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Trump Bans Transgender Individuals From Serving In Armed Forces

(DoD Photo by U.S. Army Sgt. James K. McCann)

Once again, Donald Trump shows us that he is no friend to the LGBT community.  Taking to twitter this morning, Trump announced a new policy banning Transgender individuals from serving in the military.

He said: “After consultation with my Generals and military experts, please be advised that the United States Government will not accept or allow Transgender individuals to serve in any capacity in the U.S. Military. Our military must be focused on decisive and overwhelming victory and cannot be burdened with the tremendous medical costs and disruption that transgender in the military would entail.”

This horrible new policy announcement puts the thousands of LBGTQ service members in very precarious position.  This takes us back to the days of “don’t ask, don’t tell,” where Gay, Lesbian, and Transgender individuals we forced to hide their identity.

Since 2016, transgender service members have been allowed to serve openly in the Armed Forces. However, that order did not allow transgender people to enlist until the conclusion of a one-year implementation period that was supposed to end at the beginning of July. However, in June, service chiefs requested a six month delay to study the issue further.

Currently, the U.S. military has 15,000 transgender individuals serving, making it the largest employer of transgender individuals in the nation. Thus far, the Defense Department has not issued a statement on Trump’s tweets. Questions remain regarding how Trump’s discriminatory ban will be enforced.

Congresswoman Carol Shea-Porter, who in 2006 as a member of the House Armed Services Committee, fought to overturn “don’t ask, don’t tell,” fired back at Trump with her statement.

“This morning’s tweets from the President are a disgraceful slap in the face to the thousands of transgender troops who are actively serving our country, and to all transgender Americans who aspire to serve. These troops are patriots who deserve to be appreciated for their service, not used as political props by their Commander in Chief. As a member of the House Armed Services Committee, I will fight to prevent President Trump’s ugly rhetoric against our troops from becoming reality, and to make sure these troops know that Americans appreciate their service and sacrifice.”

“If you are a trans service member affected by Trump’s outrageous announcement that he is barring transgender people from serving in the U.S. military, please contact us,” said Devon Chaffee, Executive Director of ACLU-NH. “You and your service to our country deserve better than a Commander-in-Chief who rejects your basic humanity.”

Though some claimed that Trump was a “friend” to the LBGTQ community, it was clear that his support of North Carolina’s HB2, aka the bathroom bill, showed that he does not support the rights of trans individuals.  Now with Vice President Mike Pence by his side, Trump will most likely push even more anti-LBGTQ policies based on their warped ideological views.

“As an Iraq war veteran and member of the LGBTQ community who was personally impacted by ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,’ I am appalled at Donald Trump’s announcement this morning banning transgender people from serving in the military,” said Jason Lindsay, Executive Director of Pride Fund to End Gun Violence. “This is blatant discrimination, full-stop, and a colossal step backwards for our country.”

“Trump vowed to protect the LGBTQ community during his campaign, but his methodical dismantling of LGBTQ protections and rights shows his true intentions. This morning’s announcement is a direct attack on the transgender community. It’s becoming increasingly clear that the only way we can protect our community is to elect pro-equality Democrats at the state and federal levels—which is exactly what Pride Fund has done, and will continue to do,” said Lindsay.

In New Hampshire, Freedom New Hampshire has been pushing to expand transgender protections and codify new anti-discrimination laws against trans individuals.

Linds Jakows, campaign manager for Freedom New Hampshire called Trump’s tweets an “open attack” on the LBGTQ individuals serving in our nations Armed Forces.

“This is a clear and open attack on the brave individuals serving in our Armed Forces. Like all service members, those who are transgender go to work everyday, putting their lives on the line to defend our nation and the freedoms and values we hold dear. They should be treated with the same dignity and respect that all of our nation’s military members deserve,” Jakows stated.

“Today’s announcement sends an especially concerning message for transgender Granite Staters. Currently, New Hampshire is the only state in New England that does not explicitly protect transgender residents or visitors from discrimination in housing, employment or public services.

“Freedom New Hampshire is closely monitoring the situation, and remains committed to protecting all New Hampshire’s transgender residents and visitors from discrimination in housing, employment and public services,” Jakows concluded.

Another organization fighting for the rights of trans people is Rights & Democracy who had already planned an event in Manchester to show support for transgender individuals and continue to push for strong anti-discrimination laws.

