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Senate Passes Gold Medal Bill for Voting Rights Marchers

Brandon Moseley

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By Brandon Moseley
Alabama Political Reporter

Tuesday, Mar 3, 2015, US Representative Terri Sewell (D-Selma), who grew up in Selma, applauded the Senate’s unanimous passage of S517. The bipartisan bill Rep. Sewell introduced in the House awards a Congressional Gold Medal to the voting rights marchers who braved violence to march from Selma to Montgomery. Their courage against state sponsored tyranny led to the passage of the landmark Voting Rights Act of 1965.

Congresswoman Sewell said, “I am deeply humbled by the strong, bipartisan support this bill received in both the House and the Senate. Awarding the Congressional Gold Medal to the Foot Soldiers of the Voting Rights Movement will serve as an enduring reminder of the blood, courage and sacrifice those marchers faced in the pursuit of equality. The Edmund Pettus Bridge was the portal through which America left its dark past and marched to a brighter future. This nation should never forget the sacrifices those who refused to accept second-class citizenship and demanded that our nation live up to the very ideals on which it was founded.”

Rep. Sewell said, “I would like to thank Representative Martha Roby, Senator Jeff Sessions, Senator Corey Booker, and all of the members of the Alabama Congressional delegation for standing with me in support of this bill.”

US Senator Jeff Sessions (R-Alabama) said, “I am pleased that Sen. Shelby, Chairman of the Senate Banking Committee, and his committee members have unanimously approved the Congressional Gold Medal for those who marched for voting rights in Selma. I am also grateful for the work of Reps. Roby and Sewell and our entire Alabama delegation for their work in the House. Fifty years ago, it was a time of tension and real danger. The marchers courageously moved forward on the Edmund Pettus Bridge to demand the voting rights to which they were entitled. They were attacked for doing so. This dramatic event captured the attention of the nation, led to the passage of the Voting Rights Act, and was a key event in ending the systematic denial of the right of African-American citizens to vote in many areas. Those who marched on that day deserve the high honor of the Congressional Gold Medal, which is reserved for exceptional achievements.”

Congresswoman Martha Roby (R-Montgomery) said, “I appreciate the efforts of everyone who made it possible to pass this bill expeditiously: my colleague in the House, Representative Terri Sewell, along with Senators Jeff Sessions, Richard Shelby and Cory Booker. I am pleased to welcome the Faith and Politics Civil Rights Pilgrimage to Alabama as a co-host. It is fitting for Congress to award its highest civilian honor to those who marched to ensure equal voting rights as we commemorate the 50th Anniversary of Bloody Sunday.”

After House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) signed the bill, Speaker Boehner released this statement: “Today I signed H.R. 431, legislation awarding a Congressional Gold Medal to the foot soldiers who participated in the Selma to Montgomery marches of 1965. I commend the bill’s authors, Martha Roby and Terri Sewell, who reached across the aisle to make this possible.  The Gold Medal is our highest honor – an expression of our affection and admiration for those who risked everything for their rights and for the good of all people. Mile by mile, these men and women changed the face of America. Long may we retrace their journey. Long may we remember their struggle. Long may they remain an example.”

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Since the American Revolution, Congress has commissioned gold medals as its highest expression of national appreciation for distinguished achievements and contributions by individuals or institutions. The medal was first awarded in 1776 by the second Continental Congress to General George Washington.

In 1965 voting rights marchers attempted to march from Selma to Montgomery. They were met by Alabama State Troopers who brutally attacked them on the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma on March 7, 1965. This day, now known as Bloody Sunday, was the first of three planned, peaceful protests from Selma to Montgomery. Undeterred Dr. Martin Luther King came to Alabama with nearly 2,500 Foot Soldiers just two days later on March 9, 1965, now known as “Turnaround Tuesday.” An estimated 8,000 Foot Soldiers left Selma on March 21, 1965, and successfully marched to Montgomery to peacefully protest restrictive voting laws that prevented Blacks from voting in the South.

This weekend the nation will celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Selma to Montgomery voting rights march. Thousands are expected to be in attendance, including US Presidents Barack Hussein Obama and George Walker Bush.

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Biden, Bloomberg, Buttigieg, Klobuchar and Warren to travel to Selma

Brandon Moseley

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Sunday, Presidential candidates former New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg, former Vice President Joe Biden, South Bend mayor Pete Buttigieg, and U.S. Senators Elizabeth Warren, D-Massachusetts, and Amy Klobuchar, D-Minnesoata, will travel to Alabama where they will participate in the events commemorating the attempted crossing of the Edmund Pettus bridge by voting rights marchers during the Civil Rights movement;

Bloomberg will participate in the 55th annual Selma bridge crossing to commemorate Bloody Sunday. In the morning, Bloomberg will attend Brown Chapel AME Church for morning worship with congregants and deliver remarks before joining Civil Rights and community leaders to participate in the bridge crossing reenactment.

