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Posts for January, 2011

It Happened Here

A commentary.

Jim Burroway

January 9th, 2011

My city is reeling this morning. Six dead, fourteen injured. Dorwan and Mavanell Stoddard, a retired couple in their seventies, were standing in line at Rep. Gabrielle Gifford’s meet-and-greet at a Northwest side Safeway when the shooting started. He’s dead; she was shot in the legs and is expected to recover, physically. Two more retirees, Phyllis Schneck, 79; and Dorothy Morris, 76; are also dead. Third-grader Christina-Taylor Green had recently been elected to student council at Mesa Verde Elementary and went to learn more about government. She, too, is dead. U.S. District Judge John Roll had just said hi when the shooting started. He’s dead. So is a Giffords aide, thirty-year-old Gabe Zimmerman, who was engaged to be married.

Thirteen others, besides Giffords, are wounded. Five, including Giffords, are in critical condition and five are in serious condition. The Red Cross put out a call for blood donations. The area in front of University Medical Center was the site of a candlelight vigil. The flickering flames struggled to remain visible in the glare of television cameras. The intersection of Ina and Oracle, Northwest Tucson’s busiest intersection and site of the shooting, is now open, but the shopping center itself remains sealed off.

Everyone says this sort of thing doesn’t happen here. People say that everywhere this sort of thing happens.

There’s more focus this morning on local media on Jared Loughner’s mental state. The picture that emerges from people who knew him confirms what I noticed yesterday; the man had struggled with serious mental problems. He had been expelled from Pima Community College, and barred from coming back unless he underwent psychological evaluation and obtained certification that he was not a threat to others. Obviously, he never obtained that certification.

There are a lot of blogs trying to pin this on tea party politics. I do believe that the rhetoric that animates the tea party and now infects Fox News and much of mainstream Republicanism is extremely dangerous and is quite capable of stoking violence like this. But the more we learn about Loughner, the more it appears that this hateful rhetoric had little influence on Loughner’s motive. None of his rambling writings reference conservative or tea party politics. Instead, he accuses the government of mind control and brainwashing by controlling grammar. As I wrote yesterday, he is clearly struggling to make sense of reality, a common problem with people with schizophrenia.

There is, however, a second person of interest. Police are looking for a 40- to 50- year old man who is believed to have been at that Safeway with Loughner. So that part of the story clearly isn’t a closed book. And it still doesn’t diminish what Pima County sheriff Clarence Dupnik said at yesterday’s news conference.

When you look at unbalanced people, how they respond to the vitriol that comes out of certain mouths about tearing down the government. The anger, the hatred, the bigotry that goes on in this country is getting to be outrageous. And, unfortunately, Arizona I think has become sort of the capital. We have become the Mecca for prejudice and bigotry.

“It’s not unusual for all public officials to get threats constantly, myself included. And that’s the sad thing of what’s going on in America. Pretty soon, we’re not going to be able to find reasonable, decent people who are willing to subject themselves to serve in public office.

Whatever may or may not have motivate Loughner, I think Dupnic has it right: Arizona has become a “sort of the capital” for prejudice and bigotry. I have never seen a more rapid decline in the political climate anywhere. State politics here is turning resident against resident, citizen against citizen. Hours after Giffords’s health care vote, her office was vandalized. At a similar Giffords meet-and-greet last August, police carted away someone whose pistol had fallen out of his holster before he was able to approach Giffords. Private Minutemen militias kill American citizens near the border, and suspicious white powder shows up at Rep. Raul Grijalva’s office. I’ve never seen anything like this in my life.

Yesterday, as my partner and I were leaving a Home Depot about a mile south of the shooting, we overheard a man on a cell phone telling someone to stay indoors because someone is shooting. We hadn’t heard anything and just assumed he was talking about something happening somewhere else. Things like that don’t happen here. But now we know it does. And unless we all examine our consciences, worse will happen, not by someone who is mentally ill but by someone who has his wits about him and is capable of doing even more harm.