“More than ever before, transgender nondiscrimination protections in New Hampshire are vital to the health and well being of our communities statewide,” they wrote on their Facebook Event page.

After today’s announcement showing our support for transgendered individuals is more important than ever.

Join Rights and Democracy’s event in Manchester July 29th.

NH Rebellion To March And Rally For Clean Elections

Kittery, ME – At 2:00 pm on Sunday, July 9, more than 100 committed “Granny D” walkers will gather at the John Paul Jones Historic Site (on US-1 in Kittery, Maine) to call for Clean Elections in New Hampshire.

The walkers will march one mile across Memorial Bridge to a rally in Market Square, Portsmouth, New Hampshire.

Speakers include:

  • Deane Rykerson: Maine State Representative and Clean Elections participant

  • John Rauh, founder of Americans for Campaign Reform and long-time federal and state advocate of Clean Elections

  • Rev. Eric Jackson, pastor of Brookside Congregational Church (Manchester, NH)

  • Liz Iacobucci, for Take Back Our Republic (www.takeback.org)

“We are marching to bring Clean Elections from Maine to New Hampshire.  Maine has had a system of clean elections since 1996, and it’s time for campaign finance reform in the Granite State,” said Olivia Zink, Executive Director of Open Democracy.  “Last year, political donors spent more than $62 million on New Hampshire elections — and that’s not even counting the presidential race.  With so much money being thrown at campaigns, how can individual constituents expect to have their voices heard?”

“Our NH Rebellion walks are a legacy of ‘Granny D,’” Zink said.  “We are continuing her work to restore democracy and ‘escort the bullhorns of big money from the room.’ This walk will put a spotlight on the success of Maine’s Clean Elections public financing system.”

“Campaign finance reform will happen because the public will demand it,” said John Rauh, the founder of Americans for Campaign Reform and a former Democratic candidate for U.S. Senate.

Founded by scholar-activist Lawrence Lessig, the NH Rebellion march project also draws inspiration from the “rebellion clause” of the New Hampshire Constitution, which empowers citizens “to reform the old or establish a new government” when laws serve a privileged few rather than “the common benefit, protection, and security of the whole community.”

Over the last three years, hundreds of reform-minded citizens have braved the elements and walked more than 40,000 miles in a “New Hampshire Rebellion” against big money in politics.

Reformers continue the work of the late New Hampshire activist Doris “Granny D” Haddock, whose historic cross-country walk for campaign finance reform at the age of 90 helped spark a citizens movement to pass the McCain-Feingold Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act of 2002.

NH Rebellion is a project of Open Democracy, the Concord-based nonpartisan reform organization founded by Granny D. http://www.nhrebellion.org/about_doris_granny_d_haddock

To learn more about the NH Rebellion, please visit: nhrebellion.org.

To register for the walk, please visit http://www.nhrebellion.org/walk_and_rally_for_clean_elections

For details about the planned events, follow us on Twitter @nhrebellion and on Facebook at: facebook.com/nhrebellion.

Climate Change Thought Leaders Gather at Alnoba to Discuss Renewable Energy

Kensington, NH,   – Alnoba, the premier destination for Retreats, Leadership, and Wellness, is hosting a panel discussion entitled “New England’s Energy Future: The Opportunities and Challenges of Renewable Energy Technologies” on Wednesday, April 12 from 5:3-7 p.m. It will be held in the Great Room at Alnoba, located at 24 Cottage Road, Kensington, NH.
Attendees will learn about New Hampshire’s powerful solar resource, the technology advancements that make it practical to harvest that sunshine, and to learn about the integration of renewable energy with electric appliances that enable consumers to replace oil, gas and propane with zero emissions clean technology, while having the investment paid for through fuel savings.

The expert panel will include:

  • Dr. Cameron Wake, UNH Institute for the Study of Earth, Oceans, and Space & Josephine A. Lamprey Professor in Climate and Sustainability at the UNH Sustainability Institute
  • Phil Coupe, Co-Founder, ReVision Energy
  • Joe Harrison, Director of Clean Energy Finance at Community Development Finance Authority
  • Bradley Campbell, President of the Conservation Law Foundation
  • Dr. Clay Mitchell, Lecturer at UNH Dept. of Natural Resources and the Environment, Community and Environmental Planning, and Environmental Conservation and Sustainability
  • With Moderator Charles Forcey, Senior Software Architect at Advanced Energy Economy 

The evening will begin at 5:30 p.m. with light refreshments and networking, followed by brief presentations, a panel discussion and question and answer session.

