Friday, June 29, 2012

Montgomery College Trustees Endorse DREAM

FRIDAY, JUNE 29, 2012

Montgomery College Trustees Endorse Maryland DREAM Act


Casa de Maryland today announced that the Montgomery College Board of Trustees has passed a resolution supporting the Maryland Dream Act. Below you can read a full copy of the resolution and a letter explaining the Board's action. I've excerpted a few pertinent parts from the letter, which summarize the Dream Act provisions they endorse, as well as their rationale:
MONTGOMERY COLLEGE BOARD OF TRUSTEES: The Dream Act provides to undocumented students local in-state rates for tuition in Maryland community colleges (and four-year colleges with additional requirements), provided that the students can show attendance in a Maryland high school for at least three years, that their parents filed tax returns in Maryland during periods between attendance in high school and attendance at community college and that the students commit to legalizing status as soon as they are eligible. It is a confirmation and a slightly modified extension of a long observed policy of Montgomery College that granted all graduates of Montgomery County high schools local instate tuition rates....

There are many reasons for support of the Dream Act. The Act benefits both the students and the community by providing a valuable, better educated workforce, encouraging not only high school graduation but enabling higher education at a tuition cost that is affordable and otherwise, without this Act, out of reach for most of these students. It leverages the public investment already made in these students in the K-12 school system. Further, it is not a scholarship program and, according to an independent expert economist engaged by the College, Dr. David Breneman, the relatively few students involved do not cost substantial additional overhead and actually contribute tuition that would not be otherwise paid if they were assessed at the highest out-of-state rate. Accordingly, as expressed by Dr. Breneman, “…far from imposing additional taxes on Maryland and Montgomery County taxpayers, the Policy [essentially, the Dream Act] actually saves the taxpayers a great deal of money each year.”

Finally, and perhaps most importantly, as a public institution committed to access and education for all, the Dream Act is the “right thing to do” for the College


We Need - and now have - the Affordable Care Act; Reason #6

Axelrod, on the Supreme Court decision upholding the Affordable Care Act:

Yesterday's Supreme Court ruling was very personal to me. 
Thirty years ago, my daughter Lauren, then just seven months old, began having grand mal seizures. They wouldn't stop for 18 years. 
Lauren's epilepsy robbed her of her childhood, some of her capacities and, very nearly, her life.

We were young parents then, just starting out, with lousy insurance I got from my job. And we very nearly went broke paying for Lauren's uncovered care and medication. 
I was moved to tears when the Supreme Court affirmed the Affordable Care Act, because I know that other families won't have to face the terror and heartache we knew. 
And that's because of a president who had the courage to defy the politics and all the obstacles in order to fight for people like my Lauren.

Civil Marriage Equality Is Important - Reason #9

In case you missed this item on April 15 2012. (I did.)
On April 14, 2012, the White House announced a rule change, which will grant visiting rights to same-sex partners. This is important as it will make it easier for all couples to make medical decisions on behalf of their partners.
The new rule applies to any hospital that participates in Medicare or Medicaid
Although the rule does not grant new rights it does 'draw attention to the very real and tragic situations many gays and lesbians face when a partner is hospitalized," said Richard Socarides, who advised President Clinton on gay rights issues.
Gay rights advocates said the rule change is an advance. “It’s a huge deal,” said David Smith, vice president of policy for the Human Rights Campaign. Smith and HRC worked with the Obama administration on the new rule. 
“Nearly every hospital in the country will now be required to provide hospital visitation rights to LGBT families. It’s an enormous step. In the absence of equal marriage rights in most jurisdictions, this step provides an essential right to LGBT families for a gay person or a lesbian person to spend time with their partner in a critical situation.”
The rules change was inspired by a hospital's refusal - for eight hours - to permit a patient's same-sex partner and their four adopted children to see the fatally ill patient. The visits were blocked at the hospital even though the partner had the patient's power of attorney. Ms. Pond died as Ms. Langbehn tried in vain to get to her side. 
(The couple, Janice Langbehn and Lisa Pond, were profiled in The New York Times in 2009.)  
In conjunction with the rule change, President Obama called Ms. Langbehn, who said later to the New York Times:
“I was so humbled that he would know Lisa’s name and know our story. He apologized for how we were treated. For the last three years, that’s what I’ve been asking the hospital to do. Even now, three years later, they still refuse to apologize to the children and I for the fact that Lisa died alone.”

