Tag Archives: law

Grateful, in spite of….

Grateful, In Spite Of…

stairway-to-the-heavens

In spite of everything that has occurred this past year, I believe that we can build that stairway….together.

It has been a year now since a man and the Republican political party in the United States committed treason and colluded with Russia dictator, Putin, and stole the right to live in the White House. Many of the things we feared have come to pass.

–The stamp of approval in the form of an executive order has been given to businesses and government offices to openly and legally discriminate against LGBTQ people. Anyone in this once-great nation can openly refuse service and sales to us. My wife of nearly 29 years and I can be refused services by anyone from a waiter at a restaurant to a doctor during an emergency simply by them saying it is against their beliefs that she and I should love each other or should even exist. We could die, literally, from lack of emergency service if someone invokes their “religious liberty” to refuse us aid in the time of need.

The right to have a wedding cake baked at the place of our choice was analogous to the right of a black man or woman to sit in the front of the bus or to eat in a diner of their choice. Right now this loss of freedom, of legal protection against discrimination is only aimed at the LGBTQ community, but like in Hitler Germany it can and will be applied to any and all “undesirables” at a future time.

rights-vs-fears

–Women’s rights have suffered greatly. We are now facing back alley abortions and lack of birth control for millions of working women and poor women. Such lack of services will result in unwanted and unplanned pregnancies—even pregnancies from forcible rape where the father of the child, the rapist, can demand access to his victim via their child. Women, unable to control their reproductive abilities, will find it difficult and sometimes impossible to gain better paying jobs, complete their education, or even to recover from forcible rape and incest.

Employers will be able to keep a pool of underpaid female workers in the lowest positions by simply refusing birth control coverage through their insurance because those who don’t have supportive families will be saddled with children they cannot afford in any sense of the word. College and the ability to find a better paying job will become an impossible dream for many women and girls.

–Violence against minorities based on religion, race, ethnicity, culture, gender, and sexual identity, is being openly supported by the highest office in the land. Statements such as “rape doesn’t exist because a woman’s body won’t allow it” to “all immigrants are terrorists” and “all Hispanics are rapists” have resurfaced and are being given credibility by those in power. When violence is acted upon against minorities, the highest office in America gives statements such as “there are two sides to (this violent incident)”.

–Something I never thought would occur did indeed occur last November. A child predator and a self-acknowledged predator of women of all ages sits in the highest office in the land. A man who proclaimed “grab ‘em by the pussy” has initiated a regime of terror and chaos that our nation has not seen since the days before and during the Civil War. He has divided this country sister against sister; brother against brother. I fear for our nation, more each day.

–Never in all of Nixon’s dark days, did he ever utter a plan to pardon his own crimes against America. Yet, this traitor in the White House has boldly spoken out that he will pardon himself from any crimes that are proven against him. And what is even more frightening is this: some people are saying there is nothing in the law that will prevent this from occurring. Just as there was nothing in the law that prevented him from keeping his taxes secret and therefore, the illegal source of his money, hidden from the scrutiny of the people, though for the past forty years every president has been, at least, this transparent for the good of the nation.

–No other occupant of the highest seat of our nation has acted against the best interests of this nation and hidden his collusion with enemy powers beneath such secrecy and lies. Even to the point of hiding the Visitor’s Log to the White House from the public. Again, no law existed that kept him from hiding his interactions and secret meetings with Putin and other enemies of the United States from public knowledge; even from the knowledge of all of the members of Congress who are sworn to represent and protect the best interests of the citizens of this once-great nation.

–It has been many years since any occupant of the highest seat of government has so blatantly supported tax laws that took money from school programs, from programs for the elderly, from programs for the disabled, from Medicare, from Social Security–which is not a gift but is paid for by employers and employees throughout an employee’s working life—in order to give that money to the very wealthy. A reverse of Robin Hood—steal from the working person and give to the rich.

–Never in the history of our government has anyone appointed so many people who have openly vowed to destroy the offices to which they had been appointed. Betsy DeVoss—a great example–openly stated that she wanted to dismantle the Department of Education by 2018. She has made a lot of progress in that direction. She has gutted programs against rape on campuses across the nation. Once again women and girls cannot concentrate on their studies, but must be afraid for their safety and even their lives.

–Never in the history of the occupants of the White House and the highest office of the nation has anyone ever so openly spent taxpayer’s money for their personal benefit and the benefit of their own businesses and their own family and friends as this administration has done. Literally millions of dollars that could have easily funded Medicare, programs for school children, programs for the disabled, programs for research into medical cures for cancer and Alzheimer’s Disease, have been drained from the taxpayer’s coffers to pay for vacations for family and friends of this wannabe-dictator! A man who berated others who held that office before him for taking vacations, has spent nearly every weekend on vacation and spending taxpayer’s money in his own resorts.

