Opinion: Virginia wants to deny our family exists
Daniel Gri, right, and his husband James Abbott, left, are raising their two sons in Virginia.
February 27th, 2012
05:31 PM ET

Opinion: Virginia wants to deny our family exists

Editor’s Note: Daniel Gri and James Abbott have been a couple for more than 15 years. They had a religious commitment ceremony in 1999, and were legally married in California in 2008.  They are raising two sons, aged 14 and 12, in Virginia.

By Daniel Gri and James Abbott, Special to CNN

Our family lives in a state where our existence is about to be denied.

We certainly know who we are.  We are a loving couple raising two children. We are people of  faith. We are involved actively in conservative political causes.  And there’s no denying that friends, neighbors and even complete strangers can see who we are.  Like us or not, we’re two gay, middle-aged, white dads raising two adopted children who needed homes: one bi-racial teen and one black pre-teen.

But Virginia is now prepared to ignore us – and hundreds of loving couples like us who could provide loving and stable homes to thousands of unwanted children who are in need of homes, too.

In a few days, our state is expected to become only the second in the nation (North Dakota is the first) that will allow state-funded adoption agencies to deny us, and other qualified parents, the ability to foster or adopt children solely because of our sexual orientation.


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Filed under: Family • Politics • Relationships • Religion • Sexual orientation • What we think • Where we live
February 27th, 2012
05:12 PM ET

The Latino vote: A factor in swing states come November

Editor's note: The next Latino in America documentary focuses on Latino voters and airs in October 2012. Follow @cnnlia for more updates on other Latino in America stories.

By Rafael Romo, Senior Latin American Affairs Editor

(CNN) - If there was still any doubt about Mitt Romney's position on immigration, it was erased last Thursday during the CNN Republican presidential debate in Mesa, Arizona.

The former Michigan governor referred to Arizona's controversial HB1070 law as "a model" for the nation. The initiative approved in 2010 that cracks down on illegal immigration has been denounced by Hispanic and immigration rights groups as extreme.

Romney also said that "the right course for America is to drop these lawsuits against Arizona ... I'll also complete the (border) fence. I'll make sure we have enough border patrol agents to secure the fence and I'll make sure we have an (employment eligibility federal database) E-Verify system and require employers to check the documents of workers."

Hispanic voters won't decide Tuesday's primaries in Arizona and Michigan, because few are registered as Republicans in those states; but it will be an entirely different story during the November presidential elections.

Arizona's Hispanic voters could give the candidate of either party enough of a margin to win the state in November. According to the Pew Hispanic Center, Arizona has 766,000 eligible Hispanic voters, close to 20% of all eligible voters in the Grand Canyon state. FULL POST

February 27th, 2012
04:05 PM ET

Reporter’s Notebook: Viola Davis keeps it 'real'

Editor’s Note: Nischelle Turner is a CNN correspondent and appears on HLN's ‘Showbiz Tonight’

By Nischelle Turner, CNN

(CNN) - The day after the Academy Awards talk is usually filled with who won what, who wore what and who went to which party. But this year’s post Oscar chatter seems to be all about who kept it “real”!

The answer? “The Help’s” best actress nominee Viola Davis.

Before I even spoke to Viola on the red carpet, she caught my attention, her flawless skin poured in a form fitting, bold green Vera Wang dress, accented by a mega-watt smile.

I thought: "Wow she looks great"! Others were commenting on how great she looked too, and then I heard: “Oh my…she’s natural!”

The fascination with natural, African-American hair

I did a double take, and said: "Yes! She decided to take the wig off!"

She had worn her hair natural earlier at the Essence Black Women in Hollywood Luncheon, and when she graced the cover of LA, Los Angeles Times Magazine.

But this was the Oscars, Hollywood’s biggest night!

Viola Davis: I’ve really stepped into who I am

I thought: this is a bold move.

“My husband said, 'Be who you are,'" says Davis. "Step into who you are. [And] I really have. I felt like this project forced me to step into who I was, the choice of playing a maid in 1963 with a broken dialect, and having to defend my choice...You’ve gotta be who you are and be very confident and bold in who you are."

