I'm going to attempt something new today - instead of writing about one topic, long form, I'm going to have three shorter topics. Here we go.
Earlier this week, The News-Gazette reported on a couple who own a Bed & Breakfast near Paxton who were recently assessed $80,000 in damages from the Illinois Human Rights Commission for refusing to perform a civil union ceremony for a gay couple, Mark and Todd Wathen.
The website for the Bed & Breakfast can be found here, and they offer some explanation into their refusal, as the Gazette points out:
"It is not an issue of fairness or equality, but an issue of right and wrong," the website says. "We cannot be part of what God condemns."
The Human Rights Commission? Damn, that's how you know you're in some heavy shit. I would not want to be a bigoted Bed & Breakfast owner in Paxton right about now. Unfortunately, the above quote highlights exactly what's contradictory about the stance of the owners. They claim it's not about fairness and equality, but rather between right and wrong, which is a little confusing to me, because being fair and equal seems unequivocally morally right, no? "Treat others as you want to be treated" certainly makes it seem like equality's the golden rule, right?
I know that the Bible is important to billions of people, and I respect their right to hold these views, but when the views start to be forced onto the general public, especially in the form of refusals and denials based on sexual orientation, we've got a serious problem. It's the same thing with Ted Cruz, who says "to God be the glory" at the beginning of every speech to pander to the evangelical right-wing. It's the same thing as North Carolina and Georgia, who just this week, have actually regressed history with anti-LGBT policies.
But even furthermore, the real point here is that if you don't like gay marriage, I've got good news: you don't have to get gay-married. Contrary to these peoples' belief, no one is forcing them to be a "part of what God condemns;" it's a totally voluntary thing. So like even if you religiously oppose it, you don't have to participate in it. Leave town for the weekend, go to a Cubs game or the museum or something, I don't know. No one is forcing them to be there. No one is forcing them to experience the marriage in any way, shape or form. I can't believe we're still talking about this in 2016. Just let people be people, damn it.
Oh wow, another liberal person arguing for less-harsh marijuana laws, let's just get all of the cliches out of the way now.
Earlier this week, Urbana's City Council voted in a narrow 4-3 decision to lower the fine for marijuana possession, which is already decriminalized in Urbana, from $300 to $50, which, if voted into action next week, will make Urbana's pot laws some of the most lenient in the state.
According to The News-Gazette, last year, the Urbana Police issued 56 tickets for marijuana possession ($300 each) and arrested 71 people for possession of less than 30 grams of marijuana. While the lowering of the fine isn't the end-all-be-all of marijuana victories, it does make it so that less lives are ruined by an arrest or failure to pay and subsequent consequences. Anything that does that is a big win in my book.
The War on Drugs was a scam, and it has failed. It seems more and more, as society changes, that our federal drug laws are antiquated, and those in power know it. If they didn't, they wouldn't allow Colorado and Washington to recreationally sell marijuana, they would hit the entire industry with the FBI and DEA until it was pummelled, but they didn't. Urbana deserves praise for being on the cutting edge (by Illinois standards) of this issue, and contributing more to rehabilitating the lives of citizens than stripping away their rights and shipping them off to a for-profit prison built by someone who favors more prisoners.
This isn't about kids wanting to get high - it's about the lives of the 71 people arrested for minor marijuana possession last year, and how that potentially ruined their lives, all for something that is commonplace, and often unenforced among Caucasians and the wealthy.
I'm gonna try to refrain from swear words and name calling on this one, but every time I write about Bruce Rauner, I just can't seem to help myself. I'm not sure why.
Brucey paid a visit to LeRoy High School this week, and talked to a bunch of high school students who are going to college next year about the budget crisis, and why many of them decided to attend schools out-of-state due to the lack of funding. One might think: wow, if there's anything that's going to change this guy's mind on the budget, it's gotta be when he meets the kids whose futures he's affecting, right? Wrong.
Governor Rauner instead shifted the blame to Democrats (surprise) and said things like "Our universities deserve a lot more funding. I want to get them more," and "I'm cheering for you guys; I want you to go to whatever university you want to go. I'm a huge advocate for scholarships. The fact that we're not funding our MAP grants is outrageous."
Which sounds all good and well and everything, but when investigated reveals the true disingenuousness of Rauner's personality, similar to the way he omits the g in "ing" words whenever he's speaking downstate to sound more folksy. It's slimy, it's manipulative and most importantly, it's a lie. He's not rooting for the students. If he was, he would have done anything to fund their MAP Grants by now.
At the same time that Rauner is telling high school Seniors that he wants to give universities a lot more funding, he's holding every public university in Illinois hostage. All it would take would be one signature from him, and funding could begin flowing to our state institutions of higher learning. But it hasn't happened. Instead, every single member of faculty and staff at Chicago State had to turn in their keys this week. Eastern in Charleston laid off hundreds, and the wave is about to hit Western, Southern, Northern and eventually, every other public university in the state.
I mean, starving public universities is one thing, but when Rauner says things like this, that are blatantly contradictory to his real-world policies, it proves that he's conscious of how he's hurting people. He has to change his message to be able to speak with people face-to-face, and that can't be a good quality for a Governor to possess. Honesty would be much better. Next time, just tell them you're playing political games, and the consequences are the thousands of people who work at these universities and the futures of the students themselves. Asshole.