President Obama today stated that he believes the Boy Scouts of America should end its ban on gays in the organization.
From CBS News:
President Obama responded with a simple "Yes" when he was asked on Sunday by CBS Evening News anchor Scott Pelley whether the Boy Scouts of America should open their organization to openly gay members.
His reason? "My attitude is that gays and lesbians should have access and opportunity the same way everybody else does, in every institution and walk of life."
"The Scouts are a great institution that are promoting young people and exposing them to opportunities and leadership that will serve people for the rest of their lives," Mr. Obama continued, "And I think nobody should be barred from that."
Watch the clip, AFTER THE JUMP.
French-led forces liberated the town of Gao from islamist fighters earlier today and, in doing so, saved the lives of two men who had been imprisoned after being accused of being gay. One of them was set to be executed the following day. Watch the men describe their ordeals, AFTER THE JUMP.
A bakery in Oregon has refused to sell a cake to a lesbian after finding out it would be used for her wedding. Aaron Klein, one of the owners of the husband and wife-run Sweet Cakes by Melissa says he does not believe in same-sex marriage.
Via King 5 News, Klein recounts the episode when one of the brides-to-be came in to order the cake with her mother:
"My first question is what's the wedding date," said owner Aaron Klein. "My next question is bride and groom's name ... the girl giggled a little bit and said it's two brides." Klein apologized to the women and told them he and his wife do not make cakes for same-sex marriages. Klein said the women were disgusted and walked out. "I believe that marriage is a religious institution ordained by God," said Klein. "A man should leave his mother and father and cling to his wife ... that to me is the beginning of marriage."
Klein says he does not hate gays and sells them items from his store everyday - just not wedding cakes.
"They can buy my stuff," said Klein. "I'll sell them stuff ... I'll talk to them, it's fine." What is not fine, according to Klein, is a marriage between people of the same sex. He will always stand by that conviction. "I'd rather have my kids see their dad stand up for what he believes in then to see him bow down because one person complained."
Since this violates one of Oregon's anti-discrimination laws, the Oregon Department of Justice is currently investigating the incident.
Watch news segment from King 5, AFTER THE JUMP.
The Tampa Bay Times reports that, according to a survey of players, the Tampa Bay Lightning hockey team would support an openly gay teammate.
Center Steven Stamkos: "Not everyone has to agree with it, but if someone in our locker room you were a friend with would come out, for me, personally, I wouldn't have a problem with it. He's still a teammate. He still has your back on the ice. That's just the way it is."
Right Wing Teddy Purcell: "We're a team, a family. We don't look at anybody different like that. Everybody is different. Some guys like cars; some like trucks. You don't really care. As long as he's a good team guy and helps us win, we'll take anybody."
23 of the team's players were involved in the survey but one was not available to respond.
Retired Boston Red Sox pitcher Curt Schilling has also expressed his strong support for gay players. He tweeted:“...I've never understood this 'issue' with gay players? Who cares? I know I played with some, their sexual orientation never had much to ... To do with how they hit with RISP, or pitched in late and close situations, why the hell would what they do in the bedroom ever matter?”
Over 25 members of UK Prime Minster David Cameron's Conservative Party have signed a letter asking the PM to delay Tuesday's vote on legislation legalizing same-sex marriage in that country. The letter was delivered to him Cameron, who supports the bill, today.
"...a letter signed by 25 past and present chairmen of local Conservative associations was handed in to Cameron's Downing Street residence on Sunday afternoon by six of the signatories. 'We feel very strongly that the decision to bring this bill before parliament has been made without adequate debate or consultation with either the membership of the Conservative Party or with the country at large,' the letter said. It added: 'Resignations from the party are beginning to multiply and we fear that, if enacted, this bill will lead to significant damage to the Conservative Party in the run-up to the 2015 election.'"Also, the Daily Mail yesterday published an editorial by the UK's Secretary of State for Education Michael Gove in which he gives his support for marriage equality saying "marriage is not undermined by extending it to gay people – it is reinforced by including everyone equally."
UPDATE: Cameron will read the letter but it won't affect his decision.
Read the full text of the letter to Cameron, AFTER THE JUMP.
Dear Prime Minister,
We write to you as a body of long serving activists and volunteers of the Conservative Party with deep concern about the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Bill, to be considered by Parliament on 5 February 2013.