Obama Widens Medical Rights for Gay Partners -

President Barack Obama Comments on Supreme Court Decision Upholding the Affordable Care Act

President Barack Obama:

Good afternoon. Earlier today, the Supreme Court upheld the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act — the name of the health care reform we passed two years ago. In doing so, they’ve reaffirmed a fundamental principle that here in America — in the wealthiest nation on Earth – no illness or accident should lead to any family’s financial ruin.

I know there will be a lot of discussion today about the politics of all this, about who won and who lost. That’s how these things tend to be viewed here in Washington. But that discussion completely misses the point. Whatever the politics, today’s decision was a victory for people all over this country whose lives will be more secure because of this law and the Supreme Court’s decision to uphold it.

And because this law has a direct impact on so many Americans, I want to take this opportunity to talk about exactly what it means for you.

First, if you’re one of the more than 250 million Americans who already have health insurance, you will keep your health insurance — this law will only make it more secure and more affordable. Insurance companies can no longer impose lifetime limits on the amount of care you receive. They can no longer discriminate against children with preexisting conditions. They can no longer drop your coverage if you get sick. They can no longer jack up your premiums without reason. They are required to provide free preventive care like check-ups and mammograms — a provision that’s already helped 54 million Americans with private insurance. And by this August, nearly 13 million of you will receive a rebate from your insurance company because it spent too much on things like administrative costs and CEO bonuses, and not enough on your health care.

There’s more. Because of the Affordable Care Act, young adults under the age of 26 are able to stay on their parent’s health care plans — a provision that’s already helped 6 million young Americans. And because of the Affordable Care Act, seniors receive a discount on their prescription drugs — a discount that’s already saved more than 5 million seniors on Medicare about $600 each.

All of this is happening because of the Affordable Care Act. These provisions provide common-sense protections for middle class families, and they enjoy broad popular support. And thanks to today’s decision, all of these benefits and protections will continue for Americans who already have health insurance.

Now, if you’re one of the 30 million Americans who don’t yet have health insurance, starting in 2014 this law will offer you an array of quality, affordable, private health insurance plans to choose from. Each state will take the lead in designing their own menu of options, and if states can come up with even better ways of covering more people at the same quality and cost, this law allows them to do that, too. And I’ve asked Congress to help speed up that process, and give states this flexibility in year one.

Once states set up these health insurance marketplaces, known as exchanges, insurance companies will no longer be able to discriminate against any American with a preexisting health condition. They won’t be able to charge you more just because you’re a woman. They won’t be able to bill you into bankruptcy. If you’re sick, you’ll finally have the same chance to get quality, affordable health care as everyone else. And if you can’t afford the premiums, you’ll receive a credit that helps pay for it.

Today, the Supreme Court also upheld the principle that people who can afford health insurance should take the responsibility to buy health insurance. This is important for two reasons.

First, when uninsured people who can afford coverage get sick, and show up at the emergency room for care, the rest of us end up paying for their care in the form of higher premiums.

And second, if you ask insurance companies to cover people with preexisting conditions, but don’t require people who can afford it to buy their own insurance, some folks might wait until they’re sick to buy the care they need — which would also drive up everybody else’s premiums.

That’s why, even though I knew it wouldn’t be politically popular, and resisted the idea when I ran for this office, we ultimately included a provision in the Affordable Care Act that people who can afford to buy health insurance should take the responsibility to do so. In fact, this idea has enjoyed support from members of both parties, including the current Republican nominee for President.

Still, I know the debate over this law has been divisive. I respect the very real concerns that millions of Americans have shared. And I know a lot of coverage through this health care debate has focused on what it means politically.

Well, it should be pretty clear by now that I didn’t do this because it was good politics. I did it because I believed it was good for the country. I did it because I believed it was good for the American people.

There’s a framed letter that hangs in my office right now. It was sent to me during the health care debate by a woman named Natoma Canfield. For years and years, Natoma did everything right. She bought health insurance. She paid her premiums on time. But 18 years ago, Natoma was diagnosed with cancer. And even though she’d been cancer-free for more than a decade, her insurance company kept jacking up her rates, year after year. And despite her desire to keep her coverage — despite her fears that she would get sick again — she had to surrender her health insurance, and was forced to hang her fortunes on chance.

I carried Natoma’s story with me every day of the fight to pass this law. It reminded me of all the Americans, all across the country, who have had to worry not only about getting sick, but about the cost of getting well.

Natoma is well today. And because of this law, there are other Americans — other sons and daughters, brothers and sisters, fathers and mothers — who will not have to hang their fortunes on chance. These are the Americans for whom we passed this law.