Elizabeth Warren will participate in the Selma Bridge Crossing Jubilee Pre-March Rally, the Annual Bloody Sunday March across the Edmund Pettus Bridge, and the Presidential Candidate Forum hosted by the Selma-to-Montgomery March Foundation and The Bridge Crossing Jubilee.

Mayor Buttigieg will participate in the bridge crossing reenactment. This is Buttigieg’s second visit to Alabama. He previously participated in a healthcare round table and visited with volunteers in Montgomery.

This is Mike’s third visit to Alabama since announcing his campaign for president. Mike was in Montgomery earlier this month for an organizing event and to speak at the 60th annual Alabama Democratic Conference (ADC) Convention, the Alabama Democratic Party’s largest Black caucus. He received the endorsement of the group.

This will be Elizabeth’s second trip to Alabama. By Sunday, she will have traveled to 30 states and Puerto Rico since launching her presidential campaign.

Mike Bloomberg and Joe Biden will attend Worship and Provide Brief Remarks at Brown Chapel AME Church at 10:00 a.m. CST. The Church is at: 410 Martin Luther King St, Selma, AL 36703.

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Elizabeth Warren will attend the Selma Bridge Crossing Jubilee Pre-March Rally will be at 1:30 p.m. at Brown Chapel AME Church; 410 Martin Luther King St., Selma, AL 36703.

The annual Bloody Sunday March across the Edmund Pettus Bridge will be at 2:30 p.m. CST beginning at Brown Chapel AME Church. Warren, Buttigieg, and Bloomberg are all committed to attend the bridge crossing reenactment.

Warren has committed to attend the Presidential Candidate Forum is hosted by the Selma-to-Montgomery March Foundation and The Bridge Crossing Jubilee. That event will be at 4:00 p.m. (estimated) and will be held at the George Corley Wallace State Community College; 3000 Earl Goodwin Pkwy, Selma, AL 36703.

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Organizers have confirmed that Amy Klobuchar is committed to attend; but were not sure which events she will participate in.

The crossing of the Edmund Pettus bridge and the Selma to Montgomery Voting Rights March were key events in the Civil Rights Movement that led to the passage of the 1965 Voting Rights Act.

The Alabama Democratic Presidential primary will be on Tuesday, March 3. Polls open at 7:00 a.m. and close at 7:00 p.m.

 

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Courts

Doug Jones praises end of state Democratic Party lawsuit

Eddie Burkhalter

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U.S. Senator Doug Jones, D-Alabama, on Thursday applauded the end of a lawsuit over control of the state Democratic party. 

Montgomery County Circuit Judge Greg Griffin on Thursday dismissed a lawsuit filed by former Alabama Democratic Party chairwoman Nancy Worley, which means that state Rep. Chris England, who was picked to lead the state Democratic party by a reform group championed by Jones, is the party’s chair. 

“This is a great day for Alabama and her Democratic Party. Throughout much of last year, countless Democrats in our state worked to create a more open and diverse state party, while recognizing and being true to the crucial and historic role held by African-American voters,” Jones said in a statement Thursday.

“The by-laws of the Alabama Democratic Party now reflect the growing diversity in our state — including representation for Hispanic voters, Native American voters, Asian voters, voters with disabilities and voters from the LGBTQ community. And most importantly, the Alabama Democratic Party has dramatically increased leadership opportunities for young voters. Around 70 new caucus members were added to the state party Executive Committee last year—many of them young people from diverse backgrounds throughout the state. I’m proud to continue to work alongside a more unified, diverse and inclusive state party. 

“With the dismissal of this lawsuit, it is time that all who have been involved in this challenge, resolution, and expansion of the Democratic Party come together for a common good. Our state benefits from the ideas and engagement of a competitive two-party system. We have now demonstrated that we have the ability to be inclusive within our own party while working to expand the number and experiences of people who play a role in moving it forward.  

“Chairman Chris England and First Vice Chair Patricia Todd have my complete support and I call on Democrats throughout the state to unite behind them as we move forward in modernizing, re-invigorating, and expanding the Alabama Democratic Party.,” Jones said.

 

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ACLU of Alabama condemns bill banning transgender treatment for minors

Jessa Reid Bolling

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The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Alabama has condemned a recently approved bill to prevent doctors from providing hormone replacement therapy or puberty suppressing drugs to people younger than 19 who identify as transgender.

