February is Black History Month and this year it carries some added weight due to a very special anniversary: It’s been 50 years since Congress passed the Civil Rights Act of 1964 – a landmark moment in the struggle against discrimination and inequality.
We’re part of a group that’s organizing a year-long series of events to commemorate this special anniversary, which will not only look back at what the Civil Rights Act meant in the 1960’s, but also look ahead to see how we can continue the movement towards equity and justice in the face of continued resistance.
Each Friday, we’ll bring you updates on the latest civil liberties news from Maine and the nation.
Pete Seeger’s Vision
Pete Seeger, singer, songwriter, peace activist, and civil liberties champion extraordinaire, died on Monday at age 94. The ACLU mourns the loss of a man who sang out in the name of freedom of expression and association.
He will be remembered for his articulate call to action:
In a victory for the privacy and dignity of transgender students, the Maine Supreme Judicial Court today ruled that a school district violated the Maine Human Rights Act (MHRA) when it required a transgender girl to use a separate bathroom rather than the bathroom used by all other female students. The ACLU of Maine and the national ACLU LGBT Project filed an amicus brief in the case, arguing for the importance of protecting minorities from discrimination, especially in situations where there is public controversy.
In 2008, the ACLU challenged the FISA Amendments Act of 2008 (FAA) — the surveillance law that gives the NSA virtually unfettered access to the international phone calls and emails of U.S. citizens and residents — on behalf of a coalition of human rights, media, labor, and legal organizations in Clapper v.
Yesterday, the House voted to pass H.R. 7, the No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act. On it’s surface, the bill seems like a simple redundancy. The Hyde Amendment makes it illegal to use federal funds for abortion care. This restriction has been solidly in place for over 35 years. There’s been no budging on the Hyde Amendment. In fact, legislative measures are frequently introduced and passed to ensure that the Hyde Amendment can’t be circumvented.
On January 21st, the ACLU of Maine, the Maine Prisoner Advocacy Coalition, the Maine Council of Churches and the Portland Branch of the NAACP submitted a letter to the Maine Legislature’s Government Oversight Committee requesting an OPEGA (Office of Program Evaluation and Government Accountability) Review of health care in Maine state correctional facilities. Read the press release here.
Here in Maine, any loving couple that wants to get married can do so. But in most states around the country, that’s still not the case. The ACLU wants to highlight this unfair patchwork of state marriage laws, and so we’re doing the most fitting thing: we’re throwing some big, gay (il)legal weddings!
Today, January 22nd, marks the 41st anniversary of the monumental Roe v. Wade decision. The landmark 1973 decision set in stone one of the fundamental principles of our democracy: the right to protection from governmental intrusion into our “zone of privacy.” The decision granted women greater agency in their reproductive lives and affirmed the fact that women are capable enough to determine what types of reproductive health services they utilize. The Roe v.