Human Rights and Civil Liberties
Recognition of inherent dignity, and equal and inalienable rights and liberties of all members of the human family is the foundation of freedom, justice and peace in the world. Human rights address prejudices and inequities in society; while civil liberties address abuses by government. Even small abuses can collect into a slow erosion of liberties.
The Green Party shall strive to secure universal and effective recognition and observance of the following:
- The principles and spirit expressed in the United Nations' Universal Declaration of Human Rights is an international standard that all nations, especially our own, must meet.
- The right to liberty and security of person, and freedom from arbitrary arrest, detention, slavery or involuntary servitude.
- No one shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman or capital punishment.
- Everyone who works has the right to just and favorable remuneration ensuring an existence worthy of human dignity, and supplemented, if necessary, by other means of social protection... a living wage.
- Everyone, without discrimination, has the right to equal pay for equal work.
- A standard of living adequate for the health and well-being of every family member.
- Equal opportunity to participate in the decision-making processes that affect their lives.
- Equal opportunity in housing, employment, education, health care and to child custody and adoption.
- The right to free expression and assembly.
- The right of citizens to leave their country and to return.
- The state of human rights in all other nations must be a criteria in United States' policies regarding social, economic, diplomatic and strategic interaction with them.
- The fundamental separation of church and state in the United States to the betterment of both.
Patterns of exclusion of women and minorities (primarily people of color) must be acknowledged as a continuing practice that violates any semblance of social justice, or respect for diversity.
Anti-affirmative action sentiments are being provoked as a subterfuge to hide economic problems: the concentration of wealth and power in the hands of the few; the exploitation of labor in the U.S. and abroad; the problems presented by greater automation; and the continued decline in real wages and jobs. Our political leaders have failed to address these issues even though other industrial nations are beginning to deal with them. The common practice of these leaders has been to use minorities as scapegoats in order to divert attention from the real issues. This is a recurring scenario in history: economic disparity causes social unrest; anger is directed at easy targets - those least able to fight back; the underlying issues are deflected because they are complex and carry enormous social implications and long term effects.
The Green Party recognizes the need for affirmative action programs and supports the following:
- Retention of inclusion goals for women and minorities in government hiring and procurement when all other qualifications are equal - similar to the preferences given to veterans.
- Maintaining employment programs whose goals are to achieve a workforce that reflects the diversity of the community.
- Promoting equal employment opportunity through education and examples of successful programs, but also pursuing Court imposed remedies and legal retribution where necessary.
- A realistic assessment of our future economy and employment in the post-industrial age.
- Proportional representation as an affirmative action towards achieving fair representation for all. Electoral systems promote patterns of inclusion or exclusion and, so, the Green Party supports the goals of the Voting Rights Act.
Immigration policies should be based strongly on human rights. Properly devised immigrant work policies can be of economic benefit to the worker and the host nation.
Xenophobic responses are typified by California's Proposition 187 which claimed we "are suffering economic hardship by the presence of illegal aliens..." To the contrary, numerous studies show a positive net effect from the taxes paid, wages spent and jobs created by immigrant workers. However, reactionary allegations are popularized to divert discussions away from underlying causes of U.S. economic erosion, such as the permanent decline of labor-intensive jobs and the widening gap between rich and poor. Likewise, global issues such as deterioration of natural resources and predatory foreign policies by the northern countries are ignored as contributors to human migration.
Many immigrants come to the U.S in response to cyclical demands in the labor market. Since demand drives the migration, most immigrants, legal or not, do not displace native workers. Keeping workers illegal just makes them more vulnerable to exploitations and illegal actions by employers. This makes them an attractive labor source which, in turn, increases the demand. This cycle of oppression and exploitation is the equivalent of a modern-day slave trade.
Many people also migrate due to political persecution and poverty - conditions for which the U.S. should admit complicity. As long as labor demands exist, and poverty and oppression in the southern Americas continues, legal and illegal immigration will be a reality in the United States. We can deal with this reality by militaristic fortification of the border, or we can admit that labor, like capital, will cross borders, and that fortifications do not deter desperate people.