Rep. Giffords’s Shooter’s YouTube Channel

Jim Burroway

January 8th, 2011

Twenty-two year old Jared Lee Loughner was identified by police as Rep. Gabrielle Giffords’s shooter. He is now in custody. From the looks of his YouTube channel, I believe he exhibits  the classic signs of schizophrenia.

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Mental illness and a grievance. A deadly combination.

Update: Let me explain myself. I am not a mental health professional, but my best friend in high school succumbed to schizophrenia. I also have two cousins with the disorder, although I have not been in contact with them in decades. These videos, to me, look hauntingly familiar, as soon as I saw the first one. don’t think so. Look at some of the other videos. He uses the same kind of language and “grammar.” In effect, he thinks he’s inventing his own language and currency.

I know there are a lot of people tempted to indict the Tea Party. About an hour ago, I would have been first in line with the pitchfork and torches. But I don’t think that’s what’s going on here.  Yes, Loughner’s talk of language, currency, unconstitutional police actions — these are all topics that are favorites of tea-partiers, but the concepts that the tea party is pushing are utterly absent in Loughner’s videos. Instead, what clear to me is that he is trying to do what a lot of people with the most serious cases of schizophrenia are trying to do. He is trying to create some sort of ordered structure out of the chaotic shards of his perceptions. And failing. I’ve seen this too many times before.

Rep Gabrielle Giffords Shot In Tucson

Jim Burroway

January 8th, 2011

This is shocking news. Barely one mile from where I am right now, Rep. Gabriel Giffords (D-AZ) was shot in the head at point-blank range while hosting a “Congress On Your Corner” meet and greet event at a Safeway supermarket. Early reports said that she was killed, but latest reports have her undergoing surgery at University Medical Center, the only Level I trauma center in Southern Arizona.

A victim being loaded onto a helicopter on Ina Rd. Oracle and Ina Roads, two major thorouughfares in northwest Tucson, are closed to traffic.

It is not clear right now whether the gunman is still at large or not. One report has it that the gunman, apparently in his mid-20′s, shot off 20 rounds with an automated weapon. Channel 13 is reporting that at least five people were killed, and six were injured.

Last March, her Tucson office was vandalized a few hours after the House vote overhauling the nation’s health care system, the authorities said.

Update: 1:41 MST: A suspect is in custody. He has not been identified. Nine people were brought to the hospital, including a child. All of them are in either serious or critical condition and are undergoing surgery.

Update: 1:47 MST: The Pima County sheriff’s office now says that six people have died and 18 were injured.

Update: 1:50 MST: Channel 4 spoke with Tucson City Manager Richard Miranda, who says that that Rep. Giffords is expected to pull through. This is a promising, if unconfirmed report.

Update: 1:53 MST: A press conference is scheduled for 2:00 at University Medical Center.

Update: 2:06 MST: The gunman, who still has not been identified, is said to be 22 years old and with  “limited law enforcement experience.” He walked up behind Giffords and started firing. He tried to escape on foot but was tackled and held until police arrived. Giffords had reportedly received numerous threats.

This may not have been the first attempt on Giffords’s life. Last August, protester showed up at another supermarket event was apprehended by police when a pistol he holstered slipped and fell to the floor. And then, there’s this:

During the fall campaign, Sarah Palin, the former Republican vice-presidential candidate, posted a controversial map on her Facebook page depicting spots where Democrats were running for re-election; those Democrats were noted by crosshairs symbols like those seen through the scope of a gun. Ms. Giffords was among those on Ms. Palin’s map.

Update: 2:13 MST: The Sheriff’s office says that the suspect used “a pistol with an extended magazine.” Sheriff deputies are currently executing multiple search warrants at multiple locations. They have not ruled out a second suspect.

Update: 2:15 MST: From the news conference at UMC:

Trauma surgeon Peter Rhee called the situation a catastrophe. He said UMC received 10 patients and one child who is dead. Five are in critical condition and five are in surgery, he said.

The congresswoman is in critical condition. Neurosurgeons have finished operating on her after she was shot through the head one time. Rhee is optimistic about her condition because she was able to follow commands.

Rep. Giffords is in intensive care.

