Shannon and Carmen Wampler-Collins, a lesbian couple for 20 committed years, with two children, fought to exercise their right to same-sex marriage on Sept. 14 in Morehead, Ky. That day, Rowan County Clerk Kim Davis returned to work after being jailed for defying the recent U.S. Supreme Court decision legalizing same-sex marriage. Davis had refused licenses to same-sex couples, including the Wampler-Collinses. Minnie Bruce Pratt of Workers World interviewed Shannon about the couple’s struggle and resistance.Shannon and Carmen Wampler-Collins with the Rowan County Rights Coalition, outside the County Courthouse in Morehead, Ky., Sept. 14.Photo: Michael LongWW: You and Carmen met in 1989 and had a commitment ceremony in 1995. Tell us a little about yourselves and how you met.Shannon: Nowadays, I’m a chef. I went to culinary school in 2010, and I’m cooking in a restaurant — usually a man’s world and work! Carmen works with nonprofits as a grant writer and consultant.We met while we were both working the counter at Bart’s Ice Cream in Northampton, Massachusetts. She was a “Smithie” going to Smith College, and I was a “townie,” where growing up we felt overpowered by Smith: “Those rich kids coming here.” But Carmen was not. She comes from a poor background.We had the same sense of humor. We just hit it off and the connection just bloomed. We got together as a couple on my grandmother’s birthday. We were in love then, and we still are now.WW: When’s the ceremony for Kentucky scheduled?Shannon: There’s still contention over the license we received. The ACLU is investigating. Kim Davis crossed off her name as county clerk and wrote in “pursuant to federal order” and changed Rowan County to the name of the town — Morehead. We definitely feel we got the license as second-class citizens. Carmen was born and raised in Rowan County!We are waiting to hear more to have the ceremony, hopefully within the 30-day time limit on the license. We’d planned something small — justice of the peace, lunch out. But the boys protested we’d had one wedding without them and are demanding something big. So we said, “If you want a wedding, you can plan the wedding!” They’re 16 and 11. They are activist children.WW: You’ve said you two were married by your own ceremony long before the Supreme Court decision, but you want “legal protection” for your family.Shannon: In Massachusetts, there’s co-parent adoption, but not in Kentucky. I adopted our younger son as a single mother. My sister carried him — and Carmen carried our older son.We’ve raised both boys together as a family. But in Kentucky, I have no legal relation to our older son — who is my child too — if something happens. And Carmen wouldn’t have any to our younger son, who is also her child.Carmen had a serious medical condition a couple of years ago, so the possibility is real and so scary.WW: Would you describe getting into the County Clerk’s office on Monday?Shannon: We live in Lexington now, an hour’s drive from Morehead. When we got to the courthouse, it was surreal. Bigots had come from wherever they got them from, and were lined up in trucks along the street, using loudspeakers to shout ugly things.Our people were right there, the Rowan County Rights Coalition. They gathered around us in a circle. They got us through the haters on the outskirts who lined the route and were actually inside the courthouse.Then we went up to the counter, and Brian [Mason] was hilarious. He said, “I’ve been waiting for you two!” [Mason is the deputy clerk openly in favor of issuing same-sex marriage licenses—WW.]As we were going out, one woman got in my face shouting, “Sex between two women is wrong!” I just want to fight with these people. I get so angry. So I said, “You must not be doing it right!”WW: The people who got you safely into the courthouse — who were they?Shannon: That’s the Rowan County Rights Coalition. One of the forefront leaders was best friends with Carmen’s aunt and mom, part of the family when Carmen was growing up. That woman is an activist extreme. She’s been involved in protest since the 60s and has worked with union organizers.The coalition is outraged people, straight couples, gay couples, people who are trans* and bi, people from Morehead State, new people who’ve moved to the county and some who have grown up there. [“Trans*” is a word currently used, with the asterisk, to indicate the spectrum of all the different genders of people who do not conform to the either/or of male/female.