2008
05.30

Here’s the news that I emailed to supporters and friend of war resister Ryan Jackson. I was very honored to get to work on Ryan’s case and am very proud of how well he did in speaking truth to power at his court-martial today.

There will be more news soon at www.couragetoresist.org and at www.ryanjackson.info, but I thought I would give a quick report now.

At today’s court-martial hearing at Ft. Gordon, GA, Conscientious Objector Ryan Jackson was given a sentence of:

100 days in prison
a BCD (Bad Conduct Discharge)
Demotion to E-1 (private)
reduction to 2/3 pay

for multiple specifications of being AWOL (as well as a minor count of having positive drug test for marijuana).

At the hearing, we argued that Ryan’s actions were an act of civil disobedience that stemmed from his belief that all war is wrong and Ryan himself gave a moving statement in which he expressed his own views on the immorality of war and the necessity of breaking the law for the sake of conscience.

You can find pictures taken after his court-martial, pictures from a vigil/protest held in Ryan’s behalf by local Augusta residents, and the text of a statement that Ryan wrote while in prison for his supporters by clicking here

Pictures taken shortly before Ryan turned himself into military control in April 2008 can be found by clicking here.

One local press account of the pre-court-martial trial can be found at: WDRW.com: Fort Gordon Protest

While the good news is that PFC Jackson will be out of military prison soon, CPT Kenney (the JAG defense counsel who was part of the defense team) and myself are still preparing to make a post-trial relief clemency request from the Commanding General to seek to have the BCD reversed.

Thanks to everyone who helped to get the word out about the case. Also, Courage to Resist is still raising funds to cover Ryan’s legal expenses (they are still about $1000 short) so donations would be very welcome at www.couragetoresist.org.

Please also write PFC Jackson to encourage him to stand strong during his remaining weeks of unjust confinement. His address is: Ryan Jackson; 1050 Remount Rd, Bldg 3107; Charleston SC 29406-3515

Peace,
James
www.girightslawyer.com

2008
05.27

CNN/AP: Do whites need training before parenting black children?

This is about an issue dear to my heart (as 3 of my 5 siblings are adopted). I think the story raises some good issues. Here’s my take on this… Encouraging training to help adoptive parents to understand issues of raising a child of a different race is a good thing, and it certainly a good thing to encourage more adoptive parents to step up of the same race, but I’m worried that adding more requirements for adoption could create barriers to adoption (and I think there are already too many such barriers). It sounds like in this case though, the proposals on the table are more about getting rid of the obstacles to encouraging training, rather than creating more mandates.

I also would argue that if done right, inter-racial adoption can be a very positive thing. Race is important (I agree with those who argue that saying that we are color-blind is naive), but also think it is only one factor in one’s identity. Inter-racial adoptions I think can help to encourage all of us to see that we have much more in common than we think.

2008
05.25

Okies.info: Oklahoma Independents Want More Candidates on the Ballot

The Oklahoma Coalition of Independents (OKIES) wants all Oklahomans to know about the three days when they can file to run for office at the state Capitol: June 2nd to 4th

OKIES hopes to bring more accountability to incumbents’ actions and by encouraging Oklahomans to run for political office, whatever their party affiliation.

The democratic process in Oklahoma is suffering. Over half of state legislative races went unopposed in 2006. So the names of most incumbents never even showed up on a ballot, yet they still “represent” the people of their district.

Clark Duffe, OKIES Chairman, said, “Campaigning for office is a great way to get out your message and affect your community.” All that is required is having been registered with the same party affiliation for six months in your district and a $200 filing fee for most offices. Qualifications to run and a list of offices to be filled are available from the Oklahoma State Election Board.

James M. Branum, Secretary of the Oklahoma Green Party, said, “Since Oklahoma’s ballot access laws kept me from being on the ballot as a Green, I ran as an Independent for state house in 2006. It was a empowering experience. I got to speak at several candidate forums and connect with my neighbors on the campaign trail, and in the end even got to see some of my ideas be adopted by the candidate who beat me. I recommend all registered Independents to consider running, because otherwise our voice won’t be heard.”

