Mother Says She Was Hounded About Why She Didn’t Take Her Husband’s Last Name

A mother and daughter were flying back from a European vacation when an agent at Customs and Border Protection couldn’t understand why their last names were different.“I was asked if Sybonae was my daughter and I said yes,” Sylvia Acosta wrote on Facebook. “Then they asked why if she was my daughter I didn’t have the same last name. I told them I had already established my career and earned my doctorate with my last name Acosta so I had decided not to change it.”

Source: U.S. Customs’ ‘Handmaid’s Tale’ Moment: Mother Says She Was Hounded About Why She Didn’t Take Her Husband’s Last Name | Alternet

Controversial judge orders baby removed from same-sex parents and placed with heterosexual family

April Hoagland and Beckie Peirce have been fostering a Utah infant for three months. With the approval of the infant’s biological mother and a recommendation of the foster care caseworker, they were seeking to permanently adopt the child. Instead, a Utah judge ordered the baby removed from their home and placed in a home with heterosexual parents:

The women, who are legally married and were approved as foster parents in Utah earlier this year after passing home inspections, background checks and interviews from DCFS, said the judge told them there was a lot of research that indicated children who are raised in same-sex parent homes do not do as well as children who are raised by heterosexual parents.

“It hurts me really badly because I haven’t done anything wrong,” said April.

Worse yet, when Judge Scott Johansen was asked in court to share the studies he was referencing, he refused:

Attorney Mandie Torgerson, who represents the baby’s biological mother, said Johansen did not cite the research he referenced in court saying only that there are “a myriad” of studies that support his order.

Needless to say, the family will appeal. Although the caseworkers have to follow the law, Brent Platt, director of the state’s Division of Child and Family Services, says that he will ask their attorneys to review the judge’s order to make sure they aren’t breaking any laws by removing the child.

For what it’s worth, Judge Scott Johansen has a long history of very controversial orders and actions:

But that wasn’t the first time the judge had inflicted serious punishment on a child for a minor offense. In 1997 he was reprimanded by the Utah Judicial Conduct Commission for “demeaning the judicial office” by slapping a 16-year-old boy during a meeting at the Price courthouse.

And just last month, Johansen made national headlines when he ordered a Carbon County mother to cut off her 13-year-old daughter’s ponytail in public court. The girl was being punished for cutting the hair of a 3-year-old.

He ordered another juvenile into detention over a bad report card, rather than identifying whether the boy had learning disabilities. His parents say that decision sent their son into a spiral and changed their son forever:

Passarella’s father believes that initial incarceration was a turning point in his son’s life, and did not turn him away from crime. He has since been convicted of seven misdemeanors and two felonies and will be in a rehabilitation facility at least until he turns 19.

Nevertheless, a 2014 commission recommended Judge Johansen be retained, citing his bold style and fairness:

With more than two decades of judicial experience, Judge Scott Johansen has a
bold, no-nonsense style that prompted mixed reviews from survey respondents.
While respondents most frequently described Judge Johansen as knowledgeable,
confident, and intelligent, a minority perceived him as arrogant and impatient.
Judge Johansen received lower than average survey scores for procedural fairness, separation of his personal beliefs from his legal rulings, and fair and respectful treatment of courtroom participants.

Supreme Court: Let gay wedding bells ring from sea to shining sea

FRI JUN 26, 2015 AT 07:03 AM PDT
Daily Kos Staff, Front Page

Gay marriage supporters hold a gay rights flag in front of the Supreme Court before a hearing about gay marriage in Washington April 28, 2015. The nine justices will be hearing arguments concerning gay marriage restrictions imposed in Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio and Tennessee, four of the 13 states that still outlaw such marriages.    REUTERS/Joshua Roberts - RTX1ANFE

Gay marriage supporters hold a gay rights flag in front of the Supreme Court before a hearing about gay marriage in Washington April 28, 2015. The nine justices will be hearing arguments concerning gay marriage restrictions imposed in Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio and Tennessee, four of the 13 states that still outlaw such marriages. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts – RTX1ANFE

The Supreme Court struck down marriage bans nationwide Friday in a 5-4 decision authored by Justice Anthony Kennedy, the fourth landmark ruling advancing LGBT rights he has written.

In the decision, the justices affirmed that same-sex couples can indeed marry in every state in the union.

The case, Obergefell v. Hodges, centered on legal challenges on behalf of lesbian and gay individuals from four states in the Sixth Circuit who sought the same constitutional guarantees afforded to different-sex couples couples who unite their lives in marriage.