—WW]We have a trans* couple Kim Davis actually signed a license for. One member of the couple identifies as male, but his birth certificate still lists female. Kim Davis looked at the two of them, saw male and female, and just assumed. People make all kinds of assumptions.The coalition has rallied in front of the courthouse throughout. We had one side of the courthouse lawn. The opposition had the other. First, we were flashing peace signs and blowing kisses, and then we started chanting: “Gay or straight! Black or white! Marriage is a civil right!”WW: Right-wing, gun-toting “Oath Keepers” threatened to show up to “defend” Kim Davis. What’s the sentiment of the local community?Shannon: Protest here is a lot more personal. Families are facing off against each other on both sides of the issue.Rowan County is a small, quiet, tight-knit, keep-to-yourself place. Things go on as they have gone. While there are progressive people, it‘s not a place where people rock the boat. People have conflicts, but they don’t like to talk about them.This struggle opened up what has been bubbling underneath. There are gay and lesbian people living here. Until this, they kept it to themselves, lived in the closet, or maybe they were out but not loud about it. The progressives have not had a unified voice until now. This is making a difference. This isn’t just a small, isolated town. There are progressives here as well as fundamentalists.WW: There’s a 30 percent poverty rate in Rowan County. On Facebook one of your local supporters said she saw a right-wing “Sodomy Is a National Sin” sign and wanted to replace it with “Poverty is a National Sin.”Shannon: Poverty is a huge issue here. This used to be a big tobacco area. Lumber mills are a big industry. The hospital and Morehead State University are big employers.For those with less education, Guardian Auto Glass, that’s considered a big, high-paying job starting around ten dollars an hour. Otherwise, it’s Walmart, Kroger, lower-paying, service jobs, no insurance. Some people drive half an hour to Mount Sterling, where there’re more factory jobs. But they’re living in poverty, paying for gas to commute.Morehead is not quite 7,000 people. Rowan County not much more than 20,000.It‘s not a huge place, but it‘s bigger than a lot of towns in the area. It’s an important regional center in the surrounding rural Appalachian area.We are trying to bring the good to it. Now, we’ve met these people. There’s promise. There’s good here that I haven’t seen before.We have a niece, 19 years old. She lives in Morehead and may live there forever. We want to make a better place for her.FacebookTwitterWhatsAppEmailPrintMoreShare thisFacebookTwitterWhatsAppEmailPrintMoreShare this
Ocean City Business Administrator George Savastano, right, and Ocean City resident Tom Oves Sr. study a rendering that depicts what the wind farm’s turbines would look like from the vantage point of North Wildwood. By MADDY VITALEStanding behind a piece of Scotch tape that was about 45 inches away from a rendering of a proposed ocean wind farm, William Henry took a long look Saturday morning at a town hall meeting at the Ocean City Tabernacle. Fixed to the spot, he peered at the visual as if he was standing on the shoreline, gazing out at the ocean.Henry, an Ocean City resident who is a State Police lieutenant and station commander at the Woodbine barracks, said he sees a wind farm as a positive for the environment and something that could even help him when he is out spear fishing.The turbine structures become a manmade reef for marine life, which could attract his catches along the way, he noted.“I think it is a good project for Ocean City, the community and neighboring communities,” Henry said. “As far as the scenery, I know some people don’t want to see it, but I think it is nominal. You can’t really see it from the shore. I don’t really see it as a problem.”This picture depicts the view of the proposed wind farm on the horizon, 15 miles offshore. The white turbine blades are barely visible in the distance. (Rendering from Orsted)The project, expected to be completed in 2024, is touted by Orsted, the company that wants to build the wind farm, as one that would supply clean renewable energy, power more than half a million New Jersey homes and create thousands of jobs.The project, which would be constructed 15 miles off Atlantic City, has at least two years of permitting to go through before anything is a go – so it will be a while before 90 turbines take up residence in the Atlantic off the New Jersey coast, officials said.The turbines would be spaced about a mile apart in rows and installed in deep water. The hub of the turbine would stand 511 feet tall, with blades increasing the height to a total of 905 feet, Orsted representatives said.Kris Ohleth, senior stakeholder relations manager of Orsted, along with other company representatives, met with residents, city officials and others interested in learning what the project was about during a two-hour town hall meeting Saturday at the Ocean City Tabernacle. Orsted had renderings of the project in the Tabernacle lobby.Scotch tape was put on the floor about 45 inches away from the renderings, replicating the view people would have of the turbines if they were actually standing on the shoreline looking out at the wind farm 15 miles away.Unlike William Henry, who supports the project, there were some who were concerned about the wind farm. Fear of the unknown and fear of the possibility that the wind farm could harm tourism in Ocean City, an area that heavily depends on it to thrive, gave some opponents and some skeptics of the project reasons to voice their concerns.The Oves family, who owns Oves Restaurant on the Boardwalk, has lived in the resort for generations.Chris Oves and his father, Tom Oves Sr., attended the presentation Saturday. Both of them had some reservations about the wind farm.