Richard Prawdzienski, past Independent candidate for State House 39, addressed concerns about the possibility of someone winning against a candidate of an established party. “If a 19-year-old freshman at the University of Oklahoma can be elected mayor in Muskogee, imagine what anyone can do.”

Jacqueline Salit, founder and political director of the national organization, Committee for a Unified Independent Party, commented, “With 70% of Americans saying that the country is on the wrong track, the problem is not just that our policies have gone wrong. It’s that our political process isn’t working. That’s a big reason why so many people are becoming independents and why independents feel that we’ve got to change the way our political system works. It’s really a rebellion against the “divine right” of the major parties. Running for office with a message about the need for independent reform is a way to bring that challenge to a next step.”

The Oklahoma Coalition of Independents (OKIES) seeks to expand voter choice by reducing the number of unopposed races for elected office in Oklahoma. OKIES also supports structural reforms that will engage more potential voters in the political process, such as ballot access reform and redistricting reform.
# # # #

2008
05.25

Busy days to come

Just wanted to tell my friends and readers that I’ll likely not be posting much as I’ll be covering a lot of ground over the next few weeks on cases.

Sunday evening I’ll be taking an AWOL soldier down to Ft. Hood, TX. Monday morning, I’ll be taking an AWOL soldier to the PCF at Ft. Sill, OK and then catching a plane from Lawton, OK to Atlanta,GA.

From there I have a court-martial hearing for a client at Ft. Stewart, GA on May 28th, and a court-martial hearing for war resister/conscientious objector Ryan Jackson on May 30th. And then after hopefully getting to see where the Branum’s first settled in America (a 200 acre land-grant from the King of England in 1720 at Camden, SC), I’ll come home to Oklahoma on June 2nd.

I may or may not be online much, so friends and clients are best off calling me on my cell phone if they need to get in touch. (my contact info is at www.girightslawyer.com)

2008
05.19

The Gay Agenda - Let’s prove that Sally Kern is right about one thing, that the gay (and straight) agenda for marriage equality is a force to be reckoned with! Open-minded, freedom-loving Okies should donate now to protect gay marriage in California
You can add this to your website.Here’s the code…

2008
05.18

Yahoo/AP: Thousands killed by US’s Korean ally

DAEJEON, South Korea – Grave by mass grave, South Korea is unearthing the skeletons and buried truths of a cold-blooded slaughter from early in the Korean War, when this nation’s U.S.-backed regime killed untold thousands of leftists and hapless peasants in a summer of terror in 1950.

With U.S. military officers sometimes present, and as North Korean invaders pushed down the peninsula, the southern army and police emptied South Korean prisons, lined up detainees and shot them in the head, dumping the bodies into hastily dug trenches. Others were thrown into abandoned mines or into the sea. Women and children were among those killed. Many victims never faced charges or trial.

The mass executions — intended to keep possible southern leftists from reinforcing the northerners — were carried out over mere weeks and were largely hidden from history for a half-century. They were “the most tragic and brutal chapter of the Korean War,” said historian Kim Dong-choon, a member of a 2-year-old government commission investigating the killings.

Hundreds of sets of remains have been uncovered so far, but researchers say they are only a tiny fraction of the deaths. The commission estimates at least 100,000 people were executed, in a South Korean population of 20 million.

That estimate is based on projections from local surveys and is “very conservative,” said Kim. The true toll may be twice that or more, he told The Associated Press. . .

(emphasis added is my own)

What a story of horror! Is there any war that America has fought in which these kinds of things didn’t happen? The more time goes by, the more confirmation that there is no such thing as a “good war” and that all wars result in the indiscriminate killing of civilians, even by the “good” guys.

This part of the history has been completely white-washed out of our history books, and I can’t help but wonder how much this story is still affecting and shaping the current geo-political situation in North and South Korea.

