Last week I joined the chorus of those who wished for a bit more from the president's endorsement of same-sex marriage. Among those who were more unambiguously enthusiastic, I found E. J. Graff's later post pretty compelling.
Last week was a momentous one for gay and lesbian issues. On Sunday Vice President Biden said on NBC’s Meet the Press that he is “absolutely comfortable with the fact that men [are] marrying men, women marrying women,” and he thinks they “are entitled to … all the civil rights” of heterosexual couples.
On Tuesday the electorate in North Carolina voted overwhelmingly for a constitutional amendment that proscribes same-sex marriage and civil unions, despite the fact that the state already has a law against it.
Most momentous of all, President Obama told ABC’s Robin Roberts on Wednesday “that for me personally it is important for me to go ahead and affirm that I think same-sex couples should be able to get married.”
Sandra Steingraber, ecologist, activist and author, was in Joliet, Illinois, Wednesday to present a lecture on our era of “extreme energy extraction.” (See the Century interview with Steingraber.) According to Steingraber, we’re acting more and more foolishly as we hold on more and more tightly to our dependence on fossil fuels.
Conditions inside poultry processing plants are grim and dangerous, according to a study released by Oxfam America. Workers are denied bathroom breaks, forcing some to wear diapers as they keep up with processing about 45 birds per minute. The workplace conditions are especially challenging for menstruating and pregnant women. The environment is frigid to keep the chickens cool. Floors splattered with water, blood, and fat are slippery. Many of the workers interviewed complained about sexual and racial discrimination. Conditions in unionized plants are better, but only about one-third are unionized. Four industry giants—Tyson, Perdue, Pilgrim’s, and Sanderson Farms—control 60 percent of the market, employing 100,000 people (Washington Post, May 11).