Her husband, Julius Tennon, told me it may look bold, but she is sending a message that it is okay to be who you are: this is just who Viola is in her everyday life.

So it’s only –excuse the pun–NATURAL.

Praise pours in for Viola Davis' natural 'do

I have covered red carpets for eight years, and it’s very rare to see black women in Hollywood wearing their hair natural. Personally, as a brown girl who has had hair issues and wears a head full of weave, I was screaming for joy that this gorgeous woman who looks like me, had the courage to say to the superficial world of Hollywood: “I’m fine with who I am."

She may not have won the Oscar, but she got the “authenticity” award in my book.

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Filed under: Black in America • How we look • Pop culture • Women
Opinion: New approach by conservatives on immigration?
Hundreds of people wait to pass from Mexico into the U.S. at the border crossing at Nogales, Arizona, on December 10, 2010.
February 27th, 2012
02:39 PM ET

Opinion: New approach by conservatives on immigration?

Editor's note: Ali Noorani is executive director of the National Immigration Forum Action Fund, an organization based in Washington that advocates for the value of immigrants and immigration to the nation. Follow him on Twitter: @anoorani.

By Ali Noorani, Special to CNN

(CNN) - If you think all conservatives support a deportation-only approach to immigration, think again. Last week, hundreds of conservative evangelicals gathered in Alabama to engage in a reasonable, respectful discourse on immigration.

You read that right. Less than a year after Alabama enacted the strictest immigration law in the land, evangelical students, pastors and national faith leaders gathered at Samford University in Birmingham for "a Christ-centered conversation on immigration" called the G92 South Immigration Conference.

Following the example of Cedarville University's inaugural G92 gathering last fall in Ohio, evangelical Christians gathered in Birmingham to discuss immigration through the prism of the Bible. Instead of listening to partisan sound bites, participants looked to the word of God - specifically the 92 references to "ger," the word for "stranger," in the Old Testament alone.

Read Ali Noorani's full column

Engage: Winners at the Oscars, Independent Spirit Awards
Octavia Spencer won best supporting actress for "The Help" at the Academy Awards.
February 27th, 2012
12:44 PM ET

Engage: Winners at the Oscars, Independent Spirit Awards

Engage with news and opinions from around the web about under-reported stories from undercovered communities.

Octavia Spencer wins best supporting actress, thanks Alabama family  - Al.com

'Undefeated' director T.J. Martin is first black director to win Oscar for full-length film - Bellingham Herald

'Pariah' wins best film, 'The Interrupters' wins best documentary at Independent Spirit Awards - Shadow & Act

Soldier faces court-martial in Pvt. Danny Chen suicide case - AM New York

Journey of a black student at Stuyvesant, New York's top science high school - The New York Times

'In the 105-year history of yell leaders, no yell leader has ever been female' at Texas A&M - The Wall Street Journal

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Census report reveals education milestone
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, as recently as 1998, less than one-quarter of Americans older than 25 held a degree.
February 27th, 2012
10:18 AM ET

Census report reveals education milestone

By Donna Krache, CNN

(CNN) – In March 2011, for the first time ever, more than 30% of adults older than 25 had a college degree, according to information released today by the U.S. Census Bureau.  As recently as 1998, less than one-quarter of Americans older than 25 held a degree.

The findings are published in a new report, "Educational Attainment in the United States: 2011." This was one in a series of educational reports released today.

“This is an important milestone in our history,” Census Bureau Director Robert Groves said. “For many people, education is a sure path to a prosperous life. The more education people have the more likely they are to have a job and earn more money, particularly for individuals who hold a bachelor's degree.”

The Census Bureau also published "Educational Attainment in the United States: 2009." This report reveals that in 2009, 85% of adults age 25 or older had at least a high school diploma or its equivalent. It also states that workers with a bachelor’s degree had median earnings of $47,510, about $20,000 more than workers with a high school diploma, who earned about $26,776, and nearly $25,000 more than those with a GED, who earned $22,534.

Read the full post on CNN's schools of thought blog

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Filed under: Census • Education • Where we live