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July 16, 2001 - Image 4

Resource type:
Michigan Daily Summer Weekly, 2001-07-16

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4 - The Michigan Daily - Monday, July 16, 2001
Edited and managed by
University of Michigan Editor in Chief Editorial Page Edito
C 4J~ I I 4 4Unless otherwise noted, unsigned editorials reflect the opinion of
420 Maynard Street majority of the Daily's editorial board. All other article, letters a
Ann Arbor, MI 48109 cartoons do not necessarily reflect the opinion of The Michigan D,

T he Washington Post recently
allegedly obtained an internal Salva-
tion Army document stating that the
White House had made a "firm commit-
ment" to put forth legislation to protect
those religious charities receiving federal
money from local laws that bar workplace
discrimination. This new federal legisla-
tion apparently would override state and
municipal laws that revents discriminat-
ing against gays in hiring and providing
The Post alleges that at the same time
the Salvation Army would agree to boost
support for Bush's faith-based initiative to
increase funding for those charities pro-
viding social services. The document sug-
gested that in return for the request, the
alvation Army would spend approxi-
mately $1 million lobbying for Congres-
sional passage of legislation to simplify
the funneling of federal money into social
programs administered by religious
There are many problems with this
legislation. First of all, the process by
which this legislation is negotiated
involves a sort of demographic hierarchy.

Denying civil rights
Federally funded charities must not discriminate

The federal government wants the Salva-
tion Army to use its reach into society to
rovide social services for the needy; the
alvation Army is perfectly willing,
except it doesn't want to have to provide
full benefits for gay employees; the gov-
ernment agrees. Implicit in this agree-
ment is the idea that the needs of poor
heterosexual people are somehow more
important than the needs of gay employ-
Another big problem with this legisla-
tion is that it would allow discriminatory
distribution of public service to exist. Gay
employees of the Salvation Army pay
taxes just like the straight employees, but
under the proposed legislation they would
not receive the same level of benefits. If
this proposal sought to deny coverage
based on gender or ethnic background,
there would be a public outcry and no

politician would dare support it; why
should the reaction be any different
toward anti-gay legislation?
The Salvation Army - a church as
well as a charity - contends that it does
not want to be obliged by local laws to
ordain gay ministers. For example, its
members do not think they should have to
provide benefits for same-sex partners of
their employees. These arguments are
grounded in two different foundations -
one is ideological, the other more practi-
cal. Federal laws currently exempt reli-
gious groups from anti-discrimination
legislation which violates their creeds; the
Salvation Army's request to not be forced
to ordain gay ministers is legal. The sec-
ond contention stems from controversy
over the legalization of same-sex mar-
riages. The Salvation Army does not want
to be forced to recognize same-sex mar-

riages when dispensing employee be
fits. It feels that spouses of employees
same-sex marriages should not recei
the same level of benefits as spouses
heterosexual employees. Thus, fede
legislation on the legalization of same
marriages should come before legislati
fulfilling the Salvation Army's requests.
Thankfully, recent events suggest t
type of legislation the Salvation Ar
hoped for will not come to fruition. T
White House has ceased to consider t
Salvation Army's request for exempti
from local anti-discrimination laws. T
Bush administration has expressed reg
that its recent actions have caused
much controversy. Vice President Di
Cheney said that the administration me
ly wanted to be sure that receiving p
money for social service work would"n
re uire fundamental changes in [th
underlying principles ... of the organiz
tions that participate."
Private organizations have the right
maintain their religious beliefs, but on
they start spending taxpayer dollars, th<
must abide by the same laws as oth
publicly funded institutions.

Blaming the victim
Zero-tolerance policy hurts women


According to the Nation Organiza-
tion for Women, conservative esti-
mates indicate that two to four
million women are battered by the men in
their lives each year in the United States.
Of these two to four million women, only
about 572,000 report their batterers to the
authorities. Women are ten times more
likely than men to be victims of domestic
abuse. Battered women face more than
twice the health care costs of other
women; adding insult to injury, many
insurance companies still refuse coverage
to repeated victims of domestic abuse on
the grounds that they have a "pre-existing
But battered women face discrimina-
tion from institutions other than insurance
companies. Just ask Oregon resident
Tiffani Ann Alvera, who was asked to
leave Creekside Village apartments just
two days after filing a restraining order
against her abusive husband.
Creekside Village Apartments is one
of the many government subsidized low-
income housing projects in the United
States that has a zero-tolerance policy
toward issues of domestic violence. This
means that if any member of a family
commits an assault, the entire family will
be evicted.
According to the New York Times,
Alvera tried unsuccessfully to transfer to
a single-person household and to have her
husband s name taken off the lease before
receiving the eviction notice.
Left with no other choice, Alvera filed
a complaint with the U.S. Department of
Housing and Urban Development. HUD
found in April that Creekside's zero-toler-
ance policy discriminates against women,
a violation of the Fair Housing Act which
prohibits discrimination on the basis of
sex, race, religion, disability, familial sta-
tus and ethnicity. This provided Alvera
with solid grounds for a lawsuit.
As summarized by American Civil