2008
05.17

Updated May 18, 2008 to correct grammatical problems in my original post.

First Stone Ministries: The Untold Story About Sally Kern

This article by a supposed de-gayification “ministry” is pretty stunning, and frankly shows the scope of Sally Kern’s homophobia and her involvement in so called ex-gay ministries.

. . . In her remarks during the January speech, Rep. Kern mentioned the parallel of the gay political movement in the United States – not individual gays. She said the agenda of the gay political movement is, in her opinion, as dangerous as terrorism. While I personally would not have used this parallel, the irony of this story is impossible to ignore. That irony is demonstrated very visibly in the hate emails numbering over 26,000, death threats, and the mean-spirited and orchestrated campaign calling for her resignation. These very tactics are akin to terroristic tactics, therefore point directly back to Sally’s original parallel. Truly this is ironic! This political tactic, directed to silence Rep. Kern, bully her and other conservatives and manipulate the unsuspecting public almost worked. However, what they did not realize was Sally Kern’s courage and steadfastness.

I find it interesting that these folks are claiming that all 26,000 of the emails that Sally received were “hate” emails, or that it is hateful to call for her to resign. I completely disagree.

I do not hate Sally Kern. I was and still am angry with her, and I do want her to either change her ways or resign from the state legislature, but that doesn’t mean I hate her.

In fact I went back in my own email box and found this email that I sent her on March 7, 2008:

Hello Ms. Kern,

I wanted to let you know that I have written a response to your
anti-gay speech on my blog at:

http://jmbzine.com/2008/03/07/rep-sally-kerns-ugly-anti-gay-speech-is-made-public-on-the-internet/

I think your anti-gay bigotry is disgusting. If you don’t believe in
freedom and equality for all, then you should quit the state
legislature. You have no right to be there, if you are going to use
your position as a platform to preach hate.

Please note that I did said that Sally’s bigotry is disgusting, not that she is disgusting. I do “hate” her hateful behavior, but I don’t hate her. It would be just as wrong for me to hate her, as it is for her to hate homosexuals.

OK, back to the quotes from the First Stone article…

. . . It has been an honor to be a friend of the Kern family for several years. I am Chris Morrison, development coordinator with First Stone Ministries. I want you to know that the Kern’s played a healing role in my life. Ten years ago I was battling with how I was to live my life. I would either continuing to seek the Lord in my weakness or just give up and live as a gay man. While in college in a neighboring city, I would drive to Oklahoma City and spend weekends in the Kern’s home; Sally Kern would also take me to the airport so I could fly home for holidays and leave my vehicle in their care.

Sally Kern wept as she delivered her speech at the Oklahoma Capitol, April 2, 2008.Though I attended a Baptist university, I still carried my brokenness on my sleeve, as I struggled intensely with homosexual feelings. I will never forget the seed that was sown on Thanksgiving weekend in 1997. Sally Kern was taking me to the airport and she gently broached the subject of my homosexual struggle with me. I was surprised and scared of what she was going to say, because I hadn’t told many people about my struggle. It was rare for someone to bring up my struggle before I had ever disclosed it. Her tenderness was overwhelming; she lovingly ministered to me that day. She mercifully let me know that she and her family were praying for me, and that they loved me. That day is precious to me as I felt so loved and accepted. I am grateful to the Lord that Sally had enough courage to plant the seeds of God’s forgiveness, hope and healing.

In 2004 I had the privilege of supporting Sally Kern as she ran for State Representative. I attended her watch party on Election Day and remembered her saying she knew that God was calling her to run for State Representative, but didn’t know all the reasons. That statement resounded in my head as I stood and watch Sally Kern at the Freedom of Speech Rally – “Rally for Sally” on April 2, 2008. I remembered the words from the Bible, “For such a time as this.” Sally Kern, is a representative “for such a time as this.” I am grateful to Sally Kern for her humble stance, as well as her boldness to call the nation to repentance, and to call for Christians to stand for traditional values in our land. I am a man who was nearly enslaved by the lie of being born gay, yet Jesus saved me from that deceived existence. The Kern family played an integral role in my healing from homosexuality, for which I am eternally grateful.

