States Offering Full Marriage Equality Have Lowest Rates Of Child
Those half a million foster kids? Only half will graduate high school, only 2% will earn a Bachelor’s degree. The day they turn 18, 30% will have no health insurance and will be on public assistance.
Last November, voters in Arkansas decided that unmarried couples – same-sex couples, obviously – should not be allowed to adopt children. Voters in Florida came up with the same result, but at least a Florida court later that month rightly deemed Florida’s 30 year-old ban on homosexuals adopting children unconstitutional.
Now for some more hard facts. Arkansas ranks third worst in child homelessness in America, and its state’s planning and policy on child homelessness, unsurprisingly, is deemed “inadequate” by The National Center on Family Homelessness. (Florida is not much better: 43rd out of 50.) There are a quarter of a million children living in poverty in Arkansas, and almost 19,000 homeless children, 8,000 of whom are under six years old. And if you think this is an issue that affects minorities the most, well, in Arkansas, 54% of those poverty-stricken children are white.
Yet, despite all these statistics, and the pain, suffering, and severe emotional distress associated with child homelessness, Arkansas would rather let its children suffer than allow gay and lesbian couples – married or not – adopt. In addition to Arkansas (which, you’ll remember, ranks #48), Michigan (#29), Mississippi (#41), and Utah (#37) all prohibit same-sex couples to jointly petition for adoption. Nebraska (#34), according to The National Gay And Lesbian Task Force, “prohibits adoption by individuals ‘who are known by the agency to be homosexual or who are unmarried and living with another adult.'”
While there might be no direct correlation, right now, the states that offer full marriage equality are also among the states that rank lowest in child homelessness. Connecticut (#1), New Hampshire (#2), Massachusetts (#8), Maine (#9), Vermont (#10), and Iowa (#11). Hawaii, with a long-standing domestic partnership history, ranks #3. Utah, by comparison, which ranks #38, prohibits adoption by “a person who is cohabiting in a relationship that is not a legally valid and binding marriage.” Coincidence?
Is it possible that the states that truly care about children and families are the states that care about all children and all families?
Given the current economic crisis, there can be no doubt these numbers will dramatically worsen this year.
And speaking of all children, it is estimated that 40% of all homeless children are LGBTQ youth. These children – and they most certainly are children – are more likely, according to the Task Force, “to use drugs, participate in sex work, and attempt suicide.” What a shame that there are so many same-sex couples who would be thrilled to adopt children. What a shame they often are prohibited from doing so. What a shame that those same-sex couples who have adopted children are prohibited from marrying, further alienating the children from society.
In America, most gay and lesbian couples are not allowed to marry. In the six states that now support full marriage equality, these couples can marry but are still deprived the 1138 federal benefits their heterosexual married peers enjoy. In America, many gay and lesbian couples are not allowed to adopt as a family. One member often, although in some states not at all, may adopt, the other member, essentially, is forced to “pretend.” These couples face the additional burden of fear should a family member go to the hospital, and the additional burden of greater taxes than their heterosexual peers. Given all same-sex families have to do to ensure their relationships are recognized legally and socially, it’s a crime the government, which claims to have an interest in supporting the family, does not see an interest in supporting same-sex families.
Families in America, many families, are in crisis.Â Throughout America, there are groups chartered with the claimed mission of “protecting the family.” They work to do anything but. Take the National Organization For Marriage, for instance. Maggie Gallagher, its founder, reportedly takes an average one-third of all money her organization collects. On top of that, they claim they spent $1.5 million to produce and air a commercial which was designed to drum up fear and hatred of homosexuals and gay marriage. That means that people around the country donated more than two and a quarter million dollars to “protect the family,” and got for it a TV ad and a hefty salary for Mrs. Gallagher. $2.25 million dollars could have gone a long way in helping families learn to cope with the challenges this new economy is forcing them to face. Heck, $2.25 million dollars could have gone a long way to help those quarter of a million kids living in poverty in Arkansas.
