The big news of yesterday is that the Supreme Court ruled that the Defense of Marriage Act is unconstitutional! The victory means the federal government must recognize the marriages of gay and lesbian couples married in the 12 states that allow same-sex marriage, plus the District of Columbia, and give them the same benefits that they had been previously denied under DOMA. With this in mind, here are the other big human rights stories of the month, including the impact this ruling has on human rights:
What Do Today’s Supreme Court Decisions Mean for LGBT Human Rights? – Human Rights Now Blog – Not only was DOMA ruled unconstitutional, but Proposition 8 from California was also ruled unconstitutional. The Court said that those who brought the case to defend the amendment “lacked standing” to do so. Even though every state doesn’t allow same-sex marriage, at least not yet, these rulings mean that federal law recognizes these marriages. It also means that Californians may get the right to marry whomever they want any day now.
Force-Feeding Guantanamo Detainees is Unethical and Inhumane – The Guardian – As the U.S. takes one leap forward in human rights, we take a few steps back also. The hunger strike at Guantanamo Bay is still happening, and force-feeding is being used because “Guantánamo prisoners are irrational and approaching death”. Force-feeding is actually awful, as previously victims of force-feeding (from other prison hunger strikes) have said that it hurts a great deal and produces intense vomiting. It’s surprising this has fallen off the radar in American media, even as the situation has intensified.
Kimberly McCarthy Executed: Texas Carries Out 500th Execution – Huffington Post – While much hullabaloo was happening over other issues, Texas executed its 500th inmate this week since it resumed carrying out capital punishment in 1982. McCarthy was also the 13th woman executed in the United States, and the fourth in Texas history. It was a sad day for death penalty abolitionists everywhere. Although it doesn’t look like McCarthy was innocent, or that there was strong evidence of improprieties, capital punishment is a gross human rights violation because of its disproportional application.
Gov. Perry Scolds Teen-Mom Senator for Not Heeding ‘Her Own Example’ – ABC News – Gov. Perry also called the pro-life agenda a “human rights issue” as he once again called for a special session to look at SB 5. Texas legislators will now be back in Austin to work on passing (or not passing) the legislation again. This issue has taken center state this week as Sen. Wendy Davis filibustered the bill for over nine hours on Tuesday. The Republicans almost managed to pass the bill, but after a lot of confusion, the record showed that the vote started after midnight and after the legislative session was over. That night was a huge demonstration of democracy, and we should expect nothing less as, essentially, the whole process happens all over again.
Sudan: 14 Women Released, 20 Still Detained – Association for Women’s Rights in Development – Very rarely do we post an urgent action, but this is one that I came across that requires attention. Thirty-four women were arrested in November 2012. Although 14 have been released, 20 are still detained, and none of these women were charged with any crime. Five of the 34 women were detained with their children, ages ranging from six months to 18 months. This urgent action is to ensure that the remaining 20 women are released, or charged with a recognizably criminal offense. We also want to ensure that they are given medical treatment and are given access to legal representation.