Update: 2:19 MST: The suspect has been identified as 22-year-old Jared Lee Loughner. Five are dead, including a nine-year-old child. Thirteen have been injured. In addition to the victims taken to UMC, four were also taken to St. Mary’s Hospital, three with gunshot wounds.

Update: 2:24 MST: The death toll now stands at six. Among the dead: a nine-year-old girl, an aide to Rep. Giffords, and U.S. District Judge John Roll.

Update: 3:29 MST: From UMC:

Rhee says 10 patients were delivered to UMC – of those, 1 young girl is dead, 5 people are critical condition and 5 people are in surgery. Rhee says the deceased girl was about 9 years old.

Update: 3:27 MST. Here is the shooter’s YouTube channel.

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Four other videos here. This is looking more and more like a case of mental illness:

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Mentally ill, and with a grievance:

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Gay Navajo Man Elected To Arizona Senate

Jim Burroway

August 25th, 2010

Former state representative Jack Jackson Jr. has won the Democratic party’s primary for nomination to the Arizona state Senate. According to the Victory Fund:

In 2005, Jackson was appointed by Arizona Governor Janet Napolitano as the Executive Director of the Arizona Commission of Indian Affairs. In April 2000, he was appointed by Secretary Donna Shalala to serve on President Clinton’s Advisory Council on HIV/AIDS. Jack serves on the Navajo Nation Gaming Enterprise Board and the Obama Administration has selected him to once again serve on the President’s Advisory Council on HIV/AIDS.

There are no Republican challengers in the race to represent the Northern Arizona district covering the Navajo Nation and Flagstaff.

Prop 8 Rallies Planned

Jim Burroway

August 4th, 2010

As Timothy mentioned yesterday afternoon, we received word that a decision in Perry v. Schwarzenegger is expected this afternoon between 1:00 and 3:00 pm (PDT). Already, Prop 8 supporters have already filed a request for stay of judgment pending appeal, in case Judge Walker strikes down Prop 8. If granted, this would prevent any marriages taking until the Court of Appeals hears the case.

Meanwhile, a large number of rallies are planned in California and across the U.S., forty so far and counting. Rex Wockner is keeping up to date with the latest additions.

Judge Blocks Arizona’s Termination of Domestic Partner Benefits

Jim Burroway

July 24th, 2010

Among the first policy changes pushed by Arizona’s legislature as soon as Republican Janet Brewer succeeded Janet Napolitano (D) as governor was to pass House Bill 2013, which changed the definition of “dependent” to specifically exclude domestic partners and adopted children of gay individuals, effectively ending insurance coverage for the families of gay state employees. This move came despite denials from Arizona’s Prop 102 promoters that they would seek to remove domestic partner benefits if the amendment banning same-sex marriage was added to the constitution. Prop 102 was approved by Arizona voters in 2008.

This week, U.S. District Judge John Sedwick granted a temporary injunction against the state of Arizona from implementing the new law:

“Because employees involved in same-sex partnerships do not have the same right to marry as their heterosexual counterparts, Section O has the effect of completely barring lesbians and gays from receiving family benefits,” Sedwick wrote. “Consequently, the spousal limitation in Section O burdens state employees with same-sex domestic partners more than state employees with opposite-sex domestic partners.”

Sedwick dismissed the state’s argument that exempting gay employees would make the benefits program “much easier to administer” and that “scarce funds for employee benefits are better spent on employees and dependents as defined in the new statute.”

Gov. Brewer claims that the state cannot afford to provide domestic partner benefits. But the annual cost of domestic partner benefits make up only about $3 million, or less than one-half of one percent of the $625 million spent on benefits for all employees. The elimination of domestic partner benefits would affect more straight families than gay. Gay and lesbian couples are believed to comprise a small fraction of the 893 domestic partners who have signed up with the state. The injunction against the elimination of domestic partner benefits applies only to families of gay- and lesbian-led employees because, as Judge Sedwick noted, heterosexual couples have the option of marrying.