The Green Party supports these policies (as advocated by Cesar Chavez) which seek to integrate, rather than alienate, migrant labor:
- The U.S.- Mexican border should be recognized as an area of bi-national interdependence. This would be an authentic free-trade zone where people are free to travel for work, shopping or recreation. Similar arrangements already exist between the U.S. and Canada (the Cascadia co-operative zone) and among the nations of Europe.
- Seasonal labor demands country-wide should be allowed to be filled by foreign workers using work visas, with these workers subject to U.S. wage, tax and labor laws. The Employer Sanctions provision of the 1986 Immigration Reform and Control Act should be repealed as ineffective. Bi-national unions and hiring halls should replace the illegal activities of labor contractors.
- We oppose the continuing legislative trend of reducing and / or denying services that are available to all other workers. We advocate voting rights for permanent residents, as was the law prior to World War I.
- We should acknowledge and celebrate the influence of diverse cultures in the mosaic that is the unique American culture.
We recognize the rights of all indigenous peoples worldwide, and we support full self-government on all Indian reservations.
Like many indigenous peoples, Native Americans have been the victims of European colonialism. Today, tribal lands are threatened by oil exploration, mining and toxic poisoning. Native American culture is only meagerly represented in history books.
In addition to the issues raised in the Human Rights / Civil Liberties and Affirmative Action planks, the Green Party supports full rights for Native Americans:
- Give Native American culture equal weight with European culture in our educational and socialization processes.
- Support the 500 Years of Resistance Movement which seeks to tell the whole story about the arrival of European culture in the Americas.
- Recognize treaty rights concerning hunting and fishing at subsistence levels, with catch sizes to be negotiated between tribes and the appropriate government agencies. Native treaty rights should always take precedence over commercial profits and foreign fishing interests.
- Recognize Native American claims to ancestral remains and artifacts. Tribes should have full freedom to practice tribal religions on reservations.
- Oppose oil exploration in the Arctic Wildlife Refuge due to its effect on native tribes, and to its threat to the environment and wildlife.
- Oppose locating toxic dumps, nuclear tests and other undesirable workings of industrialized society on tribal lands.
- Oppose the misuse of the criminal justice system, and the use of excessive force, to deny Native Americans their rights.
- Eliminate barriers to the full involvement of Native Americans in the decisions that will affect them.
Support the American Indian Religious Freedom Act.
Prepared by the Johnson County Green Party, February 2003, based on the platform of the California Green Party, www.cagreens.org. More information on the Green Party may be found at www.gpus.org. Please also visit the Johnson County Green Party site at www.johnsoncountygreenparty.org and join us at our meetings!
Women have a right to absolute social and economic equality.
Long-standing patriarchal traditions have resulted in oppressive, exploitative and discriminatory treatment of women, effectively relegating them to second class status. Sustained action, guided by a strong feminist perspective, is needed to overcome this problem.
Important support for single-parent families, the overwhelming majority of which are headed by women, comes from federal assistance programs. Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC) was replaced in 1996 with Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF). TANF includes time limits and a lifetime assistance cap. It also allowed states to end funding for tracking and reporting of poverty levels. The time limits, combined with a softening economy, will leave large numbers of poverty-stricken families in dire straits. This will be difficult to prove, however, without adequate tracking and reporting.
The Green Party calls for equal gender rights:
Provide adequate health care for women. We need a greatly increased emphasis on women's health problems, including increased research, preventive measures and medical services. Form review boards to monitor the use of hysterectomies and C-sections, and discourage their overuse. Insurance programs must cover, at no additional cost, women's health problems, including breast and cervical cancer, AIDS, non-cosmetic elective surgery, pregnancy and coverage for disabled homemakers.
- Establish equitable workplace rights for women. We must pass legislation which requires comparable pay for comparable work, expanded child care in the work place, and the prevention of gender-based job discrimination and sexual harassment.