The event is free and open to the public, but pre-registration is required. Sign up on Event Brite at https://AlnobaClimateChangePanel.Eventbrite.com or call 603-418-7409. 

This topic is very near and dear to us so we are happy to host these thought leaders,” explained Jan Byrnes, Director of Social Mission and Conservation at Lewis Family Foundation North. The Lewis Family has long been involved in conservation, sustainability and preservation. “Alnoba, designed by master architect Matthew O’Malia at GO Logic in Belfast, ME, was built with restored New England timber frames and is the first mixed use building to achieve Passive House standard in the Northeast. In addition, sustainability is integral with the design and operation of the buildings, property and programs at The Farm at Eastman’s Corner. In addition to LED and solar-sourced energy from solar panels, there are electric car charging stations around the property. We are working toward a net zero energy goal.” 

“Climate change is now a risk we ignore at our peril. Not only does the burning of fossil fuels result in the emission of heat-trapping gases that drive our changing climate, but every year New Hampshire exports approximately $4 billion from the local economy to import fossil fuels from away,” said Dr. Wake. “The good news is that renewable energy technology now makes it possible for individuals and organizations to cost-effectively reduce the use of fossil fuels and recycle more energy dollars in our state and region,” he added. 

According to ReVision Energy’s Coupe, solar electricity costs have plunged 75% and complementary technologies like heat pumps, batteries and electric vehicles have progressed to the point where people can transition to clean energy while deriving an excellent economic and environmental return on investment. The presentations will discuss the opportunities and challenges associated with this transition to clean energy. 

Attendees will get the opportunity to tour the facility and enjoy light bites from by The Farm at Eastman’s Corner, which is the exclusive caterer for Alnoba.

For more information about this and future Alnoba events, please contact Julie Cook at 603-418-7409 or email her at jcook@alnoba.org

About Alnoba

Alnoba was built by the Lewis Family Foundation (LFF) North with the goal of creating a special place for the community, organizations and families to gather, share, learn and be inspired to change people’s lives and save the earth we share. At Alnoba, individuals, groups and organizations come to continue their lifelong journey of learning and transformation. It is a place where we connect with our higher selves and each other to create a way of being in the world that is sustainable, nourishing and bold. Alnoba is located in Kensington, NH, convenient to Boston, Concord, NH, and Portland, ME. It is available for meetings, retreats, and special events. When you hold your meeting or event at Alnoba, you support conservation, community and the development of future leaders. For more information, visit www.alnoba.org.

NH Congressional Leaders And Environmental Groups Speak Out Against Trump’s ‘Anti-Climate’ Order

Yesterday, President Trump and Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt are issued an executive order to destroy public health protections, in various arenas, aimed at reducing climate harming emissions and impacts from fossil fueled energy and industry. The Trump Administration’s ‘dirty energy’ executive order will target the Clean Air Act and roll back essential public health protections.

President Trump directed the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to “rewrite” the lifesaving Clean Power Plan, moved to stop the government from litigating on climate related cases, repealed four Obama-era policies that combat climate change, and manufactured an interagency working group to “reconsider” the social cost of carbon, an estimate of the damage caused by climate change.

After signing the order Trump received harsh criticism from legislators and environmental groups.

“President Trump is ignoring the mountain of evidence on climate change and plowing ahead with a dangerous agenda that threatens the health and well-being of New Hampshire,” said Senator Jeanne Shaheen. “Rolling back carbon emissions rules and clean energy initiatives is a shortsighted political move that prioritizes the interests of big oil and coal companies over every day Americans. In New Hampshire, we see the effects of climate change every day and it is a direct threat to our environment, economy and way of life. We owe it to future generations to build on the Clean Power Plan and the Paris Agreement in order to avoid the worst impacts of climate change. I will fight President Trump’s actions in the Senate and have joined several of my colleagues in introducing legislation to rescind the President’s Executive Order.”

As one of nine Northeastern states participating in the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI), New Hampshire has reduced greenhouse gas emissions in the power sector by nearly 50 percent since 2008. New Hampshire is on track to meet the Clean Power Plan’s carbon reduction goals 10 years ahead of schedule. RGGI was the first market-based regulatory program in the United States to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

recently released report by the Coastal Risk and Hazards Commission, estimates that the Seacoast will experience sea-level rise due to climate change of between a half-foot and two feet by 2050. By 2100, the report estimates sea-level rise of one-and-a-half feet to over 6 feet.