House Bill 303, the Alabama Vulnerable Child Compassion and Protection Act, would make it a Class C felony, punishable by up to 10 years in prison, for doctors to prescribe puberty-blocking medications or opposite gender hormones to minors. The legislation would also ban hysterectomy, mastectomy or castration surgeries from being performed on minors.

The Alabama House Health Committee and the Senate Health Committee approved the bill on Wednesday in separate hearings, both drawing overflow crowds. The committee approval moves the bill in line for consideration by the full House. 

The ACLU of Alabama said in a statement that the bill targets transgender youth and puts their academic success and health in danger. 

“Transgender girls are girls, and transgender boys are boys,” said Dillon Nettles, policy analyst at the ACLU of Alabama. “Alabama lawmakers are considering legislation that runs counter to medical science, prevailing standards for the treatment of transgender youth and basic human dignity.

“The government shouldn’t threaten medical providers with jail for treating transgender kids and schools shouldn’t discriminate against them when it comes to participation in school sports. HB303 and HB35 are dangerous, discriminatory and put kids at risk.”

Multiple women’s sports advocacy organizations, including The National Women’s Law Center, the Women’s Sports Foundation and Women Leaders in College Sports, support trans-inclusive policies and oppose efforts to exclude transgender students from participating in sports.

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A June 2019 report from the Trevor Project on mental health issues among LGBTQ youth across the United States found that 78 percent of transgender and non-binary youth reported being the subject of discrimination due to their gender identity in the past year. The report also found that 39 percent of LGBTQ youth seriously considered attempting suicide in the last year, with more than half of transgender and non-binary youth having seriously considered. 

The Trevor Project is a non-profit organization that focuses on suicide prevention and crisis intervention for LGBTQ youth. 

This is the second bill in the State House this year dealing with transgender youth. 

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Rep. Chris Pringle, R-Mobile, is sponsoring House Bill 35, titled the Gender Is Real Legislative Act, or GIRL Act. It would require student athletes in K-12 schools to participate as the gender listed on their birth certificate, preventing transgender athletes from competing as the gender they identify as.

 

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Elections

11th-hour smear campaign against Byrne linked to opponent Tuberville, sources say

Bill Britt

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A story published February 24, on Gateway Pundit alleges, “Bradley Byrne kicked his brother’s widow off her land,” but the land was never owned by Byrne’s sister-in-law.

Whether the reporter at Gateway Pundit didn’t read all the court records or there were other motives, the erroneous accusations on the popular right-wing blog are now being used to smear Byrne in the final hours of a heated U.S. Senate race.

See complete records. 

Political consultants not tied to Byrne’s campaign say that operatives working for his rival, Tommy Tuberville, are promoting the story to damage Byrne. Random text messages are being sent to distribute the story as well as numerous calls to Alabama media outlets to report on the false claims. State political reporters have rejected the story due to its inaccuracies.

Several calls and voice messages to Tuberville’s campaign have gone unanswered.

The land in question was part of the estate of Byrne family matriarch, Elizabeth Patricia Langsdale Byrne.

In her original will signed July 23, 1996, Mrs. Byrne left her property in Baldwin County to her three children, Dale, Bradley and Patricia.

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However, on Feb. 25, 1999, she amended her will, removing her eldest son leaving the property to only Bradley and Patricia.

On Dec. 6, 2000, Mrs. Byrne again amended her will, leaving one-third to Bradley, one-third to Patricia and one-third as a “life estate” to Dale. According to the will, the life estate left to Dale would go back to Bradley and Patrica upon Dale’s death because a life estate means ownership of land is only for the duration of a person’s life.

Mrs. Byrne died in 2008; she was followed in death by her son Dale in 2014,  at which time the life estate bequeathed to him expired.

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Bradley, who his mother selected as executor of her estate, then filed the necessary paperwork with the Baldwin County probate office to address Dale’s death as stipulated in Mrs. Byrne’s will.

The Gateway Pundit story leaves out crucial details and in its interview with Dale’s fourth wife, Gloria, repeats claims she made that are not grounded in facts.

There is also a false claim that Byrne refused to leave the campaign trial when his brother died, but he did in fact cancel a scheduled event in the family’s time of morning.

The same reporter at Gateway Pundit wrote several stories praising Tuberville and trashing his other primary opponent, Jeff Sessions, calling him a skunk and a snake.

Court records clearly show Byrne acted in accordance with his mother’s wishes as they were detailed in her last will and testament.

 

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