- Adopt a constitutional protection of equality for women, such as the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA).
- Provide education and training for judges, court and law enforcement personnel to handle cases of violence against women.
- Adopt evidentiary rules so that opinions about past sexual behavior of an alleged victim are not admissible, nor should her clothes be admissible as evidence the offense was incited.
- Acknowledge "battered women's syndrome" as a mitigating factor in the defense argument at murder trials.
- Develop curricular materials, pedagogical methods and teacher training programs that promote non-sexist attitudes on the part of teachers and students. We support programs that hold the educational system accountable for supporting feminine rights, such as the ones legislated in Title IX, the Sex Equity in Education Act.
- Promote educational programs to combat sexual objectification and exploitation of women in advertising.
- Expand the legal definition of families to include non-traditional domestic arrangements. We should support men and women who make a career of homemaking.
- Mandate treatment for all sex offenders. Assure confidentiality in handling complaints and legal procedures involving abused persons.
- Increase support and funding for safe houses and other family violence prevention services.
- Support affirmative action in selecting women for appointive offices. When qualified women candidates are available, they should be appointed in every branch and at every level of government until gender balance is achieved. The Green Party will actively recruit, promote and train women candidates for both elective and appointive offices. The Green Party's internal structure will also reflect this commitment. [see Affirmative Action and Proportional Representation planks.]
- Recognize women's studies as a discipline in which women articulate their own reality through research and analysis. Universities should be mandated to support Women's Studies.
- Remove the time limits and the lifetime cap in the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program. Provide mandatory reporting requirements to determine the effects of the program.
- Women have an inalienable right to control their own bodies. The decision whether or not to bring a pregnancy to term is a woman's alone to make.
- All women must have the option of obtaining a safe and legal abortion. When abortion is illegal, it condemns young and poor women to unsafe and sometimes fatal abortion practices. However, abortion is not a desirable form of birth control - it is a final recourse. Preventing pregnancy is the better option. Green philosophy regards women as life-givers, and we see the loss of even a potential for life as regrettable. We should work to create a society in which abortion becomes less necessary.
- Our present situation is largely the result of patriarchal attitudes towards sexuality, social pressures to engage in intercourse, inadequate sex education and a lack of available contraceptives. The U.S. has one of the highest teenage pregnancy rates in the western world, along with a lower availability of contraceptives. These facts are not unconnected. Our goal should be an open and tolerant attitude towards sexuality that will lead to greater awareness and knowledge.
- The abortion-inducing drug RU 486 has been approved in the U.S. Prescribing of RU 486 has been limited to those doctors who have been qualified to perform surgical abortions. With the number of abortion clinics in this country shrinking due to terrorist attacks against the clinics and their doctors, this RU 486 restriction is effectively denying its availability in most parts of the country.
The Green Party recognizes women's reproductive rights:
- Make safe and legal abortions available to all women. Government funding should be available to women who are unable to afford abortions.
- Oppose laws that require women of any age to notify or obtain anyone's consent before obtaining an abortion.
- Increase research and availability of contraceptives.
- Remove conditions which limit the availability and use of RU486.
- Set national standards to make adoption easier and more affordable.
- Federally fund sex education, public health programs and family planning services.
- Promote personal responsibility on the part of both men and women in their reproductive capacities, including voluntary sterilization.
- End the forced sterilization of women and the mandatory use of contraceptives, such as Norplant and Depro-Provera. We should provide free removal of these contraceptives from women who have already been coerced to use them.
All human beings have the right to a life that will let them achieve their full potential. Young people are one of the least protected classes of human beings, yet they represent our future. We must ensure they have an upbringing that allows them to take their place as functioning, productive and self-actualized members of their community.
The Green Party supports the rights of youth:
Recognize that young people have the inalienable right of independent existence. Youth are not the property of their parents or guardians, but are under their care and guidance.
- Recognize that youth have the right to survival through the provision of adequate food, shelter and comprehensive health care, including prenatal care for the mother.