“I am in support of it if they would put it out 25 miles or more,” Chris Oves said. “But that would cost a lot more money. Look, the mayor is for it, I’m for it if they take it out farther.”Oves noted when speaking with an Orsted representative, Vince Maione, that he had questions that needed to be answered.“We need to study this,” he said, before walking away.Oves, who is a high school science teacher, said he loves his community and just wants to ensure the seascape is not altered by turbines in the water. He is concerned it could affect tourism. Ocean City resident Bill Bradway also said he had questions. “There are too many questions that have yet to be answered,” Bradway said. “There needs to be a study about how it will affect the environment.”Bradway said he questions whether the project is nothing more than a government-subsidized plan that ultimately would not be in the best interest of the residents or the environment.William Henry, of Ocean City, looks at an Ocean City visual.Some visuals on easels around the room depicted a person’s view from the shoreline in areas from Stone Harbor, the Wildwoods and up to Somers Point and Atlantic City.It was the second such meeting the company has held in Ocean City. The first, in August, did not have all of the visuals and maps of what people would be able to see from the beach.As with the initial meeting, members of the public spoke Saturday with Orsted officials and viewed maps, leaflets on the company, and asked an array of questions ranging from how the turbines could affect marine life to whether the wind farm could be heard on shore or seen. However, instead of a large meeting, it was clusters of people asking questions of many Orsted officials at different tables.Ohleth said before the meeting that she realizes some people will not be for wind farms.Last week, Ohleth explained in an interview with OCNJDaily.com that the view of the turbines would be minimal.“You will be able to see them from shore, but they would be barely visible on only the clearest of days and about an eighth of an inch high off of the water – the horizon,” she said. She also said the wind farm, which has a potential swath of lease space along the coast of Atlantic, Ocean and Cape May counties, would not be audible from shore. On Saturday, Ohleth said she was met by positive feedback from officials and members of the public during meetings in Ocean County and Atlantic City this week.“It’s been very positive,” she said. “The reception has been that people are excited about the opportunity for clean energy, especially up in Ocean County.”She noted that the turbines would not be seen from Ocean County, but cables would be routed through there.Orsted representatives answer questions from members of the public.Orsted is exploring three locations where underground cables could connect to the grid in the Ocean City area. One includes the former B.L. England Generating Station in Beesley’s Point, where clean energy would replace what was once produced at the coal-burning plant. If this location is chosen, underground cables would pass below Ocean City, Mayor Jay Gillian explained in a letter that went out to residents in November. Orsted will return to Ocean City to host another town hall meeting, likely in the spring or early summer, officials said.Gillian attended Saturday’s meeting, along with a host of other city officials and dignitaries.The mayor did not wish to be quoted at the meeting, but said in his letter Nov. 15 to residents, “We are writing to tell you about an exciting new project that Orsted will bring to New Jersey. All of the energy produced by the Ocean Wind project will be delivered to the existing New Jersey electric grid, serving local homes and businesses.” Ohleth said that if Orsted and city officials agree to run cables through Ocean City, improvements would be made to the local infrastructure.“Depending on where we put the cables, there is a possibility of adding more pumping stations or raising the roads,” she noted. “We would work with the mayor and the city.”Kris Ohleth, senior stakeholder relations manager of Orsted, goes over some slides in a presentation at the town hall meeting.
