"Governor, the people of Detroit don't forget."

Those seven words from President Barack Obama to Republican challenger Mitt Romney during the final presidential debate are reason enough for MLive Detroit to endorse Obama for another four years in office. We don't forget Romney's editorial in the New York Times titled, "Let Detroit go bankrupt." It is an unforgivable and unconsciouble position by a man with the audacity to claim himself a son of Detroit. Romney may have grown up here, but he left long ago.

Romney defends his editorial as the blueprint for, essentially, what Obama did. The president's administration brought the automakers into a controlled bankruptcy, bolstered the companies with capital, and gave them time to right the ship. Romney says he wanted to do the same, he just wanted to do it through private investment. The problem? No one was investing in anything when the automakers nearly collapsed, much less offering up $80 billion to failing companies. Lack of government intervention would have resulted in the liquidation of Detroit's Big 3 and the end of the American automotive industry as we know it.

Obama saved Detroit. We don't forget.

While enough to earn an endorsement, the president has done enough in his 3 1/2 years in the Oval Office to earn another term. The Affordable Health Care law, while touted as a step toward national health care, is actually a long-term budget solution. The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office estimates the law will cut the deficit $1 trillion by 2021. Provisions within the law reign in health insurance spending on advertising and executive bonuses, and, for the firs time, insurance companies will need to publicly justify cost increases. No modern president has done more to bring health care costs into line than Obama. Passing the Affordable Care Act, even in its watered down form, is a fiscally responsible move that ensures Obama's legacy.

The Obama administration also stood strong on national security. The president extricated the U.S. from an unproductive war in Iraq, and his administration brought about the death of Osama bin Laden. He also restored our nation's standing as a voice for freedom in the world. He took the last three years to undo much of the harm created by his predecessor.

We have concerns with the president. While pushing some immigration reform, he's been shockingly tough on detaining and deporting undocumented immigrants. The Obama administration has empowered Immigration and Customs Enforcement to unprecedented levels. Thousands of hard-working immigrants have been split from their families due to heightened in ICE enforcement. The president's conservative approach to immigration enforcement falls to the right of previous presidents.

In Detroit, MLive covered the story of one man picked up in a random traffic stop in Pontiac, detained from his family and then sent back to Mexico, where he hadn't lived for two decades. This tough-line policy hurts Detroit by sending fear through immigrant communities that represent some of the strongest neighborhoods in the city. At a time when people are fleeing the city, the Hispanic community is holding strong. Obama's policy threatens these vital communities.

Obama has shown leadership on immigration in the past six months. It's hard to say, though, if that was pandering to Hispanic voters or a sign that he'll address immigration in a substantive way if given another four years. Just this week Obama said he anticipated a compromise with Republicans on immigration if he's re-elected. We hope these are signs that he'll work during a second term for comprehensive immigration reform that supports Detroit's vibrant immigrant communities.

Obama's dismal record on immigration for the bulk of his tenure is only muted by the prospect of a Romney administration. Romney's chief immigration advisor crafted the Arizona law that allows local and state police to seek out and arrest illegal immigrants. Romeny has said he would drop federal lawsuits challenging the Arizona law on his first day in office. Remarkably, immigration may be the one major issue President George W. Bush bests Obama and Romney in terms of Detroit's best interest.

Obama ran four years ago on the promise of change. He's been unable to deliver on this overarching promise, but he's had an unwilling dance partner. Republican leadership the past two years ruled out compromise as a form of governing. With an eye to the upcoming election, they chose to stand against Obama rather than work with the president in the country's best interests. Even when the president attempted to compromise - angering his supporters on the left - Republicans refused to budge off hardline stances against efforts to jumpstart the economy and pass reforms designed to prevent another economic meltdown. They put politics and special interests ahead of good government, and now criticize the president for failing to transform Washington. Amazingly, the ploy may work.

We hope not. For all of the president's faults and disappointments, he's been a steady hand through difficult times and made the right call more often than not. The auto industry bailout is a prime example. Obama intervened where Romney said he wouldn't. The president got it right and saved Detroit. Romney got it wrong. If he'd been in charge, an historic American industry and city may have fallen.