Liberties Union's Women's Rights Pro-
ject director Lenora Lapidus, "It's partic-
ularly difficult for low-income women
who are depending on subsidized hous-
ing to find stable living arrangements
and when they're in the crisis of domestic
violence, it's all the more difficult ...
Because domestic violence affects
women disproportionately, this kind of
zero-tolerance policy hurts women far
more than men.'
Other groups backing (and funding)
Alvera include the NOW Legal Defense
and Education Fund and Advocates for
Victims of Domestic Violence.
Creekside Village supervising proper-
ty manager still defends the policy, claim-
ing that a "hard stance on the issue of
violence" is the only way to "maintain a
peaceful living environment for all ten-
While it's important to keep housing
projects safe for the people who live
there, evicting entire families is not a pru-
dent way to do so. According to
www.now.org, low-income families are
five times more likely than others to face
domestic violence. Also, families who
would live in subsidized housing often
have nowhere else to go; they should not
be condemned to the streets just because
one amongst them has violent tendencies.
Alvera, for example, was not guilty by
association. She posed no threat to her
community and was unfairly removed
from her only refuge.
Subsidized housing projects like
Creekside should abandon zero-tolerance
policies for domestic violence that
require whole families to pay for the sins
of one. Alvera and her supporters deserve
commendation for taking action against
these discriminatory practices. A victory
against Creekside would mean a victory
against these policies nationwide; hope-
fully, the lawsuit will end in Alvera's

Unhappy family
Barney's lawyers ignore first amendment
it's a familiar scene: You're sick as a ment of their intellectual prop
dog. You have a fever of 104 degrees. rights."
You can't blink without feeling nau- Most recently, according
seous. You're sprawled out on the couch wired.com, Barney's lawyers have t
in the living room, when one of your flexing their purple muscles at a
housemates takes pity on you and turns Francisco-based civil liberties organ
on the television as she walks through tion called The Electronic Frontier F
the room. The screen lights up with dation. Apparently, EFF carried
something sickening - probably a food underground electronic magazine f
commercial of some kind. You think etext.org in 1994 that described
nothing could be worse than this, but as dinosaur as a child-molester and a cr
soon as the programming starts, you dresser, among other things. Since b
realize you were wrong. A large purple notified of their "offense ' by Barn
dinosaur dances across the screen, belt- lawyers, neither EFF nor etext. org
ing out, "I love you, you love me ..." remove the questionable material or I
You'd change it, but you lack the energy sued.
to lean forward and reach the remote The Lyons Partnership and is 1
control. team should stop trying to scare t1
Normally, you're a very calm person, site owners out of their first-amendr
but something about that terrible singing right to express themselves. As etext
lizard brings out your repressed violent hacker-lore editor Brendan Kehoe,
side. wired.com, "Instead of being an an
A simple internet search reveals the lance chaser, you can be a copyr
extent of this problem: A plethora of infringement chaser."
sites dedicated to bashing, slashing The real issue for Barney's crea
and/or maiming the children's character, and their lawyers is not whether tt
Barney. In a fevered stupor, one might sites are harmful to their charact
find t em humorous. But according to image; it is whether they can mal
wired.com news, there's at least one profit and how large that profit can
group of professionals that's not laugh- By bringing charges against these ha
ing: Barney's lawyers. less (if somewhat irate) site owners,t
The law firm Gibney, Anthony and are only paving the way for other attz
Flaherty - which represents Barney on not-for-profit, private websites.
rights-holder, the Lyons Partnership and lawsuits against these anti-Barney pZ
includes University Law school gradu- are frivolous.
ate Matthew Carl in - has allegedly The internet is an amazing too
been busy sending threatening letters to allows everyone to share his or her in
the owners of Barney hate sites. The let- mation and opinions, however unp
ters, signed by Carlin, inform the sites' lar, with others around the world. To
owners in no uncertain terms that the aggressive lawyers are trying to st
Lyons Partnership does not approve of few mischievous Barney bashers f
the sites' use of the Barney character. expressing themselves. Who will t
They contain the phrase "copyright attempt to silence tomorrow? Thef
infringement." According to defenders amendment protects every U.S. citiz
of Barney -haters, Ference and Associ- right to free speech; it must not be tr
ates, the Lyons Partnership has filed "77 pled by anyone for the sake of pers
lawsuits in 20 states alleging infringe- gain.


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