Monday News: Equality means protection, too


AG STEIN FILES BRIEF IN SUPPORT OF SAME-SEX RESTRAINING ORDERS: North Carolina is the only state in the U.S. that doesn't issue domestic violence restraining orders for victims in same-sex dating relationships. A lawsuit now before the state Court of Appeals could change that, and Attorney General Josh Stein filed a brief on behalf of the state this week, calling on the court to declare this portion of North Carolina's law unconstitutional. In North Carolina, a domestic violence protective order is known as "50B order," and for people who are not married or related, an order can be obtained only against a person "of the opposite sex." A lower court cited that section of the law in denying a protective order to a person who faced threats of physical violence following a breakup this year. The plaintiff in the case is a Wake County woman who was threatened by a woman she was dating. The American Civil Liberties Union is representing her in the case. The group and Stein are asking for that section of the law to be struck down.

RALEIGH BUS DRIVERS UP IN ARMS OVER SCHEDULING, SAFETY ISSUES: The union that represents the drivers has been active in Raleigh since the days of trollies. State law forbids municipalities from negotiating with unions, but federal law requires governments that take federal dollars to work with unions where they exist. GoRaleigh has gotten around the conflicting requirements by hiring a management company, Transdev, that employs the drivers and other unionized workers and negotiates the union contract. Transit authority member Nathan Spencer said the board will press Transdev to address the worker’s concerns. “Transdev needs to come to the table speaking to drivers,” Spencer said. “And they (the company) understand that this is a key issue that the board is paying attention to and we’re concerned about.” But some of the drivers’ concerns are under the city’s control. Dewberry said drivers don’t think the new Route 17 on Rock Quarry Road or Route 18 on Barwell Road are safe, because of a lack of sidewalks, signs and lights at the stops.

WINSTON-SALEM CONFEDERATE STATUE DRAWS OPPOSING DEMONSTRATORS: Dozens of supporters and protesters of a Confederate statute in a North Carolina city took opposite sides of a downtown street, as the monument's days at its current location could be numbered. The Winston-Salem Journal reported about 50 people who want the century-old statue next to the old Forsyth County courthouse removed rallied Sunday afternoon. About 25 feet away, 40 people who want the statute to remain gathered at the monument for a prayer and flower-laying event. The city of Winston-Salem has given the United Daughters of the Confederacy until Jan. 31 to move its statue or face legal action. The group has promised opposing removal efforts. City officials say they're worried the statue is a safety concern because of recent topplings of Confederate statues in Durham and Chapel Hill.

CALIFORNIA JUDGE BLOCKS TRUMP'S RULE ON BIRTH CONTROL COVERAGE, BUT ONLY FOR 13 STATES: A U.S. judge in California on Sunday blocked Trump administration rules, which would allow more employers to opt out of providing women with no-cost birth control, from taking effect in 13 states and Washington, D.C. Judge Haywood Gilliam granted a request for a preliminary injunction by California, 12 other states and Washington, D.C. The plaintiffs sought to prevent the rules from taking effect as scheduled on Monday while a lawsuit against them moved forward. But Gilliam limited the scope of the ruling to the plaintiffs, rejecting their request that he block the rules nationwide. The changes would allow more employers, including publicly traded companies, to opt out of providing no-cost contraceptive coverage to women by claiming religious objections. Some private employers could also object on moral grounds. California and the other states argue that women would be forced to turn to state-funded programs for birth control and experience unintended pregnancies.

TRUMP THREATENS TURKEY WITH ECONOMIC SANCTIONS IF THEY ATTACK KURDS IN SYRIA: “Will devastate Turkey economically if they hit Kurds,” Mr. Trump said on Twitter, suggesting that there would be a 20-mile safe zone around the group after American forces leave. He added, “Likewise, do not want the Kurds to provoke Turkey.” Mr. Trump’s tweets marked the first public threat toward Turkey, a NATO ally, over the Kurds and seemed to offer a blanket of protection for the group, a band of American-backed militias that the Turkish government sees as terrorists. Mr. Trump’s announced pullout from Syria without guaranteeing safety for the Kurds, who have helped American forces fight the Islamic State, had received sharp criticism from lawmakers. But his tweets Sunday threatened to upend Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s attempt to reach a deal with Turkey to protect them, something Mr. Pompeo had been optimistic about when talking to reporters in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, earlier Sunday. Mr. Trump’s tweets are just one more wrinkle in a process racked with conflicting statements and uncertain timelines after the president announced a pullout of Syria within 30 days late last month.



And thanks to Josh Stein,

North Carolina is one of those 13 states temporarily protected by the court order blocking Trump's rule on birth control coverage.