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News and reports

May 7, 2004 | Pages 10 and 11

Fight California education cuts
Evanston, Ill., Board of Education

Gay marriage
By Steve Trussell

BOSTON--Thousands of gay and lesbian couples are preparing to apply for marriage licenses here on May 17, the day the Supreme Judicial Court's (SJC) historic Goodridge decision banning marriage discrimination goes into effect. While city clerk's offices are preparing around the state to begin issuing the licenses and public health centers are performing the first-ever blood screenings for engaged same-sex couples, gay marriage opponents are continuing to seek legal maneuvers to block the licenses.

Antigay Gov. Mitt Romney is attempting to enforce a 1913 law to prevent out-of-state couples from marrying in Massachusetts if the marriages aren't recognized in their home state--a law intended to bar interracial marriages. Some town clerks have pledged to defy Romney's order to begin asking couples for proof of residency, and this week Boston Mayor Thomas Menino did the same, setting the stage for a possible showdown with the governor.

Meanwhile a group of 13 state lawmakers represented by the conservative American Center for Law and Justice (ACLJ) have filed a new motion to the high court challenging its jurisdiction in the Goodridge case. New far right groups such as "Article 8," an organization calling for the impeachment of the SJC majority judges, have also begun organizing across the state.

In New York City, pro-gay clergy gathered on the steps of the Bronx courthouse April 29 to marry gay couples. The same evening, more than 150 people came out for a forum on the gay marriage debate, and Marriage Equality New York has set a march for May 23.

In Chicago, a similar protest is scheduled for May 17. The strength of the movements on both sides of the issue will determine whether gay marriage rights in Massachusetts will be used to strengthen the fight for gay rights nationally, or whether the bigots will succeed in maintaining marriage segregation.

David Thurston contributed to this report.

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Fight California education cuts
By Lance Newman

SAN DIEGO--Chanting "¡Arnold, escucha, estámos en la lucha!" more than 1,000 students, faculty and staff from seven San Diego colleges and universities took to the streets April 26 to demand affordable higher education. "Governator" Arnold Schwarzenegger has proposed a 10 percent spending cut at all state universities and community colleges--a total of more than 140 campuses with 3.5 million students.

He also wants to hike tuition by 10 percent at state universities and by 44 percent at community colleges--after steep hikes last year too. In the most cynical and racist proposal of all, Schwarzenegger wants to eliminate popular and effective Educational Outreach Programs that recruit disabled, poor and minority students.

The crowd marched to the governor's regional field office, chanting "Money for schools, not for war!" While a delegation went inside to deliver 700 protest letters, hundreds outside sat down and blocked traffic.

This comes on top of mid-April protests against state budget cuts for elementary and high schools. As part of a week of action, more than 75 students marched 70 miles from San Pablo to Sacramento, where they demonstrated on the capital steps. Schwarzenegger said he didn't have time to meet with the students, and his chief of staff also gave them the runaround.

Jean Howell contributed to this report.

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Evanston, Ill., Board of Education
By Sharon Smith

EVANSTON, Ill.--Three hundred protesters marched and rallied here against elementary school budget cuts on April 26. Last month, the District 65 Board of Education sent out termination notices to one out of 10 of its 650 teachers. The board also announced the possibility of slashing crucial services such as library, social work and special education as well as foreign language and musical instrument instruction.

Then the board revealed that, in addition to other cuts, it might outsource the before- and after-school child care program to the YMCA. All child care workers, members of the Association of Childcare Professionals, would be fired from their jobs--losing their union and their seniority--and then be forced to apply as new hires at the YMCA, to work at part-time wages much lower than they currently earn.

The protest was a show of unity between parents, teachers, staff and students who chanted, "They say cut back, we say fight back!" as they marched to the Board of Education meeting. The school board angered the crowd when it allowed only 160 people inside--excluding everyone else--at a meeting that was "open to the public."

The board claimed "fire codes" made this decision necessary--but protesters learned that three days earlier, the fire department had formally recommended that the board move to a larger location to accommodate the large numbers expected! "I think this is surprising them," said child care workers' union president Natalie Copper. "I don't think they realized we were as strong as we are."

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