This is the untold story behind the precious Kern family that you will most-likely never hear as a main story in the liberal media.

I don’t know Chris and I have no idea if he really was born gay or not. He may have been asking questions about his sexuality (which is normal for lots of young people) but was in fact straight, so no harm was done by Sally’s supposedly loving counsel. (except that he now feels the need to try to de-gayify people, who may in fact be gay)

Or, Chris was more likely born gay. But he was scared to death by a religious tradition that teaches that you will go to hell for being who God made you to be, and he attended a college (likely OBU, based on what he said in his article) that would expell him if they found out that he was gay. So, when Sally gave her counsel to Chris, it confirmed the homophobic pressure he was under and he took it to be the gospel truth, and thus chose to live a lie. Many, many LGBT folks choose to live this lie and it is unhealthy and destructive. (a prime example is found in the book Touched by Grace, by Ann Showalter (the tragic story of a female Mennonite Pastor who was married to a man for decades, who hid the fact that he was gay from her)

I am not gay (which I’m grateful for, not because it is wrong to be gay, but because of the prejudice that LGBT folks have to face), but I struggled as I think every young person does with sexuality.

I struggled with tons of questions… Is it wrong to masturbate? Is it sinful to have lustful urges? Will I go to hell because I had sex with my girlfriend before I was married? How is it possible to be both a sexual being (which all human beings are) and faithful to God? All of these questions are horribly tough ones to deal with, even for a straight person, when you grow up in a evangelical Christian culture that makes lots of absolute statements but doesn’t seem to be relevant to the very messy issues at hand. I can’t imagine trying to work through these questions if I were gay, but I do know now that the teachings of First Stone Ministries, and Sally Kern are DEAD WRONG.

Again if Chris isn’t gay today, it is because he was never gay in the first place. But for kids who really are gay, these kinds of teachings create an environment that fosters and encourages self-hatred and double-faced living, which in turn lead to tragic consequences both to the gay young people, but also to their families and the people who end up loving them (and later are heart-broken when they can’t figure out how to make their secretly gay spouse love them back).

I know that in many ways that Sally herself is a victim to these teachings. I’m sure she sincerely believes these horrible beliefs, but she and folks like her are doing so much harm. I wish there was some way to convince them to see things differently.

2008
05.15

This is an update to a earlier JMBzine.com post

I’ve just finished reading/skimming the decision that struck down the gay marriage ban in California. There’s a lot there so I’m going to comment on just a few things I found interesting…

All bold-faced emphasis added below is my own. I’ll also write a short summary about each excerpt before it, and short commentary after it.

1. From the majority opinion – (the key issue here is, is it ok to have a “seperate but supposedly equal” status for gay couples?)

Accordingly, the legal issue we must resolve is
not whether it would be constitutionally permissible under the California
Constitution for the state to limit marriage only to opposite-sex couples while
denying same-sex couples any opportunity to enter into an official relationship
with all or virtually all of the same substantive attributes, but rather whether our
state Constitution prohibits the state from establishing a statutory scheme in which
both opposite-sex and same-sex couples are granted the right to enter into an
officially recognized family relationship that affords all of the significant legal
rights and obligations traditionally associated under state law with the institution
of marriage, but under which the union of an opposite-sex couple is officially
designated a “marriage” whereas the union of a same-sex couple is officially
designated a “domestic partnership.” The question we must address is whether,
under these circumstances, the failure to designate the official relationship of
same-sex couples as marriage violates the California Constitution.

The court is dead-on-the-money. The california law is trying to create a “seperate but equal” status for gay couples, which sounds a lot like the “Seperate but equal” idea of Plessy v. Ferguson.