Phoenix gay group accuses HRC of putting “coalition” interests ahead of gay businesses

Timothy Kincaid

June 29th, 2010

The Greater Phoenix Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce is not pleased that the Human Rights Campaign is discouraging gay individuals and couples from traveling to Arizona or doing business with Arizona gay businesses. And they have been frustrated in their attempts to get HRC to consider their concerns. (FoxNews)

“They haven’t even read SB 1070. … They don’t even really know what’s going on around here,” Joseph Gesullo, chairman of the Phoenix gay chamber, said of the organizations calling for boycotts. “It’s really just hurting the people of Arizona.”

Gesullo has been able to negotiate with another group, the National Gay and Lesbian Chamber, who has expressed support for Arizona’s gay business operators.

But Gesullo said the Human Rights Campaign has “absolutely” resisted requests to tone down the boycott. He accused the group of kowtowing to Latino advocacy groups as well as the Service Employees International Union and expressed concern that the move would discourage gay and lesbian couples from visiting Arizona. That, in turn, hurts the hundreds of Phoenix businesses that count themselves as chamber members, he said.

And Gesullo may not be completely incorrect.

[Human Rights Campaign spokesman Fred Sainz] denied that the Human Rights Campaign launched the boycott just because the SEIU wanted it, but said there’s nothing wrong with working as a “coalition.” He said there’s a strong connection between those who support Arizona’s immigration law and those “who would bring similar harm” to the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender community.

While I’m not sure a boycott will have any effect on businesses or interests that oppose gay equality, it is likely to keep away many who might shop in a gay business or contribute to a gay cause.

It is always fascinating when gay organizations put the interests of outside members of a coalition ahead of the interests of gay individuals and organizations. I wonder if those coalition partners would do the same?

Heterosexual Menace: Hot for Students

Jim Burroway

May 18th, 2010

I just happened to come across this story during my lunchtime reading of the dead-tree version of the Arizona Daily Star:

Christie Elliot, 25, who coached the cheer squad and taught English at Empire High School, 10701 E. Mary Ann Cleveland Way, for about a year, turned herself in to Tucson police as a result of a three-week investigation into her relationship with a 15-year-old boy.

…Police began investigating April 19 at the behest of the Vail School District after a parent told the Empire High principal that Elliot had been exchanging inappropriate text messages with his son via his iPod Touch. Some of the messages referred to kissing and the “need to be more careful,” according to court documents filed by police.

During the district’s initial investigation, laptop computers issued by the school to staffers and students were confiscated from Elliot and the student, court documents state. Elliot’s computer was found to contain topless pictures of the teacher. It is undetermined whether she sent those photos to students, according to court documents.

Now imagine a different but very similar story, with almost all of the details being identical — a hot 25-year-old teacher sending inappropriate text messages to a 15-year-old male student, the teacher’s school-issued laptop containing topless photos, yadda, yadda, yadda, — except the teacher were a strapping male baseball coach and science teacher.

Do you suppose, as I do, that such a story would more likely appear on the paper’s front page above the fold, instead of being buried deep inside the inner recesses of the local news section like this one was?

This can only mean one thing: Our local newspapers are in collusion with the heterosexual conspiracy. You can learn more about this vast conspiracy in our report, “The Heterosexual Agenda: Exposing the Myths.”

Fact Check: FAIR’s 2,555,000 Dimes For “Ethno-Separatist”

Jim Burroway

April 29th, 2010

Rachel Maddow interviewed Dan Stein of the Federation of American Immigration Reform (FAIR), the group that claims credit for writing Arzona’s anti-immigration law which critics charge is a open invitation to racial profiling. In particular, Maddow drills Stein over FAIR’s extensive associations with White Supremacists.

Brutal. So who’s the more credible party: Maddow or Stein?

Well, we don’t have the wherewithal to fact check everything in this interview, but I knew I could easily fact-check Stein’s denial that FAIR donated any money or had any connections with an “ethno-separatist” during a 2004 Arizona ballot initiative. Protect Arizona Now (PAN), with “ethno-separatist” Virginia Abernathy chairing its national advisory board, was the prime force behind Arizona’s Prop 200 in 2004. At 19:33 in the interview, Stein said:

First of all, we never gave that organization a dime. And secondly, even if we were going to give them the dime, we wouldn’t have given the dime with Virginia Abernathy associated with it.

