Indianapolis Colts star quarterback Andrew Luck was asked by CNN how he'd feel about an openly gay player on the team and in the NFL. Luck gives his full approval and support:
“I mean, it's the 21 century. I know I would have absolutely no problem with it. I hope no one would treat him any differently than any straight player, and no special treatment. He's another guy...It's none of our business, the sexual preference of people. I hope if someone's thinking about (coming out), that if they do come out as gay and are a professional football player, and it makes them happy and it makes their life easier, then I think they should do it....When it does, if it does come, I'd be disappointed if there was a negative reaction among players."
Watch, AFTER THE JUMP...
Does the Illinois marriage equality bill still have a chance?
That's what seems to be suggested given a quiet Friday night move by Illinois House Speaker Mike Madigan (pictured) which extended the deadline for approval on the bill to August 31, the Illinois Observer reports:
State Rep. Greg Harris (D-Chicago) told a packed House chamber on Friday evening that he had to put off a vote on the proposal until November.
However, were Governor Pat Quinn to call lawmakers back to Springfield in the summer for a special session to address pension reform, which also was left without resolution, he could include Senate Bill 10 in a special session proclamation.
If Quinn declines to include marriage equality in any order to lawmakers to return to Springfield, Madigan could call a House special session of his own at the same time to take up the legislation, an insider noted.
“It’s a fascinating move,” said one, long-time lobbyist. “It suggests that there is plan to get it done.”
A series of tornadoes and flash floods have left nine people dead and more than 75 injured in the Oklahoma City metro area.
USA Today reports:
The storm, the second fatal one to strike the region in 11 days, spawned several tornadoes, toppled cars and left commuters trapped on an interstate highway during Friday's evening rush. Law enforcement officers and Red Cross workers headed to hard-hit areas after dawn to assess the damage.
The storm also brought heavy rain and hail.Floodwaters topped 4 feet in Oklahoma City early Saturday and were expected to rise as flash flooding continued in parts of the state. Across east and central Oklahoma, repeated rounds of thunderstorms have produced between 4 to 7 inches of rain since midnight Saturday.
Some highways were closed because of downed power lines. The Oklahoma Corporation Commission reported at least 86,200 power outages related to the storms as of early Saturday.
Meteorologist Mike Bettes and two photographers from the Weather Channel were hit by a tornado when chasing it in an SUV. Despite the tornado throwing their vehicle 200 yards through the air, all three survived with only minor injuries.
From the Weather Channel:
"That was the scariest moment of my life," Bettes said. "I had never been through anything like it before, and my life passed before my eyes."
He and the photographers were trying to outrun a tornado they spotted in El Reno, Okla., and failed.
Bettes said it felt like the vehicle tumbled over several times and was floating in air before crashing to the ground.
Watch Mike Bettes describe his experience and a dramatic video from storm chasers on the scene yesterday as they get caught inside one of the tornados, AFTER THE JUMP....
Watch this incredible footage taken by storm chasers yesterday:
The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America has elected the Rev. Dr. R. Guy Erwin to a six-year term as bishop of Southwest California Synod, which covers the greater Los Angeles area. It is the first time the church has elected an openly gay bishop.
This is a significant step for the ELCA, who, until 2009, had banned clergy in same-gender relationships. Prior to 2009, hundreds of gay and lesbian clergy were forced out of congregations or served under secrecy. Hundreds of seminary students were not granted ordination, simply for being gay. Many left the denomination to more welcoming denominations or to join a roster of Lutheran pastors who refused to comply with the policy.
Dr. Erwin is a native of Oklahoma and an active member of the Osage Tribe of Indians. Dr. Erwin also sits on the board of Extraordinary Lutheran Ministries, which expands ministry opportunities for publicly-identified LGBTQ people called to leadership in the Lutheran church as ordained pastors and rostered lay leaders.
"I know that many will see my election as a significant milestone for both LGBT people and Native Americans, and I pray that I can be a positive representation for both communities," said Erwin about his election. "There was a time when I believed that I would not be able to serve as a pastor in the ELCA. Our church has now recognized the God-given gifts and abilities that LGBT people can bring to the denomination."
In 2009 the ELCA voted to allow gay people living in committed relationships to work for the church. Prior to this they had been banned.
