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Supreme Court says YES to Gay Marriage
and NO to Voting Rights
As a human rights advocate, and a leader of our community I rejoice that a major barrier to LGBT rights has come down. I use the term LGBT to include all of those people who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex, 2-spirit, queer, or questioning and any others who face discrimination around the complicated issue of sexual identity.
It was a huge struggle to win voting rights
At the same time I am enraged that the Supreme Court nullified the core of the voting rights act of 1965 passed after the magnificent struggle and significant sacrifices of African-Americans and our allies.
Of course there is not a great contradiction in the Supreme Court votes since the court is divided down the middle. Both cases highlight the conservative direction of the Court. Even in overturning the onerous so-called "Defense of Marriage Act", the Court reinforced the right of states to select which marriages are legitimate. We still have to carry on the struggle for marriage equality in 2/3 of the states and we must fight against LGBT discrimination that continues to be acceptable in every state.
The loss of the Voting Rights Act should move all of us to action. Whereas in the case of LGBT rights, the country is moving in the direction of democratic political rights, when it comes to voters' rights it is moving the opposite way. Increasingly, corporate power has more influence in our politics. This power is used to strategically and effectively to disenfranchise people of color and the poor to further tip the balance towards corporate interests.
The question of voting is truly a fundamental issue of civil rights. We have to ask ourselves why we are losing. There are a number of reasons for this, including the following:
A powerful force
1. The fight for economic and social justice challenges powerful enemies. Martin Luther King Jr. and Malcolm X both understood that we could not win true civil rights without winning economic and social equality. Exercising the vote is an act with powerful ramifications in the struggle for equality; it is not just an end to itself. It is absolutely in the interest of those who benefit from racism and inequality to keep us from exercising our power at the polls.
2. Much of our leadership has been bought off and co-opted. Far too many of our leaders settle for their own recognition, financial gain and personal power. And when it benefits them, they conveniently call this progress.
|Another powerful force|
3. We get caught in the time honored game of pitting the oppressed against each other, and find ourselves easily divided and conquered. A good example of this occurred at a recent city council meeting when some African American "leaders" complained about the Pride flag, during LGBT Pride month. Some questioned "Where was the Juneteenth flag?". If the behavior of pitting the LGBT against the African American community wasn't so harmful and offensive it would have been just silly. Every movement puts itself forward, and promotes its message in different ways. Juneteenth was a great event that the City endorsed and for which it provided money. No one from the LGBT community opposed this by saying "wait a minute you can't give $10,000 or City endorsement unless you give it to the Pride activities" Some of these African American divisive leaders made it a point to make hateful remarks about gays and lesbians, while still others claimed to hear nothing hateful in these remarks. The point is that these so called leaders perpetrate the scheme of pitting one oppressed group against the other in order to protect their corporate funding.
It's time for us all to understand that we will get rid of oppression only when we are all free from oppression. And that can only happen when we stand together.
Beckles keynote speaker
Chevron Pride Event
Jovanka addressing Chevron Pride Event
Over the past several years the LGBT movement has shifted the mind set of America. In every aspect of life there has been both the recognition of rights and personal acceptance of people who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, two-spirit, intersex, queer or questioning. We can see this in opinion polls, the ruling of courts, the positions of even conservative politicians, and the actions of corporations. Last week Chevron Richmond Refinery sponsored a Pride Celebration for its employees
About 150 Chevron employees gathered for a lunchtime BBQ outside the plant cafeteria. New Plant Manger Kory Judd introduced Councilwoman Jovanka Beckles as the main speaker.
Beckles began by acknowledging the "elephant in the room" - that she is well known as a critic of Chevron's policies. That hasn't changed, she said, but it was also important to work together where we can. Chevron has been a corporate leader in providing benefits to domestic partners. Even more important is that Chevron has supported its LGBT employees who say that we cannot be silent. If we want our rights we have to stand for them. The symbolism of Chevron sponsoring its own Pride event is an important symbol within the company and to the surrounding community.
A question: Will Chevron spend a million dollars next year to try to defeat Jovanka and promote candidates who have defended the hateful speeches we heard at Council meetings this last week?
BART Workers Approve Strike,
The possibilities of a BART system strike this month are increasing quickly. At the same time, Oakland City workers have announced at least a one-day strike
Oakland City Workers Call Strike
Amalgamated Transit Union 155 and SEIU 1021 that represent most BART workers have both passed strike votes by large margins. Their contracts expire June 30 at midnight.
BART Management has clearly prepared for a battle. They have paid a well known union-buster hundreds of thousands of dollars to handle the negotiations.
Bart Board members have been circulating propaganda designed to place the blame for BART's deteriorating capital equipment on the workers and saying that workers must shoulder the burden of modernizing the system. No mention of the the huge salaries paid to non-working management or the mismanagement that lead to their removal.
Whether or not there is a strike there will be rallies in Oakland and San Francisco on Monday. See below.
Monday, July 1
Oakland City Workers Announce Strike Action
12:00 noon, Rally, Frank Ogawa Plaza, Oakland
4:00 p.m., Rally, Civic Center, San Francisco
After City management stalled negotiations, Oakland employees, more than 5,000 workers, and community and labor allies are preparing for a strike beginning Monday at midnight.
Workers and officers of SEIU 1021 have declared that they will strike on Monday, effectively shutting down most city operations in Oakland.