The highest Court in the land has now spoken. We will continue to implement this law. And we’ll work together to improve on it where we can. But what we won’t do — what the country can’t afford to do — is refight the political battles of two years ago, or go back to the way things were.

With today’s announcement, it’s time for us to move forward — to implement and, where necessary, improve on this law. And now is the time to keep our focus on the most urgent challenge of our time: putting people back to work, paying down our debt, and building an economy where people can have confidence that if they work hard, they can get ahead.

But today, I’m as confident as ever that when we look back five years from now, or 10 years from now, or 20 years from now, we’ll be better off because we had the courage to pass this law and keep moving forward.

Thank you. God bless you, and God bless America.

SOURCE: Reprinted from Hawaii 24/7

Monday, June 18, 2012


Mitt Romney is not running for President - he is doing ads for
Waffle House. 

Issues Mitt Romney waffles on:

1. Romney won’t say whether he would undo Obama’s decision to end deportations of DREAM-eligible immigrants. Romney and his campaign passed up numerous opportunities to say whether he agreed with the Obama order to stop deporting young undocumented immigrants.

2. Romney won’t say whether he’d support the Paycheck Fairness Act. Romney repeatedly dodged questions about it.

3. Romney won’t specify which tax loopholes he’d close. All Mitt's has got to say is "We'll go through that process with Congress."

4. Romney is all about cutting the big, bad bloated federal government (like the construction crews at work fixing our highways with infrastructure stimulus funding but Mitt can’t say which federal agencies he’d eliminate. All Romney has to say is he would get rid of "a lot of departments." 

5. Romney’s campaign refused to say whether he would have signed the Lily Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, a law that helps women hold employers accountable for discriminating in the pay practices based on gender.

6. Romney won’t say whether he’d support full reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act. He offers only vague, general support for renewal of the Violence Against Women Act.

7. Romney won’t say whether say whether he’d eliminate the “carried interest” tax break for private equity partners, who actually are earning ordinary income. See: CNNMoney: Romney Punts on Carried Interest - Again

Source: The 7 Major Issues Mitt Romney Won’t Take A Position On

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

OBAMA ON CIVIL MARRIAGE EQUALITY - "It’s the right thing to do."

President Obama, speaking in Baltimore, June 12, 2012:

"We’re not going back to the days when you could be kicked out of the United States military just because of who you are and who you love.

"We’re moving forward to a country where we treat everybody fairly and everybody equally, with dignity and respect.

"And here in Maryland, thanks to the leadership of committed citizens and Governor O’Malley, you have a chance to reaffirm that principle in the voting booth in November. It’s the right thing to do."

For the complete speech:

Maryland Juice: Remarks of Barack Obama in Baltimore // PLUS: The President Speaks Out on LGBT Rights & Immigrants

Saturday, June 9, 2012

HRC - LGBT Youth Face "tremendous disparities"

The Human Rights Campaign (HRC) has just published a Report which documents "tremendous disparities" that are holding back "LGBT-identified youth." 

The report’s findings:
54 percent of LGBT youth say they have been verbally harassed and been the victims of anti-gay slurs; 
47 percent of LGBT youth say they do not “fit in”- only 16 percent of non-LGBT youth feel that way; 
67 percent of straight youth describe themselves as happy - only 37 percent of LGBT young people feel this way; 
83 percent of LGBT youth believe they will be happy eventually - only 49 percent believe they can be happy if they stay in the same city or town; 
6 in 10 LGBT youth say their family is accepting of LGBT people - a third say their family is not; 
92 percent of LGBT youth say they hear negative messages about being LGBT – 60 percent say those messages come from elected leaders. 
For straight teens, their most important problem, is stated by them to be the usual challenges of grades, college and finances. But LGBT teens’ worries were directly related to their identity as LGBT and include worries about non-accepting families and bullying.

The Human Rights Campaign - devoted to "Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Equal Rights" - has announced that other Reports are planned which will focus on:

"experiences of specific groups of youth, for example transgender youth, those of different races, religious traditions, etc."

& the Report itself:

Monday, June 4, 2012

At the risk of "your eternal soul" - Come June 9

WHEN: This Saturday, June 9 2012 1-4 PM
WHERE: Goucher College Alumni House
WHO: Panel of Speakers, led by Sister Jeannine Gramick

Strategy sessions:


 This message has elicited enthusiasm as well as the following note from a priest:
"Going against the Magisterial teaching of the Church - same as going against Christ and the Holy Spirit. This is your eternal soul on the line. The Church calls for us to form our conscience in line with the teaching as left from Christ with the guarantee of the Holy Spirit. I urge you to reconsider your actions."

