Day: June 26, 2013

The Urgent Need For A Younger United States Senate

The United States Senate, by its very nature, is an undemocratic body, as all states are equal in membership, two Senators per state, whether the population of California (38 million people) or Wyoming (575,000 people)!

So we have the ability of “small state” Senators to wield great power and influence, and stand in the way of what is best for the nation at large!

The filibuster is one such mechanism that can prevent progress and action, and helps to make the US Senate a body that, much more often, applies the brakes on legislation, rather than speed action on such legislation.

The Senate has become much more undemocratic than anyone ever envisioned in the 18th century, as no one could know that in 2013, eleven states would have the majority of electoral votes needed to elect the President, and that nine states would have a majority of the entire population of the United States!

Nothing can be done about this reality, and there are no term limits, and some Senators have served 30 or more years, with the record being Robert Byrd and his 52 years in the US Senate from West Virginia!

But more troubling than the lack of term limits is the reality of older Senators being dominant, wielding great power as heads of committees, or being ranking members of such committees, at an age when most Americans are either retired or cutting down work hours dramatically!

When Senator Frank Lautenberg, the oldest member of the Senate, died at age 89, Senator Diane Feinstein of California became the oldest member of the Senate, and became 80 years of age last weekend.

So at present, with Feinstein at age 80, there are 21 US Senators in their 70s, 35 in their 60s, 30 in their 50s, 12 in their 40s, and 1 in his 30s.

The idea that 57 Senators are over age 60, when most people are moving toward retirement, is alarming, and the Senate has become an institution out of touch with the typical American who is in the mid to late 30s on the average, but being represented by senior citizens who do not have the ability to adapt as readily to change as is required in the modern world of government!

There should be some kind of age limit, whereby a person cannot run for the Senate (a six year term) beyond the age of 69, meaning that person would leave the Senate no later than age 75!

Many would call this age discrimination, but the ability of government to deal with modern challenges would seem to demand such a limit, not that it is possible to believe that such a limit would be realistically possible to achieve any time soon, if ever!

Since very few Americans, even if retired, work full time at age 75, it would seem appropriate to establish such an age limit, more than limiting actual total terms of a US Senator.

But again, this is just a suggestion to consider, and unlikely to be reality at any point in the future, a sad situation, indeed!

First Effort To Expand Gay Marriage Should Be To Promote It In Other “Blue” States!

Now that gay marriage has been declared constitutional, and that gay Americans are entitled to the same benefits and privileges of straight couples, the next step should be to work to promote passage of gay marriage in the other 13 “Blue” states, states that voted for Barack Obama in 2012.

So far, the six New England states (Maine, Vermont, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Rhode Island); three Middle Atlantic states (New York, Maryland, Delaware); two Midwestern states (Iowa, Minnesota); and two Pacific Coast states (Washington, California) have accepted gay marriage as legal.

So 13 states have moved to adopt gay marriage, leaving 13 other states which voted Democratic in 2012. The list includes the following:

Middle Atlantic states–New Jersey, Pennsylvania
Southern states–Virginia, Florida
Midwestern states–Michigan, Wisconsin, Ohio, Illinois
Mountain States–Nevada, New Mexico, Colorado
Pacific Coast states–Oregon, Hawaii

Some of these states should be fairly easy to prod in the direction of gay marriage, including New Jersey, Illinois, Colorado, Oregon, and Hawaii.

Other states will be more difficult, but are possible, including Pennsylvania, Ohio, Michigan, Wisconsin, Nevada, and New Mexico.

The toughest states to accomplish this goal are Virginia and Florida.

Republican Governors will fight to prevent gay marriage in Pennsylvania, Ohio, Michigan, and Wisconsin, but if they can be defeated for reelection, if their horrible, anti women, anti labor, anti immigrant policies are made the issue.

Chris Christie is a greater barrier, but do not be surprised if after reelection in New Jersey, he moves in the direction of acceptance of gay marriage!

Northern Virginia and South Florida give a long range hope for those states to accept gay marriage down the road, but not anytime soon.