What are we saying as a country that claims moral leadership of the free world, a country that claims to celebrate the family, and yet denies the very right to create and maintain a family to millions of its citizens? What are we saying to the half a million children in foster care who aren’t being adopted, when we deny gay and lesbian couples the right to marry or the right to adopt children as a family? What are we saying to the children of America when we celebrate holidays like Father’s Day and Mother’s Day and Christmas, spending billions of dollars to promote a fantasy, while their fantasy is merely to have two adults take care of them, feed them, clothe them, school them, protect them, spend time with them, love them? And what are we saying to the millions of homeless and orphaned children who hear ads on TV that say, “This Father’s Day, be sure to give Dad the very best”? Why don’t we have a Children’s Day, so we could remember our obligation to give children our very best, including homes with parents who love them.
To the hundreds of thousands of single gays and lesbians raising children, biologically yours or not, and to the hundreds of thousands ofÂ same-sex couples raising children, biologically one of yours or not,Â I say, thank you.
To the millions of people who ever voted to ban same-sex couples from adopting children, to the millions more who have voted against marriage equality or gay adoption, I say, shame on you. And to the millions of orphaned and homeless children, I say, there is hope.
(image: Pink Sherbet Photography)
Out And Alone: Gay Homeless Youth (The New York Times Multimedia)
Young. Gay. Homeless. (YouTube video)
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Ethics Complaint Against Sinema Urges Investigation Into Staffers’ Duties and Her Possible ‘Abuse of Taxpayer Dollars’
If you are hired to work in Senator Kyrsten Sinema‘s office on Capitol Hill there is a 37-page memo you’ll want to read detailing all the responsibilities her staffers are required to perform, from getting her groceries, calling Verizon and going to her D.C. home to wait for a repair person if the internet goes out, scheduling massages, and ensuring her very detailed airplane requirements are met.
“It is your job to make her as comfortable as possible on each flight,” the memo says, as The Daily Beast first reported in December.
But now a group of 13 non-profit organizations have joined to file an ethics complaint against Senator Sinema (I-AZ), a new Daily Beast report reveals Friday, including details from that 37-page memo which the newly-independent lawmaker directed to be drawn up. Dated Thursday, the complaint is titled: “Letter to Senate Ethics Committee Regarding Reports of Sinema Abusing Taxpayer Dollars.”
“Senate Ethics guidelines stipulate that staff should not be asked to perform personal errands for members. This is an unambiguous ethical boundary,” the group’s complaint reads.
It also points to that 37-page memo, which it says, “indicates that staff are required, as a condition of their jobs, to carry out numerous tasks that are outside the scope of public employment, including doing personal errands for the Senator, carrying out household tasks at her private residence, and advancing their own funds for her personal purchases. It makes unreasonably precise scheduling demands, and former staff have confirmed some of the allegations.”
The allegations continue.
“And, most troubling, it calls on staff members, who are employed and paid by the public and explicitly barred from campaign activity, to schedule and facilitate political fundraisers and meetings with campaign donors, presumably during the workday while they are on the clock and physically on federal property.”
“Senate staff are prohibited under your guidelines from engaging in political activity ‘on Senate time, using Senate equipment or facilities.’ While you have not prohibited campaign activity outside work hours, the plain language of the memo clearly implies that Sen. Sinema expects her staff to carry out these scheduling tasks during the workday. And these tasks may separately violate Senate Rule 41.1, which explicitly prohibits Senate employees from ‘solicit[ing]’ campaign funds.”
The complaint also alleges that “Sen. Sinema required her staff to schedule three physical therapy and massage sessions a week related to her training for athletic competitions, and to tightly manage her dietary schedule — while allotting only a 30-minute period on Wednesdays for meetings with the constituents she represents.”
The carefully-worded complaint adds, “the allegations paint a picture of a Senator who is not only unresponsive to her constituents, but also disrespectful and even abusive to her employees and wholly unconcerned about her obligations under the law.”
The Daily Beast has posted a copy of the complaint here.
You can read The Beast’s full report here.
Santos May Owe Thousands in Unpaid Traffic Violation Fines and Fees Across Two States: Report
When he left for Washington, D.C., U.S. Rep. George Santos also appears to have left a string of unpaid traffic violation fines and fees in two states, including red light, double parking, and overtime parking citations totaling thousands of dollars.
