LGBTQ Rights in Post-Trump America

By Guest Contributor Josh Langdonaaeaaqaaaaaaaahfaaaajgm3ztliyznkltgwodgtndk0ys1hymrhltmwotq1zja3ztg5zq

After eight years of historic progress and support from the Obama Administration in almost all aspects of the law, from removing barriers to marriage equality and military service, to protecting LGBTQ persons at work and in school, we confront a new President, chosen after one of the most bitter and divisive elections in modern history. Does President Trump’s ascension to the White House mean this progress will be reversed or stalled – even if America’s hearts and minds already are evolving in favor of LGBTQ equality? Hard to say, given the mixed messages first from Candidate and now President Trump.  What’s clear is that much work remains ahead.

Continue reading “LGBTQ Rights in Post-Trump America”

#BlackWomenAtWork

Daily microagressions go viral. What’s your story?

It’s hard to pinpoint which incident was worse. Bill O’Reilly admitting that he simply tuned out Rep. Maxine Waters (D-CA) because of her “James Brown wig?” Or, Press Secretary Sean Spicer publicly admonishing American Urban Radio Networks reporter April Ryan for “shaking her head” at a recent press briefing?

Many African American women shook their heads in recognition.  To them, Waters and Ryan merely were experiencing a typical day on the job.  And, a hashtag was born.  Black women made visible the myriad ways race and gender converge in their work lives, manifesting in microaggressions to be ignored and endured. From embodying the stereotypically “angry” Black woman:

to standing in sharp contrast to society’s images of what Black women can do for a living:

I had my own #BlackWomanAtWork incident a few weeks ago.  I was teaching a Family Law class of about 20 students on property division upon divorce.  Suddenly, a student–not enrolled in the class–opened the door and took a step across the threshold. Aware of 21 pairs of eyes staring at her, the young woman asked, “Is this a class?”  I assured her it was and she backed out of the room.  We all were thrown by the intrusion but I couldn’t help wondering if this student would have behaved the same way if one of my white male colleagues had been standing at the lectern.

So what?  I admit that’s a tempting response. After all, I know I’m a professor. Just like the women quoted above know their own accomplishments can’t be diminished by someone’s innocent mistake.

 

But, the reality of the mistake itself is telling. Why is the default nurse “a blonde lady”?  The assumed attorney white?  It reminds me of a conversation a friend once overheard at the gym:  a little girl looked at the sports page of the Washington Post, pointed to a photo of a Black man, and asked: “Daddy, is he a criminal?”

Racial and gendered assumptions run deep in our society.  If we learn anything from Maxine Waters and April Ryan about this ongoing problem, it’s that we must keep calling it out even as we go back to work.

What’s your story?

No Need to Hurry

Filibustering Judge Gorsuch’s nomination is the right thing to do.

New York Senator Chuck Schumer has signaled that Democrats will block Judge Neil Gorsuch from rising to the Supreme Court with the filibuster.

I hope to God he’s serious.

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Jimmy Stewart as Sen. Smith, filibustering in “Mr. Smith Goes to Washington

This is no ordinary nomination; this is not time for business as usual.  To start, FBI director James Comey has testified in front of the House Intelligence Committee (after confidentially briefing members) to inform them and us that his agency is investigating Russian meddling in the 2016 election, including whether members of Trump’s campaign had any links to the Russian government.

That is, to paraphrase former Vice President Joe Biden, a BFD.

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FBI Dir. Comey 

Comey testified that, in going public with this information, he was breaking with agency practice, doing so because it’s in the public interest.  The FBI is looking into misconduct that rises to the level of treason from a presidential campaign.  Every day, more facts unfurl about Trump associates’ shadowy connections to Russia.  Why rush to confirm Gorsuch when questions implicating our very democracy are on the table?

 

Indeed, the Republicans shouldn’t have any problem with waiting.  Majority leader Mitch McConnell took the unprecedented step of refusing even to meet with D.C. Circuit Judge Merrick Garland after President Obama nominated him to fill the seat vacated after Justice Scalia’s death. “Let the people decide,” he said.  Notwithstanding the fact that the people had spoken—twice electing President Obama.   Russian intermeddling in our election raises questions about whether the people’s voices truly were heard in November.

Of course, Mitchell and others will yell that the filibuster and any talk of delay are pure politics, which they (and even Gorsuch) claim have no place on the bench.

Really, guys?

