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Judge Rules Nebraska’s Ban On Gay And Lesbian Foster Parents Is Unconstitutional

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Nebraska judge rules that banning same-sex couples from becoming foster parents is unconstitutional. So is making them go through more hoops than heterosexual couples.

On Wednesday, a state judge struck down a Nebraska policy that banned same-sex couples from providing foster care or adopting state wards. Citing the recent Supreme Court ruling that legalized marriage equality across the country, Lancaster County District Judge John Colborn ruled that Nebraska’s policy violated the Constitution’s equal protection and due process clauses.

The policy dated back to 1995 and prevented unmarried, unrelated couples that lived together from becoming foster parents or adopting state wards. In 2012, the state Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) technically stopped enforcing the ban, but same-sex couples still had to undergo additional layers of scrutiny and approval not required of married heterosexual applicants.

According to Omaha.com, under the current policy that was just ruled unconstitutional, same-sex couples had to pass five levels of scrutiny by the department’s director of children and family services. That’s three levels more than heterosexual individuals or married couples, and it’s even above and beyond what was required of convicted felons.

“I can’t understand why we would have to go through a higher level of scrutiny than a criminal,” said Lisa Blakey, one of the plaintiffs in the lawsuit who has been with her wife, Janet, for 10 years. “I am not a criminal. My wife is not a criminal.”

Judge Colborn agreed and ruled that state licensing procedures have to be the same for all foster care applicants, regardless of sexual orientation or marital status. “Defendants have not argued, nor have they identified, any legitimate government interest to justify treating gay and lesbian couples differently than heterosexual individuals and heterosexual couples in this review process,” he said in his ruling.

Lisa and Janet hope to be foster parents soon. “We’ve wanted to share our home with kids for years,” Lisa said. “Now we finally get that opportunity.”

Danielle Conrad, Executive Director of ACLU Nebraska, gave the following statement on their website:

Nebraska’s motto of ‘Equality before the Law’ rings out more truly for all of us on this thrilling day. This is a special victory for thousands of children in Nebraska who now have more options to find loving and stable homes.

The couples in our case, like thousands of other gay and lesbian Nebraskans, have demonstrated their ability to provide loving homes for children. We are grateful for the court’s unequivocal, broad, and positive opinion in favor of LGBT Nebraskans constitutional rights to be full participants in our child welfare system.

Nebraska finally joins America in ending state sponsored discrimination in policy and practice that hurt Nebraska families and that prevented children in need from accessing loving and stable foster families.

 

Image by Elvert Barnes via Flickr and a CC license

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'CLARIFYING THINGS'

Mark Meadows Retweets Trump’s Denial He Tested Positive for COVID Before Debate – a Fact That Appears in Meadows’ Book

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Less than 24 hours after former Trump White House chief of staff Mark Meadows appeared to agree to cooperate with the House Select Committee on the January 6 Attack, news broke that The Guardian had obtained a copy of his new book, and from it the revelation that three days before appearing on stage with Joe Biden at the Sept. 26 presidential debate the then-president, Donald Trump, had tested positive for coronavirus.

Never mind that a second test showed a negative result – one Harvard epidemiologist says that merely meant Trump was not yet infectious but he was, by the debate, “blazing positive” but decided to go on a potentially infect countless others. That act, the noted disease specialist and professors says, “was a massive, dangerous and likely intentional decision.”

Trump, as usual, especially in recent days, issued a quick statement via his spokesperson, this time denying the revelation in Meadows’ book, a revelation The Washington Post Wednesday afternoon reported it had confirmed with two other former Trump aides.

What is stunning is that, as Politico National Political Correspondent Meridith McGraw notes, Meadows himself retweeted Trump’s statement of denial:

The Washington Post also notes that at least six people close to Trump tested positive for coronavirus shortly after the debate, including Melania Trump, Hope Hicks, Stephen Miller, and Kayleigh McEnany.

“Trump on Wednesday was furious that Meadows revealed the anecdote in his forthcoming book and that it was published via the liberal-leaning Guardian website, according to a person familiar with the former president’s reaction, who requested anonymity to reveal a private conversation,” the Post adds. “Meadows through an emissary has offered to put out a statement ‘clarifying things,’ but that offer was rejected, the person said.”

Which is likely why he decided to retweet Trump’s statement.

Writer and political activist Don Winslow has another take on the day’s events:

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BREAKING NEWS

Watch: Stacey Abrams Announces She’s Running for Governor of Georgia

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Stacey Abrams has just announced she is running for governor of Georgia. Abrams, the former Minority Leader of the Georgia House of Representatives for more than six years ran for governor in 2018, losing by a slim margin to then Georgia Secretary of State Brian Kemp in a race many saw as tainted by his voter suppression actions.

Abrams went on to become a highly-effective voting rights advocate and activist, and many credit her with helping elect Joe Biden president by helping him win the state by registering an estimated 800,000 more voters.

Watch:

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'PRETTY STARK DIFFERENCE'

‘The Former President Was Suggesting People Inject Bleach’: Psaki Smacks Down Doocy Over COVID Deaths

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White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki was quick to scuttle Fox News’ president anti-Biden propagandist after he tried to turn today’s news about then-President Donald Trump hiding the results of his positive COVID test barely days before standing on stage with Joe Biden at a Sept. 2020 debate into a story about President Joe Biden’s success in scuttling the pandemic.

“There’s a lot of talk about the first Trump-Biden debate today,” Doocy began. “But at the second one in 2021, roughly 220,000 Americans had already died of COVID. Joe Biden said about Trump, ‘anyone who was responsible for that many deaths should not remain as President of the United States of America.’ Is that still the standard now that more Americans have died under President Biden?

“I think the fundamental question here is what are you doing to save lives and protect people?” Psaki responded, with a tinge of anger. “And the former president was suggesting people inject bleach. He apparently, reportedly didn’t even share with people he was going to interact with that he had tested positive for COVID himself. He continued to provide a forum for misinformation, which probably led to people not getting, not taking steps forward to get to protect themselves, to wear a mask, to eventually get vaccinated. This President has made the vaccine widely available. He’s relied on the health – the advice of his health and medical experts, and he is trying to be a part of solving this crisis, getting the pandemic under control. And I think there’s a pretty stark difference between their approaches. ”

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