The decision follows public opinion, with several recent polls showing that about 60 percent of Americans support same-sex marriage rights.

7:07 AM PT: Here’s the link to Kennedy’s opinion:…

7:15 AM PT: Tweet from President Obama: “Today is a big step in our march toward equality. Gay and lesbian couples now have the right to marry, just like anyone else. #LoveWins”

7:19 AM PT: From the opinion: “These considerations lead to the conclusion that the

right to marry is a fundamental right inherent in the liberty of the person, and under the Due Process and Equal Protection Clauses of the Fourteenth Amendment couples of the same-sex may not be deprived of that right and that liberty. The Court now holds that same-sex couples may exercise the fundamental right to marry.”

7:42 AM PT: From the opinion: “No union is more profound than marriage, for it embod- ies the highest ideals of love, fidelity, devotion, sacrifice, and family… It would misunderstand these men and women to say they disrespect the idea of marriage. Their plea is that they do respect it, respect it so deeply that they seek to find its fulfillment for themselves. Their hope is not to be con- demned to live in loneliness, excluded from one of civilization’s oldest institutions. They ask for equal dignity in the eyes of the law. The Constitution grants them that right.”


Let’s Stand Up and Be Counted for Equal Rights

Let's Stand Up and Be Counted for Equal Rights

By Elleanor Chin of Portland, Oregon. Elleanor is a Board member of Family Forward Oregon and the Oregon chapter of the National Organization for Women. She is an attorney, writer, mother and gardener.

If you’re on Hawthorne Street in Portland, or near Powells on Burnside, or downtown these days, you’re pretty likely to be hit up by signature gatherers for ballot measures. Yesterday I was approached for the GMO labeling measure (twice) and a marijuana legalization measure (and learned there are three different signature campaigns relating to marijuana legalization). There is a July deadline for signatures for the November election and besides, it’s spring in Oregon!

I wasn’t approached yesterday by someone asking for signatures for the Oregon Equal Rights Amendment measure, but I have been, at least three times recently. Each time it makes me happy and each time I say, “already signed!”

In Oregon, in 2014, we have a particular opportunity to stand up and be counted when it comes to treatment of gender under the law. There is an active campaign to put an Equal Rights Amendment to the Oregon Constitution on the November ballot. The Oregon ERA would amend the Oregon Constitution to specifically ban discriminatory treatment on the basis of gender. Currently neither the federal nor state constitutions offer explicit protection against gender discrimination.

The opportunity comes during a rare major public discussion of women’s experience of misogyny in daily life, sparked by the May 23 mass murder in Isla Vista California, in which the killer provided 100+ page statement and at least one video detailing his personal history and frustrations, including rage, sexual frustration and resentment directed towards women. The Twitter campaign #YesAllWomen developed in response to a social media thread arguing that “not all men” are violent and misogynistic. The YesAllWomen hashtag trended all weekend and included numerous women describing their experiences of sexual harassment, job discrimination, sexual assault.

A constitutional amendment banning discrimination on the basis of gender not only offers women protection from unfair treatment in work and school, but it is a statewide policy statement that Oregonians do not believe that people should be subject to invidious distinction on the basis of gender. It also forces some confrontation of the impact and nature of individual discriminatory acts. Constitutional anti-discrimination protection does not prevent misogyny or individual acts of violence or change minds any more than the Fourteenth Amendment ended racism, but it narrows the opportunities for formal, institutionalized acts of discrimination, and provides opportunities for redress.

Oregon has also been part of the “Equal Rites” movement recently, with Judge Michael McShane’s marriage equality decision on May 19. We have momentum for equality in Oregon so sign a ballot petition today. You don’t have to go looking for someone out on the sidewalk, an individual petition is available at Sign it and mail it and tell your fellow voters. – See more at:

12 phrases progressives need to ditch (and what we can say instead)

12 phrases progressives need to ditch (and what we can say instead).

One of the most frustrating things about being a liberal has been watching conservatives win the big fights over and over again over the past four decades. Why does the right wing keep winning when their agenda has proven so bad for America? It’s partly because they’ve taken over the conversation and have set the terms of the debate by choosing the actual words we use to discuss the issues we care about. We need to take a long, hard look at some phrases progressives need to ditch, because they put our agenda in a bad light. If we want the American people to think well of our causes, then we need to use our own words.

Here are 12 phrases progressives need to ditch once and for all.

