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News and reports

March 11, 2005 | Pages 10 and 11

No to war and occupation
Stop the execution of Vernon Evans
Defend free speech at Columbia
Protest Larry Summers
Defend abortion rights

Marriage is a right
By Doug Kennedy

SEATTLE--More than a thousand gay marriage activists rallied March 6 to send a message to Washington State's Supreme Court: "We demand equality!"

Washington's Supreme Court will hear oral arguments March 8 in a case that could legalize same-sex marriage throughout the state. Marriage Equality Now, a community-based group, organized a march and rally in response to a case that could shape the future of the gay marriage movement nationally.

In July and August of last year, two lower courts found Washington's Defense of Marriage Act, the primary barrier to full marriage equality, to be in violation of the state constitution. As Brenda Bauer, a plaintiff in the case, told the crowd, "There are hundreds of laws that protect families just like ours, and we want those laws to protect our family." With the momentum of recent pro-gay-marriage rulings in Massachusetts and New York City behind them, judges here have the opportunity to strike a blow against institutionalized homophobia in this state.

A victory in Washington is important and achievable, but since 11 states already have constitutional amendments banning gay marriage, it won't be enough. These kinds of contradictions mean that the U.S. Supreme Court will eventually have to rule on same-sex marriage. We need to build a politically independent movement that can prepare itself for the larger struggle ahead.

As one rally participant, Annalee Burdy, who married her partner in Portland a year ago, told Socialist Worker, "We may win the right to marry, but we'll be constantly defending that right until the entire system changes."

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No to war and occupation

MT. HOLYOKE, Mass.--"College Not Combat" was the slogan with which 10 student-members of the Holyoke Community College Anti-War Coalition (HCCAWC) greeted two Marine recruiters on February 22.

Apparently, the recruiters got the message and quickly left the area. The students remained and distributed antiwar literature, collecting approximately 70 signatures demanding reCongnition of Pablo Paredes' application for conscientious objector status. The HCCAWC continued to build a presence on campus by organizing a "Cost of War in Iraq" teach-in on March 2 demanding an end to the occupation and self-determination for the Iraqi people.

-- In Greensboro, N.C., a new formation of student activists, the Greensboro Student Action Coalition (GSAC) held its first conference on February 26 at the University of North Carolina-Greensboro. Attendance ranged from 30-50 people throughout the day at this gathering of students from North Carolina A&T University, Bennett College, Guilford College and UNC-Greensboro--four universities that have never worked together at a grassroots level. GSAC will go on from this conference to build for the demonstration in Fayetteville, N.C. (the home of Fort Bragg) on March 19.

-- In Seattle, antiwar activists are building for an anti-imperialist rally and march on March 19. Organized by a sizable coalition of activist groups--including ANSWER, the Arab American Community Coalition, BAYAN-USA, the International League of People's Struggles, the International Socialist Organization, Socialist Alternative and Veterans for Peace--this event will raise issues that have been largely overlooked by the antiwar movement, from Israel's occupation of Palestine to solidarity with Venezuela. The groups will gather at 10:30 a.m. at Seattle Central Community College before marching to join a larger antiwar rally at Seattle Center.

Kolya Ludwig contributed to this report.

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Stop the execution of Vernon Evans
By Mike Stark

ANNAPOLIS, Md.--The state of Maryland plans to murder Vernon Evans the week of April 18 despite evidence that Evans may not have committed the crime in question.

New evidence includes testimony by the only eyewitness that Evans was not the killer. Further, Evans' case falls into a disturbing pattern on Maryland's death row where poor Blacks accused of killing whites are sent to death row more often than others accused of similar crimes.

In 2003, a governor-commissioned study performed at the University of Maryland found that "Blacks who kill whites are two-and-a-half times more likely to be sentenced to death than are whites who kill whites, three-and-a-half times more likely than are Blacks who kill Blacks, and almost 11 times more likely to be sentenced to death than 'other' racial combinations."

Anti-death penalty activists have joined with Vernon Evans, his legal team and his family to organize against the execution. Events are planned at Georgetown University, American University, Mount St. Mary's College, and elsewhere. In addition, a demonstration is planned for April 9 outside Maryland's death row in Baltimore. For more information, contact the Campaign to End the Death Penalty at [email protected].

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Defend free speech at Columbia
By Jonah Birch

NEW YORK--Approximately 40 people protested "The Middle East and Academic Integrity on the American Campus," a conference held by right-wing pro-Israel boosters at Columbia University March 6.

The conference was co-sponsored by students involved in the witch-hunt of professors in the Middle Eastern and Asian Languages and Cultures (MEALAC) department. It included such well-known apologists for Israel and U.S. imperialism as Campus Watch co-founder Martin Kramer; torture advocate and attorney Alan Dershowitz; Israeli cabinet member Natan Sharanksy; and Charles Jacobs, head of the David Project, the pro-Israel lobby group that has been funding the witch-hunt.

The protest was called by the coalition group Stop McCarthyism At Columbia (SMAC), which defends professors' right to be critical of the United States and Israel. The conference demonstrated that the attacks on MEALAC are about shutting down critics of Israel and the "war on terror," not about "students' rights" or "academic freedom" as the right claims.

Students are gearing up for a debate between members of the Antiwar Coalition and the right-wing student supporters of the witch-hunt against MEALAC.

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Protest Larry Summers
By Brian Rainey

CAMBRIDGE, Mass.--About 100 students picketed Harvard University President Larry Summers' meeting with faculty February 22.

The rally was called not only to protest Summers' comments about the biological inferiority of women but the institutional sexism running rampant at Harvard. For instance, the number of women offered tenure has fallen every year since Summers became president of Harvard. In addition, Harvard, the wealthiest university in America, does not even have a women's center.

The students not only demanded Summers' resignation, they put forward a number of other demands, including a centrally located women's center with full-time staff, free on-site child care for Harvard workers, an increase the number of tenured women faculty, and that students, workers and others be involved in the selection of university presidents.

The demonstration coincided with a faculty meeting where a "no confidence" vote in Summers by the faculty was supposed to be discussed. A coalition of ten student groups planned to organize another protest for International Women's Day on March 8.

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Defend abortion rights
By John Osmand

PROVIDENCE--About 40 people picketed a fundraiser for anti-choice Democratic Rep. James Langevin here February 28. At the protest, called by the Rhode Island National Organization for Women, marchers chanted, "Abortion rights under attack! What do we do? Stand up, fight back!" and other spirited slogans.

Langevin opposes abortion coverage for women in the military and abortion access for minors. His approval rating is 78 percent by national anti-choice groups. He would earn the highest ranking if he opposed stem cell research. Langevin has expressed a strong interest in running for the U.S. Senate seat held by pro-choice Republican Lincoln Chaffee.

The action caught media attention at a time when liberal organizations nationally have given up the fight for abortion rights, preferring to court politicians rather than confront them.

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