News and reports

Univ. of Cincinnati antiwar forum

CINCINNATI--Despite intense cold, approximately 70 people turned out January 24 for "Truth, Lies and Torture: Stories from Iraq."

The event, sponsored by the University of Cincinnati (UC) International Socialist Organization, the UC Campus Greens, Peace Village, and the Cincinnati branch of the Campus Antiwar Network, featured Iraq Veterans Against the War member Aidan Delgado and other speakers.

Delgado was honorably discharged as a conscientious objector and has written the book The Sutras of Abu Ghraib. At the meeting, he spoke about his experiences in Iraq and at Abu Ghraib prison, and spoke about the U.S. refusal to abide by the Geneva Conventions on torture.

Fedaa Jasim, an Iraqi-American student, spoke about the death of two of her uncles in Abu Ghraib prison and her experience in the war-torn country. Marty Webster, a member of Vietnam Veterans Against the War, also spoke, telling the audience that the U.S. government does not take care of military veterans.

During a question-and-answer session, audience members repeatedly asked how Iraq can be rebuilt and what should happen next. The speakers responded that the American military presence in Iraq must cease.

The message of the event was clear: Troops out now!

Oregon protest for same-sex civil rights

PORTLAND, Ore.--More than 1,000 people gathered January 30 to protest legal attacks on a recently passed domestic partnership law and to express support for LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) civil rights in the state. The rally was organized by Basic Rights Oregon, the largest gay rights group in the state and a chief campaigner for the law.

In the days after the protest, a Bush-appointed judge ruled against the legal challenges, allowing the domestic partnership bill to go into effect on February 4.

The domestic partnership bill grants many benefits to same-sex couples on the state level, such as the right to joint health care benefits. Many elements of the law should be seen as labor and workers' rights issues, because they grant workers in a same-sex relationship the same state-level legal rights as workers in an opposite-sex relationship.

The labor group Jobs With Justice had a visible presence at the rally, and Barbara Byrd, secretary-treasurer of the Oregon AFL-CIO, spoke. When she asked the assembled demonstrators how many were in a union, there was a loud and boisterous response from the crowd.

The law, passed last May, was initially to have taken effect January 1, but its passage was delayed following a court challenge by the anti-gay Alliance Defense Fund, which had previously launched a failed campaign to put the law and a related anti-discrimination bill to referendum on the ballot in the hopes of overturning it.