SAN FRANCISCO, Calif.: Celebration for gay rights and peace

Over 750,000 people with 180 floats and bands jammed the streets behind banners calling for peace, gay rights, health care, and the impeachment of President George Bush for this city’s 33rd annual Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Pride Parade, June 29.

Marchers celebrated the Supreme Court decision that struck down a Texas law barring gay sex and also hailed the decision by Canada to legalize gay marriages.

“The Supreme Court finally got it right and got out of people’s bedrooms,” said Seth Adams, who watched the procession with his goddaughter.

The favorable Supreme Court decision added to the hundreds of thousands who filled New York City streets celebrating Gay Pride and calling for peace. A record-setting 300,000 marched through Atlanta. “A lot of people think [gay sex] is immoral. And unfortunately for them, it’s not illegal anymore,” said bookstore owner Philip Rafshoon.

Massive parades also occurred in Chicago and Seattle.

MoveOn, Cyberspace: Dean wins online primary

More people cast their vote at the MoveOn web site than are expected to vote in the Iowa caucus and the New Hampshire and South Carolina primaries. Over 317,000 votes were cast in the 48-hour primary with Howard Dean garnering 44 percent; Dennis Kucinich, 24 percent; John Kerry, 16 percent; and the other Democratic candidates dropping below 4 percent. There were no candidates from the GOP.

Since MoveOn had said they would not endorse a candidate in the primary unless that person obtained at least 50 percent of the vote, it will not make a formal endorsement at this time.

The online ballot resulted in 54,370 peace activists volunteering to work for the candidate of their choice, 77,192 authorized MoveOn to send their e-mail address to the candidate of their choice, and 49,132 pledged a total of $1.75 million ($35 average contribution) to the candidate of their choice.

Zack Exley, organizer of the primary, said MoveOn designed the poll to give peace and justice activists a voice at a time in the presidential race is dominated by “pollsters, pundits and people who can write $2,000 checks.”

WASHINGTON, D.C.: End the death penalty

Demonstrators from 16 states, Canada, Great Britain and Puerto Rico filled the plaza in front of the Supreme Court, June 30, fasted for 96 hours and then rallied to protest 859 state executions since 1976.

Juan Melendez, who spent 17 years on death row in Florida, told the crowd, “I am a prime example that the death penalty system is broken, that it is not fair and that it is not accurate. The death penalty must be abolished.”

Protest organizer Abe Bonowitz added, “We are gathered today to educate the public that the death penalty continues to be arbitrary and capricious. It is a violation of human rights. It is a political tool for politicians to mislead the public about how best to address crime. It is biased and it is a colossal waste of tax dollars.” Washington Wizards’ basketball player Etam Thomas, musician Steve Earle, and a dozen other celebrities voiced their demand to abolish the death penalty.

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo.: First African American chief justice

In 1999, Ronnie L. White, the first Black justice on the Missouri Supreme Court, was denied an appointment to the Federal Court by then Governor John Ashcroft. On July 1, 2003, the seven court judges elected White to the Chief Justice seat for a two-year term.

White takes over from Justice Stephen Limbaugh Jr., cousin of the right wing radio talk show host.

“I truly believe that within the judicial department, we need to work a little bit harder to try and place people of color within our organization,” said White. “It’s not a big deal that Ronnie White is the chief justice, it’s that a person of color can become chief.”

ATLANTIC CITY, N.J.: Casino workers go union

The Borgata Hotel, Casino and Spa is a mecca for gamblers and tourists, and provides jobs for 1,900 food service and housekeeping workers. As of June 27, workers are proud members of the Hotel Employees and Restaurant Employees Union (HERE) Local 54.

With this victory, achieved when a majority of workers signed a union card authorizing HERE to represent them, unions moved forward in their drive to protect and advance Atlantic City’s tens of thousands of families working in the casinos.

For the week ending June 28, 87,121 workers from coast to coast and in a variety of jobs joined the union so far this year.

National Clips are compiled by
Denise Winebrenner Edwards (