I responded to this note as follows:

Father _________, 
Can I come and talk to you about this sometime? 
I think your statements are fundamentally correct as an expression of the Catholic faith. 
But the marriage equality issue is a matter of access to government by the citizens, not by believers. 
Fundamentally, there is a difference between what the Church teaches that Catholics must believe and do, versus the expectation under the US Constitution that all the citizens have equal access to the courthouse. 
All of the citizens must have equal access to undertake responsibilities and obligations available through legally enforceable contracts. We cannot have different sets of rules for different categories of citizens, based on individual characteristics, attributes or innate and inborn inclinations. 
Civil marriage is an enforceable contract. Civil marriage is not a Sacrament.  
Sacramental life certainly can be and is regulated by the teachings of the Church. But it is a hurtful and pastorally questionable form of prejudice to tell the citizens, Catholics and others, that some citizens, but not others, must be excluded from the benefits and duties imposed by the laws of contract on the grounds that some believers are excluded from a Sacrament of the Church.  
Not all citizens are believers. And of course you know, not all believers follow lives that are in complete accord with the Sacraments. The civil authorities must not be asked to regulate conduct imposed by sacramental obligations. 
All citizens must receive equal access and treatment under the civil law. Any other rule would be prejudicial to some of the citizens and dangerous to all, as privilege would be granted to some who are arbitrarily favored and denied to others who are arbitrarily excluded from full citizenship. 
We cannot tolerate different categories of citizenship, based not on conduct but on personal characteristics. 
If the Magisterium wishes to campaign against civil marriage for some citizens but not all, let the Magisterium make arguments that all the citizens can hear and debate. The Magisterium ought not insist that all citizens must conform their conduct to the Sacraments, that is to behavior that is based exclusively on a faith that many citizens do not share. 
Citizens who are entitled to access to the courthouse cannot be denied this access because of the limitations imposed by a Sacrament. Why not? Citizens, per se (Catholics and others) have not agreed to live in ways that are regulated by the Sacraments. 
Freedom of religion means, in the USA,  freedom from religion, too. 
It would be good to talk about this. 

My eternal soul is waiting for a reply . . .  

Saturday, June 2, 2012


On May 31, 2012, in a unanimous decision, a three-judge panel of the Ist Circuit of the US Court of Appeals ruled that the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) is unconstitutional. 

The issue before the court was whether legally married same-sex partners can be denied federal benefits by DOMA, when those benefits (such as the privilege to file joint tax returns, survivors benefits) are available to differently gendered married couples.

The judges concluded that the legislative record on DOMA is “filled with encomia to heterosexual marriage,” but there is lacking any explanation “how denying benefits to same-sex couples will reinforce heterosexual marriage.”

The judicial decision concluded that it is not enough to express "moral disapproval" to justify discrimination. Rather, a discriminatory law must be justified by the demonstration of a permissible and compelling federal interest. 
The judges found that there is no such federal interest served by denying benefits to married, same-sex couples.

In striking down DOMA, this panel concluded:

“Under current Supreme Court authority, Congress’ denial of federal benefits to same-sex couples lawfully married in Massachusetts has not been adequately supported by any permissible federal interest.”

See also:

Maryland Catholic Conference: Support Fairness for Maryland Kids


Support Fairness for Maryland Kids 

Ask Your Parish
Support the DREAM Act

Issue: On Election Day in November, Marylanders will vote on the Maryland DREAM Act -- a law that allows immigrant students to pay the same in-state tuition rate as other Maryland residents if they meet certain requirements. 

The Maryland Catholic Conference supports the law and recognizes that the issue of educating kids in Maryland whose families pay Maryland taxes is a matter of simple fairness. 

The Conference needs your help in gathering support for the DREAM Act. 

If you are interested in information on the DREAM Act, click here.
Action: We are seeking invitations to come and speak at your local parishes and communities to explain what the DREAM Act does, why the Church supports it, and why it is good public policy for Maryland.

Meetings and events could include:

  • Social Concerns committees
  • Knights of Columbus
  • Catholic Daughters of America
  • Brief remarks after Mass with time afterwards for questions
  • Other organizations you participate in!

To set up a speaking event, or for more information, please contact Chris Ross at 410-269-1155, or 301-261-1979, or


MCC - Request Your Parish to Support the DREAM Act