Congresswoman Corrine Brown, a long serving Democratic member of the US House didn’t vote to extend federal benefits to the spouses of LGBT couples last Thursday.
In a shocking move first reported by Politico, Brown reversed course on her previous support of an amendment that according to the Human Rights Campaign would “correct outdated language” in statutes that define spouses as a member of the “opposite sex”.
The proposed amendment- the Veteran Spouses Equal Treatment Act was proposed by Dina Titus (D-NV) and was designed to allow same-sex spouses of military veterans to receive benefits entitled to them under federal law.
“This amendment would take a critical step in ensuring in statute that the voices of LGBT veterans are consistently heard and ensure the LGBT community is represented when addressing the issues that affect minority veterans,” a statement from the Human Rights Campaign said.
Brown, the ranking member of the House Veterans Affairs Committee voted present when the amendment came to a vote.
“I never question someone’s motives for how they vote, but what upset us is, one, she changed her vote and second, she didn’t let us know and she is our leader,” Titus was quoted by Politico as saying about Brown. “We’re talking about a number of options….We’re going to do something. We want to hear her explanation and we want her to hear why we are upset. It was really disappointing.”
While Brown’s vote didn’t impact the outcome of the failure of the amendment to pass (12 of the 14 Republicans on the committee voted against it), it has sparked questions about her motivations and whether it is due to her positioning for the 2016 election- when she is expected to compete in a more conservative district.
Twitter was not pleased with the Congresswoman after the vote.
Shame on Corrine Brown. Democrats fume at fellow Democrat over same-sex benefits vote http://t.co/6kLlhLeoKh
— John B. Dorris, Esq. (@SciFi_TriGuy) September 20, 2015
@RepCorrineBrown a disgraceful Democrat who proves her self-interest is bigger than her constituents. Shame on you! Time for a new Dem!
— thebwein (@thebwein) September 20, 2015
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About the AuthorRich Robinson is the CEO and publisher of Rise News. He is also a journalist and a native of Miami. Robinson graduated from the University of Alabama and can be followed on Twitter @RichRobMiami.
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After running the most racist and divisive campaign that America has seen since 1968, Donald Trump is dangerously close to becoming President.
While most national polls show Hillary Clinton with a solid lead, the margin is still too close for comfort in many states. Trump does still have a path to victory, no matter how narrow it may be.
This should be a horrifying fact for believers in American democracy.
If people who share common sense and a notion of basic decency don’t show up to the polls today, we could elect an authoritarian as our leader.
Our very Republic is in dire danger.
We are not in the business of endorsing candidates at RISE NEWS.
But Donald Trump is the greatest internal threat that this nation has faced in modern history.
His lack of knowledge of American history and how our Constitution works is troubling.
His stoking of white nationalism and racial hatred is un-American.
His foreign policy would put us in league with dictators and despots the world over as his isolationism is mixed with a virulent form of imperialism.
His lack of compassion and basic human empathy profoundly scares us.
He is more sociopath than political leader.
His treatment of women shows us how much of a pig he truly is- a relic that should be thrown on the trash-heap of history, not allowed to lead the most dynamic nation into a new decade.
His conspiracy theories are manifold.
In Trump’s mind, climate change is a Chinese conspiracy, Barack Obama was born in Kenya, Mexico intentionally sends rapist and murderers to undermine American security and Hillary Clinton engages in nightly satanic rituals.
He is a man who has gaslighted America and lied more than a junkie trying to get a fix.
He has retweeted white supremacists, embraced a hate symbol and has been endorsed by the Klu Klux Klan.
He got into a fight with the Pope.
He has attacked journalists and the bedrock Constitutional right of a free press by promising to open up libel laws.
He has made fun of the disabled because he is a heartless thug who cares about nothing more than settling scores.
Despite his self-proclaimed massive wealth, there is no record of him giving much away to charity.
He has no real ideology, doesn’t study the issues and can’t even be trusted with a Twitter account.
He is a strongman and yet still a weak little child.
The American Putin, the Mugabe of Manhattan.
He has debased our politics, darkened our glow on the global stage and showed our children that character doesn’t matter as long as you have money.