“From our White Mountains to our beautiful Seacoast, New Hampshire’s beautiful natural resources define us as a state and I am extremely concerned by President Trump’s efforts to roll back the Clean Power Plan’s common-sense environmental protections,” said Senator Maggie Hassan. “Granite Staters know that protecting our environment while building a stronger, more affordable energy future is critical for our families and our businesses. New Hampshire has been a leader in efforts to cut carbon emissions, conserve our natural resources, and combat climate change and we need to see similar efforts at the federal level. That’s why I have been a strong supporter of the Clean Power Plan, and I will continue fighting for a cleaner environment and stronger renewable energy future that reduces our dependence on fossil fuels and helps our citizens, businesses, and economy thrive.”

“The decision by President Trump to dismantle the Clean Power Plan is disappointing but not surprising,” said Congresswoman Annie Kuster.  “It’s a move that not only undermines our ability to fight climate change but also puts the United States at an economic disadvantage as we cede the technologies of the future to other nations. This executive order will endanger the Paris Climate Agreement which was instrumental in getting some of the world’s largest polluters to take important steps to reduce their carbon emissions. New Hampshire has been a leader in addressing greenhouse gas emissions through our participation in the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative. It’s long past time the rest of the nation followed the lead of New England. If we fail to act on climate change we’re only kicking the can down the road. We should be acting now to end climate change, not leaving future generations to clean up our mess.”

“The threat of catastrophic climate change is very real, and today’s short-sighted actions from the Trump administration leave us less prepared than ever to confront it. I will fight to restore these protections,” stated Congresswoman Carol Shea-Porter. 

President Trump’s executive order represents a serious attack on our environment and public health, aimed at nothing less than gutting the Clean Air Act and letting polluters off the hook.

“Today’s executive orders to protect polluters, signed by President Trump at EPA headquarters, are an unprecedented attack on clean air safeguards,” said Rebecca Whitley of Moms Clean Air Force. Our children will bear the costs. Our families will bear the costs. Our communities will bear the costs. Never has a president, or an EPA head, acted with such reckless disregard for our health—or our safety in the face of the clear and present danger of climate change. Trump and EPA head Pruitt are doing the bidding of the biggest polluters.”

“The executive order includes a laundry list of climate rollbacks but one thing is certain there will be wide ranging devastating impacts because delaying implementation of clean energy alternatives will expose the most vulnerable to dangerous pollution: our children, elders, and wildlife,” stated Catherine Corkery of the NH Sierra Club.

“Climate protections are based on scientific analysis and included a rigorous democratic public process – of which many in New Hampshire participated. The Trump/Pruitt orders are not aimed at helping the American Public; rather, it is a handout to the billionaire fossil fuel executives, companies, and lobbyists. People in New Hampshire want solutions, not more unsafe, expensive, dangerous waste dumps, polluted water, or air pollution,” Corkery added.

“Calling climate change a ‘hoax’ won’t stop temperatures or sea level from rising. We can tackle the climate crisis by investing in science and clean, renewable energy, but only if we move boldly and quickly. Defunding science, undercutting clean energy, and doubling down on fossil fuels is sheer reckless folly,” said Madeline Page, outreach director for Environment New Hampshire in a statement posted earlier on the NH Labor News.

NH State Senate Passes Ban On Conversion Therapy

Last week, we posted a story about the horrors associated with “conversion therapy” and why it should be banned in New Hampshire (and throughout the country).  Today we have some good news: The New Hampshire Senate just passed SB224, a bill to ban “conversion therapy on minors under 18.”

“I applaud my Senate colleagues for taking this important step to eliminate this dangerous practice in New Hampshire. No child should be told that they are not equal, not worthy, or should somehow conform to be like everybody else. That is the antithesis of freedom and human dignity,” said Senator Fuller Clark, prime sponsor of SB 224.

“All children should have the opportunity to grow up without being told that they should not be who they are. I commend my colleagues for their bipartisan passage of this bill to protect our children from the damaging effects of this practice,” Fuller Clark added. 

“As a young LGBTQ Granite Stater, it is unconscionable that it would be legal in this state for a child to be told that they are not equal, not worthy, or that they are somehow not normal,” said Brenna Connolly, a UNH Manchester student from Nashua. “Conversion therapy is a dangerous, discredited practice and is nothing more than sanctioned discrimination that does incredible physical and mental harm to LGBTQ children.” 