When it appeared that Secretary Clinton was poised to move to the White House, Senators Cruz and McCain said they would block any judge she nominated for the Supreme Court.   Just as was true with respect to Judge Garland, the Republican party drew a line in the sand—irrespective of the nominee’s qualifications or experience, the fact that a Democrat nominated him or her was disqualifying.  How nonpartisan is that?

Let’s face it. The system is broken.  It’s been increasingly partisan for decades—even before fights surrounding Robert Bork (which the Republicans will cite as ground zero).

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Thurgood Marshall at his hearings/AP

Senators delayed the nomination of then-Solicitor General Thurgood Marshall for months.  He endured a grueling set of hearings in which he sparred with members about states’ rights to enact anti-miscegenation laws, the privileges and immunities clause of Article IV of the Constitution, and how Framer Elbridge Gerry understood the Constitution.  Unlike his future colleague Byron White, Marshall’s hearings lasted significantly more than the 90 minutes about which Judge Gorsuch waxed nostalgic.

 

So, where does that leave us?  The concern is that if  Democrats filibuster now, they merely escalate an already harmful ideological arms race. The Republicans will “go nuclear” and eliminate the filibuster, essentially guaranteeing that future nominees will be political hacks instead of the independent jurists we need to uphold the rule of law.

Another possibility is that, in slowing things down, Democrats take the lead in recalibrating the nominations process.  Perhaps they can bring along some moderate Republicans to urge nomination of a moderate, qualified candidate.

Like Merrick Garland.

 

The Center for Closing the Health Gap: Fighting Indifference, Building Communities

Persistent systemic racism fuels the gap in health outcomes. One group’s strategy for fighting back.

renee-head-shot-e1382600016486By Guest Contributor Renee Mehaffey Harris

“The most difficult social problem in the matter of Negro health is the peculiar attitude of the nation toward the well-being of the race. There have . . . been few other cases in the history of civilized peoples where human suffering has been viewed with such peculiar indifference.”—W. E. B. Du Bois

The past few weeks have been a stark reminder as to why the Center for Closing Health Gap remains essential to Cincinnati.    Committed to raising awareness about and eliminating racial and health disparities across Greater Cincinnati, the Health Gap works collaboratively with hospitals, government offices, associations and businesses.  We educate, empower, and mobilize the community at every level.  But, recent media reports have cast a shadow on our work.  Continue reading “The Center for Closing the Health Gap: Fighting Indifference, Building Communities”

Terminating a Wanted Pregnancy: Access, Ignorance, and the Law

By Guest Contributor, Batsheva Guy

batsheva guy

Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch assured the Senate Judiciary Committee in no uncertain terms that he would not overturn Roe v. Wade, declaring that he would “walk out the door” if President Trump asked him to do so.

That’s all well and good. But what would Judge Gorsuch do about making sure women have access to this procedure, which as he recognizes, has been legal for a long time?  I know from experience that state laws may not outlaw abortion, but they make it practically inaccessible for many women.

In September 2015, I terminated my wanted pregnancy.

At around 23 weeks, during a routine ultrasound, right after discovering that we were having a baby girl, my husband and I were told that the fetus was not viable outside of the womb due to a fetal anomaly. She was not growing properly, and I was losing amniotic fluid quickly. If my baby girl did survive to birth, she would not be alive for more then a few hours. We were forced to make an abrupt decision as a result of restrictive laws surrounding abortion. About thirty seconds after we found out the news, we looked at each other and silently made the choice, because we knew if we didn’t soon, it may be too late.

This story is not about me. It is about the thousands of women who are denied access to safe and legal abortions every year. It is about the women who do not have the means to travel across the country, pay exorbitant sums of money, and take large chunks of time away from jobs, school, or families to terminate their pregnancies. This is my story, but I hope it gives a voice to others.

After we got the news, I didn’t have time to process any of it. I knew I would be on a time crunch and that I had to push through the pain. I had no time to grieve, no time to cry, no time to think.  I knew it may be too late to terminate.

I asked the doctor, “Can I terminate in Ohio?”

She replied, “Oh, I don’t know what the laws are.”

She knew nothing because abortion isn’t a health care issue, it’s a political issue. She basically told me, “Figure it out on your own.”

