With Prop 8 and DOMA out of the way, the grassroots movenent for legalized marriage in all States begins.

           The Supreme Court in two 5-4 decisions, paved the way for legal same sex marriage. The spouses now will recieve the Federal Benefits of their partner in only the States where same sex marriage is already legal. These are landmark decisions for the LGBT community and a big win for civil rights.

Now efforts to ban same sex marriage are now intensifyig. As well as those trying to repeal those bans. Lawsuits by the LGBT community for the right to marry are also expected to intensify. The rulings set up State by State battles for same sex marriages. In Arizona supporters of sames sex marriage began circulating petitions to repeal the 2008 ban on same sex marriage by way of a ballot measure. Arizona is one of 29 states with Constitutional Amendments limiting marriage to one man, one woman.

Gay rights activists supported by Democrats hope to repeal bans in several states. Oregon, Ohio and Arkansas hope to do so with ballot measures as early as next year. In Indiana and West Virginia, Republicans hope to institute Constitutional bans, being that they are more durable than laws. Hawaii’s civil union law, adopted in 2011, is hoping to make same sex marriage legal. They have the support of Governor Neil Ambercrombie, who supports the right to same sex marriages.

Indiana, with the support of Governor Mike Huckabee, will consider a ban in January. Possibly putting the question to voters later next year. Republicans in West Virginia suggested there is an urgent need for a Constitutional Amendment to ban same sex marriage. Lawsuits are threatening bans in several states. Michigan and New Mexico are both facing legal challenges to their States Constitutional ban on same sex marriage. New Jersey is facing a legal challenge to the law denying same sex marriage.

My home State of Pennsylvania is still in the dark ages. In fact Republicans enforced Gods Law when openly gay State Rep. Brian Sims (D) attempted to speak to the legislature about DOMA and Prop 8. I thought religion could not be forced on anyone, religion should have nothing to do with politics. Rep. Sims plans to introduce a Bill legalizing same sex marriage. Pennsylvania is the only state in the Northeast that does not extend legal recognition to same sex couples. It us in fact 1 of only 5 states that doesn’t. The legislature in Pennsylvania is controlled by Republicans and Governor Corbett (R) openly opposes gay marriage. His 3 Democrat challengers ,who he trails by as many as 11 percentage points, all support same sex marriage.

These were huge victories for the LGBT community. But it is only the beginning of a larger battle. President Obama supports same sex marriage, so does Hillary Clinton. Republicans of course stand in the way of progress, but would you expect anything less. The party of no, is now the party of HELL NO!

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Texas vigilante law allows the use of deadly force to retrieve stolen goods at night.

                A Texas jury aquitted a man for the murder of a woman he hired as an escort. His lawyers claimed he used deadly force after she refused sex. Ezekiel Gilbert shot Lenora Ivie Frago in the neck on Christmas eve 2009. She denied his request for sex and wouldn’t return the $150 that he paid her.

               Under Texas law, an individual is authorized to use deadly force to retrieve stolrn property at night. Gilbert’s lawyers cited that provision as justification for his actions. They say Frago had stolen $150 from him by taking his money and not delivering sex. In a police interview played for jurors, Gilbert nevered mentioned anything about theft. Frago, who was 21, was critically injured and died several months later. Her occupation seems to have altered the jury’s decision. I don’t think they would have ruled in his favor if she was not an escort. Add the fact that he had to find her for any of this to occur and it seriously clouds the verdict.

While Florida’s Stand Your Ground Law, which made headlines because of the murder of Trayvon Martin, authorizes the use of deadly force without having to retreat in defense of one’s person or home. Texas’ law goes well beyond this. Ot allows the use of deadly force in protection of any tangible or movable property. The Texas law not only authorizes the use of deadly force to retrieve stolen property at night but also during criminal mischief at nighttime. Deadly force is even authorized to prevent someone who is fleeing immeadiately after a theft during the night or a burglary or robber, so long as the individual reasonably thinks their property cannot be protected by other means. It seems as if the Texas legislature thinks we should return to the Wild West.

This law allows individuals to become vigilantes, which is illegal. It allows them to impose the death penalty for crimes that would not warrant the death penalty. Even with Texas law making vigilante justice legal, it is difficult to see how Gilbert’s behavior can be justified. Especially given that escorts are not entitled to deliver sex under the law and delivering sex for money is illegal.

While it is similar to Florida’s Stand Your Ground Law, which was supported by the NRA and the Koch Brothers, the Texas law goes even further. Texas and the Republucan majority in the state government further and further away from sanity. The Koch Brothers and the NRA have their fingerprints on these laws all over the country. These are the type of laws that move us backward in history. The NRA has their hands so far in the Republican party’s pocket they can scratch thrir knee. Democrats have to stay vigilant and united to stop these laws before they happen and possibly remove money from American politics. President Obama wants gun control and Republicans do the complete opposite in their obstructionist way.

     

Supreme Court to rule on interstate water rights case.

              Oklahoma and Texas will face off in the U.S. Supreme Court. The court will hear arguements in the case of Tarrant Regional Water District vs.  Hermann etal. The case pits Oklahoma against Texas over rights to water from the river that forms part of the border between them. Depending on how tie court decides, it could impact inter-state water sharing agreements across the country.

                   The judges decision may hinge on a missing phrase in the compact that has apportioned water rights in the Red River Basin to 4 states for mire than 30 years. Many pages in the briefs a devoted to whether Texas can reach into Oklahoma to get water because there is no clause in the compact that specifically prohibited Texas from doing so. Also at issue is a set of Oklahoma policies effectively and improperly prevent inter-state water exports. The case before the court was brought by the Tarrant Regional Water District(TRWD), a Texas agency that provided water to more than 6 million residents of North Texas and says it desperately needs more water to supply the growing population. The agency claims Texas is entitled to water that can only be obtained in Oklahoma. It argues that the compact explicitely allows for the water to be taken from Oklahoma.

            The population of North Texas has boomed and is projected to continue doing so. North Texas will likely outgrow its water supply in 60 years. Oklahoma has a lot of water, it sits in the middle of a large Mississippi River basin where water is funneled from the melting snow pack of the Rocky Mountains in Colorado and flows southeast into the Arkansas River and its tributaries. A second watershed in the Texas panhandle and Western Oklahoma supplies Palomino During Creek near Amarillo, Texas. According to the TRWD Oklahoma doesn’t use much of what it has.

             The TRWD’s arguments are,; Oklahoma’s protectionist laws against out of state water exports amounts to an embargo that violates the Commerce clause of the U.S. Constitution. Also that the Red River,s compact grant of “equal rights” to the water in the subbasin in question should pre-empt Oklahoma’s laws.

              The Oklahoma argument; The Red River compact doesn’t give the TRWD authority to release water from an Oklahoma reservoir and export it to Texas. Texas has no authority over water within Oklahoma’s boundaries. Texas can’t prevent Oklahoma from using water before it reaches its border.

              Tie Supreme Court couldrule narrowly on the facts of the case, which would limit the decisions impact to just Texas and Oklahoma. If the court rules more broadly, however, the case could have wide ranging effects on inter-state and possibly international water compacts.

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