California working on nation’s first law to protect transgender pupils

Although CA (and many other states) have general non-discrimination statutes that can be applied in the context of transgender students, they don’t specifically protect them.Which means that the ability to participate in sports or use appropriate facilities is often dealt with in an inconsistent, school-by-school, case-by-case manner. What may be allowed for a student this year in school A, may not be allowed five years later for another student in the same school.

Ashton Lee, a 16-year-old transgender boy from of Manteca, California, testified before the Senate Education Committee last month. Lee wants to play high school football.”I just want to be treated the same as all the other boys, but my school forces me to take P.E. in a class of all girls and live as someone I’m not,” Lee said in a statement. “I can’t learn and succeed when every day in that class leaves me feeling isolated and alone.”

via California lawmakers advance nation’s first law for transgender pupils –

Gender Change of Veteran Accepted by Pentegon

I’d say it’s one of the more dramatic moves that the armed services has made with their new acceptance policies (After the continental shift from exclusion to inclusion). Considering that open service is still in its infancy, it’s a acknowledgement of just how far they will go to live up to their new ideal.

“In a short letter dated May 2, a Navy official told Autumn Sandeen, a veteran and transgender activist: “Per your request the Defense Enrollment Eligibility Reporting System DEERS has been updated to show your gender as female effective April 12, 2013.”

via Pentagon Recognizes Transgender Veteran, Advocates See A “Shift”.

Mexico is ahead of us on Marriage Equality.

Writing for a unanimous tribunal, Minister Arturo Zaldívar Lelo de Larrea invoked the U.S. cases Loving v. Virginia and Brown v. Board of Education to argue for marriage equality in a way that American activists would be overjoyed to see from a justice of the U.S. Supreme Court.

via Mexican Supreme Court: American Cases Demand Marriage Equality.

Okay, having studied Mexican law in Mexico City* the characterization by many media outlets as this being a “sweeping” decision are not quite correct.This does not mean it’s not important, but it does need to be put in context.

The decisions of the Mexican Supreme Court carry a lot of weight, but they do not MAKE law, unlike the Supreme Court in the US. The US Supreme Court can “overrule” law and, say create your right to be Mirandized,  because a practice or law is not in compliance with the constitution. That makes that decision the overriding law of the land.

Only by adjusting the Mexican Constitution can issues become the law of the land. BUT, lower courts do look to the Mexican Supreme Court in making their decisions. The prime example is that if I’m a US citizen and go to law school in Mexico and apprentice with a Mexican Notaria (notaries are super lawyers in Mexico because they control the books of everything official) I can sue and, like those before me, win the right to practice in Mexico…but each applicant has to sue and point out that the Supreme Court has said they can, because the constitution say’s they can’t.

It’s what we call Napoleonic Law.


*As part of an SEC sponsored 3month course on NAFTA — yes, it was study abroad — no, people actually FLUNKED out of the courses…it was not get a vacation in Mexico City and claim college/continuing ed credits for it.

Ninth Circut Denies Prop. 8 En Bank Hearing Request

In a very short opinion the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals has denied the request by the losing party to have the matter reheard by an En Bank panel of judges (which does not mean all the judges on the bench of the 9th Circuit – but a panel comprised of a majority of them). The original appeal was heard (as is common) by a 3 judge panel.

This does not mean that Gay Marriage is legal in CA yet. The ruling is stayed for 90days to allow the losers to file the threatened appeal to the United States Supreme Court.

I’m going to go out on a limb here and say that this case may be summarily denied the appeal. That is because Judge Walker’s ruling and the following appeals have all hinged on the specific areas of CA law, CA constitution and the initiative process in CA.  Letting the decision stand only affects California.

However, should the court decide it will reach out and tackle the issue as a national civil rights issue (such as with DOMA and in discrimination cases in other states) they may decide to act as it’s the first case to reach this appellate level. I’m not sure this sitting court is as ballsey as that in Brown v. Board of Education.

Prosecutor rejects gay juror and Judge dismisses entire panel

In the trial of the San Diego “Equality 9” — 9 activists who staged a sit-in at the San Diego Clerk’s office after they refused to issue a wedding license to a same-sex couple after the Federal Court overturned prop-8…

Superior Court Judge Joan Weber ruled that the defendants in the case were denied a representative jury when prosecutors challenged the selection of a gay man to be on the panel. She said she found the actions of the San Diego City Attorney’s Office “shocking.”

Okay, the legal-ish explanation of what’s going on…in CA at least.  In criminal cases (and some civil cases) you are entitled to a panel of 12 jurors plus (usually 2) alternates (if a case is expected to run really long you may have as many as 6 alternates). Alternates are there in case a juror can’t finish the case so that you don’t have to re-try the whole damn thing. Each defendant and the prosecution gets a certain number of peremptory — as in you don’t have to explain why — challenges.  Depending on the judge/county/type of matter it can be between 4-10 challenges.  Then you can challenge for cause.

>>I once had to do “rock-paper-scissors” with a defense counsel on who had to blow a freebee in order to exclude a hard-of-hearing potential juror who refused the assisted listing devices offered by the court.<<

“For Cause,” means the potential juror has some conflict — like a trial for a gang related murder and a potential juror has lost a family member to gang violence.

Criminal defense attorneys regularly file motions claiming that the prosecutor’s office used either its peremptory or for-cause challenges in a discriminatory manner.  Judges rarely grant them.  For the judge to grant this means that the conduct was blatant, obvious and really gave her pause.  And you will see in the comments on the Union-Tribune several of the potential jurors that day say that the juror questionnaires had many questions that would, when taken as a whole, draw out the sexual orientation of potential jurors.

The judge urged the prosecutor’s office to lessen the charges to infractions (like a traffic ticket) as opposed to misdemeanors (which, if convicted, could net each defendant a stay in county jail of up to a year) by saying:

“I’ve never had so many jurors express concerns about why a prosecutor’s office would move forward and spend time and money on a case of this nature.”

via U.S. News – Judge calls prosecutor’s rejection of gay juror ‘shocking’. and San Diego Union-Tribune – Judge slams prosecutors for dismissing gay juror

Go Thank Starbucks

I’m not overly big on meme like things on this blog, however, Starbucks stood up to NOM and the other anti marriage equality bastages at their recent stockholders’ meeting and told them to go pound sand (and it is so very interesting that by standing up to the haters they call Starbucks out for “taking political action.” What the heck do they think those taking their side are doing…planting daisies? Go Sign it!

found via Joe My God, who maintains a very active political commentary blog, which I follow through my Google Reader. I know, caving to Big Brother, but I just can’t hit 30someodd blogs a day.