08 Dec 2011

My Name Is Ceara Sturgis, and I Am Not a Troublemaker

By Ceara Sturgis When graduating senior Ceara Sturgis chose to wear a tuxedo for her senior yearbook photo, rather than the drape typically reserved for girls, her school responded by excluding her entirely from the senior portrait section of the yearbook. The ACLU represented Ceara in a sex discrimination lawsuit

08 Dec 2011

Historic Advance for LGBT International Human Rights

By Ian Thompson, Legislative Representative, ACLU Washington Legislative Office Tuesday marked a historic commitment by the United States to the cause of LGBT international human rights. First, President Obama issued a memorandum directing all federal agencies engaged abroad to ensure that U.S. diplomacy and foreign assistance promote and protect the

06 Oct 2011

Tennessee Principal’s Reaction to GSA T-Shirt Raises the Question: Who’s Really Causing the Disruption Here?

By Amanda Goad, Staff Attorney, ACLU LGBT Project Chris Sigler is a senior at Sequoyah High School in Madisonville, Tennessee. It’s a tradition among Sequoyah students to get friends’ signatures on a keepsake T-shirt, so in past years Chris has done that on a shirt labeled "California" and one with

15 Jun 2011

Immigration Policy in the Obama Years: Dragnet Enforcement First and Foremost?

By Chris Rickerd, ACLU Washington Legislative Office In El Paso last month, President Obama gave a speech on immigration reform in which he said: "I know that the increase in deportations has been a source of controversy. But I want to emphasize: we are not doing this haphazardly; we are

26 May 2011

The Other Front: Military Rape Survivors Denied Abortion Coverage

By Jessica Kenyon We are defending a Constitution that doesn’t apply to us. This was a phrase I heard often after I joined the U.S. Army in 2005. At the time, I didn’t realize just how true that would be. I was raped by a fellow soldier when I was

22 Apr 2011

It’s Not Over for Montana Domestic Partnerships

By Amy Cannata, Communications Director, ACLU of Montana We always knew it was going to be a journey with bumps and curves in the road. So did our six plaintiff couples when they signed on to sue the state of Montana for domestic partnership recognition. This week our lawsuit, Donaldson

21 Apr 2011

Wichita Blues: Kansas Mandates Photo ID For Its Voters

By Jon Sherman, Staff Attorney, ACLU Voting Rights Project & Holly Weatherford, Program Director, ACLU of Kansas and Western Missouri

Kansas took a giant leap backwards this week by enacting one of the harshest voter ID laws in the country. Gov. Sam Brownback signed a bill into law Monday that will require voters to present photo ID at the polls as well as proof of citizenship in order to register. Kansas has joined a small group of outliers in passing such a retrograde law. Thirty-two state legislatures have introduced similar photo ID bills this year in what appears to be a nationwide coordinated effort to erect new barriers to voting. Only two other states in the union—Indiana and Georgia—refuse to hand a regular ballot to a voter who lacks photo ID without exception or alternative.

Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, well-known as the principal author of Arizona’s extreme racial profiling law, S.B. 1070, was the driving force behind this legislation. Kobach’s voter ID law undermines our country’s strides in expanding the fundamental right to vote to be more inclusive of historically marginalized groups like racial minorities, low-income voters, the disabled, and senior citizens. Kobach claims that requiring ID is necessary in order to combat widespread voter registration by undocumented immigrants in Kansas.

Yet, no such evidence has ever been presented to support his claims of rampant fraud. In fact, records released in 2009 revealed only seven cases of alleged electoral fraud—only one of which was prosecuted—in the previous five years.

08 Apr 2011

A Hard-Earned Victory for Arkansas Kids

By James Esseks, Director, ACLU LGBT & AIDS Project I’m thrilled to report that we’ve just struck down a second state parenting ban. Just six months after we got rid of Florida’s 33-year-old ban on adoption by gay people, yesterday the Arkansas Supreme Court struck down that state’s related parenting

17 Mar 2011

Calling The Police Can Get You Evicted

By Katie Miller, Litigation Fellow, & Sandra Park, Staff Attorney, ACLU Women’s Rights Project

Across the country, a growing number of cities are adopting nuisance ordinances that impose fines and criminal penalties on landlords and tenants when the police are called too many times to the property. In Milwaukee, Wisconsin, landlords may be fined if the police are called to the premises three or more times within 30 days. While the stated goal is to deter crime and recoup costs, these ordinances endanger domestic violence survivors, particularly women of color.

Property nuisance ordinances can take a variety of forms, but generally impose fines or other sanctions on building owners and tenants when the police are called to the premises a certain number of times, or where certain offenses are alleged to have occurred on the property. Under these ordinances, the only practical way for an owner to abate the "nuisance" and avoid a penalty is to evict the resident who called the police or whose home was the site of the alleged offense.

These ordinances present two very serious problems for women who experience domestic violence or stalking, two crimes that often occur in one’s home: They may prevent victims from calling the police when they are endangered by an abuser or stalker, and they may result in housing discrimination against victims of domestic violence. The ACLU of Washington raised both of these concerns when a nuisance ordinance was adopted in Seattle.

17 Mar 2011

Would We Adopt Again?

By Stephanie Huffman and Wendy Rickman Starting a family is a big decision for any couple, but being a lesbian couple brings a whole new set of challenges, especially since we live in Arkansas. We were able to build the beginnings of our family before the 2008 passage of Act