Vermont currently spends $3.3 million a year on tobacco prevention and cessation programs, which is 32 percent of the $10.4 million recommended by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Other key findings for Vermont include:Vermont this year will collect $108 million in revenue from the 1998 tobacco settlement and tobacco taxes, but will spend just 3.1 percent of it on tobacco prevention programs. This meansVermont is spending just 3 cents of every dollar in tobacco revenue to fight tobacco use.Since 2009, Vermont has cut funding for tobacco prevention by 37 percent, from $5.2 million to$3.3 million.The tobacco companies spend $19 million a year to market their products in Vermont. This is 5 times what the state spends on tobacco prevention.The annual report on states’ funding of tobacco prevention programs, titled “A Broken Promise to Our Children: The 1998 State Tobacco Settlement 13 Years Later,” was released by the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, American Heart Association, American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network, American Lung Association, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and Americans for Nonsmokers’ Rights.Vermont has been a leader in the fight against tobacco with a high cigarette tax ($2.62 per pack) and a strong smoke-free workplace law. However, the large cut in tobacco prevention funding has put the state’s progress at risk.”Vermont has been a real leader in fighting tobacco use, but has taken a big step backward by cutting funding for its tobacco prevention program,” said Matthew L. Myers, President of the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids. “To continue making progress, Vermont should restore funding for tobacco prevention. Even in these difficult budget times, tobacco prevention is a smart investment that saves lives and saves money by reducing tobacco-related health care costs.”In Vermont, 13 percent of high school students smoke, and 700 more kids become regular smokers each year. Tobacco annually claims 800 lives and costs the state $233 million in health care bills.Nationally, the report finds that most states are failing to adequately fund tobacco prevention and cessation programs. Altogether, the states have cut funding for these programs to the lowest level since 1999, when they first started receiving tobacco settlement payments. Key national findings of the report include:The states this year will collect $25.6 billion from the tobacco settlement and tobacco taxes, but will spend just 1.8 percent of it ‘ $456.7 million ‘ on tobacco prevention programs. This means the states are spending less than two cents of every dollar in tobacco revenue to fight tobacco use.States have cut funding for tobacco prevention programs by 12 percent ($61.2 million) in the past year and by 36 percent ($260.5 million) in the past four years.Only two states ‘ Alaska and North Dakota ‘ currently fund tobacco prevention programs at the CDC-recommended level.The report warns that the nation’s progress in reducing smoking is at risk unless states increase funding for programs to prevent kids from smoking and help smokers quit. The United States has significantly reduced smoking among both youth and adults, but 19.3 percent of adults and 19.5 percent of high school students still smoke.Tobacco use is the leading preventable cause of death in the U.S., killing more than 400,000 people and costing $96 billion in health care bills each year. More information, including the full report and state-specific information, can be obtained atwww.tobaccofreekids.org/reports/settlements(link is external).SOURCE Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids WASHINGTON, Nov. 30, 2011 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/
The United States has donated $1.8 million to Honduras as a contribution to the fight against gang violence, stated Maria Otero, U.S. Under Secretary of State for Civilian Security, Democracy and Human Rights, in a visit to Tegucigalpa. According to Otero, this contribution is part of what she called “a partnership to help the Government of Honduras achieve concrete results in the fight against impunity, to accomplish judiciary reforms and to strengthen their human rights institutions.” After concluding a three-day visit in Honduras, Otero announced in a press conference that a bilateral working group was set up on September 13, tasked to develop strategies aimed at combating crime. The official said that the fight against crime is “of a very diverse nature,” but everything is closely interconnected: transnational criminal gangs and networks, lack of employment opportunities for young people, intolerance, violence, and intimidation against vulnerable groups, such as women, homosexuals, and journalists. Criminality “affects Hondurans’ daily lives,” which in turn accentuates the challenges, Otero explained. By Dialogo September 18, 2012
LocalNews Dominica joins the rest of the world in the observance of World Health Day today. by: – April 7, 2011 Photo credit: Medinia.netWorld Health Day is celebrated on April 7th to mark the founding of the World Health Organization.Each year the Organization selects a key health issue and encourages people from all ages and all backgrounds to hold events that highlight the significance of this issue for good health and well–being. World Health Day provides a unique opportunity for communities from across the world to come together for one day to promote actions that can improve our health.This year’s World Health Day is observed under the global theme, “Combat Drug Resistance, no action today, and no cure tomorrow.”The purpose of this activity is to raise awareness among the population on the side effects of micro bacterial resistance, one of the world greatest threat to the control and cure of infectious diseases.This is of importance to the Ministry of Health, because resistant infections can spread to others, imposes a huge cost to the health services and it could also disrupt the progress towards reaching health targets set by the Ministry.The Ministry of Health joins with World Health Organization (WHO) in the fight to combat antimicrobial resistance and will continue to improve our systems to enhance infection prevention and control in the fight against antimicrobial resistance.The Ministry of health also calls on civil society and all other key stakeholders, including the public and patients, practitioners and prescribers, pharmacists and dispensers to join the fight against antimicrobial resistance.Radio and television discussions, distribution of leaflets on World Health Day and on-going training for health professionals will be the highlight of this occasion. Dominica Vibes News Share Share Share Tweet 15 Views no discussions Sharing is caring!