Unfortunately for Stein, donations for ballot initiatives are reportable to the Secretary of State and posted online. According to the Arizona Secretary of State’s Web Site:

  • On April 1, 2004, FAIR gave Virginia Abernathy’s PAN $50,000, and the FAIR Congressional Task Force gave them another $50,000 more.
  • On May 11, 2004, FAIR gave PAN $25,500, and the  FAIR Congressional Task Force gave PAN another $25,000.
  • On June 11, 2004, FAIR gave PAN $50,000, and the FAIR Congressional Task Force gave PAN another $55,000.

After Abernathy exploded publicly with her ethno-separatist views, FAIR did denounce Abernathy’s views. and on September 24, FAIR shifted its support to a new group that arose from those ashes, Yes on Proposition 200, with a $60,865 donation. But yes, despite Stein’s claim, FAIR provided Abernathy’s PAN with $255,500 out of $370,000 of reportable donations altogether.

In case you’re counting, that’s 2,555,000 dimes.

We Are All Mexicans, Part 2

This commentary reflects the opinion of the author and does not necessarily reflect those of other authors at Box Turtle Bulletin.

Jim Burroway

April 28th, 2010

Some more data points to consider in reference to Arizona’s law which is an open invitation for racial profiling and harrassment of its legal citizens in the name of clamping down on undocumented immigrants. From the Southern Poverty Law Center:

Arizona’s controversial anti-immigrant law was written by a lawyer at the legal arm of the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR), which the Southern Poverty Law Center has listed as an anti-immigrant hate group since 2007. The law, a recipe for racial profiling, would make the failure to carry immigration documents a crime and give the police broad power to detain anyone suspected of being in the country illegally.

Want more? How about this:

The principal sponsor of the Arizona law, state Sen. Russell Pearce, has his own history of hate. In 2006, Pearce forwarded an email to his supporters from the neo-Nazi National Alliance titled “Who Rules America?” The article criticized the media for promoting multiculturalism and racial equality, and for presenting the Holocaust as fact. More recently, Pearce has been photographed hugging J.T. Ready, a Phoenix-area resident who is a member of the neo-Nazi National Socialist Movement.

Still think race has nothing to do with this? Pima County (Tucson) Sheriff  Clarrence Dupnik calls the law “racist,” “digusting,” and “unnecessary”. He announced that while he will not release any illegal immigrants who happens to come into his custody (standard practice is to turn them over to Border Patrol), he won’t enforce the new law.

The sheriff acknowledged that this course of action could get him hauled into court. SB 1070 allows citizens to sue any law enforcement official who doesn’t comply with the law. But Dupnik told Nunez that SB 1070 would force his deputies to adopt racial profiling as an enforcement tactic, which Dupnik says could also get him sued. “So we’re kind of in a damned if we do, damned if we don’t situation. It’s just a stupid law.”

Dupnik had harsh words for anyone who thinks SB 1070 will not lead to racial profiling. “If I tell my people to go out and look for A, B, and C, they’re going to do it. They’ll find some flimsy excuse like a tail light that’s not working as a basis for a stop, which is a bunch of baloney.“

Like I said, Oh how I wish Pima County were its own state. (By the way, Pima County was also the only one among Arizona’s 15 counties to vote down Prop 102 in 2008. Viva Tucson!)

We Are All Mexicans

This commentary reflects the opinion of the author and does not necessarily reflect those of other authors at Box Turtle Bulletin.

Jim Burroway

April 27th, 2010

I’ve always loved Tucson, but I have to say that Arizona is under a veritable reign of terror now that the tea party has taken over state government. Do you think I’m exaggerating? Maybe a little, but where else can you expect to hear police arbitrarily demanding to “see your papers” but in Apartheid-era South Africa, present-day Burma and the Grand Canyon state? I’m proud to be a Tucsonan — if only Pima County could be its own state! — but Arizona is a mess. A vindictive, angry, spiteful, punitive and broken mess.

