The fight for marriage equality isn’t over yet. But Tuesday brought with it a huge win for opponents of California’s Proposition 8, as a three-judge panel of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled the law was unconstitutional, possibly sending the case to the U.S. Supreme Court.
Prop 8, which had banned same-sex marriages, was approved by California voters in 2008, overturning a California State Supreme Court ruling. In 2010, U.S. District Judge Vaughn Walker ruled it was unconstitutional, a decision the panel upheld in a 2-1 vote. The panel also ruled Walker, now retired from the bench, did not have to vacate his decision for not revealing his own same-sex relationship at the time of his ruling. Walker’s decision to keep his ruling under a court seal was also upheld.
Despite the panel’s ruling, however, LGBT couples still cannot get married; the law will remain in place during a two-week period the law’s supporters have to determine whether they will appeal to a larger 9th Circuit panel, or go directly to the Supreme Court. Some legal experts have suggested the higher court might leave the case alone. Continue reading →
Before we wade back into regular programming for the rest of the week, I wanted to give some shine to this collaboration between two musicians our readers in the Bay Area may already know, Quinn DeVeaux and Meklit Hadero, on their cover of the Arcade Fire’s “Neighborhood #1 (Tunnels).”
Hadero, who was born in Ethiopia but raised in Iowa, Florida and New York, gathered critical attention in the wake of her debut album, on a day like this … last year. Since basing herself in San Francisco, she’s completed work for the San Francisco Foundation and Brava! For Women In The Arts. She also founded an Ethiopian artist collaborative group, the Arba Minch Collective.
For his part, DeVeaux is best known for leading the Blue Beat Review, a New Orleans-style band he contributes both lead vocals and guitar. This cover is a bit of a departure for DeVeaux in particular; while the Review focuses on jump-blues numbers like “Come And Go,” the interplay between him and Hadero is decidedly more relaxed in nature. As Cover Me’s Caroline Lees wrote in her review, “DeVeaux and Hadero strip the track down to impeccable harmonies and acoustic guitar, infusing it with a gentle poignancy that gives the lyrics new depth. Hadero’s ethereal vocals are particularly striking, the clear centerpiece of this introspective cover.”
In 1971, when I was “lead organizer” for what became the All Peoples’ Coalition (APC), I learned a different approach to dealing with some racism I encountered among working-class whites.
APC was a federation of some thirty organizations (churches, block clubs, the neighborhood shopping strip’s merchant association, tenant associations, and other groups in Visitacion Valley, a small neighborhood of about 20,000 people in the Southeast corner of San Francisco.
“Vis Valley” included a number of sub-neighborhoods, including Little Hollywood, Geneva Towers, Geneva Terrace and Sunnydale Housing Project (where I grew up).
Its people ranged from low-to-moderate, and a few middle, income. It was ethnically and racially quite diverse. In San Francisco poverty and race politics, it was largely ignored. While racially “integrated,” there was also substantial racial tension in the neighborhood, particularly between the working class and lower middle-class “white ethnics” (Irish, Italian and Maltese) and the African-Americans.
But in the wake of Mr. Hill’s death, the BART police department is once again facing disapproval, similar to what it endured after Johannes Mehserle shot Oscar Grant III in the back at the Fruitvale station in Oakland in 2009. That case touched off riots and looting last year after Mr. Mehserle was convicted of involuntary manslaughter. Mr. Mehserle was released from jail last month after serving 11 months of a two-year sentence.
BART has not released the names of the two officers who confronted Mr. Hill. But one of the officers was not carrying a Taser, officials said. Neither officer (one is a six-year veteran, the other has been on the force for 18 months) had received crisis-intervention training.
Asked if the officers were adequately prepared for the confrontation, Chief Rainey said, “Absolutely.” But critics said Mr. Hill’s death was a direct result of the agency’s slowness in making changes after the 2009 shooting.
“There’s been a two-year struggle to reform BART,” said Anne Weills, an Oakland lawyer who represents victims of police brutality. “They’ve made no effort to open themselves up to the public, to hire and screen people or to train people to adequately deal with these situations.”
BART officers have shot and killed six people since the agency was founded in 1972; three of the shootings occurred during the past three years. The police force for Atlanta’s transit system, which employs 321 officers, has had two in the last three years; the New York Police Department’s transit bureau, with 2,400 officers, has not had a fatal officer-involved shooting in at least 10 years.