Unfinished Business

Civil Rights News: Boy Scouts Delay Vote on Lifting Ban on Gays; Obama Must Focus on Jobs, Wages in Second Term; Long Voting Lines Raise Concerns

Compiled by Emily Van Dusen, a Spring 2013 intern at The Leadership Conference Education Fund

Boy Scouts board to meet amid talk of policy on gays
USA Today

The Boy Scouts of America’s (BSA) national executive board has delayed making a decision about lifting its ban on gay scouts and leaders with a plan to vote on the issue at their national meeting in May. After an announcement last week that the organization was considering a policy shift, supporters of equal opportunity like President Obama have called on the BSA to adopt a more inclusive policy to be applied nationwide. While opponents to a policy change like Rick Perry point to tradition as a reason to keep the ban, high profile board members and concerned BSA members have mobilized to ensure that all young men who want to can be a part of the Boy Scout community.

More Jobs, Higher Pay in Obama’s Second Term
New York Times

While the 2010 Affordable Care Act and other efforts from the Obama Administration’s first term helped the middle class, labor issues need to be addressed in his second term to continue supporting America’s workers. As the New York Times states, “What has been missing for years is a forceful labor agenda — one that calls for more jobs, but also has as its goal rising wages coupled with robust hiring.” Measures that the Obama Administration should take, according to the Times, include involving the labor secretary in the administration’s economic team and taking advantage of the bully pulpit to call attention to state attacks on labor unions.

Voter Waiting Time Disparities Draw Democrats’ Scrutiny
By Jeremy W. Peters
The New York Times

Long lines in the 2012 elections were one factor contributing to difficulties faced by voters at the polls, and have come under fire recently as two voting rights cases make their way to the U.S. Supreme Court in the coming weeks. Many factors that complicate voting, including long lines, disproportionately impact minority populations. According to The New York Times,

“A Massachusetts Institute of Technology analysis determined that blacks and Hispanics waited nearly twice as long in line to vote on average than whites. Florida had the nation’s longest lines, at 45 minutes, followed by the District of Columbia, Maryland, South Carolina and Virginia, according to Charles Stewart III, the political science professor who conducted the analysis.”

The fact that minority voters are considered a Democratic party voting bloc has added a partisan element to the issue, which could prevent progress. The President may mention long voting lines in his State of the Union address, with the hope that a bipartisan solution to reforming the nation’s antiquated voting system may take shape.