(1). Big Business: (Also referred to as: Corporate America; Multinationals; Corporate Interests) When we use any of these words, we sound like wild-eyed, radical left-wingers right off the bat. After all, most Americans think of themselves as pro-business. When we refer to “big business” in a negative way, people think, “what’s wrong with being a ‘big business?’” After all, they’d like their own businesses to get “big.” Nor do they have bad associations with the words “corporate” or “multinational.” They may even sound kind of exciting and worldly. So, when we make our cases against greedy CEOs and their companies, “Big Business” is one of the phrases progressives should ditch. Instead, progressives can try: Unelected Government. This puts big, global, multinationals in their proper context as unelected entities with once-unheard of amounts of power, whose actions have immense impact on our lives, and which can only be held in check by equally large entities like governments and unions.

Phrases progressives need to ditch include “entitlements.” Social Security, Medicare, and Unemployment are “earned benefits” that we PAY for.
(2). Entitlements: I keep hearing reporters from NPR and other supposedly left or centrist news outlets use the word “entitlements,” and it makes me froth at the mouth. It implies that our country is overrun by lazy, fat crazy people who just want handouts. Any statement that includes the word “entitlements” is one of the phrases progressives need to ditch. Instead, we progressives should try: Earned Benefits. This term not only makes our social safety net sound better it’s also way more accurate. Programs like Social Security, Medicare, and Unemployment are all forms of insurance. We all pay into them for our entire working lives — via a percent of our income — and then collect from them when the time comes. And the Right clearly wants to steal our earned benefits and give them to Wall Street.

What’s so great about “free market capitalism?” Chalk that one up as one of the phrases progressives need to ditch.
(3). Free Market Capitalism: (Also referred to as: Capitalism, Free Markets, and Supply-Side Economics) Like “Fascism” and “Communism,” “Free Market Capitalism” is a 20th-century utopian ideal has failed badly — at least in its purest form. Yet most of us Americans hold the dream of “Free Market Capitalism” dear, and idealize ourselves as plucky, can-do, inventive entrepreneurs. Many of us also still like to think the system’s fair and that we all have a chance. So, “Free Market Capitalism” is probably one of the phrases progressives should ditch. Instead, progressives should try: Socialized Risk, Privatized Profits. This best describes our four-decades-long cruel and failed experiment in unfettered capitalism, as practiced since the 1970′s. And that’s what “free market capitalism” has really become.

The Right uses “Government spending” to make “investing in America” sound like a bad thing. Add it to the list of phrases progressives need to ditch.
(4). Government Spending: (Also referred to as: Taxes, Burden, and Inconvenient) Conservatives talk about “government spending” like it’s this awful thing, but the fact is, communities across the US benefit from U.S. tax dollars, especially all those “small-government” red states. Yes, red states receive way more federal tax money than they contribute. But the Right has made “government spending” sound like a bad thing, so it’s definitely one of the phrases progressives need to ditch. Instead, progressives should try: Investing in America. Because, that’s what our federal tax dollars do. Our tax dollars invest in education and infrastructure that wouldn’t prove profitable for businesses, but which still benefit society in the long-run. As John T. Harvey so aptly wrote in Forbes, “the problem in a nutshell, is that not everything that is profitable is of social value and not everything of social value is profitable.”

“Gay Marriage?” As opposed to a REAL marriage? Yep, that’s another one of those phrases progressives need to ditch.
(5) Gay Marriage/Same Sex Marriage: While these phrases are accurate on a technical basis, they play into the conservative notion that marriage between two men or two women is somehow different and inferior than a “real” marriage between a man and a woman. That’s why these seemingly harmless terms are still phrases progressives need to ditch. Instead, progressives should try: Marriage Equality.

Here’s one of the phrases progressives need to ditch: “Gun Control.” Because it sounds so controlling.
(6). Gun Control: Yikes! That sounds like you want to control people, and all those “freedom loving” folks who want to bully gays and people of color into staying in their place will use that word against you. Every time you complain about the latest tragic news about people getting shot for no good reasons, these gun nuts will whine about how you’re trying to “control” them and take away their “freedom.” So let’s add “Gun Control” to the list of phrases progressives need to ditch. Instead, progressives can try: Gun Safety. It sounds so nice, non-coercive, and reasonable … plus, it’s true. Most of us aren’t against guns, we just want them used safely. Or, for some added punch, you can even try: Gun Violence Prevention.

“Homophobic” is one of the phrases progressives need to ditch. They’re not “scared,” they’re mean, hateful, “anti-gay” bullies.
(7). Homophobic: People who oppose equal rights for gays, lesbians, and gender atypical individuals are not “afraid,” as the “phobic” suffix implies. They are mean, bigoted @ssholes. That’s why “homophobic” is an awful, misleading phrase that lets bullies get away with hating. And it’s definitely among the phrases progressives need to ditch. Instead, progressives should try: Anti-Gay. That way, we tell it like it is instead of giving anti-gay bullies some semi-legit-sounding label for them to hide behind.