As Jefferson said once, “Tyranny is defined as that which is legal for the government but illegal for the citizenry.”
Trump has already done so many things that the rest of us would never be able to get away with.
If elected as President, he would do the same.
Except then, he would have nuclear weapons.
SAVE THE REPUBLIC. BEAT TRUMP TODAY.
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By John Massey
Poland’s ruling party, the Law and Justice Party (PiS), has been the source of controversy in Poland and throughout Europe nearly since their arrival to power in October of 2015.
This has been driven by the party’s Euroskeptic agenda, questionable legislation, and generally hostile behavior. As a result, the strategic readiness of the entire Euro-Atlantic area is compromised due to growing fissures between European allies.
The Party’s platform in regards to Poland’s relations with other states emphasizes expansion and modernization of Poland’s military, as well as strong cooperation with the UN, NATO, and in particular the United States.
They are wary of integration with the EU than NATO, but not outright opposed like other European right-wing parties like UKIP in the United Kingdom. It should also be noted that PiS favors further centralization of Poland’s government, which is the source of PiS’s disruptive effect on alliance readiness and cohesion.
The troubles began in December, when PiS moved to replace 15 judges on the Constitutional Court, the primary check against the Parliament.
The troubles began in December, when PiS moved to replace 15 judges on the Constitutional Court, the primary check against the Parliament. This resulted in weeks of protest from concerned Poles.
Shortly after this affront to checks and balances, military police were dispatched to replace officials at a NATO Counterintelligence Center in Krakow.
This change of staff was not relayed to other members of the alliance, including Slovak officials charged with cooperatively coordinating the facility who chastised the move, though no changes were made to the Slovak staff.
On Jan. 7 of this year, President Andrzej Duda (who resigned from PiS after being elected last May to serve as an independent) signed into law new supreme powers for the Treasury Minister over appointments and firings from state media, as opposed to the previous system of contests hosted by the National Broadcast Council.
This was followed by further protests against the government, and the first of its kind investigation by the EU of PiS’s undemocratic legislation. In the most extreme circumstances this can lead to Poland having its voting rights in the EU Parliament suspended.
The Polish government has responded to this inquiry with aggression at the perceived source of this hostility (Germany) with attacks.
This includes drawing allusions to Nazi Germany in both print, depicting Chancellor Angela Merkel in the garb of Adolf Hitler, and a tough letter from Poland’s Justice Minister aimed at the German EU commissioner.
“You demanded that Poland be placed under supervision. Such words, spoken by a German politician, have the worst possible connotations for Poles,” Poland’s Justice Minister Zbigniew Ziobro said in a letter to the German EU commissioner Gunther Oettinger according to the Financial Times.
This verbal jab is in spite of relations being so warm in 2014 that Germany and Poland agreed to an exchange of commanders of battalions, a German commanding a Polish unit and vice versa, in order to better understand how their allies work.
The military exchange is set to occur in mid 2016. This kind of exchange is critical to belaying atrophy in a highly critical region of NATO’s frontier. If relations deteriorate to the point that this kind of mutually beneficial cooperation is cancelled, it would be a bad signal to Euro-Atlantic security.
These continued worrying actions in affairs, both foreign and domestic, will likely only further isolate Poland from its allies, which in turn damages the readiness of the entire alliance.
While these effects are likely short-term, and may be rectified due to the popular discontent of the Polish people, and pressure from the EU, serious disagreements are a real possibility. Allied states being unwilling to train together would present a much weaker deterrent to any hypothetical Russian adventures in the Baltic Region, due to the much weaker unit cohesion.
With NATO’s 2016 Warsaw Conference coming up, frosty relations may limit the effectiveness of any measures taken at the conference. This would be in stark contrast to the highly productive 2014 Wales Conference, which established the Very High Readiness Joint Taskforce (VJTF), a multinational brigade that can be deployed within 48 hours to respond to a crisis, preceding the full force of the 40,000 man NATO Response Force (NRF).
Thus, it is in the best interest of a party that claims to value Poland’s NATO membership to repair these ties, and perhaps reevaluate how much it values NATO’s deeply entwined sister organization, the EU.