And never has any political party kept its silence  while America suffers; while their constituents lose their healthcare and many will lose their homes due to catastrophic illness.

Even during military crisis, we heard no condemnation from the Republican party when the man they put into the White House was too busy vacationing to attend to national business.He played golf while American soldiers died. And then, dared to disrespect the memories of those soldiers, saying “he knew what he signed up for.”

And with the blessing of the man in the White House, the Republican party has thrown away healthcare for millions of Americans so that they could fund tax breaks for themselves and their wealthy friends and families.

No person has blatantly used taxpayer money to build a helicopter pad on his privately-owned resort.

–Never has anyone in that office embarrassed the American people when meeting with foreign dignitaries as much as this person. America, once looked upon as a leader in the world, is now officially the laughingstock of the world.

America has weathered many power-mad and power-hungry meglomaniacs in its past.

Elder Many Horses on Power

A responsibility not to the wealthy, but to all Americans. Can we unite and stop this wannabe-dictator from destroying our nation?

aDarkTime

I don’t know. And that is the saddest statement I have ever made.

light in darkness

In all the turmoil and the violence; the death and the destruction of the civil rights era, I clung to hope. Our nation clung to hope like a life raft in an angry sea. We bled and we wept and we buried heroes and heroines. And we got back up and we fought, side-by-side, until we won freedoms we had never before known.

From that point on, though it was often two steps forward and three steps back, our nation progressed to a level of diversity and acceptance that won applaud the world over. We forged new pathways in human rights and in saving our planet. We put aside national treasures to be protected and enjoyed by all Americans; not just a privileged few. Our national parks drew millions upon millions of visitors per year; enriched our economy and shone as a beacon of beauty in a world that was sometimes very harsh and barren.

 

Now those parks are being given away to oil companies to destroy. Freedoms are being rolled back to the bad-old-days.

Once the contracts are signed with those oil companies they will scream “in good faith” to cling to the ability to destroy our national treasures even after we unseat this regime of destruction and chaos. And, like all “law abiding” people, we will hesitate to act against their “good faith” claims. And they know it. This is why so much is being given away and destroyed now. Because we, who believe in the rule of law, will be hamstrung to reverse the destruction and to re-institute protections for those national treasures, for the freedoms being destroyed even as we read and write these lines.

Have so many fought and bled and died for nothing? Can we not see that we must unseat those who would destroy our nation and that we must reverse all of their doings, cancel all of their contracts, and remove those they have been illegally placed in power positions–whether that position is the highest court in the land or the Department of Education–if we hope to save our nation?

aliciaDoSomethingGood

Can our nation grow beyond where this regime of hate and divisiveness and violence has brought us?

During this month of gratitude, this month of thanksgiving, I fear for our nation. I weep for what we have lost. I ache for the destruction of those things of beauty that we thought generations of Americans would be able to see and to marvel at.

image quote open your heart...

There are things, however, for which I am eternally grateful:

–I am grateful that I have stood up and continue to stand up for what is right; for what is beautiful in our nation. I continue to fight in the only way I know how—with these words.

–I am grateful for all of those from Whoopi Goldberg and J.K. Rowlings to the women and men I met at various Resist meetings who stand with me; who speak out loudly and plainly; people who continue to fight and to hope in the face of terror and chaos. Those who refuse to quit; who refuse to give up on our nation; who believe we can once again rise to the greatness we were building into our laws and our society. Those who believe in diversity and tolerance and helping those who are less fortunate. Who believe that an investment in our children is an investment in our future. Who believe that even though they may never see a polar bear, or stand in awe staring up at the redwood forests, that these things make our world a better and more beautiful place by simply existing and that they are worthy of protection. That the call of wild wolves is more important than a corporate-owned farm being allowed to graze public lands for mere pennies per acre.

And I am grateful for these beliefs that I hold in spite of all that I have seen and all that is occurring in our nation today:

gratitude

–I believe in the American people, in the goodness of our hearts and the strength of our purpose in protecting freedom for all of us.

–I believe that we can and we will unite to take over our nation once again and begin the healing of America.

–I believe that we can and we will open our arms to welcome those huddled masses who yearn for freedom, once again. I believe that not only will we return to our past greatness, but we will go beyond it. We will embrace diversity.

diversity (2)

–I believe that we can and we will prevail and return our nation to its once-great state of progress and humanity. We will, finally, extend equal justice to all citizens regardless of color, race, ethnicity, gender, sexual identity, culture, or any other artificial category  that divides us.