"Managers are refusing to work with us in a fair, equitable fashion. We have had enough and workers are ready. The community is ready," said Roxanne Sanchez, President of SEIU 1021. Believing in good jobs for the community that pay fair wages, offer healthcare and a secure retirement - these are modest ideals. These are not just union ideals. These are American ideals. This is a community strike."
Oakland city workers believe their employer has short-changed residents the much-needed programs and services that allow the community to thrive. Because of a false choice the city has presented, pitting public services against public safety, workers say they have already paid the price.
Now, city employees are being asked for an additional 10 percent cut in their take-home pay, in addition to the $122 million they gave back over the last few years.
Council Meeting Tuesday, July 2
Ban the Box Expansion
An ordinance to expand the City's Ban the Box policy to also cover city contractors and recipients of city financial aid will be considered at the Council meeting on Tuesday. The policy prohibits asking a job applicant about prior criminal record on the initial application. For certain sensitive jobs such questions may be asked as the employment process advances.
Letters of Opposition Still Needed
AB-26 Climate Destroyer Bill Masquerades as Green
State senators "held" AB26, postponing until July 10th a committee vote that was scheduled for today on this proposed law that threatens climate protection, worker rights, and worker and community safety.
The "hold" suggests that community and worker voices are being heard-and it gives us all two more weeks to make sure that the Senate Labor Committee stops this catastrophically bad bill.
Meanwhile, new amendments that were supposed to protect existing refinery workers without subsidizing oil refineries have not fixed AB26.
As amended on June 25th, AB26 still prioritizes refineries for Greenhouse Gas Reduction funds, threatening to give oil companies billions in public money to keep oil refineries running. This massive new subsidy would come at the expense of clean energy funding, undercutting climate protection. And the amended bill still threatens workers' rights. It could block many existing refinery workers from keeping their jobs. That would undermine workers' ability to stand up to corporate risk-taking, making refineries even less safe for workers and communities.
RPA along with CBE and other community-based groups continue to stand alone among environmental non-profits in challenging this 'climate destroyer' bill publicly. We need your help now.
Join us to oppose AB26 at the July 10th hearing of the Senate Committee on Labor and Industrial Relations if you can. Call and fax the senators on the Committee NOW (and call or write them back again before July 10). No fax machine? Email your letter to Steven Low at CBE and we'll fax it for you. Sample letter below.
Senate Committee on Labor and Industrial Relations contact info:
Senator Bill Monning
Phone: (916) 651-4017
Fax: (916) 445-8081
Senator Alex Padilla
Phone: (916) 651-4020
Fax: (916) 324-6645
Senator Mark Wyland
Committee Vice Chair
Phone: (916) 651-4038
Fax: (916) 446-7382
Senator Leland Yee
Phone (916) 651-4008
Senator Mark Leno
Phone: (916) 651-4011
Fax: (916) 445-4722
Hon. Bill Monning, Chair
Senate Committee on Labor and Industrial Relations
Sacramento, CA 95814
FAX: (916) 445-8081
Re: AB 26-OPPOSE
Dear Senator Monning,
____I stand/Your Group's Name stands______ in OPPOSITION to AB 26 (Bonilla). Even as amended on June 25, 2013, this proposed law threatens to:
The bill's intent to declare oil refinery maintenance as "public works" and subsidize it with money from the Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund that is supposed to support clean energy in communities that are hardest hit by industrial pollution is an outrageous idea, especially given the billions in profits Big Oil makes each quarter.
- Give super-rich oil companies billions of dollars in public money to keep their refineries running;
- Undercut climate protection through this massive new subsidy of a polluting fossil industry that disadvantages clean energy alternatives;
- Hurt workers' rights by outsourcing jobs performed by existing refinery workers; and
- Thereby undermine workers' ability to stand up to corporate risk-taking, making refineries even less safe for workers and nearby communities.
Making AB 26 even worse, the bill would hurt workers' rights based on a false assumption that blames workers for pollution incidents that are really caused by the oil companies when they cut corners on safety. For example, the U.S. Chemical Safety Board has shown that it was Chevron management decisions, and not worker error or lack of training, that caused the Richmond refinery explosion and fire that nearly killed 19 workers and sent 15,000 people to hospitals last August.
Please vote NO on this catastrophically bad bill.
_________Your Name _________
cc: Senators Leno, Padilla, Wyland, and Yee
(Please also email a copy to Steven Low at CBE, who is collecting all the sign-on letters together for future actions.) Thank you!
Commeration August 11, 2 - 5 pm
Bowens Progressive Center
Click here for some background
NEW MATERIAL POSTED
(along with the whole Bay Area this month)
|At the CleanFest, organzied by by APEN, was fun and an education about energy.|
|North Richmond Diversity Celebration features the kids|
|Gay Pride Parade in San Francisco packed them in from Richmond and elsewhere|
|Diverse cultures participated. |
(right) Bradley Manning is a hero.
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RPA Activist Info
is for Richmond community members who want to be active in taking on the problems of the environment, racism, joblessness, housing, and crime to create a healthy Richmond. We believe that community involvement means more than voting every two years. It means regular communication with the candidates we elect, letting them know our issues and positions, supporting them as they try to take our issues forward. It means we attend meetings, use email, phone our neighbors, or go on marches building an organized movement to create real change.
Comments and columns are welcome. Articles and columns are the views of the author, unsigned text the views of the editor, Mike Parker, and not necessarily those of the RPA. Send photos, articles, and comments to RPAactivist@gmail.com or call 510-595-4661. Longer articles of analysis and archives of past newsletters can be found on our website.