RISE NEWS is a grassroots journalism news organization that is working to change the way young people become informed and engaged in public affairs. Anyone can write for you us as long as you are fiercely interested in making the world a better place.
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With a seemingly endless war going on in Syria, Arab states slowly coming apart, terrorist cells continuously operating and economic as well as military interests from countries like Russia and America, the Middle East has become a complicated and turbulent region.
While the role of the world’s greatest hegemonies inside the Middle East seems clear, there are regional powers whose presence is often underestimated or forgotten.
So, with a strained relationship with the Unites States and failed negotiations to form part of the European Union, what is Turkey’s international and regional role?
“Every decision Turkey makes, even the ones that affect the international sphere, are related to their domestic policies.” Agustín Berea a Middle East specialist said in an interview with RISE NEWS. “Everything Tayyip Erdoğan does is for his public and his public is the Turkish people.”
In a developing country where the society is divided between those in favor of business and liberalism and those who are much more conservative and traditionalist, Tayyip Erdoğan came in as a reformist, progressist and with strong ties with the conservative sectors of the Turkish society.
In the beginning of Erdoğan’s mandate, talks about joining the European Union were strong.
READ MORE: Why Turkey Should Be Removed From NATO
However, such discourses have gradually faded over time.
Historical issues, such as the occupation of Cyprus, and the recent violation of human rights, as well as the authoritarian government, have been enough to declare that Turkey does not reach the standards to form part of the union.
Although the Republic of Turkey was founded with the objective of having a legitimacy based on secularity and laicism, the Turkish society remains strongly attached to its religious basis.
“Demographically, there’s a lot more people who identify themselves with the East than with the West. Geographically, the part of Turkey located in Europe and the Mediterranean, although highly populated, represents a minority,” Berea said.
Not only that, but the agenda of Turkish president Tayyip Erdoğan does not tie with the agenda of other international actors such as Russia and the United States.
“His main goal is to solve internal conflicts,” Berea said.
The inability to tie Turkish interests with those of other countries has resulted in strained relationships with the American president Donald Trump and the Russian president Vladimir Putin.
Moreover, it has also resulted in the breaking of diplomatic relations with the Iranian president Hasán Rouhani.
While Erdoğan’s ability to project his influence at an international level is questionable, with one of the world’s largest and most powerful armies, Turkey’s regional power is undeniable.
“Turkey cannot reach just any part of the world. However, its mobility and ability to effectively achieve its goals within the Middle East are higher than the one of countries like Russia or even the United States,” Berea said.
These goals include neutralizing the threat of ISIS within Turkish borders, the liberation of the city of Raqqa, and toppling the Assad regime. However, this would require more time, planning, and manpower than the one Turkey currently has in Syria.
This year, as early as February, former prohibitions considered to be secularization measures, such as the banning of the of Islamic veil and religious demonstrations, have been lifted. This has led many to believe that Turkey is no longer the champion of secularism.
“Muslim sectors are much closer to the government and it would seem like Turkey’s regional allies are projects that align with the agenda of political Islam,” Berea said.
Turkey is not the only nation of the Middle East that seems to be going back to projects and governments based on the Muslim religion.
“Countries in the Middle East have experienced with secular governance models and it is the opinion of many that such projects have not worked so far,” Berea explained.
Iran, Syria and Egypt are some of the countries that have experienced with these secular governance models.
The idea of going back to a caliphate comes from these failed projects of democratic nations and the people in the Middle East want to go back to a moment in which society and political structures worked better.
Could we expect Tayyip Erdoğan’s government to fail or to be toppled by a revolution in Turkey?
“The only way that there could be a successful coup against Erdoğan is if he openly spoke about religious structures within the state. This is unthinkable for the Turkish army,” Berea said.
Although political leaders have known how to handle their differences and act with moderation, the future of the Middle East is now more uncertain than ever.
With so many international actors involved in a small region, the situation seems to be bound to escalate to major proportions.
“My fear about Trump is that he may not know how to handle himself in moments of tension,” Berea said.
While conflict is possible, it doesn’t seem likely yet.
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RISE NEWS is a grassroots journalism news organization that is working to change the way young people become informed and engaged in the world. You can write for us.
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