On November 13, 2012, the Justice Department announced that it filed a civil rights lawsuit against the city of San Jacinto in California for violating the Fair Housing Act and Americans with Disabilities Act. The lawsuit was filed for the city’s treatment of group homes for disabled persons.
According to the complaint, the city has made it extremely difficult for group homes of people with disabilities to remain and operate in the city. The zoning codes currently state groups homes that are not required licensing from the state—and even some licensed homes—are not allowed zoning in the city.
The complaint also alleges that the city targeted housing for people with disabilities during a sweep in November of 2008. During the sweep, armed officers and deputies in uniform showed up to multiple residences, interrogated the residents with disabilities, and made them fill out a questionnaire intended for people with mental disabilities.
The lawsuit occurred after the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) received a large number of complaints from operators of group homes around the city. The Justice Department is asking the court to make the city stop enforcing the discriminatory laws and make reasonable accommodations for all group homes. The Justice Department is also seeking monetary damages for victims of the civil rights violations.
Thomas E. Perez, Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division, stated, “No person should be denied an equal opportunity for housing in his or her community, or suffer harassment or intimidation, because he or she is a person with a disability. The Justice Department is committed to preventing discriminatory treatment of people with disabilities.”
André Birotte, Jr., the U.S. Attorney for the Central district of California, stated, “This suit is part of my office’s continuing efforts, in partnership with DOJ’s Civil Rights Division, to ensure that all residents of the Central District are accorded the rights to which there are entitled under the law.”
Source: U.S. Department of Justice
Same-sex marriage in France is now one step closer to legality, as lawmakers in the lower house of parliament approved a bill that extends the right to adopt and marry to same-sex couples.
The initiative secured approval in the National Assembly by a vote of 329 to 229 and 10 abstains. Before it can be placed into law, the bill must still go before the Senate; if passed, it would formally mark the most critical advancement for French gay rights advocates in more than 10 years.
France is not the only nation debating the polarizing issue of gay marriage, as UK lawmakers also took a big step last week toward legalizing the measure when they appropriated the second reading of a bill in the House of Commons.
While a significant number of Parliament members backed the legislation, which is backed by Prime Minister David Cameron, the push has prompted widespread controversy and rebellion within Cameron’s conservative party. The bill in the United Kingdom must go through several more stages before it can officially be made into a law. The Church of England, and other religious institutions, are among the organizations vehemently opposed to UK legislation.
Extending the right to adopt and marry to homosexual couples in France was one of President Hollande’s electoral pledges during his campaign efforts last year.
France’s National Assembly, which is dominated by Hollande’s Socialist Party, approved the most critical article of law with an overwhelming majority earlier this month. The left, which also controls the majority of the Senate, faces stiff opposition from social conservatives and the Roman Catholic Church as huge numbers routinely turn out for protest marches in the nation’s capital of Paris.
The archbishop of Paris, Cardinal Andre Vingt-Trois, claims that offering marriage and adoption to same-sex couples would be viewed as a transformation of marriage that would impact everyone. The bishop went onto say that failing to recognize gender difference within the union of marriage would be a deceit that would damage the foundations of society and lead to widespread acts of discrimination.
That said, the legislation has secured wide backing from gay rights advocates, including from the French, gay, lesbian and transgender organization Inter-LGBT who claims that legislation would be a significant step forward for France in terms of equality of rights.
A law legalizing civil unions in France was passed in 1999 under a previous Socialist government. Known in the nation as PACS, the civil union agreement may be entered into by straight or homosexual couples and offers many but not all of the rights of a traditional marriage.
It was late on November 6, 2012, but President Obama clinched the re-election in an election some thought wouldn’t be decided for days. The results were close as more and more people stood in lines at the polls, but it was clear President Obama was showing a strong lead going into the evening.
President Obama initially won Michigan and New Hampshire, both states that were strongly divided between the two candidates. The results in Pennsylvania and Wisconsin soon showed the Obama clinched two more swing states, and with the electoral votes from California, President Obama only had to win in Ohio.
The results for Ohio were announced late Tuesday night and bumped up President Obama’s electoral votes to 275. By Wednesday morning, President Obama had secured 303 electoral votes, and Governor Romney had secured 206 electoral votes. Only Florida remains undecided, but President Obama showed a slight lead in the state’s majority vote. If Obama wins Florida, the final electoral vote count will give President Obama a total of 332 electoral votes.
The national popular vote remained extremely close, but President Obama also showed a slight lead in the popular vote.
With President Obama’s victory, three US presidents in a row have been elected to a second term.
During President Obama’s victory speech, he acknowledged Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan for their strong campaign. He praised the United States and voters for their support, but he made a clear statement that the work required by citizens to improve the country does not end with the election.
President Obama ended the speech on a powerful note and gave his ideal of the United States. He blessed the United States and praised the country as a place where everyone has an equal opportunity if they work hard, regardless of where they come from, what they look like, or who they love.
Following the election, President Obama now faces budgetary issues in the United States and must work with Congress to set up a budget to avoid another fiscal cliff.
As winter storm Athena gets close to the Northeast states—especially areas affected by Hurricane Sandy—the Fire Administration (USFA) urges residents to take safety precautions while staying warm in order to avoid fires.
Winter storm Athena is impacting mid-Atlantic and Northeast states at this moment, and the conditions are expected to continue through the night.
The USFA suggests the following steps to prevent fires during the winter storm:
• contact the fire department right away if you smell natural gas and exit the building right away
• do not use an oven range to heat your home
• keep anything at least three feet away from a space heater
• make sure your space heaters have a “tip switch”
• only use fuel the heater calls for
• do not fill up a space heater if it’s still hot or still turned on
• put a glass or metal screen in front of your fireplace to catch sparks
• make sure your wood stove is working properly and has enough ventilation
• do not put space heaters on carpets or rugs
• open the damper for the fireplace before you light a fire
• never leave a space heater on when you sleep
The USFA recommends the following to prevent CO poisoning during the winter storm:
• do not run a gasoline generator in your home
• keep the portable generator as far away from your home and your neighbor’s home as possible
• don’t use a portable propane heater indoors unless the heater is designed for inside use
• do not use gas or electric stoves to provide heat for your home
• ask if a space heater is safety-certified before you purchase one
Source: U.S. Fire Administration