“While we are thankful that the Senate passed SB 224 today, we are calling on Governor Sununu to vocally support this bill and commit to signing it if it reaches his desk. Given the fact he nominated someone who has defended conversion therapy to be our new Education Commissioner, it is Governor Sununu’s responsibility to stand up and let all LGBTQ children know that he will protect them from dangerous practices like conversion therapy. Anything short will be unacceptable to our state’s proud tradition of advancing LGBTQ rights,” Connolly added.  

“Edelblut compared anti-LGBTQ counseling – and therefore, being gay or lesbian – to counseling to end a smoking, drinking, or drug addiction,” said Zandra Rice-Hawkins, Executive Director of Granite State Progress, who released the video of Edelblut testifying against banning conversion therapy last year.  

Edelblut is not the only one who defends this type of child torture.  GOP State Senator Bob Giuda defended conversion therapy’s ability to “protect societal norms.” Senator Giuda once compared same-sex marriage to “bestiality.”

“Senator Giuda’s comments are horribly inhumane. Referring to gay children as ‘outside of the societal norm’ is precisely the reason they face bullying, physical harm, and question their own worth. This kind of thinking builds on the intolerance we saw in Washington this week as the Trump administration stripped away the trans rights enshrined into law during the Obama administration,” said Raymond Buckley, Chair of the NH Democratic Party. 

“Fortunately, Sen. Giuda’s thinking isn’t in the majority. In a bipartisan fashion, the New Hampshire Senate stood up against the cruel practice of conversion therapy. We encourage the House to do the same and send this bill to the Governor’s desk. Governor Sununu has been silent on the issue of conversion therapy, and it’s time he make his position known,” added Buckley. 

Next the bill will move to the NH House where it will once again be debated before it is voted on.  Hopefully the House will follow the Senate’s bi-partisan support of this bill and ban conversion therapy for minors in NH.

End Child Abuse In The Name Of “Therapy”

‘The Plight of the Transgender’
Image by Rose Morelli, www.facebook.com/Rosemorelliphotography

This coming week the New Hampshire State Senate will debate and ultimately vote on a bill to prohibit “conversion therapy” to change a person’s gender presentation or identity for children under 18.

New Hampshire looks to join the five states and the District of Columbia that have already banned conversion therapy on minors.

“No child should be told that they are not equal, not worthy, or should somehow conform to be like everybody else. That is the antithesis of freedom and human dignity,” said Senator Fuller Clark, prime sponsor of SB 224.

“Conversion therapy is a dangerous and discredited practice that is aimed at young people in order to change their sexual orientation or gender identity. This harmful practice uses shame, rejection, and psychological abuse and can lead to depression, decreased self-esteem, substance abuse, and even suicide,” the Senator added.

“It is not therapy but child abuse that can lead to suicide; and should be illegal,” said Mo Baxley, Former Executive Director of New Hampshire Freedom To Marry.

Conversion therapy is highly controversial due to the unproven tactics and the fact it has continually been deemed as ineffective.

“Research suggests the treatment can worsen feelings of self-hatred and anxiety, because it encourages people to fight or hate a sexual orientation that can’t be changed [5 Surprising Facts About Gay Conversion Therapy],” wrote Tia Ghose for LiveScience.

Ghose goes on to describe the practice of conversion therapy as “a method reminiscent of the one used in ‘A Clockwork Orange.’ In aversion therapy, gay people were exposed to a negative stimulus (such as being shocked, given nausea drugs or imagining such exposures) while viewing same-sex erotic material.”

Conversion Therapy has not been proven to “convert” people but is actually harmful to “patients.”

American Academy of Child Adolescent Psychiatry wrote in their 2012 study, Practice Parameter on Gay, Lesbian, or Bisexual Orientation, Gender Nonconformity, and Gender Discordance in Children and Adolescents:

“Clinicians should be aware that there is no evidence that sexual orientation can be altered through therapy, and that attempts to do so may be harmful. There is no empirical evidence adult homosexuality can be prevented if gender nonconforming children are influenced to be more gender conforming. Indeed, there is no medically valid basis for attempting to prevent homosexuality, which is not an illness. On the contrary, such efforts may encourage family rejection and undermine self-esteem, connectedness and caring, important protective factors against suicidal ideation and attempts. Given that there is no evidence that efforts to alter sexual orientation are effective, beneficial or necessary, and the possibility that they carry the risk of significant harm, such interventions are contraindicated.”