- Recognize that youth have the right to be protected from abuse, harmful drugs, violence, environmental hazards, neglect and exploitation.
- Recognize that youth have the right to develop in a safe and nurturing early environment provided by affordable child care and pre-school preparation.
- Recognize that youth have the right to an education that is stimulating, relevant, engaging and that fosters their natural desire to learn.
- Encourage the creative potential of young people to the greatest extent possible.
- Allow young people to have input into the direction and pace of their own education, including input into the operation of their educational institutions.
- Provide young people, at the earliest time appropriate, with education regarding their own sexuality.
- Give young people the opportunity to express themselves in their own media, including television, radio, films and the Internet. Young people should also be given skills in analyzing commercial media.
- Keep young people as free as possible from coercive corporate advertising at their educational institutions.
- Recognized the importance of parents, teachers and other allies of young people.
Ample support must be provided for their work.
People have a basic right to decide their own sexual orientation.
The Green Party regards heterosexism - the belief that the only legitimate form of sexual interaction is between men and women - as a violation of human rights and dignity. We recognize the contributions of lesbian, gay and bisexual people to society and in building our movement.
The Green Party understands that HIV and AIDS problems are not restricted to the gay community. Nevertheless, the gay community has special needs in connection with AIDS. [see plank]
The Green Party demands full rights for all sexual groups by:
Promoting the social values of tolerance and acceptance to help eliminate anti-gay hatred.
- Promoting a constitutional amendment to outlaw discrimination based on sexual orientation.
- We should amend all anti-discrimination laws to include protection for sexual minorities.
- Legalizing lesbian and gay marriages.
- Giving lesbian and gay couples an equal opportunity to adopt children.
- Ending discrimination based on sexual orientation in all branches of the military.
- Providing for the special needs of senior gays through social service programs.
- Supporting the development of lesbian and gay studies at all levels of the educational system.
- Including lesbian and gay sensitivity training in the teacher certification process.
- Promoting positive images of gay youth, and establish gay youth centers and gay counseling.
- Fostering positive visibility of gays and lesbians in the arts, television, radio and film.
- Establishing, expanding and actively enforcing anti-hate crime laws.
- Abolishing art censorship to allow free homo-erotic and gay-positive expression.
The physically and mentally challenged are people who are "differently abled" from the majority, but who are nevertheless able to live independently. The mentally ill are people with serious mental problems who often need social support networks.
Physically and mentally challenged people have the right to live independently in their community. The mentally ill also have the right to live independently, circumscribed only by the limitations of their illness. These people, including the mentally ill, are their own best advocates in securing their rights and for living in the social and economic mainstream.
Current Medicaid policy forces many challenged people to live in costly state-funded institutions. Excluding these people from society alienates them; excluding them from the work force denies them the chance to use their potentials.
The mentally ill are generally viewed as valueless members of society. The diminishing funds available to provide care for the growing numbers of the mentally ill often result in their homelessness, vagrancy and excessive use of short-term crisis facilities. It also increases the necessity of placing them in long-term, locked facilities.
The Green Party recognizes the rights and potentials of the physically and mentally challenged and the mentally ill:
- Increase State Rehabilitation Department funding so that disabled people can pursue education and training and reach their highest potential. The differently abled should participate fully in the allocation decisions of State Rehabilitation Department funds.
- Aggressively implement the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).
- Fund In-Home Support Services (IHSS) to allow the differently abled to hire personal care attendants while remaining at home.
- Allocate adequate funding to support community-based programs that provide out-patient medical services, case management services and counseling programs. We should provide a residential setting within the community for those who don't need institutional care, but who are unable to live independently.
- Make it easier for the chronically mentally ill to apply for and receive Supplemental Security Income (SSI).
- Mainstream the differently abled. Increase the training of teachers in regards to the needs of differently abled students.
- Discourage stereotyping of the mentally and physically challenged by the entertainment industry and the media.
- Fund programs to increase public sensitivity to the needs of the mentally ill and differently abled.