Fortunately, I had the background knowledge to figure out next steps.i_stand_with_planned_parenthood_2 I called Planned Parenthood, which confirmed by fears—Governor Kasich had signed a law banning abortions performed after 20 weeks.  I also learned that closest place I could go to legally terminate my pregnancy this late was Chicago. So, my husband, his parents, and I had to drop everything and drive to Illinois from Ohio. I couldn’t help thinking that we were privileged for being able to do so. Why did I have the ability to travel for this medically necessary procedure, while other women would have no option but carrying their babies to term? These were the thoughts going through my mind while I dealt with my own personal hell.

We didn’t have space to mourn. The law wouldn’t allow it. We had to pick up and go.

We arrived in Chicago on a Thursday afternoon, just two days after the diagnosis. We drove straight to the hotel, dropped off our bags, and made our way to the clinic. I had to have another ultrasound in which I was forced to see my baby girl one last time. Even though I was at almost 23 weeks, she measured only at 18 weeks; my amniotic fluid was almost gone at this point. I was dilated the next day, a Friday, and had the procedure on Saturday. In the fewer than three days between my diagnosis and the start of the procedure, I endured one genetic counseling session and four ultrasounds. And then I was done.

We drove home the next day, a Sunday, and I began to weep as we left the city.

chicago-882415_960_720I had to go all the way to Chicago for a legal medical procedure that should have been available in my hometown. My insurance company refused to cover the abortion, even though it was safer for my health and well- being than carrying the baby to term.

But worst of all, I had to leave my baby alone in a strange city, knowing I would never have her back.

I was forced to leave home during the most painful event in my life.  But not everyone would have been able to make the same decision.  Financial and other limitations would have prevented them from having a “choice” at all.

Ultimately, it all boils down to access—who has it and who doesn’t. According to John Oliver, “abortion cannot just be theoretically legal; it has to be literally accessible.” I was lucky enough to have the means and support to choose to terminate my pregnancy and be able to travel to do so if necessary. Not everyone has that luxury.

Sheva Guy (M.S.) is a second- year doctoral student in the Educational and Community- Based Action Research (ECAR) program within Educational Studies at the University of Cincinnati (UC). Sheva’s research interests revolve around gender equality in STEM fields as well as women’s reproductive health. Sheva is passionate about instigating and inspiring change at institutional levels in regards to gender equality and women’s rights.

Semper Fi? Sex, Social Media, and the Marine Corps

Defense Secretary Mattis should take the lead on fighting misogyny in the Marines.

As partisan rancor continues on the Hill, one group of lawmakers joined forces this week to speak out against harassment of women in the  Marine Corps.  Reps. Jackie Walorski (R-Ind.) and Annie Kuster (D-NH) spearheaded a letter  to Defense Secretary James Mattis urging him to facebook-346725_960_720take action, including authorizing another investigation into current and former Marines soliciting and posting  nude photos of their female colleagues on Facebook.   Thomas James Brennan , who broke the story, reports that some of the women were followed and photographed without their knowledge.  The Facebook posts drew
thousands of comments, some urging sexual violence, such as:

“take her out back and pound her out,” as well as graphic suggestions, like penetrating women  in the “butt.  And throat. And ears. Both of them.  Video it though…for science.”

According to Brennan, the photos first appeared within a month of women being assigned to the first Marine infantry unit.   Continue reading “Semper Fi? Sex, Social Media, and the Marine Corps”

From Catastrophe to Intervention, Support, and Love

Adam J. Foss shares his vision for prosecutors at the YWCA Racial Justice Breakfast.

In less than ten years, Adam J. Foss has demonstrated how one young lawyer can make a difference.  A cum laude graduate from Suffolk Law School in Boston in 2008, Foss became

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Adam J. Foss via http://www.newprofit.org

a prosecuting attorney who quickly realized just how much power he wielded.  Choosing solutions over a high conviction rate, Foss worked with criminal defendants to achieve justice, something he said never learned in law school.  Foss shares his insights on criminal justice at the YWCA Racial Justice Breakfast on Tuesday, March 21.  The Center will livestream his talk in room 118 at 8 a.m.pic1-5413200bc8a56

Foss has since left the Suffolk County District Attorney’s Office, to work full time at Prosecutor Integrity, which he co-founded with John Legend and his manager Ty Stiklorius.  This new organization seeks to broaden prosecutors’ perspectives by training them to see defendants as individuals not defined by their crimes and, in so doing, challenge a mindset that measures success in terms of convictions.  In his popular TED talk, Foss said that prosecutors can be the difference between catastrophe and intervention, support, or even love.

To see Foss’s talk at the College of Law, register here.  It’s free and breakfast will be provided.