“There is no published scientific evidence supporting the efficacy of “reparative therapy” as a treatment to change one’s sexual orientation,” stated the American Psychiatric Association in a 1997 study. They go on to say, “The potential risks of “reparative therapy” are great and include depression, anxiety, and self-destructive behavior, since therapist alignment with societal prejudices against homosexuality may reinforce self-hatred already experienced by the patient.”

The Human Rights Coalition cites at least a dozen other organizations that show “conversion” or “reparative” therapy does not work and can cause more harm to young adults.

“People who have gone through conversion therapy face 8.9 times the rates of suicide ideation, face depression at 5.9 times the rate of their peers and are three times more likely to use illegal drugs and be at high risk for sexually transmitted infections,” wrote Zach Stafford in the Guardian.

It is time to end this inhumane practice, especially on children. This bill will be heard in the NH Senate this Thursday, Feb 23rd. Contact your State Senator and tell them you want them to support SB 224, a ban on conversion therapy in NH.

Mark Dobbins: “Dear Becky”

Singer and Songwriter Beyonce

Dear Becky:

I’ll wait while you put down your yoga mat.

You voted for Trump. After these past few weeks, I really have to ask, “What the hell were you thinking?” Seriously, Trump? The shouting guy on the TV?

I know, you were so concerned about those email servers. Do you even know what an email server looks like? And Benghazi! Find Benghazi on a map unassisted and I’ll eat a bug.

You overlooked the fact that he broke two marriage vows but somehow think he’ll keep his oath of office.

You overlooked his addiction to tweeting – and tweeting – and tweeting.

You overlooked a lot that would have set your hair on fire had President Obama done the same.

And because of you, every thinking person in this country is freaking out. But not you.

Because you are safe behind your yoga mat of white privilege.

You didn’t join the millions of people who crammed our streets to protest. Because you were busy. Because Emma had a lesson. Because Noah had a game. Because you had to get the oil changed on your SUV. Because you were busy being white. Because it doesn’t affect you – and it never has.

By now you’re sputtering, “But I have black friends,” “I’m not racist,” and my personal favorite, “I’m not privileged.”

Yes, you are. You’re privileged, and probably racist too. Most white people are and don’t even know it – or do, and don’t care.

Here’s a simple way I use to test white privilege. Can you go an entire day without interacting with a person of color if you tried? I’m betting the answer is yes. That’s the bubble of white privilege that you think will protect you. But it won’t. Not by a long shot.

So you want to keep those “nasty hombres” out of our country by building a wall? When the price of your food skyrockets because white folks won’t pick crops, you’ll care then. Because it affects you.

So you think by insulting foreign leaders our nation looks stronger? You equate shouting with strength – because you have always had the microphone and always think you will. How many times have you shouted “I want to see your manager,” when you didn’t get what you wanted, then, at that moment?Now Trump is the manager and there’s no one else to call.

So you think defunding Planned Parenthood will make abortions go away? When Emma comes home someday with bad news, you’ll always have a way to fix that problem. A poor woman’s abortion is Emma’s D&C. Most people won’t have those choices. But you will. That’s why it’s called “pro-choice.” Because we want the choices you have always had – and always will.

By now you’re probably angry and about to write something nasty in the comments section. I hope you do. I want you to be angry. As I promised in my first column, I’ll probably make you mad from time to time. This is one of those times.

But stop for a moment and think.

Could I be just a little bit right?

And could you be just a little bit white – and privileged?

Regards,

Mark

PS: We’ll talk more about this in the upcoming months. I’m just laying the groundwork for that conversation. I hope you’ll stick around.

(Featured Image: Katrina In Yoga Pose, by Earl McGee on Flikr CC)

Mark Fernald: How Do We Keep Guns Away From “Bad Guys”

“The only way to stop a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun.” So said NRA President Wayne LaPierre just after the Sandy Hook massacre. If a ‘bad guy’ pulls out a gun and starts shooting, the only answer, according to Mr. LaPierre, is for someone to pull out another gun and take the ‘bad guy’ out.

The NRA and the Republican Party advocate what they call “Constitutional carry”—allowing anyone to carry a gun, openly or concealed, at any time and anywhere (excluding, one presumes, people with felony convictions). Republicans all over the country are attacking background checks, gun-free zones, and laws that require a permit to carry a loaded, concealed weapon.

