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News stirs daily outrage in this columnist
by Jake Highton
Jan 30, 2014 | 740 views | 0 0 comments | 14 14 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Paul Conrad, great editorial cartoonist for the Los Angeles Times from 1964 to 1993, used to say that good cartoonists should get out of bed angry every morning and stay angry until they finish drawing their savage views of news events.

My weekly column is like that. My outrage is constant. Something in the news offends me. Something I see annoys me. The aim of my outrage is injustice and inequality.

A recent example: Nevada Governor Brian Sandoval, as reactionary as most Southern politicians, still supports the state’s ban on gay marriage. He says “traditional marriage” is deeply rooted in the state’s history.

Sandoval has appealed to the 9th U.S. Circuit of Appeals in San Francisco to uphold his backward position. He is unlikely to get satisfaction there. The 9th is the most liberal court in the land.

This is how progressive it is: the 9th Circuit just ruled that gay men and lesbians should not be kept off juries because of their sexual orientation. (During jury selection lawyers are allowed to exclude a fixed number of potential jurors — strikes — without giving a reason.)

Judge Stephen Reinhardt, writing for a unanimous three-judge panel, noted:

“Gays and lesbians have been systemically excluded from the most important institutions of self-governance. Strikes exercised on the basis of sexual orientation continue this deplorable custom of treating gays and lesbians as undeserving of participation in our nation’s most cherished rights.”

U.S. district courts have often struck down anti-gay marriage laws, most recently in the highly conservatives states of Utah and Oklahoma. Sandoval’s other argument holds no water either: let the people decide. Appealing to the people has a nice populist ring. But votes of the people are often prejudiced and just plain wrong.

Recall that California voters passed a gay marriage ban. The U.S. Supreme Court overturned it. Congress passed a law prohibiting same-sex marriage. The U.S. Supreme Court voided it.

Yet, alas, Governor Sandoval is making sure the state remains unprogressive as his no-income-tax policy assures that Nevada is almost last in every category that matters.

Savage hoodlums: Hatred of gays is understandable among macho young men. But it is incomprehensible to wantonly attack a gay guy, causing him severe brain damage and leaving him nearly dead in midtown Manhattan recently.

Such was the sad fate of Randy Gener, a University of Nevada, Reno, graduate in 1992. Randy was a student friend of mine as a film and theater critic for the Sagebrush, student newspaper. In New York he succeeded admirably as a theater critic and writer, winning awards and accolades. His mother lives in Reno so when Randy visited here we lunched together.

Randy Gener, a gentle soul, a smiling, happy, wonderful man.

Voting injustice: Many states are making it harder and harder to cast a ballot by legislating voter photo laws. Fortunately, the courts usually side with the voters, striking down such laws.

In Pennsylvania recently, Judge Bernard McGinley of Commonwealth Court struck down a state law requiring voters to produce a state-approved photo ID. The law places a particular burden on the elderly, disabled people and low-income voters, he noted.

Voter fraud doesn’t exist. Such laws are being pushed by Republicans all over the country to suppress the Democratic vote.              
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