Stories from the ACLU of Washington

Published: 
Monday, June 28, 2010
Last week, Seattle's weekly Stranger newspaper reported on the launch of a new meth outreach program: For 16 years, Seattle Counseling Service (SCS), an LGBT mental-health- and addiction-­counseling center, has focused its meth outreach on gay men. A month ago, the organization started something different: Women OUT, a weekly meth-abuse support group for lesbian, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LBTQ) women. This is a good thing. Rates of current (past-month) use of methamphetamine by women and men have been equal in recent years. Why the previous focus on gay men? According to a 2004 report published by the National Alliance of State and Territorial AIDS Directors and the National Coalition of STD Directors, evidence suggested that meth use increased the likelihood of engaging in risky behavior like unprotected sex. Well, yes, that shouldn't have surprised anyone.
Published: 
Friday, June 25, 2010
You might have thought that “debtors' prisons” were extinct. But people are still being jailed in Washington all too often simply because they can’t pay their court-ordered financial obligations in a criminal case. The Washington Supreme Court recently agreed with ACLU-WA that it is not fair to “automatically” send a person to jail for failure to pay these financial obligations, without a hearing to determine if the person has the ability to pay.
Published: 
Thursday, June 24, 2010
Fair Play in Community Sports This summer marks the one-year anniversary of the Washington Fair Play Law, the law that requires community sports programs to provide equal benefits and opportunities to girls in sports. While the federal Title IX law has long prohibited discrimination in school sports, community sports programs could - and did - discriminate with impunity. So the Fair Play Law was passed to deal with persistent inequities that played out in community sports programs throughout the state. Read more
Published: 
Wednesday, June 23, 2010
It's the 75th anniversary of the ACLU of Washington, and we've put up ads all over the city of Seattle to celebrate!
Published: 
Wednesday, June 23, 2010
iCivics is the vision of former Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor, who is concerned that students are not getting the information and tools they need for civic participation, and that civics teachers need better materials and support. So, she created a bunch of video games to teach civics to middle school students. These look to be excellent teaching tools, but are they any good as games? Read more
Published: 
Wednesday, June 23, 2010
Like publishing ideas in books or newspapers, demonstrating in the streets has been one of the fundamental outlets for speech throughout our nation’s history.  The Supreme Court has long held that speech gets maximum protection in certain kinds of public places, like parks, sidewalks, and streets.  People with soapboxes need somewhere to put them, after all. In these public places, speech may be limited only for narrow and very specific reasons.  States are allowed, for example, to prohibit demonstrators from blocking access to buildings like hospitals or fire stations.  We allow the government to make and enforce laws designed to keep those vital public services operating, even when it might limit people’s right to demonstrate in certain areas.  Courts call these “time, place, and manner restrictions,” and as long as they meet certain criteria, they’re constitutional. Read more
Published: 
Tuesday, June 22, 2010
The first Pride Parade I ever attended was in 2003, just days after the Supreme Court ruled on Lawrence v. Texas, a groundbreaking decision that struck down the Texas law which criminalized sodomy. I was in San Francisco. Marchers held signs, “I had sodomy for breakfast.” As I had only come out less than two years prior, the immense outward free expression of pride and celebration of equal rights was overwhelming—in a good way. As Pride month culminates here in this weekend’s festivities and annual parade, I reflect on a couple recent developments that are cause for celebration—personally, with respect to future aspiring parenthood and to professional growth and inspiration. Read more
Published: 
Monday, June 21, 2010
On June 10, the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) proclaimed a major victory in the War on Drugs. As stated by Attorney General Eric Holder, Project Deliverance “struck a significant blow against the [Mexican] cartels…, [albeit] just one battle in what is an ongoing war.” The numbers involved certainly are impressive, 2,226 arrests (including 23 here in Washington), 74.1 tons of illegal drugs seized, and $154 million in apprehended assets. However, Project Deliverance is about more than just flashy photos of seized drugs and stern quotes from law enforcement officials, it is a snapshot of the futility of the War on Drugs.  Read more
Published: 
Friday, June 18, 2010
For a long time my partner and I have known that our futures would be intertwined.  About a year ago, the conversation began to shift from both of us dreaming of law school to each of us taking active steps towards attending law school.  As our conversation moved from dreaming to paying for it (and the sticker shock that is private and public law schools in this country), we began toying with the idea of making our relationship legitimate (read: legal).  We figured that if we had legal standing as a partnership, both being in law school, our potential loan cap could increase.  Romantic, no? We began to discuss seriously how legalizing our union would change our lives; how we would have some legal protections for our relationship and a responsibility to care for each other, would always be able to visit each other in the hospital and have power of attorney over each other, and could take family and medical leave to care for each other.  We talked about traveling together, and how the US embassy would see us differently if we traveled together as legal partners. Read more
Published: 
Friday, June 18, 2010
Have you ever gone somewhere and gotten the distinct impression that you were not welcome?  Suppose you were a student of color and a school board member stated his belief that you are incapable of academic success because of your race. What could you possibly make of this? Recently, Marysville School Board Member Michael Kundu told his fellow board members that he believes that academic achievement is genetically determined.    In an e-mail discussion, Kundu asserted that students in certain racial groups are simply incapable of achieving academic success based on biological or genetic disadvantages. In other words, a third of the students in the Marysville School District are almost not worth teaching. Read more

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