2. From the majority opinion – (the court decides here to apply a strict scrutiny standard to the law, and decides that the law violates the standard)

Furthermore, the circumstance that the current California statutes assign a
different name for the official family relationship of same-sex couples as
contrasted with the name for the official family relationship of opposite-sex
couples raises constitutional concerns not only under the state constitutional right
to marry, but also under the state constitutional equal protection clause. In
analyzing the validity of this differential treatment under the latter clause, we first
must determine which standard of review should be applied to the statutory
classification here at issue. Although in most instances the deferential “rational
basis” standard of review is applicable in determining whether different treatment
accorded by a statutory provision violates the state equal protection clause, a more
exacting and rigorous standard of review — “strict scrutiny” — is applied when
the distinction drawn by a statute rests upon a so-called “suspect classification” or
impinges upon a fundamental right. As we shall explain, although we do not agree
with the claim advanced by the parties challenging the validity of the current
statutory scheme6 that the applicable statutes properly should be viewed as an
instance of discrimination on the basis of the suspect characteristic of sex or
gender and should be subjected to strict scrutiny on that ground, we conclude that
strict scrutiny nonetheless is applicable here because (1) the statutes in question
properly must be understood as classifying or discriminating on the basis of sexual
orientation, a characteristic that we conclude represents — like gender, race, and
religion —a constitutionally suspect basis upon which to impose differential
treatment, and (2) the differential treatment at issue impinges upon a same-sex
couple’s fundamental interest in having their family relationship accorded the
same respect and dignity enjoyed by an opposite-sex couple.

Under the strict scrutiny standard, unlike the rational basis standard, in
order to demonstrate the constitutional validity of a challenged statutory
classification the state must establish (1) that the state interest intended to be
served by the differential treatment not only is a constitutionally legitimate
interest, but is a compelling state interest, and (2) that the differential treatment not
only is reasonably related to but is necessary to serve that compelling state
interest.
Applying this standard to the statutory classification here at issue, we
conclude that the purpose underlying differential treatment of opposite-sex and
same-sex couples embodied in California’s current marriage statutes — the
interest in retaining the traditional and well-established definition of marriage —
cannot properly be viewed as a compelling state interest for purposes of the equal
protection clause, or as necessary to serve such an interest.

A number of factors lead us to this conclusion. First, the exclusion of
same-sex couples from the designation of marriage clearly is not necessary in
order to afford full protection to all of the rights and benefits that currently are
enjoyed by married opposite-sex couples; permitting same-sex couples access to
the designation of marriage will not deprive opposite-sex couples of any rights and
will not alter the legal framework of the institution of marriage, because same-sex
couples who choose to marry will be subject to the same obligations and duties
that currently are imposed on married opposite-sex couples.
Second, retaining the
traditional definition of marriage and affording same-sex couples only a separate
and differently named family relationship will, as a realistic matter, impose
appreciable harm on same-sex couples and their children, because denying such
couples access to the familiar and highly favored designation of marriage is likely
to cast doubt on whether the official family relationship of same-sex couples
enjoys dignity equal to that of opposite-sex couples.
Third, because of the
widespread disparagement that gay individuals historically have faced, it is all the
more probable that excluding same-sex couples from the legal institution of
marriage is likely to be viewed as reflecting an official view that their committed
relationships are of lesser stature than the comparable relationships of opposite-sex
couples. Finally, retaining the designation of marriage exclusively for oppositesex
couples and providing only a separate and distinct designation for same-sex
couples may well have the effect of perpetuating a more general premise — now
emphatically rejected by this state — that gay individuals and same-sex couples
are in some respects “second-class citizens” who may, under the law, be treated
differently from, and less favorably than, heterosexual individuals or opposite-sex
couples.
Under these circumstances, we cannot find that retention of the
traditional definition of marriage constitutes a compelling state interest.
Accordingly, we conclude that to the extent the current California statutory
provisions limit marriage to opposite-sex couples, these statutes are
unconstitutional.