–I believe that we can make a better world, and that we will. Together. United. By concern, by tolerance, by understanding, by caring. By love for our country.

Hate destroys; but, love can heal.

ChooseToBe

 

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1st Amendment: Stand Up or Shut Up!

While most people’s attention is on national politics, the Republicans in our own state of Washington are attempting to slip a few unsavory laws through the legislature. The worst of these laws are what the Republicans are calling anti-riot laws, but are really anti-protest laws.

Six reasons no legislation should be written that dampens the citizen’s right to protest:

1.We already have vandalism/malicious mischief laws in place for any situation, including during protests, both organized and unorganized.

2.We already have trespass laws in place for any situation, including during protests, both organized and unorganized.

3.We already have assault laws in place for any situation, including during protests, both organized and unorganized.

4.A law that makes the organizer of a protest or anyone participating in the protest liable for the actions of another person essentially forces an untrained civilian into the role of law enforcement. It does not matter whether the person breaking the laws is with the protest or is a rogue attempting to disrupt a peaceful protest.

5.Placing a civilian in such a position is a no-win situation for everyone, including innocent bystanders and law enforcement. Civilians are seldom trained to deal with violent offenders, regardless whether the offending is trespassing or assaulting someone. When you force a civilian into this role, you are very possibly forcing that civilian to break the laws against assault which would lead to legal repercussions from jail time to fines to civil lawsuits.
In addition, anytime civilians act as law enforcement they place real law enforcement in danger. Law enforcement officers have a specific protocol in matters of riot containment or offenses by individuals during a peaceful protest both to ensure that the offenders are stopped and the law enforcement officers are kept as safe as possible. When you inject civilians into the situation, that protocol is disrupted.

6.The right to peacefully protest is part of the Bill of Rights, First Amendment. Without the right to protest, a tool for citizens to force government to change is taken away. Without the right to impact our government, our democracy is seriously endangered.

7.When any part of the Bill of Rights, or the First Amendment, is compromised it then weakens that amendment and the Bill of Rights and other parts can then be more easily destroyed. Without the First Amendment not only will you, as a citizen, have no right to protest government actions, you will eventually have no right to speak out against the government. This leads to dictatorships.
setworldonfire
Peaceful protests have always been the match that people lit to change government; sometimes, protests are the only way to change government.

If you believe that our “blue” state would never stand for such a law being passed, you are asleep while driving your citizenship. Such proposals have already been introduced into our state legislature. If such a bill can be proposed, it will be passed without sufficient protest from the people. Such protest might be physical actions like marching or the protests might take the form of calling, emailing, and writing to not only the representatives for your district, but also the representatives for other districts to let them know they answer to our state, to all of our citizens.

Many people thought Trump would never be elected. They were asleep while driving their citizenship. If you want your rights protected, you need to stand up. Democracy is a choice: stand up or shut up!

The state of Washington is not the only state where laws are currently being proposed that would dampen or violate First Amendment rights to peaceful protest. As of February 24, 2017, seventeen states have bills being proposed that would deny citizens the right to protest. To see if your state is one, go to the link below. It has a map of the states of concern. These laws would, according to the Washington Post do such things as: “…indemnify drivers who strike protesters with their cars and, in at least one case, seize the assets of people involved in protests that later turn violent.”

According to Cornell University Law School:
“…The Supreme Court has expressly recognized that a right to freedom of association and belief is implicit in the First, Fifth, and Fourteenth Amendments. This implicit right is limited to the right to associate for First Amendment purposes. It does not include a right of social association. The government may prohibit people from knowingly associating in groups that engage and promote illegal activities….”
Cornell University Law School:
“Amendment I
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.”

Three important changes in the United States that were brought about by protesters:
1. The right to form unions
2. Voting rights for black Americans and women
3. December 16, 1773 The Boston Tea Party signaled the colonists’ determination to live in a country where their needs were clearly represented.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/wonk/wp/2017/02/24/republican-lawmakers-introduce-bills-to-curb-protesting-in-at-least-17-states/
https://www.law.cornell.edu/wex/first_amendment

To read about protests that changed history, go to https://www.facebook.com/TogetherWomenCan

democracy

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IT’S ABOUT TIME!

In 1988, I came out of the Closet. Not only did I come out, I blew the damn thing up!

The year started quietly enough–I had a nice home, decent furniture with a few antique pieces I’d refinished, rode horses with my friend of four years, and attended college to become a veterinarian. As the year progressed, that seeming normalcy shattered. My friend and I became an intimate couple–in the Deep South, in 1988.