The struggle for acceptance of gay marriage in more states is a battle worth fighting! Already, about one third of the American people, more than 100 million, live in states that accept gay marriage. It is essential to make that percentage more than two thirds of all Americans, over the next decade!

Of course, there is always the possibility that the Supreme Court might move in the direction of a Loving V. Virginia wide scope decision, as with interracial marriage in 1967. But the state by state battle must, meanwhile, go on!

Two Gay Marriage Decisions Of Supreme Court Are Landmark Path Breaking Decisions, Among Greatest In American History!

The two gay marriage decisions of the Supreme Court today will be seen as landmark, path breaking decisions, among the greatest in all of American history!

It has been a long time coming for gay and lesbian Americans, to achieve legal equality under the law and Constitution of the United States. It is a fantastic victory for civil rights and human rights, and will make it a lot easier for young Americans, and really all Americans, who recognize they have a different sexual orientation, which should not be discriminated against by others who refuse to accept change!

The decisions declare the key provision of the Defense Of Marriage Act unconstitutional, and also allow California to follow the circuit court decision, negating Proposition 8, which banned gay marriage in the state, after it has already been allowed.

So California will join twelve other states over the next few months that allow gay marriage—Maine, Vermont, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Connecticut, and Rhode Island in New England; New York, Maryland and Delaware in the Middle Atlantic; Iowa and Minnesota in the Midwest; and Washington State on the Pacific Coast.

It seems likely that other states, mostly “Blue” Democratic states in the last Presidential election, will soon join those 13 states, while the likelihood of “Red” or Republican states legalizing it seems far off, if not impossible to imagine.

But the fight to have the Supreme Court overturn the entire Defense of Marriage Act, allowing the Court to declare gay marriage legal in all states, following the tradition of Loving V. Virginia on interracial marriage in 1967, is the next battle, as the right to marry should be national in scope, not based on the states denying equal protection under the law!

It will take some time, but the day is not far off before gay marriage is legal everywhere in America, and if the right wing and the religious bigots have a problem, so be it, as they will have to accept it, as much as they opposed interracial marriage fifty years ago, but ultimately had to accept, at least publicly, although one can be certain there are many such people as these, who still are opposed to interracial marriage!

The point is that the right to marry is a civil right, and no public opinion poll, referendum, or utterance of a talk show host or some preacher should stand in the way of this basic human right, and the right to pursuit of happiness!

Texas: State Legislature And Governor Out Of Control, With Filibuster Rules Outrageous!

Texas now becomes the state with the most outrageous and ridiculous Governor and state legislature, both totally out of control, with their filibuster rules the craziest and most unjust ever conceived!

Governor Rick Perry and the Republicans are determined to wipe out abortion to a greater extent than any other state, and were attempting to ram through restrictions that would make it nearly impossible for women to gain abortion rights under almost any circumstances in much of the state!

A courageous Democratic State Senator, Wendy Davis, attempted a 13 hour filibuster to stop the bill, and in the midst of chaos and anarchy unbecoming any state legislature, she was able to stop such legislation for the time being, but only under the most ridiculous rules imaginable, and only after being ruled out of order after ten hours of her filibuster!

Wendy Davis was told she must speak constantly for 13 hours by herself, with no food, no water, no bathroom breaks, and no leaning or sitting allowed. When she put on a back brace, she almost was ruled out of order, and when she went off topic somewhat, according to critics, her filibuster was declared ended after ten hours, but due to a breakdown of order, the bill banning abortion failed to come to a vote for now.

Wendy Davis is a true heroine, and Texas is shown as the sham of a state that it has become! It is out to deny human rights to women guaranteed by Roe V. Wade!

But the filibuster rules are even more outrageous, as no such rules exist in the US Senate, where anyone can talk about anything when filibustering, and can take brief breaks for food, water, and bathroom breaks. Can one imagine a United States Senator being told that he or she must live under the strict rules that Wendy Davis faced yesterday in the Texas legislature?

Texas is an example of the worst reality of states rights, and lawsuits should be brought to change the looney rules of a filibuster which is inhumane and makes Texas the laughing stock among states that would rank as the worst governed in America!