Yesterday, prisoners at California's Pelican Bay State Prison began a hunger-strike for better conditions. In prisons like Pelican Bay, a "supermax" facility, inmates stay in tiny, windowless cells for almost the entire day, and rarely enjoy educational, recreational, or vocational programs, let alone phone calls or visits from family. Hence this change.org petition, demanding that the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation fulfill its promise to change these conditions. If you're tempted to think these are the worst of the worst, and they don't deserve any better, please meditate, for a moment, on the definition of the word "rehabilitation," and ask yourself if sitting in complete darkness for 22 hours a day "rehabilitates" anyone. If you're tempted to think they're getting what the law demands they get, recall that the CDCR has already said it'd change its ways in response to a 2011 hunger strike. What a shame that it takes prisoners starving themselves to get the CDCR to make such promises. What'll it take before it keeps them? Bad PR from us, that's what.
Meanwhile, while the Supreme Court has struck down Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act -- the section that defined marriage as a legal union between one man and one woman -- it let Section 2 stand, so state and federal governments can still refuse to recognize any same-sex marriage recognized in another state. However, H.R. 2523/S. 1236, the Respect for Marriage Act, would fully repeal the Defense of Marriage Act, and would, in addition, compel our federal government to recognize any same-sex marriage that's legal "in the State where the marriage was entered into" (per S. 1236, Section 3). Though the Respect for Marriage Act won't compel states to recognize same-sex marriages that are legal in other states -- because, you know, states' rights and such -- S. 1236's 42 sponsors include exactly zero Republicans, while H.R. 2523's 169 sponsors include exactly one Republican, Richard Hanna of New York, who seems determined to resuscitate the party's moderate wing all by himself. And he may yet have to! Anyway, MoveOn helps you tell your Reps and Senators (and, not incidentally, your President) to support the Respect for Marriage Act.