This is also the same state that banned same-sex marriage and rescinded domestic partnership benefits among state government employees. First they went for the gays, then the brown-skinned…

Riding Horses

Jim Burroway

March 15th, 2010

JD HayworthMy beloved Arizona never disappoints when it comes to extreme looniness. Sen. John McCain is facing a primary challenge from former Arizona congressman and Phoenix right-wing radio host J.D. Hayworth, who told an Orlando, Florida radio audience that Massachusetts’ marriage equality law could lead to marriages between man and horse:

“You see, the Massachusetts Supreme Court, when it started this move toward same-sex marriage, actually defined marriage — now get this — it defined marriage as simply, ‘the establishment of intimacy,’” Hayworth said. “Now how dangerous is that? I mean, I don’t mean to be absurd about it, but I guess I can make the point of absurdity with an absurd point — I guess that would mean if you really had affection for your horse, I guess you could marry your horse. It’s just the wrong way to go, and the only way to protect the institution of marriage is with that federal marriage amendment that I support.”

Sen. McCain opposed the Federal Marriage Amendment because he felt that it violated the principles of federalism, not because he believed in equality for gay people. McCain supported Arizona’s Prop 102, the state constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage which passed in 2008.

Hayworth, who promoted tea party events on his radio program and gained the endorsement of national tea party leaders, is determined to run an extremely negative campaign. I wonder if the next whisper campaign against McCain will somehow imply that he enjoys “riding horses.”

AZ Senator Jack Harper discusses the details of a gay soldier’s life (without permission) in order to advance his anti-gay agenda

Timothy Kincaid

February 5th, 2010

Arizona’s anti-gay State Senator Jack Harper felt it necessary to go to the floor of the statehouse on an issue over which that body has no say: the open service of gay military personnel. He had to warn everyone of just what would happen if, gasp, gay people were allowed to tell the truth.

They’ll smoke pot, go AWOL and infect their roommates with HIV. Because gay people are individualists and can’t “come together for the good of the unit” (a rather unfortunate choice of words).

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The text of Senator Harper’s monologue.

I’d like to tell a story about one of my experiences in the Military and how it um, how it related to the President’s speech last night. I understand the President will be making a um, a push to allow gays to openly serve in the military. And, uh, from my experience this is, uh, this is a mistake.

Back in 1989 when I was in the first infantry division, I got there in 1988, and we were in old barracks and we were moving into new barracks and went from bays to two-man rooms. And, um, sergeant first class of my platoon wanted me to room with a person that we all knew was a homosexual.

And I said, “Sergeant, if I have to room with him I’m going to turn him in.” So he ended up assigning another soldier to serve, um to room with this person.

Specialist Rollins was the individual. Specialist Rollins was quite an individualist. I think that might have been the biggest problem cuz when you’re in the military you’re about, you’re supposed to be about putting your personality aside and coming together as a unit for the good of the unit, for the good of the country. And being an individualist there is not room for in the Military.

Specialist Rollins at the time, one time tested positive for THC which means he was smoking pot. He got an Article 15, lost a stripe, and had to do seven days of extra duty. Another time PFC Rolling went AWOL for a number of days. Our platoon had to go down and inventory his stuff including his personal effects which were very evident that he was openly homosexual.

After PFC Rollins was eventually captured he was court-martialed out, not because he was homosexual but because he had gone AWOL.

Um, being an individualist does not match well with being in the Military. You’re supposed to conform to the standards and come together as a unit for the good of the unit and for the good of the country.

Now, after Rollins had been court-martialed out of the military, his roommate had PCS, Permanent Change of Station, gone on to another thing. About a month later, cuz I was the uh, the battalion sid burse clerk which means I ran the computer that kept the database of the grade changes, positions, things like that, rank. Uh, the uh, medics came to me and said we have a person that tested positive for, uh, for HIV and we only have the last four of his social security number and we need to look him up. It was the person who had roomed with PFC Rollins. Now this was a promiscuous soldier so it might not have been that he had a relationship with Rollins.

But, ah, we had problems from the beginning because we decided that we would not turn in someone who was openly serving in the military that was a homosexual, that we knew to be a homosexual. We tried to be tolerant, but it didn’t work. It didn’t work for our platoon, it didn’t work for the first infantry division, and it will not work for the United States of America.