3. From the majority opinion (this part gives the decision teeth, that lets the pro-gay marriage folks force local officials to follow this ruling)

Accordingly, in light of the conclusions we reach concerning the
constitutional questions brought to us for resolution, we determine that the
language of section 300 limiting the designation of marriage to a union “between a
man and a woman” is unconstitutional and must be stricken from the statute, and
that the remaining statutory language must be understood as making the
designation of marriage available both to opposite-sex and same-sex couples. In
addition, because the limitation of marriage to opposite-sex couples imposed by
section 308.5 can have no constitutionally permissible effect in light of the
constitutional conclusions set forth in this opinion, that provision cannot stand.
Plaintiffs are entitled to the issuance of a writ of mandate directing the
appropriate state officials to take all actions necessary to effectuate our ruling in
this case so as to ensure that county clerks and other local officials throughout the
state, in performing their duty to enforce the marriage statutes in their
jurisdictions, apply those provisions in a manner consistent with the decision of
this court.

I’m wondering how long it will take for a California locality to start granting gay marriage licenses. I bet SF will do it by the end of the business day.

4. From a concurring/dissent opinion by Justice Corrigan

CONCURRING AND DISSENTING OPINION BY CORRIGAN, J.
In my view, Californians should allow our gay and lesbian neighbors to call
their unions marriages. But I, and this court, must acknowledge that a majority of
Californians hold a different view, and have explicitly said so by their vote. This
court can overrule a vote of the people only if the Constitution compels us to do
so. Here, the Constitution does not. Therefore, I must dissent.

It is important to be clear. Under California law, domestic partners have
“virtually all of the same substantive legal benefits and privileges” available to
traditional spouses. (Maj. opn., ante, at p. 45.) I believe the Constitution requires
this as a matter of equal protection. However, the single question in this case is
whether domestic partners have a constitutional right to the name of “marriage.”

This is astonishing to see one of the dissenting judges say that he supports gay marriage (but won’t vote with the majority as he thinks the court is overstepping its bounds).

2008
05.15

There’s no stories up yet, but CNN & MSNBC have a headline that the California Supreme Court has just struck down the state’s ban on gay marriage as being unconstitutional.

I’ll post more later about this incredibly historic moment as more news comes out. Very exciting and encouraging news!

2008
05.15

OldVersion.com

About OldVersion.com

Sometimes upgrading to a newer version can be a good thing. Other times, your computer may not be compatible with the new version, the new version is bloated, or all the options you liked are no longer available. OldVersion.com has been supplying the online community with old versions of various programs since 2001. The service is utilized by thousands of users every day and has been featured in newspapers and magazines as well as on radio and television.

OldVersion.com has several objectives. One is to discourage the use of spyware by software companies. Also known as adware, these hidden programs come bundled with certain applications and secretly transmit user information via the Internet to advertisers. It is sometimes possible to avoid spyware by downloading an older version of a program. Use OldVersion.com and show the industry your dissatisfaction with these types of business practices.

OldVersion.com assists computer users who are unable to continually upgrade their computer. Those who find that their machine is not able to run the latest version of a certain application have no choice but to use an old version of the program. Unfortunately, the vast majority of software companies do not offer this opportunity. We are doing our small part to help bridge the digital divide by allowing everyone to enjoy the same software titles regardless of their hardware.

We believe that every computer user has the right to use a version of the product that he or she is most comfortable with, not the one dictated by the software developer, so we provide access to the files that are no longer obtainable. BulletProof Software is one company that recognized this right and helped us to build our archive. One day, we hope to see both small companies and major corporations with their very own, easy-to-find old version section.

Lastly, there is a need to archive cultural artifacts. If software is allowed to disappear into the past, a piece of history is lost. People must have access to this data in order to understand the direction of computer industry and civilization as a whole.

My #1 recommendation of old software to try is Paint Shop Pro. I know the newer versions can do all kinds of crazy stuff, but I personally like the simplicity and light resource load of PSP version 4.12 (which is what I’ve been using since the late 90’s for almost all of website graphics).