Now, I’d always enjoyed my friend’s family as I didn’t have one of my own–big Sunday gatherings and lots of visiting back and forth–right up until I learned about the herd of pink elephants stampeding through her life. Suffice it to say that her family did not take her sexual orientation well. Her mother, a fundamentalist Christian, was certain that her daughter would go to Hell–and that was only because my friend had decided to divorce her abusive husband. With that reaction in mind, we didn’t apprise her of the change in sexual orientation. If it had only been her mother, we might have stayed and tried to work it through, but other family members felt that the use of violence would realign her orientation and wipe away her desire for a divorce.

Faced with a choice of using violence to counter extreme violence, in a state where a man could with impunity beat his wife but heaven help the woman who fought back–prison, psych wards and increased violence against such a woman–we decided to leave the state.

light in darkness

She left everything she had worked over eleven years to help accumulate including her beloved horses; walked away from a Bachelor’s of Science degree that lacked one quarter to complete, and packed what she could in an old cedar chest and a used van. I, too, walked away from home, material possessions that couldn’t fit in a couple of cardboard cartons and the van, my horses (we arranged with a supportive friend to come and get all of the horses and rehome them), and my dream of becoming a veterinarian.

We crossed the country with her old German Shepherd dog and my Pit Bull, driving for hours to exit the state and begin to feel a little bit safe. California was filled with crowds and congested cities, so we continued traveling, stopping here and there to find work, always labor and always paid in cash. We parked in rest areas and slept in the van; sometimes, awakened by the pounding of a night stick on the metal side and the order to move on. We bathed in sinks in the rest area bathrooms, in a bucket inside the van, and every once in a while, at a mission. The women there, waiting in line for their turn at the showers, frequently let us go ahead of them so we could get back on the road.

Oregon felt decidedly unsafe. A few weeks before a young gay man had been severely beaten on an Oregon college campus. Work on a couple of horse farms and a sheep farm and eventually a donut shop got us enough money to head for the state of Washington.

Years earlier, I had lived in Washington before I moved to the South. The memories of Western Washington held the promise of diversity and, perhaps, even acceptance and safety. Funny how having been heterosexual during my earlier sojourn in the state had drastically impacted my life; things had changed and not just my sexual orientation. Washington was, indeed, more tolerant than the Deep South–usually–if you were careful where you went–if you stayed aware of potential attackers around you–if you could find a landlord/landlady willing to rent to a couple of lesbos–if you could find a job where your sexual orientation didn’t matter if you could do the work—if, if, if……

Even on Capitol Hill in Seattle, LGBTQ Land, lesbians were waylaid, stalked, beaten, raped for being lesbian, and sometimes for just being female. It became difficult to tell which was the greater crime. We turned our anger to action and joined with other lesbians in an effort to change the world, or at least our little corner of it.

Over time, we found a wonderful landlady and worked temp labor at Labor Ready where they didn’t care if you were an omni-sexual purple alien; we reconnected with some friends of mine and made new friends, and we enrolled in college again, though not on our original track of studies. Slowly, we rebuilt our shattered lives.

My wife and I have been life partners for over twenty-six years, now. In spite of the sorrow and pain we endured, we grew closer to each other, strengthened each other, and have never rebuilt our Closets. It is heartening to finally have the vindication of the Supreme Court decision. Our marriage is, at last, legal in all fifty states.

No matter how dark

Will the Supreme Court decision make it easier to come out? For some, yes, but those are the fortunate ones. Those types of families and friends; co-workers and professors, are becoming more and more common. Yet still for some lesbians the day they step from the Closet, they will face violence, and ostracism from those closest to them.

There is still a lot of work to do.

http://www.nytimes.com/2015/06/27/us/supreme-court-same-sex-marriage.html?_r=0

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COPS: FACISTS OR HEROES?

#COPS: FACISTS OR HEROES?

In a climate of controversy about cops, I continue to write a series in which cops are quite human. Why?

The roots of my decision lie as far back as childhood in a poor neighborhood. Cops didn’t show up in our area with less than two, and usually more. When my grandfather was murdered, no serious investigation ensued. Since that time, I have been harassed, beaten, and when I reported an attempted rape–sneered at by cops.

It wasn’t until my early twenties that I actually had a civil conversation with a cop. I’d broken my leg up on the hill where I farmed. Unfortunately, my vehicle–an old Volkswagen–chose that period of time to break down. A friend drove me to the hospital which was roughly thirty miles away then took me and my unwieldy cast home.