You will be aware of the level of controversy and division of opinion that surrounds these proposals in the country at large. However, we write specifically of our concerns about the growing discord within the Conservative Party over this issue.
We feel very strongly that the decision to bring this Bill before Parliament has been made without adequate debate or consultation with either the membership of the Conservative Party or with the country at large. We are of the clear view that there is no mandate for this Bill to be passed in either the 2010 Conservative Manifesto or the 2010 Coalition Agreement and that it is being pushed through Parliament in a manner which a significant proportion of Conservative Party members find extremely distasteful and contrary to the principles of both the Party and the best traditions of our democracy.
The decision to redefine the institution of marriage, without proper consultation and consideration of all consequences, intended and unintended, comes across as questionable and impatient. Moreover, to do so now, when the economy remains in an extremely perilous state, when the future of Britain’s position within the European Union and the integrity of our own Union is in question and when the Party trails 10% behind Labour in the latest polls, is a policy that a very significant number of Conservatives cannot support.
A ComRes poll published this weekend reports that 20% of those who voted Conservative in 2010 agree with the statement “I would have considered voting Conservative at the next election but will definitely not if the Coalition Government legalises same-sex marriage”.
In October 2012 ComRes found that 71% of Conservative Association Chairmen sensed that party members in their constituency opposed proposals to legalise same-sex marriage, just under half (47%) reported that their local association had lost members over the issue and over half (51%) felt that it made the party less attractive to voters. Then in November, the polling company discovered that amongst those who had voted Liberal Democrat in 2010 but wouldn’t do so today (a key target group), those who were ‘less likely to vote Conservative’ as a result of these plans outnumber those ‘more likely to vote Conservative’, three to one.
According to another ComRes poll in February 2012, 70% of British adults agreed that ‘marriage should continue to be defined as a life-long exclusive commitment between a man and a woman.’
To dismiss these strongly held views as those of an extremist minority, or a minority at all, would be wrong, as would the assumption that this is an issue which will swiftly be forgotten and abandoned by those who have made their feelings clear. We feel it would also be wrong to assume that the passage of time will remove opposition to same sex marriage and the advocacy of traditional conservatism. The largest faith groups, the Church of England, the Roman Catholic Church and Islam ,are strongly opposed to same sex marriage in common with most practiced faiths in Britain. Equally, we are sure you will agree that the Conservative Party needs to do much more to attract ethnic minority voters to the Conservative cause. It is predicted that by 2030, 25% of voters will be of ethnic minority background, most of whom oppose same sex marriage.
The status quo reached in legislative terms over gay rights is now fair and equitable. We are, however, concerned that further attempts to legislate on issues relating to homosexual rights represents a skewed assessment of those who are in most need in our country and that, if passed, the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Bill will serve neither to enhance homosexual rights further, nor improve the electoral position of the Conservative Party. We are of the opinion that there are a number of alternative compromise solutions including the extension of Civil Partnerships to all citizens, which would prevent the state from infringing on the institution of marriage or dictating to churches who were not adequately consulted.
Long-held religious and personal freedoms and the right to free speech will be adversely affected by the passing of this Bill. You will be aware of the recent judgment by the European Court of Human Rights that failed to secure ‘religious freedom’ protection to an Islington civil registrar who lost her job after seeking a conscientious exemption from presiding over civil partnership ceremonies for homosexual couples and a marriage counsellor who was dismissed after expressing a possible conscientious objection to providing same-sex sexual therapy. Because of these past precedents and the power of the ECHR to overrule British courts on matters relating to religious freedom and human rights, we do not feel the proposed “quadruple lock” in the Bill will protect the perceived rights of one minority will not simply be used to overrule the rights of the majority and impinge on values considered sacrosanct to our Party and country.
More time should be afforded to debate an issue of such gravity at Parliamentary Committee level, among the membership of the Conservative Party and with the country at large, and a final decision on the matter should be postponed until after the 2015 general election when the public would have had the chance to vote on a clear manifesto pledge.
As long-standing members of the Conservative Party we want to support the Party to victory, as we have done in every past election, in the belief that Conservative values will lead our nation to ever greater prosperity. Resignations from the Party are beginning to multiply and we fear that, if enacted, this Bill will lead to significant damage to the Conservative Party in the run up to the 2015 election.