So why did a promised marriage equality vote in Illinois fail to happen? The finger-pointing has begun, big time.
As reported by Towleroad last night, after weeks of lobbying and support from President Obama, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, and months of work from advocates, a tearful Rep. Greg Harris made an emotional announcement that a promised vote on marriage equality would not happen because certain lawmakers wanted more time.
The Chicago Phoenix reports that as many as 12 "yes" votes fell off the bill in its final hours.
Andy Thayer, an LGBT rights activist and co-founder of the Gay Liberation Network, followed through on promises to “deliver the failure directly to the doorstep of Mike Madigan.” Madigan oversees the 71-seat majority of Democrats in the House and was largely blamed for delaying the vote leading up to Friday, and now, the failure this session.
“House Speaker Mike Madigan, the de facto leader of the Illinois Democratic Party, is responsible for this abject betrayal,” Thayer said. “Anyone who knows anything about Illinois politics knows that Speaker Mike Madigan owns the House – if he had insisted on a positive vote from his caucus, it would have passed.
“This failure can be put right on Fred Eychaner’s porch, right there, because he thought that having high-priced, professional lobbyists was more important than having our community speak for itself and fight for itself,” said Rick Garcia, a longtime LGBT rights activist and policy director at The Civil Rights Agenda.
“I am absolutely pissed off,” Garcia said. “It was insulting to have all of the families sit there and not call it for a vote. Number two, we need a sponsor who is going to fight for us, not just someone who will do the bidding of multibillionaire funders.”
Thayer, a longtime Chicago activist, was reportedly escorted from the House chamber yesterday after draping a rainbow flag over the balcony.
Harris said efforts weren't helped by Quinn's repeated demands to call the bill in recent weeks. Quinn insisted there were enough votes to pass the bill, a situation Harris noted could peel votes off if lawmakers felt their "yes" wasn't needed to get the measure over the top.
Other gay rights advocates contended Harris didn't do enough to reach out to minority lawmakers during the negotiation process, noting that African-American and Latino lawmakers were heavily targeted by the Roman Catholic Church and conservative black church groups opposed to gay marriage.
"This was a recipe for disaster from the beginning, because when Rep. Harris introduced the bill, there were no African-American or Latino co-sponsors on it," said Rick Garcia, political director of the Civil Rights Agenda. "And the problem we have now was among the black caucus."
But Democratic Rep. Ken Dunkin, chair of the Legislative Black Caucus, said the blame shouldn't fall on a bloc of 20 legislators, arguing that more support must come from Downstate, rural and suburban lawmakers.
Thayer appears to agree with Dunkin:
Don’t blame the Black Caucus. The Black Caucus has always been with us and so have the Latinos,” Garcia said. “They are just using the black people as an excuse.”
Immediately after the vote, two members of the Black Caucus — Rep. LaShawn Ford and Rep. Ken Dunkin — rejected the notion that its 20 members should be held responsible for the inaction. Both lawmakers supported the bill, and Dunkin signed on as a co-sponsor.
In a video shot shortly after the vote, Windy City Times Publisher Tracy Baim asks openly gay Harris if he feels like it was a choice between his community and his colleagues "to give them cover" for this.
Watch, AFTER THE JUMP...
Police are seeking two suspects in two anti-gay attacks they say happened in Brooklyn and Queens, NY1 reports:
One of the incidents occurred at approximately 11:45 p.m. Sunday on a J train between the Marcy Avenue and Gates Avenue subway stations in Brooklyn, according to police.
Police say the victim, a 27-year-old man, was talking to another man on the train when the suspect approached him. They allege that the suspect made anti-gay remarks towards the victim before he punched the victim twice in the face. He then fleed towards the back of the train, according to police.
A second alleged incident took place at approximately 4:15 a.m. on March 17 at the corner of Roosevelt Avenue and 88th Street in the Jackson Heights section of Queens. Police say that suspect also punched their victim, a 49-year-old woman, in the face while making anti-gay statements.
The newly-reported attacks follow one we reported on yesterday that took place in Brooklyn's Prospect Park. The victims in the attacks would be the 11th and 12th victims in NYC of anti-gay assault in the last month.
People with information should contact the Crime Stoppers hotline at 1-800-577-TIPS, or text CRIMES and then enter TIP577, or visit www.nypdcrimestoppers.com.