Monthly Archives: June 2011

MPSL VLog: Ex Post Facto and Access to Park

The Constitution forbids new laws from punishing people retroactively. Can cities ban registered sex offenders in public parks without violating ex post facto principles? Professor Gaffaney explains.


New York Accepts Marriage Equality

New York State, the 3rd largest state by population, is the latest state to allow same-sex marriage.  The addition of New York to the handful of states that recognize marriage equality is a significant victory for gay rights and LTGB issues. We must never forget that civil rights are fundamental freedoms and privileges guaranteed by the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution and by subsequent acts of Congress, including due process, equal protection of the laws, equal treatment, and freedom from discrimination.

Nevertheless, same-sex marriage is still extremely controversial and the largest as well as loudest proponents employ religion or a sense of religious morality as justification to deny equal treatment to a subset of American citizens. However, marriage in the United States is a secular contract so the question of religion has no bearing on it, at least legally. You can have a marriage ceremony preformed by any priest you want, or a rabbi, a preacher, of any faith but if you do not have a marriage license issued by a state government you are not legally married in any state in the union.  Besides, the government does not care about sexual orientation when it comes to collecting taxes.

The Maddow blog posted a video of the New York Senate passing  same-sex marriage but the question remains whether a large state like New York allowing same –sex marriage without a residence requirement will have any significant implications for other states in the union. Only time will tell. Do you believe same-sex marriage is a civil rights issue and what impact will New York’s acceptance of marriage likely to have for the rest of the nation?


Weekly Quiz: Test Yourself on This Week’s Events

The weekly quiz is now live in Mypoliscilab. Good luck!

Weekly Poll: Your Opinion On Pulling Troops Out of Afghanistan

President Obama has ordered the withdrawal of 10,000 troops from Afghanistan by the end of this year but some say the number is too high. What do you think?

Colbert Report: Nation Building in America

Vodpod videos no longer available.

Video Glossary: Lobbying

The Glass Ceiling and the “Invisible” Civil Rights Discussion

It’s hard to believe that it’s been sixteen years since I finished my research for The Glass Ceiling Commission.  I was working as a Research Associate with the Tomas Rivera Policy Institute and we had been tasked with conducting research on the status of Latinos in the American workforce—specifically the status of Latinos in corporate America and private industry.  Congress authorized the study with an emphasis on learning more about the factors that both contribute to and impede the promotion of women in the private sector.  The full report of the Commission was published in 1996 and was titled “A Solid Investment: Making Full Use of the Nation’s Human Capital.”  It was later decided to include more detailed research on African Americans and Latinos as part of the much larger study.

The full report of the Commission determined that discrimination, formal and informal, was a major factor contributing to the employment limitations faced by women and other minorities across the country.  Part of the research included a review of civil rights policies and equal employment opportunity policies and practices across the country dating back to the 1960s—most notably affirmative
action.  Overall, the Commission and its report contributed a significant update to our nation’s struggle with racial, ethnic, and gender discrimination.
Whether the Commission’s work contributed to changing the prospects of
women and minorities in the work force is an argument that probably needs to be resurrected.  With all the talk today of recoveries, recessions, and sacrifice, it needs to be remembered that a rising tide may not raise all boats equally.  Let’s
remember and apply the lessons of the past.

This past week President Obama turned down a request to speak at a major conference being held by Latino elected officials from across the country—representatives of one of the democratic party’s most loyal voting blocks.  The Glass Ceiling was so designated because it referenced a barrier that was invisible.  President George W. Bush was criticized for not attending conferences hosted by the NAACP.  We now have a “minority” president not making time for Latino elected officials.  What haven’t we learned Mr. President?