The Democratic Party approach is different; it focuses on preventing people likely to misuse guns from getting them in the first place. The background check law has stopped over 1.5 million ‘bad guys’ from buying guns since 1994. That law passed after a Republican filibuster failed.

Unfortunately, our background check system has a couple of glaring loopholes. It does not cover sales of guns by unlicensed sellers at gun shows or sales between private parties, so any ‘bad guy’ who wants to buy a gun has an easy workaround.

Republicans have repeatedly blocked efforts by Democrats to require a background check for all gun sales. Republicans seem to value easy access to guns over a system that would keep guns out of the hands of felons and people with severe mental disabilities.

This is not about Constitutional rights. Background checks and concealed carry permits are Constitutional. In the case of District of Columbia v. Heller, the US Supreme Court ruled that citizens have a Constitutional right to keep and bear arms. Justice Scalia, writing for the majority, explained that the right to bear arms is limited: It is not “a right to keep and carry any weapon whatsoever in any manner whatsoever and for whatever purpose.” Justice Scalia specifically referenced prior court decisions that upheld restrictions or bans on carrying concealed, loaded weapons.

For 94 years, New Hampshire has required a permit to carry a loaded, concealed weapon in a car or on your person. The permits are issued by the chiefs of police in each city and town. The law states that permits can be issued to “a suitable person to be licensed.”

Our chiefs of police have taken their responsibility seriously, seeking out the record and the reputation of those applying for a concealed carry permit. Sometimes an applicant is an irresponsible citizen who is not suitable for a permit: a person who has a history of getting drunk in bars and picking fights; a person who has threatened someone with a gun in the past, though never convicted of a felony; a person who has been involved in road rage incidents; a person who has been the subject of multiple domestic violence calls to 911.

Under current law, if a person has committed an act of violence below the felony level, it is legal for that person to have a gun at home. But if that person wants to carry a loaded concealed weapon in public, New Hampshire has a higher standard implemented by our chiefs of police.

The State Senate and the House have now passed SB12, which eliminates the requirement for a permit to carry a concealed loaded weapon. In the Senate, the ten Democrats were the only no votes. Thirteen Republicans voted yes. The vote in the House was nearly as lopsided. Only two Republicans voted no, and only ten Democrats voted yes.

The effect of SB12 is to remove the discretion of chiefs of police to deny permits. Republicans talk about law and order; they should trust the chiefs of police to exercise good judgment in determining who should be allowed to carry a loaded, concealed weapon. This is what Republicans and the NRA have now abolished.

The New Hampshire Association of Chiefs of Police spoke out against SB12. Their arguments fell on deaf ears. The Governor has indicated he will sign SB12.

If you have a chance to speak to your Representative or Senator or the Governor, ask these questions: Should an alcoholic with multiple DWI convictions be allowed to carry a loaded concealed weapon? How about the man who punched his neighbor during an argument? Or the woman who has been diagnosed a paranoid schizophrenic, and sometimes fails to take her meds?

Once Republicans have succeeded in passing SB12, almost anybody could be carrying a loaded, concealed weapon—even people with violent histories. And our only defense, in this Republican world, will be to avoid the first shot, and try to return fire.

 

Mark Fernald is a former State Senator and was the 2002 Democratic nominee for Governor. He can be reached at mark@markfernald.com.

Building On Our Intersectional Platform, The NH Labor News Is Expanding And Looking For New Voices

We have new and exciting news: The NH Labor News is expanding.

From our very humble beginnings in 2011, the NH Labor News was started to help share the voices of working people as Speaker Bill O”Brien and the NH Legislature began a new assault on working people. In the early days we focused on unions and legislation that effected unions in New Hampshire.

Over the years we have continued to grow and expand adding new voices. Now many progressives are using the term “intersectionality” to describe what we have been trying to do for many years. Intersectionality is the idea that there is a point where all of our different social movements intersect.

A prime example of this is our work with Granite State Progress. Granite State Progress helped connect our strong labor focused community with new social movements like gun violence protect, LGBT rights, protecting women’s reproductive rights, and voting rights.   There are many examples where these issues intersect with the goals and values of the labor community and many of us are already involved in these fights.

We also added weekly commentary from MaryLou Beaver, Executive Director of Every Child Matters (NH) who focuses on education, poverty and healthcare issues facing working families in New Hampshire.