Governor, the people of Detroit don't forget.

 
 
by Dan Rafter

Governor Romney’s calculated discrimination against gay and lesbian parents creates documentation struggles for kids

The Human Rights Campaign, the nation’s largest lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) civil rights organization, is condemning steps Mitt Romney took as governor of Massachusetts to discriminate against families headed by same-sex couples, including demanding that his administration personally review every request to revise birth certificates for children born to same-sex parents. According to a report in the Boston Globe, Romney rejected a request from the state’s Registry of Vital Records and Statistics to revise birth certificate forms to apply to same-sex parents. Instead, Romney insisted his lawyers investigate every single request for birth certificates for children born to same-sex couples. If Romney’s team decided a request was worthy of revising a birth certificate, officials could then write-in, by hand, the term ‘second parent’ on the legal document. In some instances, Romney denied parents proper birth certificates for their children.

The state’s Department of Public Health warned Romney that his intervention placed children at a disadvantage, particularly later in life as they tried to obtain various forms of identification such as a passport or driver’s license, or as they registered to vote. The same DPH official also warned that allowing officials to alter birth certificates by hand – as opposed to simply revising the forms, as the state’s Registry of Vital Records and Statistics had recommended – was tantamount to a violation of statutes, and would impair efforts to keep organized state records.

Romney, who has a significant track record of deriding LGBT families and speaking out against relationship recognition, appeared not to care what impact his close oversight of same-sex families had on the law. The Globe reports that emails between Romney officials and the Department of Public Health contained details about the marriages and births of dozens of families.

“It’s appalling that Mitt Romney would create so many additional obstacles for same-sex parents, particularly when the path to starting a family is already so hard for LGBT people,” said HRC President Chad Griffin. “Romney prioritized his own distaste for LGBT people over the well-being of children in Massachusetts. Mitt Romney didn’t care that these children would face a lifetime of obstacles in obtaining legal documentation for things like getting a driver’s license or registering to vote; he only cared about making sure same-sex parents felt abnormal and isolated simply because they wanted to start a family.”

This isn’t the first time Romney has shown utter disregard for the challenges LGBT families face. Earlier this year, he tried to deflect from his discrimination against LGBT people by saying that adoption for same-sex couples was legal in all states but one. That couldn’t be further from the truth. Same-sex couples face overwhelming legal challenges in starting families – in fact, laws in seven states restrict same-sex couples from adopting altogether. And in the vast majority of states, adoption by LGB individuals and families is unclear and left to the discretion of judges, state agencies and adoption agencies who may discriminate.

Romney also has publicly sneered at LGBT families. During a 2004 meeting with Julie Goodridge, a plaintiff in the historic case that led to marriage equality in Massachusetts, Goodridge asked Romney what she should tell her little girl about why her two moms couldn’t marry. Romney coldly replied: “I don’t really care what you tell your adopted daughter. Why don’t you just tell her the same thing you’ve been telling her the last eight years.” And at an event in South Carolina, Romney bemoaned marriage equality in his state, and said of same-sex couples: “Some are actually having children born to them.”

“Mitt Romney has stood before the American people multiple times and said he does not support discrimination against LGBT people – and that is an outright lie,” added Griffin. “Denying birth certificates to children is just the latest in a long list of efforts Romney has undertaken to disenfranchise LGBT people. Support for equality is mainstream, and as a result Romney is attempting to deceive the American people – but his long history of discrimination speaks for itself.”

Birth certificates weren’t the only LGBT issue on which Romney went up against the Massachusetts Department of Public Health. In 2006, DPH put the brakes on an anti-bullying guide after consulting with Romney’s staff – because the guide contained terms including “transgender” and “bisexual.”

Learn more about Mitt Romney’s anti-LGBT track record at www.hrc.org/romney.

 
 
photo: At one of Sara's coffee and conversation sessions

…from the Illinois House of Representatives State Representative Sara Feigenholtz
                                                                                                                                     
CHICAGO – State Rep. Sara Feigenholtz (D-Chicago) is hosting a “Coffee and Conversation” session on Thursday, September 20 from 6:30 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. at Stella’s Diner located at 3042 North Broadway in Lakeview.
 
