Each Friday, we’ll bring you updates on the latest civil liberties news from Maine and the nation.

Arizona’s Botched Execution

On Wednesday, the state of Arizona executed Joseph Wood. However, the execution did not go as planned. He was pronounced dead after one hour and 57 minutes, and was gasping and snorting for more than an hour. This execution is the fifth execution in the United States since Clayton Lockett suffered horrific execution procedure in Oklahoma.

The Director of the ACLU’S Capital Punishment Project, Cassandra Stubbs, stated Wednesday:

“Today the state of Arizona broke the Eighth Amendment, the First Amendment, and the bounds of basic decency. Joseph Wood suffered cruel and unusual punishment when he was apparently left conscious long after the drugs were administered. According to his emergency papers filed by his attorneys, he was choking and snorting over an hour into the process. In its rush to put Mr. Wood to death in secret, Arizona ignored the dire and clear warnings from the botched executions of Oklahoma and Ohio. It's time for Arizona and the other states still using lethal injection to admit that this experiment with unreliable drugs is a failure.”

Read more about the ACLU's Capital Punishment Project here

A Historic Day for LGBT Equality

As Jon mentioned in his blog earlier this week, we have a serious victory to celebrate!

On Monday, President Obama signed an executive order to protect lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people from workplace discrimination. The order bars businesses that contract with the federal government from engaging in discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity. It also bans discrimination against federal employees based on their gender identity to extend basic fairness and protections to transgender people.

Anthony D. Romero stated: "This is one of the most important actions ever taken by a president to eradicate LGBT discrimination from America's workplaces. By signing this order, President Obama is building on a bipartisan tradition, dating back over 70 years, of barring discrimination without exception when taxpayer dollars are involved. While there remains much work still to do to achieve the goal of full civil rights protections for LGBT people, we must take time to celebrate the landmarks along the way, and this is a huge win."

Read more on the two-part directive here.