15 Sep 2014 19:17:41 +0000 Hannah Levintova 260226 at