During “Coffee and Conversation” sessions, Feigenholtz discusses community and legislative issues with constituents in small group settings. These sessions provide great opportunities for constituents to voice their opinions regarding issues that are important to them.
 
“With the legislature on its summer break, I enjoy using this time to meet with my constituents,” said Feigenholtz. “I am always interested in what they have to say and it’s their feedback I depend on to improve the district and the state.”
 
For more information on this event or future “Coffee and Conversation” sessions, contact Feigenholtz’s constituent services office at (773) 296-4141 or sara@staterepsara.com.

source: press release
 
 
From Evan Wolfson
Founder and President, Freedom to Marry


Just moments ago, the Democratic Party voted to support the freedom to marry as an official plank in the party’s platform, its vision for America. The Democrats are now on record as the first major political party in U.S. history in favor of true and full equality for same-sex couples.

Earlier this year, you joined more than 42,000 marriage supporters in signing Freedom to Marry’s petition calling on the Democrats to add the freedom to marry to the party platform - and the Party listened. Now is the time for us to say “thank you.”

In the next 48 hours, let's show our appreciation to the Democrats for taking this courageous stand by getting 50,000 people to sign Freedom to Marry’s "thank you" card to the party's leaders, including President Obama and DNC Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz: Sign our letter now thanking the Democratic Party for including the freedom to marry in the party platform.

In May, President Obama declared his support for the freedom to marry, becoming the first sitting president to do so. He gave a heartfelt explanation to the American people as to how he, like a majority of Americans, had changed his mind and opened his heart to support the freedom to marry - and he spoke of the conversations and values that we know make a difference. Like the marriage plank in the Democratic platform, the fact that the President is on the right side of history will help more Americans rise to fairness, even as Freedom to Marry presses for more wins in November battleground states such as Maine, Minnesota, Washington, and Maryland.

Join us in the next 48 hours in thanking the Democratic Party for speaking up for the freedom to marry and gay families in the party’s platform: to sign the letter go to http://freedomtomarry.org/thanktheDemocrats

 
 
WASHINGTON – Human Rights Campaign announced the endorsement of Ken Britt for the Georgia House of Representatives. Britt currently serves as a member of the Georgia Democratic Party State Committee and is an Ambassador for the Center for Civil and Human Rights.

“HRC enthusiastically endorses Ken Britt for Georgia House District 56,” said HRC President Joe Solmonese. “Ken has a lengthy record of community service and political activism, as well as the experience gained during more than 30 years in executive-level law firm administration. Serving in the Georgia House of Representatives will allow him to continue his work on important issues like equality, economic development and access to quality affordable health care.”

Solmonese says Britt has an impressive track record of leadership on progressive community and political issues. In addition to his work for the state Democratic Party, Britt was recently appointed as a Community Liaison to Congressman John Lewis’ 2012 reelection effort. Both his former employer and AID Atlanta, one of the largest AIDS service organizations, have named community service awards for Britt.

"Ken's ability to represent diverse constituencies and reach across the aisle to achieve consensus is needed in the Georgia General Assembly. When Ken is elected, the people of Georgia District 56 can rest assured that their interests will be well served,” Solmonese said.

“I am honored by the support of the Human Rights Campaign,” said Britt, “especially because it has been a model of grassroots action in diverse communities. I appreciate HRC recognizing my experience and passion, the strength of this campaign and, particularly, the needs of the 56th District."

Source: HRC press release
 
 
Two-term Governor, Gary Johnson, says both parties are indistinguishable from one another. Both are keeping America broke. Both are keeping America at war. Both have trampled on the Constitution. And both are stooges to the same big money players that never change behind the scenes. It's time to put our differences and our parties aside and come together as a nation for the good of all. We The People are ready to LIVE FREE.

http://youtu.be/2X3QRSIXgns



GOV. GARY JOHNSON:
IF REDUCING MARIJUANA PENALTIES IN NY MAKES SENSE, LEGALIZATION MAKES EVEN MORE SENSE

New York, NY - Calling NY Gov. Cuomo's proposed reduction of penalties for simple possession of marijuana "a welcome bit of sanity," Libertarian presidential candidate and former New Mexico Governor Gary Johnson today applauded the proposal, but repeated his call for legalization of marijuana as a better solution to the burdens marijuana prosecutions place on the courts and law enforcement.