From the beginning, labor unions helped to push social and economic justice movements. Labor was instrumental in the civil rights movement in the 1960’s and the LGBT movement that began in the 1980’s.

With that in mind the NH Labor News will be working to create an even more diverse cross section of commentators who regularly publish through our network. Specifically we want to hear directly from people inside of these movement to better understand what is happening, why it is important to everyone, and most importantly, what we can do to help. There is a real difference hearing about an issue from someone who is personally effected by policy changes than by someone reporting what they know about it.

Starting this week we will be adding another regular column from Mark Dobbins. Mark is an art historian and writer who currently lives in Philadelphia.

As an LGBTQ activist, Mark has been fighting for civil rights for over twenty years. Most recently, Mark was appointed to the Hillary for Pennsylvania LGBT Leadership Council.

As part of the NH Labor News team, Mark will write about those issues that affect your lives. From workers’ rights, living wages, union rights, LGBTQ rights, and the daily struggles of working families everywhere – Mark will write about what matters to you.

We are also looking to add more voice to our growing network. We are specifically looking for two voices to fill a few a few voids in our coverage.

We are looking for a regular commentator who would like to keep us up to date on immigration and refugee issues. With the newly imposed ban on refugees and the repeal of DAPA and DACA, it will take all of us working together to help protect the rights of immigrants and refugees.

We are also looking for a person of color to discuss some of the issues facing people of color, like the school to prison pipeline, the Black Lives Matter movement, and voting rights.

As of right now, these will be voluntary but as we grow who knows what will happen. So if you know of someone who is willing to take on a bi-weekly or weekly column in the NH Labor News please contact me directly.

Together we can build a strong broad based coalition of working people to fight back against daily assault on our rights.

New Statewide Poll Shows Overwhelming Opposition to Changes in NH’s Smoke-free Law

Image by D-15 Photography on FLICKR CC

NH voters are inexorably opposed to changing the state’s current smoke-free law; opposition is deep and wide, crossing party, geographic, gender, age, and ideological lines.

CONCORD – State Representative Robert Hull has proposed legislation (HB 279) to make “changes to the indoor smoking act,” would allow smoking in “private residences”.  If passed this bill would allow smoking in grocery stores, restaurants, bars and lounges across the state.  

The health and well being of the workers inside these establishments must be considered when legislators debate this repeal.  Workers should not be force to breathe air that is dangerous to their health.  

Poll results released today by the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network (ACS CAN) showed that the voters of New Hampshire are overwhelmingly supportive of the state’s current smoke-free law and oppose attempts to once again allow smoking in certain public places. This information was released on the heels of ACS CAN’s annual legislative breakfast, where over 50 cancer survivors and advocates converged in Concord to urge lawmakers to protect their right to breather clean indoor air and oppose HB279. 

According to the poll, conducted by Public Opinion Strategies, fully 88 percent of New Hampshire voters oppose the proposed bill that would allow smoking in grocery stores, restaurants, cocktail lounges, and bars. Majority support for the current law is bi-partisan and spreads across every demographic sub-group and geographic region of New Hampshire.  Even smokers themselves are opposed to a change. Other findings of the poll include:

  • 84 percent of voters favor the current law – which prohibits smoking in bars, restaurants, and other public places – and only 14 percent oppose it.  An incredibly high 74 percent of voters strongly favor the current law.
  • A smoke-free environment is important to voters, and by seven-to-one, they say the right of employees and customers to breathe smoke-free air is more important than the right of smokers and business owners to allow smoking in restaurants and bars.
  • 70 percent of voters say they are less likely to vote for their state legislator if they back this bill.

“The results of this poll are unprecedented and should send a loud and clear message to lawmakers: voters overwhelmingly value their right to breath clean indoor air, and wholeheartedly oppose any changes to the state’s current smoke-free law,” said Mike Rollo, director of government relations for ACS CAN in New Hampshire. “There is simply no political upside to supporting this bill, nor is there any upside for the health of Granite Staters.”

“Along with voters statewide, ACS CAN strongly opposes any legislation that would weaken New Hampshire’s clean indoor air laws,” said Rollo. “We hope lawmakers will take in account the overwhelmingly high opposition to changing the law as they debate HB 279. Voters have made their opinion clear: now is the time to be looking forward to continued progress in the fight against cancer – not the time for stepping back to undo a decade long protection of clean indoor air in the Granite State.” 

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