Thank you

I can’t even begin to discuss how inappropriate it is for a state senator to go to the floor of the senate and discuss the military career and life of another person. By name.

This is beyond foul, and he should be censured.

Maurice Grossman (1927-2010)

Jim Burroway

January 22nd, 2010

Maurice GrossmanThe world is full of cheerful, unsung heroes. One of them passed away this morning and Tucson is a bit less cheerful for his passing.

Maurice Grossman, a former University of Arizona art professor, died this morning following heart valve replacement surgery. He was 82.

Born in Detroit, Michigan in 1927, he became an educator and ceramic artist in Arizona. He studied at Wayne State University and earned an MFA at Ohio State University. From 1955 to 1988, he was Professor of Ceramics at the University of Arizona in Tucson after founding their ceramics program. I came to know him during the campaign to try to defeat Arizona’s Prop 102. He was just one of those guys who seemed to know just about everyone, and no one he knew could ever be an enemy.

Last October, he was selected to be the Grand Marshal for Tucson’s Pride parade. (Tucson holds its parade in October as a concession to the typically scorching 105+ degree summer temperatures.) The UofA’s Arizona Daily Wildcat featured Maurice’s honor with a good description of his  journey:

Grossman was a UA professor from 1955 to 1989 and started the three-dimensional arts program in the Art Department during that time. “I’m very proud of what I accomplished and am still acknowledged when I’m on campus,” Grossman said. “I loved my students; I love teaching. In a way I’m still teaching.”

Grossman said he lived the first part of his life trying to determine who he was. He got married in his 20s, and had two children with his wife, who died in 1978.

“Like most gay men, I was trying to understand more about myself,” Grossman said. “At that time, in my 20s, I met a very beautiful and lovely woman and we fell in love.”

Though he was married and in love with his wife until she died, Grossman said he knew he was gay before then. In 1978 Grossman became more politically active in the gay community. He volunteered with Wingspan and Stonewall Democrats in Tucson. He waited a few years before he told anyone he was gay.

“When I told (my children), they knew; they said, ‘we’ve known for years,’” Grossman said.

Grossman said there was no real fallout or loss of friendships because of his revelation.

If you had the pleasure of knowing Maurice, you’d understand why.

The thing that impressed me about him is that he didn’t think to bother about slowing down. Age was an occasional nuisance but never a hindrance. And nothing was going to get in the way of his good cheer. He remained very active in the LGBT community and in the local arts scene. The Dinnerware Gallery in 2007 threw a fifty-year retrospective for him to coincide with Maurice’s 80th birthday.

There are a lot of sad people here in Tucson today.

Lambda Legal Sues Arizona To Block Elimination of Domestic Partner Benefits.

Jim Burroway

November 17th, 2009

During last year’s battle to place a ban on same-sex marriage into Arizona’s constitution, proponents for Proposition 102 argued that their efforts had nothing to do with Domestic Partner Benefits. Nope. Not one bit. Except that the ink was barely dry on the election results when the same lawmakers who put the proposition on the ballot turned right around and moved to strip domestic partner benefits from gay and lesbian state employees.

Today, Lambda Legal has announced a lawsuit in Federal Court in Tucson on behalf of ten state employees seeking to block the elimination of DP benefits. According to a press release from Lambda Legal (no link yet):

“This is an issue of equal pay for equal work,” said Tara Borelli, staff attorney for Lambda Legal. “By stripping away these vital benefits from loyal state employees, the state isn’t just paying them less for the same work than their heterosexual colleagues — it’s pulling away a vital lifeline that all workers need. This is simply cruel and saves the state next to nothing.”

…”This discriminatory elimination of vital health benefits denies equal pay for equal work to a small, politically vulnerable group of dedicated public workers who perform valuable services and pay equal taxes. By stripping gay and lesbian state employees of health coverage for a domestic partner, the new law unfairly and unconstitutionally inflicts severe hardship upon a targeted group of Arizona families,” added Borelli.

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