Johnson is in New York for a series of media appearances, including The Daily Show Tuesday night. As governor of New Mexico, Johnson gained national attention in 1999 as one of the highest ranking elected officials in the nation to call for the legalization of marijuana.

In a statement released in New York, Johnson said, "It is encouraging that the governor of one of our largest states is facing the reality that we are clogging our courts and packing our jails with Americans whose 'crime' is the individual choice to possess and use small quantities of marijuana. I would strongly suggest, however, that 'decriminalization' doesn't really solve the problem. As long as we hang onto the the failed notion of prohibition, the cartels and criminal infrastructure that thrive on supplying U.S. demand for pot will continue to prosper.

"Legalizing and regulating marijuana, as we do with alcohol, will not only take a great deal of profit away from the cartels, but put us on a path toward treating drug use as a health issue rather than a criminal issue. Prohibition didn't work the first time, and it clearly isn't working today."

 
 
General Assembly Approves Strip Club Tax to Fund Rape Treatment, Prevention Services

From The Office of State Representative Sara Feigenholtz

CHICAGO – The Illinois House approved a measure Thursday to raise as much as $2 million for rape and other sexual assault treatment and prevention services as well as law enforcement training on rape and assault response.
 
The legislation, sponsored in the House by State Rep. Sara Feigenholtz (D-Chicago) and an initiative of the Illinois Coalition Against Sexual Assault and Lt. Governor Sheila Simon, creates a surcharge for strip clubs that offer or allow alcohol.
 
“State funding for sexual assault services has been slashed 28% over the last five years,” said Feigenholtz. “This measure helps close this funding gap to ensure that rape crisis centers can keep their doors open and continue to serve survivors of sexual violence and assault.”
 
Club owners could choose from two fee options: they could pay a flat fee based on annual gross receipts or instead choose to pay a $3 per patron fee.
 
“There is a correlation between sexually oriented businesses that combine nude dancing and alcohol that help promote the objectification of women that leads to sexual and domestic violence,” Feigenholtz said. “This is a common sense way to help provide vital services to survivors.”
 
The fees would only apply to adult entertainment venues that feature both live nude dancing and alcohol. There are no such venues in the city of Chicago.
 
House Bill 1645 has been approved by both chambers of the General Assembly and awaits consideration by the governor. For more information, please contact Feigenholtz’s constituent services office at (773) 296-4141 or sara@staterepsara.com.

 
 
NEW YORK - Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman announced agreements with three major retail chains to ensure that people with disabilities have equal access to the merchandise, services, and amenities provided by each of their New York based stores. Under the statewide agreements, Century 21, JCPenney, and Petland Discounts will take significant steps to ensure that each of their New York stores complies with the accessibility requirements and design standards set forth by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).

"Ensuring that people with disabilities are provided the same retail shopping experience that other customers enjoy helps make the promise of the Americans with Disabilities Act a reality," said Attorney General Schneiderman. "My office is committed to combating discrimination faced by people with disabilities, and to helping promote accessibility across our state. I commend Century 21, JCPenney, and Petland Discounts for agreeing to take the steps necessary to make their stores fully accessible for all New Yorkers."

These cases are part of Attorney General Schneiderman's ongoing investigation into the accessibility of retail establishments and other public accommodations for individuals with disabilities. The Attorney General deployed undercover investigators and retained experts to examine Century 21, JCPenney, and Petland Discounts stores to determine if they comply with state and federal accessibility laws. Based on the undercover investigation and architectural surveys of the stores, the Attorney General's office identified numerous impediments and barriers for people with disabilities.

