My heart hurts today

There is a young man who is like a son to me.  I’ve known him for over two years.  He’s extremely intelligent and creative though a bit socially awkward.  He’s 23 years old and after graduating from the Job Corps he went to work in retail.
About a month ago he had an on the job accident, a ladder fell on his head.   He went to the hospital for a CT scan.  There was no injury from the ladder, but they did find a mass in his brain and an MRI was scheduled.   Just a few days later he was fired for some bullshit reason.    According to the Mississippi Bar Association :

Mississippi law follows the “employment at will” doctrine, which gives an employer the right to dismiss for any reason an employee that was hired for a period of time or an indefinite term. However, both the Mississippi Supreme Court and new federal laws have clearly defined specific instances where an employee’s firing is wrongful or illegal.

One of the stipulations is:

Mississippi’s high court has ruled that if a company creates procedures that employers must follow in terminating an employee and outlines those steps in the employee handbook or guidance policy, supervisors must follow them. In addition, anyone employed for a definite term, including through a written contract, cannot be fired at will. In such a case, the employer must show just cause for terminating the employee before the term expires.

In the case of my friend there were procedures in place that were not followed and we believe he was wrongfully terminated.  Quite frankly I think he was fired because 1) he filed a worker’s comp claim and 2)he has a serious medical issue, but here’s the dilemma:   it was a part time retail job with low wages so guess what, we can’t find an attorney interested in taking on the case.  You can’t sue without an attorney, it wouldn’t be possible to win and even if he did win it probably wouldn’t be much.

You might be thinking, he’s young, he can get another job.   Sure, eventually he might find something but it’s hard when Harrison County’s unemployment rate for April was 7.9% and living wage jobs for young inexperienced workers are scarce.   What does he do in the mean time?

Right now it’s a mute point.   He’s laying in the hospital, partially paralyzed after brain surgery to remove the tumor.  It will be a while before he’s back on his feet.   Hopefully his hair will grow out fast enough to cover the scar so that future employers will not be afraid to hire him.   Hopefully he’ll be able to walk and talk and find a job that will pay enough to cover the thousands of dollars of medical care he will owe because he had no insurance….   But that’s another rant in and of itself.

~Motherbink

Domestic Violence and the LGBT Community

For the second time within a week I’ve dealt with a gay male domestic violence case.   Over the past few years there have only been a handful that I can remember of both gay and lesbian partners involved with the court system.

In all of the male partner incidences there was alcohol involved.   In all the cases the victims, (according to the police reports), took the blame for the incident and told me that it was their fault, they were drunk, they hit first, they instigated the violence.   In all of the cases the files were closed except for one where both, who had been arrested were sent to anger management and then dismissed.

I have a hard time believing that, like the victims told me, it was only a case of drunken stupidity.  Domestic violence is alive and well in the GLBT community and even a brief search of the web will show a lot of resources and information.

Today I found myself in a quandary.  Some of the prosecutors I work with rely on me to make a recommendation and I’ve found it really hard to decide who is telling the truth, or if the victim is minimizing, or even who the victim really is.   I try to explain the cycle of violence, the fact that DV is about power and control, the indicators of domestic violence.  I’m also reminded that I live in the deep south where the GLBT community is not out in the open, not accepted and still discriminated against.  The couples I deal with are trying to protect themselves and my fear is that someone in the relationship really is a victim, and is not getting the help they need.   I am the victims advocate and I have to weigh carefully their wishes against the possibility of adding to their victimization.

I found an interesting article called “Introduction to Gay Male Domestic Violence” which perfectly described the situation I find myself in when dealing with gay male cases in the court:

A further example of the risks of being out occur when a victim has resorted to some violence to defend themselves. Merrill (1998) reported that 58% of gay males who had been victimized fought back. The police and courts are less likely to take the time to figure out who is the abuser and who is the victim, and more likely to simply assume the violence is “mutual combat” rather than abuse. Thus, the batterer may actually threaten to call the police himself, claim the victim is the abuser, and press charges against the victim. The victim could then be listed as an abuser with the county or city hall, and be further victimized.

I don’t know if I did the right thing today, I can only hope that I will never see those young men again in the courtroom and that it truly was just an isolated, alcohol induced incident.   I hope that if there is any kind of violence in the relationship the victim seeks help.  No one deserves to be abused.

Extreme Hate

Sometimes I see stuff that just blows my mind.   Take this pastor of a little independent Baptist church in Catawba County North Carolina.  It seems that Pastor Worley of Providence Baptist church thinks that if all gays and lesbians are rounded up and put into electrified compounds (concentration camps?) and air dropped food, they will eventually die off (cause they can’t reproduce), therefore ridding the world of  queers and homosexuals.

The first thing that came to my mind was what an idiot he is….  where does he think those queers and homosexuals come from?   Well, hello buddy…. they come from STRAIGHT people.   Yep, it’s true..  straight couples have gay and lesbian children.    Seems the good pastor forgot about that part, so his solution for the queer and homosexual population is absurd.  Makes me shake my head and wonder about all those folks in the audience shouting “amen” too.

I also want to shout out big kudos to the Catawba Valley Citizens Against Hate for standing up and forming a protest against misanthrope’s of his ilk.  They’re going to be picketing the church on Sunday May 27th, 2012.

~~Motherbink

Mental Illness and DV

I can’t tell you how many people I see in court, both victims and defendants arrested for domestic violence that suffer from some sort of mental illness, drug or alcohol problems.  I’m not saying that because someone suffers from one of these that they can not be victims or perpetrators of Domestic Violence, or that they are an excuse or the cause of the violence.   The thing is, if someone is suffering from a serious problem just sending them to an Anger Management or a Batterers Program is not going to fix the problem.   They need to get help for their underlying issue first.

Twice now in the past two weeks I’ve had female defendants arrested for domestic disturbance of the peace.   In both cases there was a serious underlying mental illness issue that needed medical treatment.   In both cases the prosecutor immediately said that they both should attend anger management.   In both cases the outbursts happened because the women were on the wrong medications.  It wasn’t an anger issue, it was a medication issue.   Perhaps, just perhaps these one time, freaky incidents would never happen again if they were sent to get their meds straight and get some mental health therapy.    People like this need compassion and understanding, sometimes they need to be forced to get medical help, and the courts can help with that by making a condition of their plea agreement.

Abusers choose to behave violently to get what they want and gain control. Their behaviour often originates from a sense of entitlement which is often supported by sexist, racist, homophobic and other discriminatory attitudes.

People with medication issues do not choose to behave violently, it just happens and they need our support and help to fix it.  You can’t fix a bad back by sending someone to a dentist!

~~Motherbink

First Post

Every now and then Cricket and I share stories and thoughts on Facebook about issues involving the LGBT community.   We also talk a lot about politics, domestic violence, poverty, health insurance and overall issues that affect the little people of the world.   Yesterday after a lengthy discussion about an article about the passage of VAWA published by CBS News that he had sent me via text,  he made an interesting suggestion: “You know Mom, we should write a blog together”.

Sometimes it’s hard to post things to Facebook of a political nature because our family and friends are so widespread in their political and religious views.  We don’t want to cause strife in the family, but we both feel we have a lot to share and a lot of things to say about what is going on in the world around us.

We both lead very busy and active lives, we both have careers we love, we both have family and friends that we love and cherish and we both see events and happenings that are unjust, unfair and plain old cruel that we want to talk about.

So here we are, our little corner of the web where we plan to post things we find of interest and our own personal opinions on issues affecting our world.

~~Motherbink