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Arkansas Superintendent Defends Censorship of Gay Student from Yearbook: VIDEO

Chad_griffin

On Monday we reported that Sheridan High School in Arkansas was refusing to run a student's yearbook profile because the student, Taylor Ellis, is openly gay.

The Human Rights Campaign, which sent a letter to school officials demanding the profile be replaced after the "unconscionable" decision to exclude it, rallied on the steps of the state capitol in Little Rock on Tuesday, led by HRC President and native Arkansan Chad Griffin. Ellis was also there.

Watch a news report on the rally, and interviews with Ellis and the yearbook editor who exposed the censorship, AFTER THE JUMP...

HaynesMeanwhile, the Sheridan School District Superintendent Brenda Haynes is digging in her heels.

Said Haynes in a statement to the Arkansas News:

“We must make decisions that lead in the proper direction for all of our students and for our community. We must not make decisions based on demands by any special interest group. The seven profiles will not be published in the yearbook...It is clear that the adults who have the responsibility for the operation of the district have the obligation to make decisions which are consistent with the mission of our school. We have done so."

Watch KATV's report on yesterday's rally, AFTER THE JUMP...

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Arkansas High School Refuses To Run Openly Gay Student's Yearbook Profile

Human Rights Campaign President Chad Griffin has written a letter to administrators of Arkansas-based Sheridan High School, who are refusing to run a yearbook profile on openly gay student Taylor Ellis (pictured), demanding they not censor it.

TaylorThe letter reads in part:

Regardless of print deadlines, it would be unconscionable to release the yearbook with the omission of Taylor's well-deserved profile.

If not resolved immediately, this act of discriminatory censorship will send a dangerous message to all lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender students in Sheridan, across Arkansas and around the nation — that they are second-class citizens and their lives are not equally valid. Instead of respecting the wishes of Taylor's fellow students to recognize him in their yearbook, you have told him and other students who may already feel marginalized that they are not an equally valued part of the Sheridan high school student body.

Cases similar to this have popped up every so often during the past few years.

In 2013, a Texas high school pulled a lesbian couple’s photo from the yearbook and another Texas school refused and then assented to include a yearbook photo of a trans student in a tuxedo.

In 2012, four Colorado yearbook staffers left the publication after their advisor required them to remove a gay couple from a spread on high school relationships. In the same year, a Tennessee school board member protested the inclusion of an article entitled, “It’s OK to be Gay” in the Lenoir City High School yearbook.


Freedom to Marry Launching $1 million Campaign to Build Southern Support for Gay Marriage: VIDEO

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At a press conference on Monday, Freedom to Marry is expected to announce a new $1 million television ad campaign in Southern states in the hopes of swaying public opinion and the judges who will decide the fate of state bans on gay unions. As it stands, there are about two dozen lawsuits challenging bans on gay marriage that are pending before state and federal courts in Southern states. The Washington Post reports:

“Freedom to Marry’s national strategy has always been to build a critical mass of states and support to create the climate for the Supreme Court to bring the country to national resolution. We don’t have to win within every state, but we have to win enough states,” said Evan Wolfson, president of Freedom to Marry

Screen Shot 2014-02-23 at 11.13.09 AMAtlanta Mayor Kasim Reed will join the group at its Monday press conference. The group will also try to tie same-sex marriage to the civil rights movement, by featuring Rep. John Lewis [right], the longtime Georgia Democrat who ran the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, in a testimonial.

“I see the right to marriage as a civil rights issue. You cannot have rights for one segment of the population and one group of people and not for everybody,” Lewis says in the video.

Watch Lewis' video for the new campaign, AFTER THE JUMP...

Co-chairs of the new initiative will include Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Va.), Reps. James Clyburn (D-S.C.), Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Fla.) and Joaquin Castro (D-Texas), as well as Mark McKinnon, a former senior adviser to George W. Bush and Lance Bass, the ‘N Sync singer.

Continue reading "Freedom to Marry Launching $1 million Campaign to Build Southern Support for Gay Marriage: VIDEO" »


Shirtless Frat Bros Dress Katy Perry's 'Roar' Up with Snow Angels: VIDEO

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It snowed in the South, so naturally a group of frat bros at the University of Arkansas raided the costume closet and made snow shirtless snow angels for a lip dub video to Katy Perry's "Roar".

Watch, AFTER THE JUMP...

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Arkansas Judge Hears Arguments in Case Challenging State's Gay Marriage Ban: VIDEO

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A judge in Arkansas heard arguments on Thursday on whether a case challenging the state's ban on same-sex marriage should proceed or be dismissed, the AP reports:

ArkansasA number of same-sex couples sued in July, two weeks after the U.S Supreme Court issued two rulings supporting gay-marriage laws. They claim a 2004 constitutional amendment approved by Arkansas voters, which defines marriage as between one man and one woman, should be thrown out.

Some of the couples want Arkansas to recognize same-sex marriages from other states. Others want the opportunity to marry. They say the federal court decision supports them. But Assistant Attorney General Colin Jorgenson said the voters' will — Amendment 83 passed by a 3-1 margin — could not be thrown out because the state's residents had a right to determine their own constitution.

"Domestic relations laws are the province of the states," he said, adding the U.S. Supreme Court rulings "did not say states must recognize same-sex marriage."

Judge Chris Piazza did not say when he might rule.

Watch reports on the hearings from KATV and KTHV, AFTER THE JUMP...

Arkansas

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Arkansas Attorney General Approves Language for 2016 Marriage Equality Ballot Measure

McDanielArkansas Attorney General Dustin McDaniel (pictured) has accepted language for a proposed 2016 ballot measure submitted by Arkansas Initiative for Marriage Equality (AIME) that would repeal the state's constitutional amendment prohibiting same-sex marriage and would bring marriage equality to the Natural State.

Back in September, McDaniel approved the wording of a proposed 2014 ballot measure by a separate group that would repeal the constitutional amendment, but wouldn't specifically call for legalizing gay marriage. The Houston Chronicle reports:

[AIME Founder Jack Weir] said he planned to help the group trying to get the gay marriage ban repeal on the ballot next year while also gathering support for his 2016 proposal. McDaniel had rejected earlier versions of Weir's proposal because it didn't address the ban currently in the constitution.

"It's going to take a lot of effort from our people and the newcomers we'll have in the next three years," he said. "I see people's hearts and minds changing every time we go to an event and talk to people. I see a big change coming in Arkansas."

Weir said he hopes to quickly begin gathering the necessary 78,133 signatures from registered voters needed to place the proposal on the ballot. 


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