And “illegal aliens” is another phrase progressives need to ditch right away. They’re not “aliens,” they’re our neighbors.
(8). Illegal Aliens: It’s easy to support harsh laws against people, when we refer to them by a scary and distant term like “illegal aliens.” It’s way harder to act against our neighbors, friends, the families of our children’s classmates, or the nice lady who sells those plump, fragrant tamales on the corner. Plus … are they really “illegal?” If Big Business … Ooops … I mean “Unelected Government” … didn’t want them here — for their easily-exploited, low-cost, skilled labor — they’d be gone. And, yes, our neighbors from south of the border do have valued and specialized skills. But Big Agribusiness doesn’t want to pay them fairly for those skills. That’s why “illegal aliens” is one of the phrases progressives need to ditch right now. Instead, we can try: Undocumented Residents. Why not? Plus, we might as well. They’re having more kids than Anglos are, and many of these kids are legal citizens who are born on US soil. It doesn’t make sense for some family members to be legal and some not. Plus, making more immigrants legal could help the US avoid the aging crisis that’s hitting Western Europe and Japan.

Count “pro-life” among the phrases progressives need to ditch. We need to call them what they REALLY are: “Anti-choice.”
(9). Pro-Life: Ugh. These people are NOT “pro-life.” Once a child takes its first breath, these right-wing “pro-lifers” couldn’t care less about the quality of life for the child or mother. Let’s call them by their true name for once. Because “pro-life” is definitely one of those phrases progressives need to ditch. Progressives should call these people: Anti-Choice. Because, that’s what they really are about. They don’t care about “life.” They only seek to deny choices to women. Not just the choice of whether or not to have a child, but whether a woman can — like a man — embrace her full sexuality without having to worry about pregnancy, and whether she can make related choices about her body, her career, and when to have children, as men always have.

Who came up with the phrase “right-to-work?” It’s a total crock, and among the phrases progressives need to ditch.
(10). Right-To-Work: Who came up with the phrase “right-to-work” ANYway? It’s total B.S. and doesn’t give you the right to do anything, unless you want to reject unions and earn less money than you would in a pro-union shop. In “right-to-work” states, non-union workers in union shops can decline paying union dues. Which sounds fair, but is not, because union shops pay better wages to their employees, and hence should receive from workers who receive these benefits “Right-to-work” is one of those phrases progressives need to ditch in favor of something that tells the truth. Instead, progressives should try: Anti-Union: It’s far more accurate, and — as unions increasingly gain favor — will make conservatives look bad. Because “right-to-work” really does mean: Right to choose amongst sucky wages and benefits packages. Several readers have also suggested: Right-To-Fire (without just cause), and Right-To-Work-For-Less.

“The Environment?” Who cares about “the environment?” Another phrase progressives need to ditch, or at least use less often.

(11). The Environment: When people talk about “the environment,” they often sound annoyingly self-righteous, like they’re talking down to people with iffy hygiene practices. Alas, you can’t count on people to make environmentally friendly choices — especially when people are struggling financially and these choices may cost more. So count “the environment” among the many phrases progressives need to ditch, or at least use less often. We need to use something that sounds less abstract. Instead, we progressives can try: Shared Resources. Or even just plain old Nature or Clean Air and Water. That makes way more sense. We may not care about some factory dumping crap into the ocean, but we dang-well care about our neighbors up the river not keeping up on their septic tank.

‘Welfare’ is a phrase progressives need to ditch, because the Right makes it sound like a BAD thing.
(12). Welfare: When conservatives talk about “welfare,” they make it sound like this pit that lazy, undeserving people wallow in forever, rather than a source of help that’s there when we need it – and that we all pay for through our taxes. The founding fathers put promoting “the general welfare” in the preamble to our Constitution, because they believed that we have a civic obligation towards the shared well-being of our citizens. But the GOP has given the word a bad name. That’s why “welfare” is one of the phrases progressives need to ditch. Instead, we should try: Social Safety Net: This resonates better, because it conjures an image of something that catches us when we fall, but that we can easily bounce out of. Most people understand that we all need help at one time or another. When friends and family can’t step in, that’s when our social safety net comes in. And if we continue to grow the middle class — instead of cutting taxes for the rich and allowing companies to pay sub-living wages — perhaps more of us will be able to bounce out of the social safety net again.