If you’ve ever farmed, or just had animals, you know that minor things like broken legs doesn’t stop your responsibilities. Way too soon, my walking cast wore through and needed replacing. I hitched a ride with a neighbor to the hospital, but she couldn’t wait in town for me. I told her not to worry; I’d hitchhike home.

After two short lifts that spilled me out on a long stretch of hot road without a hint of shade, my leg ached and I felt exhausted from walking with a million tons of plaster on my leg. I wondered if I’d get home that night. At least it was summer. Back then cell phones still belonged to the future–yes, I’m that old–and even if they hadn’t, I would never have been able to afford one. Landlines up on the hill were nonexistent. No one could afford a phone even if the phone company would’ve put the line up!

I’d begun scoping out the fields along the road for a likely spot because I couldn’t drag that heavy cast another step and the sun was maybe an hour away from setting. When the cruiser pulled over a few feet ahead of me the predominant thought was: what the hell have I done now? As far as I knew there was no ordinance against hitchhiking.

The cop strode over, utility belt squeaking. I stood my ground, getting my most belligerent face on.

“Where you going?”

I wanted to tell him it was none of his business, but I didn’t want to wind up in jail for the night like a near neighbor had when she smart mouthed a local cop. I settled for a sullen, “Why?”

“Do you have some ID on you?” His voice didn’t betray any emotion at all.

“Yeah.”

He shuffled his feet. “How’d you break your leg?”

Tired and cranky, and thoroughly sick of the interrogation, I snapped, “If it’s any of your business, I was dancing on a hillside.”

He threw his head back and belted out a laugh. The laughter felt so free and genuine that I found myself chuckling along with him. Finally, he wiped his eyes and gave his head a shake. “I saw you hitchhiking in town a few hours ago. When my shift ended, I thought I’d see if you were still on the road.”

Feeling a bit less combative, I spread my arms. “Yep, here I am–backpack, cast and me.”

“I know a great burger place just up the road. Hungry?”

“I have some granola in my pack.” I certainly didn’t want to confess to being too strapped for cash to buy a hamburger. It felt too embarrassing; like being a kid again and eating mayonnaise sandwiches because we didn’t have the money for anything else.

“If you don’t mind keeping the granola for another meal, I’d like to buy you dinner.”

Eyes squinted, I stared up at him. “I don’t date cops.”

The smile that spread across his lips lit up his eyes. “I don’t date anyone. I’m married to a great woman. I do make friends occasionally, though. What do you say?”

My stomach chose that time to out me loud enough for him to hear. His smile widened. “A hamburger won’t make you one of the enemy.”

I lifted a brow.

“I know how the folks up on the hill view cops.” His smile fell away. “Sometimes, with good reason.” He sighed and looked me in the eye. “How about it? Want to eat dinner with the enemy? Might gather some good intel.”

That evening we became friends and I began the journey of discovering that cops were human. When I moved back east, I lost touch with the man, but never forgot the lesson.

Since that time, I have known both good and bad and mediocre cops. Some want nothing more than to put in their time and retire; some see the world as “us vs. them”. There are those, however, who truly believe that the motto “to serve and to protect” covers every person they meet, regardless of race, creed, national origin, gender, sexual orientation, age or any other artificial division.

These cops are still human; they still make mistakes and bad judgment calls sometimes–sometimes that judgment call is taking too long to pull a gun and they die. These cops work hard, learn constantly, and put their lives on the line every day. They believe in what they do. They try to do it better; to be there for those who need them. Isn’t that the best any of us can do?

So, you see, that is my motivation in writing a series about a team of cops. My characters, like the cops I’ve known as flesh and blood people, aren’t perfect. They struggle to understand themselves, the society they are called to protect and the people they meet every day.

Meet hot tempered Sergeant Nita Slowater in Sketch of a #Murder, Book 1, Special Crimes Team. See why she drives her superior, Lieutenant Michael Williams–a man known to bend the rules–crazy.

You can check out all the Special Crimes Team books.

Stop by and join the conversation on http://www.facebook.com/ayawalksfar

Want to meet some fabulous REAL cops? Check out https://www.facebook.com/CopsKindToCritters/timeline

Here’s a cop trying to do the right thing. It’s not easy. http://www.wtae.com/news/pittsburgh-police-chief-defends-antiracism-photo-on-twitter/30510986

http://www.buzzfeed.com/jobarrow/boy-and-cop-hug-at-ferguson-protest#.xs375Q2e9

http://www.amazon.com/Breaking-Rank-Expos%C3%A9-American-Policing/dp/1560258551

Upcoming releases and other great content is here: http://www.facebook.com/AyaWalksfarAuthor

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