The embattled serial liar and freshman New York GOP lawmaker “may owe more than $3,400 in unpaid citations, according to records from New York City and Florida,” CBS News reports.
Included in that total is $1,299.10 from Florida for toll violations that “racked up late fees and were ultimately sent to collections agencies.”
It appears that in November of 2016, as soon as he got his New York driver’s license after having one in Florida, a car previously ticket via a red light camera whose plates match one registered to Santos “began piling up citations in New York City — 29 in the next two and a half years, according to city government records, which do not identify the drivers of vehicles being ticketed.”
“More than $1,800 in payments were made for 17 citations, but another 12 remain unpaid, with $2,142.61 still due, according to city records.”
CBS News also points to a New York Post report from January revealing “a Nissan Rogue driven frequently by Santos in recent months had been issued speeding tickets at least five times since he was elected on Nov. 8, ‘including four times in school zones.'”
Santos is under numerous state and federal investigations that span the gamut from campaign finance to allegedly stolen charity funds donated to save the life of a veteran’s service dog. The dog died after the vet could not afford to pay for the operation.
‘Bioweapons? FFS’: House Oversight Chairman Mocked for Pushing Unfounded Balloon Conspiracy Theories
House Oversight Committee Chairman James Comer is pushing baseless conspiracy theories about the Chinese high-altitude surveillance balloon floating over the United States – currently, over Montana – that the Pentagon is tracking, and he’s being widely mocked for his unfounded fear-mongering.
Fox News host Harris Faulkner set the stage perfectly for the far-right Republican from Kentucky, declaring the balloon is “the size of three buses” and that “China says was taken by wind – wind that we can’t substantiate.”
The Kentucky congressman who has falsely described President Biden as “compromised,” and stated he is going to target and investigate him, told Faulkner, “I have concern this is going to be another example of the Biden administration’s weakness on the national scale.”
Comer, 50, a former agriculture commissioner, lamented about Biden’s handling of the withdrawal from Afghanistan, claiming it hurt the reputation of America’s military and Commander in Chief.
The balloon, he said, should “never have been allowed” to cross over into the United States.
“My concern is that the federal government doesn’t know what’s in that balloon. Is that bioweapons in that balloon? Did that balloon take off from Wuhan?” he asked, pushing unfounded theories while echoing the far-right’s false claims the COVID-19 virus was developed as a bioweapon and escaped the lab in Wuhan, China.
After suggesting it might have bioweapons, he then said it was “very concerning” the balloon was not shot down before reaching the U.S. – which could have spread the alleged bioweapon.
Faulkner, seen by some as a propagandist, then jumped in to exhibit her surprise that “people on Capitol Hill were not briefed” about the balloon.
“Calling for the president to ‘shoot down’ the craft,” The Daily Beast’s Justin Baragona adds, “some in the GOP called the president ‘Beijing Biden’ while claiming this is further proof that ‘Communist China’ doesn’t ‘fear or respect’ Biden.”
House Oversight Committee Chair James Comer to Fox News: “My concern is that the federal government doesn’t know what’s in that balloon. Is that bioweapons in that balloon? Did that balloon take off from Wuhan?” pic.twitter.com/0r9JmBl4zo
— Justin Baragona (@justinbaragona) February 3, 2023
“Honestly,” communications strategist Doug Gordon noted, “just surprised he didn’t find a way to include Hunter’s laptop into that conspiracy theory.”
“Actually, he did later on,” Baragona replied.
National security expert Denver Riggleman, the Republican former U.S. Congressman from Virginia who assisted the Select Committee on the January 6 Attack, tweeted: “Bioweapons? FFS”
Referring to Comer’s unfounded bioweapons claim, one Twitter user observed, “Isn’t that more reason not to shoot at it? I’m not saying I know what to do, but logic would dictate ‘don’t shoot at balloons full of bioweapons.’ Right?”
Another noted that the Oversight Chairman should have been listening to the Pentagon’s briefing “taking place now instead of running to get on Fox to talk about something he has no expertise in.”
Another, mocking Comer, noted: “If they were sending a bio weapon, why would they park it over sparsely populated Montana? *rolls eyes*”
Watch the video above or at this link.
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