50th anniversary of March on Washington changed much, hopes to change more

One of the hopeful faces from the March on Washington 50 years ago today

One of the hopeful faces from the March on Washington 50 years ago today

Fifty years ago today, something momentous took place in Washington, D.C. When Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. took to the podium at the historic March on Washington to deliver his famed “I Have a Dream” speech, the tapestry of the United States was set to be forever changed. Little did he realize that all these years later, his words would echo with as much resonance as they did that day.

What an amazing premise was the entire concept of the march. A peaceful, non-confrontational way to express the disappointment of a marginalized race of people, the walk drew participants from every walk of life. Rich or poor, young or old, even white or black, it didn’t matter; the mission was the same…equality. And 50 years later, Dr. King’s words still hang in the ears of those who still struggle for equality.

“We hold these truths to be self-evident that all men are created equal.”

In 1963, those words did indeed ring true; with some caveats. Even though for the first time in history blacks were to be viewed as equal to their white brethren, many didn’t see it that way. To many, to be black was to still be inferior. And sadly, this is still in the mind of many in this country today. But much of what the March on Washington stood for is outside of race. The poverty level for blacks in that time was huge, and no opportunities were available. Before the march, there was no hope of this statistic changing. So while race was the impetus behind the march, what it really stood for was having the opportunity to have a chance…a chance at a better quality of life.

“We cannot be satisfied as long as the Negro in Mississippi and the Negro in New You believes he has nothing to vote for.”

Affirmative action, anti-discrimination laws, and greater opportunities for education have all helped blacks in the U.S. to achieve that chance at a better life. Blacks have been offered greater opportunities in business, in their communities, in politics. Adopting the moniker African Americans, we have chosen to pick up the gauntlet that Dr. King threw down that day in 1963. Many of us have run with it, some have stumbled and fallen. But with the resiliency of a people long presumed to be destined for failure, we press on…and will continue to do so.

“We ain’t where we could be, we ain’t where we should be, but thank God we ain’t where we was.”

Fast forward 50 years, and today the struggle for equality has shifted. As African Americans, our pursuit of a better quality of life has been improved…but there is still ground to cover. And now, we need to take those lessons taught to us by Dr. King, and share them with those facing the marginalization and discrimination that many before us endured. And it is also important to pay homage to those who lost their lives in the pursuit.

“Free at last, Free at last, Great God a-mighty, we are free at last.”

Much thanks…to Dr. King, and to all those who had the courage to stand up to their beliefs. We all owe each and every one a debt of thanks.

Commentary on what today’s SCOTUS rulings mean to me

Same sex marriageI must admit, I never thought marriage was in the cards for me. Aside from the fact that same-sex marriage isn’t legal in my state, I chalked it up to consistently making poor choices in the relationship department. But the U.S. Supreme Court rulings today on DOMA (Defense of Marriage Act) and California’s Proposition 8 has made me rethink that. Not for myself, but for all of those who want not just the legal benefits of marriage, but the recognition as well.

I was at a party a few weeks ago for a friend’s birthday. Laughter and fun prevailed all afternoon. In attendance were two other friends, a gay male couple, who were speaking about their upcoming civil union ceremony. A young lady in attendance didn’t have a full understanding of what it all meant, and asked the question.

“Imagine if you will that you and your boyfriend are married,” my friend began, “and God forbid he dies. There is no question of you inheriting his estate without any legal or taxable issues, right”

She nodded in agreement.

“Now, imaging the same scenario for the two of us. Suppose I die, and want to leave my entire estate to my partner. Even though we are joined in a civil union, my death and his inheritance becomes a huge taxable occurrence for him. Does that seem fair?”

The young lady looked at him with a new sense of understanding…and compassion.

“Not at all,” she replied.

I am paraphrasing the actual story a bit, but this is the gist of the content. Did I mention that the gay couple in question has been together for 34 years? I would say that in this instance, that is quite a significant part of the story.

Even though the Supreme Court stopped short of a sweeping ruling on gay marriage with Proposition 8, the death of DOMA is of huge significance. While understandable in its conception, DOMA is been lorded over the gay community like the sword of Damocles for years. Now, with its death, states can re-examine their own laws. I suspect that while today has been a great victory, to battle has just begun for the 35+ states that currently have a same-sex marriage ban on their books.

Later today, my friends will be holding their civil union ceremony in a downtown courthouse. While seemingly less significant to some yesterday, it means quite a bit more today. It means that the struggles and prejudice the have experienced through their 34 years together have not been for naught, and that their relationship takes another step forward to complete equality not just for themselves, but for all of us.

As for me, I do have someone who is becoming more and more significant in my life now. Will we get to the point of the “talk” about a civil union…or heaven forbid…marriage? It’s too soon to say…at least from where I sit. But should the topic come up sometime in the future, I may consider it a bit more seriously. I never thought it was in the cards for me. But he is changing my mind…and today’s Supreme Court rulings are helping to plead his case as well.

U.S. Supreme Court prepared to rul on monumental issues TOMORROW

p549007_mAccording to the U.S. Supreme Count’s online blog, decisions will be made on a number of key issues and released tomorrow. Among those include DOMA (Defense of Marriage Act) and Proposition 8. Check the SCOTUS page for updates beginning at 7:00a.m. MDT to learn of their decisions on these hot-button issues. What are your thoughts on the issues on the table? Weigh in with your comments.

Fox News personality creates controversy with statements on Muslims studying in the U.S.

Did Bob Beckel hang himself with comments made about Muslim students?