Under the agreements, the three retailers have agreed to:
  • retain an independent ADA compliance consultant, approved by the Attorney General's office, to assist with the implementation and enforcement of the agreements;
  • conduct a survey of every store located in New York to identify changes necessary to achieve compliance with state and federal accessibility standards;
  • conform all elements of each store that deviate from state and federal accessibility laws;
  • train employees on the requirements of the Americans with Disabilities Act and on the protocols used to afford people with disabilities equal access to the goods, services, and accommodations afforded to people without disabilities.
  • certify that all new construction complies with state and federal accessibility laws and standards.
  • Century 21, JCPenny and Petland Discounts stores agreed to pay a total of $120,000 to New York State to resolve the investigations
 The Civil Rights Bureau of the Attorney General's Office is committed to combating discrimination faced by and promoting accessibility for individuals with disabilities across New York State. To file a complaint, contact the Attorney General’s Office at (212) 416-8250, civil.rights@ag.ny.gov or visit www.ag.ny.gov.

 
 
Posted on May 17, 2011
by David Cohen

State Rep. Feigenholtz Holds Mortgage Relief Project to Help Local Residents Avoid Foreclosure

CHICAGO – Continuing her efforts to protect local residents and reduce area foreclosures, state Rep. Sara Feigenholtz (D-Chicago) participated in the Mortgage Relief Project on Saturday to help Chicago residents keep their homes and avoid foreclosures. Residents from Lakeview to Cicero came for the opportunity to meet with Department of Housingand Urban Development-certified housing counselors to ask questions about their mortgages.

The seminar marked the twentieth stop in the statewide Mortgage Relief Project, an initiative of Governor Pat Quinn to help homeowners keep their homes and avoid foreclosure. The program is administered by the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation (IDFPR) and the Illinois Housing Development Authority (IHDA) and was co-hosted by Feigenholtz, state Sen. President John Cullerton (D-Chicago), state Rep. Ann Williams (D-Chicago), Alderman Tom Tunney and outgoing Alderman Vi Daley.

“The state of Illinois wants to help you keep your homes because avoiding foreclosures improves our communities as a whole,” Feigenholtz said. “Legislators are working hard in Springfield to ensure that homeowners have the tools they need to be informed about their options and prevent foreclosure. Whether we are urging Congress to place a moratorium on foreclosures or giving homeowners more time to refinance their mortgages, we must protect our residents.”

Feigenholtz is also encouraging residents to be aware of the Homeowner Protection Act, which gives homeowners who have fallen behind in their mortgage payments a grace period of up to 90 days if they seek and enter housing counseling. Homeowners can use this period to refinance their mortgage or set up a payment plan with their bank.

“Many homeowners came because they did not have anywhere else to go and felt trapped by their mortgage,” said Feigenholtz. “Having a one-stop shop where homeowners can meet one-on-one with a housing counselor, learn about mortgages and get honest answers to their questions gives homeowners valuable information to help them fight to keep their homes. Falling behind on your mortgage does not have to lead to foreclosure and I am working hard to provide as many tools as possible to help people get back on the right financial track.”

Homeowners who were unable to attend Saturday’s event may call IDFPR’s consumer helpline at (800) 532-8785 for assistance. For more information about the program, please visit www.idfpr.com or www.ihda.org. A list of HUD-approved housing counseling agencies in Illinois can be found at www.hud.gov.

Source: IL State Rep. Sara Feigenholtz office.
 
 
Posted on April 29, 2011
by David Cohen

CHICAGO–State Rep. Sara Feigenholtz (D-Chicago) is hosting a public town hall meeting this Sunday, May 1 at 2:00 p.m. in the Nettelhorst Elementary Auditorium located at 3252 N. Broadway.
 
Feigenholtz’s office encourages residents to join her Sunday if effort to learn more about the state budget and pertinent legislation in Springfield.  Attendees will also have the opportunity to ask questions and give their feedback on state matters, which may very well likely stand to be those relavent the local LGBT community.  Apart from Lakeview-resident lifestlyle issues making up one-third of her 12th-district constituency, since taking office Feigenholtz’s political platform has strongly supported efficient and comprehensive state-provided HIV/AIDS care–as reported in PINK’s summer 2010 issue (specifically on page 20).
 
The event is open to the public; for more information or to RSVP, please contact Representative Feigenholtz’s constituent service office at (773) 296-4141 and/or visit her official website, www.staterepsara.com.