Fox News has not been a paragon of accurate reporting in recent years. Just last week, during the height of the Boston Marathon bombing media blitz, the network announced that there had indeed been an arrest in the case…well in advance of there actually being a named suspect. The network later backtracked on the story, but still the damage was done. Once it was said, it can’t be taken back. Which is another chink in the networks armor, especially in light of recent comments from one of its most liberal personalities.

Bob Beckel, co-host of Fox’s “The Five,” has stepped into a mine field by concluding that Muslim students should be “cut off” from coming to the United States. Beckel made the statement during a discussion of the Boston bombing suspects with his co-anchors on Tuesday’s show.

We know that in the Muslim communities around the world, they do not like us. They recruit people from poor areas and turn them into terrorists. I think we really have to consider…that we’re going to have to cut off Muslim students from coming to this country for some period of time so that we can at least absorb what we’ve got, look at what we’ve got and decide whether some of the people here should be sent back home or sent to prison. .” 

Beckel took this stand during a discussion on the Tsarnaev brothers, the alleged bombing suspects responsible for the attack in Boston last week. It was, however, difficult for  Beckel to quantify his argument considering the brothers had entered the country legally years ago. Still, Beckel seemed to realize that he may have spoken out of turn, and tried to explain his position further by asserting that young Muslims who were already in the country should be allowed to stay, but further restrictions should be implemented, and that Chinese students should be included as well. Beckel’s stance on Chinese students is that they are sent here to the U.S. to learn computers, only to return home to “hack us.”

What are your thoughts on Mr. Beckel’s comments? Offer your thoughts in our comments section.

 

Supreme Court begins hearing gay marriage issue today

Supreme Court building.The proceeding at the U.S. Supreme Court got underway this morning. The decisions regarding gay marriage will have a ripple effect that will be felt for some time, but does same-sex marriage really matter? Follow this link, and see real-time and time-delayed coverage of the proceedings. What are your thoughts on gay marriage? How will it impact your life or the lives of those you care about? Weigh in with your comments.

Public ceremony scheduled for Gov. Hickenlooper to sign Civil Unions bill

Pen makes signatureAt long last, civil unions are going to be signed into law. On Thursday, March 21 2013, Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper will sign the bill making civil unions legal in the state of Colorado. The 39-26 vote was a cause for rejoicing for state Democrats, and a source of contention for Republicans. The primary reason for the opposition’s stance centers on how civil unions and religion interact. Which raises the question; what ever happened to separation of church and state in politics?

Republicans protested the bill because it does not offer religious exemptions which they say will cause the issue to wind up in court. Still, Republicans who came out in favor of the bill say voting in favor was not just good politics, but good for people.

“What this bill is about is personal freedom and individual liberties,” said Cheri Gerou, R-Evergreen, one of two Republicans supporting Senate Bill 11. “This is a good conservative bill.”

The long fought battle is particularly sweet for two lawmakers; State Senator Pat Steadman and Speaker of the State House of Representatives Mark Ferrandino. The two have been on the front lines of the issue since the beginning, and both felt the sting of defeat at the end of session last year. In that vote, then House Speaker Frank McNulty mired the bill in bureaucratic red tape causing it to die before a complete vote could be held. But this time, it was Democrats who had the last word, inspiring Senator Steadman to take to the Twitter-sphere with a poem he wrote in honor of the momentous occasion.

“11 is a prime number. Eleven is a lovely word.  It’s binary; a pair of ones. It’s two like things, bound together, to make a whole of ones.”

So, when Governor Hickenlooper puts pen to paper this week, he will not only be changing the lives of countless men and women in this state. He will also be striking a blow for all those who fought so hard on the front lines for equality under the law for all Coloradans  Representative Ferrandino summed it up best when asked what the vote meant to the state;

“This bill is about three simple things,” Ferrandino said. “It’s about love, it’s about family, and it’s about equality under the law.”

Governor Hickenlooper is slated to sign the bill this Thursday, March 21st in a public ceremony to be held at the Historic Colorado Center. Scheduled for 3:00pm, we will keep you posted as to any updates in this auspicious event.

Anna Gristina pleads guilty to single count in resolution of the “Millionaire Madam” debacle

Anna Gristina leaving court after pleading guilty to a single count

In a not so surprising turn of events, accused “Millionaire Madam” Anna Gristina, had plead guilty to a single count of promoting prostitution. The self-proclaimed “soccer mom” said she was “relieved” and “stunned” after the proceedings, after which she will be sentenced in November. Her expected sentence will consist of five years probation, plus the four months of time served while she was incarcerated in Rikers Island for women.

According to a prosecutor not affiliated with the case, he suspects that the prosecution is left feeling “disappointed if not embarrassed” by the results of the case. Originally, prosecutors were hoping to bring more charges against the homemaker. But slowly their case began to dissolve; mainly due to an inability to locate the millions of dollars Gristina allegedly earned during her time as a “matchmaker.” You may recall that the family resorted to internet donations to raise the money to cover Gristina’s bail, which was reduced from $2 million to $250,000. She was released in June.

Gristina’s husband, Kelvin Gorr, who has garnered a great deal of press based more on his looks than anything else, said he was glad to see the resolution of the case.

“I’m very pleased with the decision,” said Gorr. “I’m not gonna go to Disney World, but I’m still very happy.”

One individual in the proceedings who was not happy was the judge presiding over the proceedings. Gristina and Gorr had with them in attendance one of their children; a factor that the judge admonished Gristina for.

“I am not happy that Ms. Gristina’s young child is in the courtroom today,” the judge said. “It’s not appropriate. I don’t see the purpose in it. I don’t see the benefits in exposing him to this.”

The judge also reminded Gristina that while this portion of her legal troubles had been resolved, she may still be subject to deportation proceedings to her native Scotland.

Now that the case is resolved, we welcome your thoughts on the turn of events. Share your comments with us.