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Conway, Arkansas Approves LGBT Rights Ordinance Despite Discriminatory New State Law

Arkansas

Following a 6-2 vote Tuesday by the city council, city employees of Conway, Arkansas can (for the time being) go to work with the assurance that they can’t be fired for their sexuality or gender identity. Conway mayor Tab Townsell threw his full support behind the decision to extend protections to the town’s LGBT population despite many of his more conservative constituents voicing concern for their religious liberties.

Mark Ledbetter and Mary Smith, the two council members who opposed the new protections, expressed their belief that the public had not been given adequate time to fully appreciate the implications of heightened job security for Conway’s queer workforce.

Conway’s move to legally protect its LGBT employees comes just days after Arkansas governor Asa Hutchinson allowed SB 202 to become law - legislation that expressly forbids local town governments from enacting pro-LGBT policies like Conway’s. Specifically SB 202 requires that:

“A county, municipality, or other political subdivision of the state shall not adopt or enforce an ordinance, resolution, rule, or policy that creates a protected classification or prohibits discrimination on a basis not contained in state law.”

The law is set to go into effect 90 days after the state Legislature formally adjourns, which is currently set for May. After that, Conway's ordinance will no longer protect LGBT folks. 

One of the chief concerns raised by opponents of SB 202 was the chilling effect that sanctioning discrimination against queer workers might have on the local economy. Following Hutchinson’s decision representatives from Tyson Foods and Walmart both spoke out on behalf of their companies, expressing their disagreement with the law.

Outcry from large LGBT advocacy organizations like the HRC were conspicuously missing immediately after SB 202 went into effect, prompting Michael Signorile to claim social “malpractice.” Not seizing upon any and all opportunities to draw attention to these kinds of injustices, Signorile reasoned, was irresponsible and linked to a broader sense of gay complacency:

“And it's part of the right's plan to roll back LGBT rights while many LGBT people become complacent or apathetic, buying into this idea that full civil rights are inevitable, pointing, for example, to polling about young people being more accepting, and, well, doing pretty much what many women foolishly did in the early years of the backlash against women's liberation.”

HRC President Chad Griffin soon issued an official statement after widespread criticism for his organization's silence on the developments in Arkansas:

"I’m proud to call Arkansas my home state—the place where my entire extended family has lived for years. I know these bills do not reflect the Arkansas values.

They certainly do not reflect this state’s commitment to growing a 21st Century economy that attracts good paying jobs—and to guaranteeing a business climate that welcomes everyone who is willing to work hard and build a better future for themselves and for their community. These kinds of political attacks have been rejected by Republicans and Democrats all across this country. Let’s not let Arkansas be dragged backward by an unrepresentative minority."


WATCH: Kate Brown Sworn in as the Nation's First Openly Bisexual Governor

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The state of Oregon inaugurated the nation's first openly bisexual governor yesterday when former Oregon Secretary of State Kate Brown was sworn in. Gov. Brown replaces former Gov. John Kitzhaber who resigned in disgrace amid an influence peddling investigation that includes his fiancée Cylvia Hayes. Brown addressed the issue in her inauguration speech:

"Governor Kitzhaber dedicated most of his life to serving the people of Oregon. His contributions to our state are well woven into the fabric of our public life. But now, we must restore the public's trust. 

"It's been a tough few months. The people of Oregon have had reason to question their trust in state government. Oregon has been in the national news for all the wrong reasons. That changes starting today. It's time for use to get back to work. It's time to move Oregon forward."

Screen Shot 2015-02-19 at 6.01.45 AMBrown, 54, cited her husband, Dan Little (right), as her "rock," at her inauguration. News accounts have long said Brown is married but considers herself bisexual, without saying more. Brown married Little in 1997 and both live in Southeast Portland. They have two adult children from Little’s previous marriage.

Watch Gov. Brown’s inauguration speech, AFTER THE JUMP

The nation (briefly) had its first openly gay governor back in 2004 with New Jersey's Jim McGreevey. McGreevey resigned three months after making the announcement following a sex scandal. 

 

Continue reading "WATCH: Kate Brown Sworn in as the Nation's First Openly Bisexual Governor" »


One State May Be About to Get the Nation's First Openly Bisexual Governor

Kate Brown Oregon secretary of state

In the discussions of LGBT issues, the "B" has a tendency to be overlooked. For whatever reason - bisexuals can be accused of "hiding"; bisexuals don't really exist; bisexuals fade into nothingness if they don't have sex with a person of each gender every day - bisexual visibility is a problem.

KitzhaberKate Brown, the secretary of state of Oregon, stands to give the bisexual community a major bump in visibility. Gov. John Kitzhaber (right) is presently embroiled in a scandal that has him under investigation by the Oregon Department of Justice and the FBI. The governor's future is uncertain, but if he steps down, then Brown would rise to the role of governor to take his place Brown is an openly bisexual woman, and if she were to assume the role of governor, she would be the first in the nation.

It will all hinge on how the scandal with the current governor falls out, however, as Kithaber's lawyer is adamant that the governor will remain in office.


Pew Study Reveals Which LGBT Demographics Oppose Same-Sex Marriage

Marriage

Pew released a study with percentages of LGBT Americans who oppose, or are indifferent to, same-sex marriage and which LGBT demographic groups are most opposed to same-sex marriage reports The Washington PostThe data, collected in 2013, reveals that seven percent of LGBT Americans outright oppose same-sex marriage while another 18 percent of the same group says they may favor it, but that they don't feel strongly about marriage. One of the most telling figures from the study is that 39 percent of the LGBT community said that the marriage fight is taking focus off other issues of importance to them.

PewThe study said that opposition to gay marriage in the the LGBT community is primarily driven by three groups; LGBT blacks, LGBT Republicans and bisexual Americans. Figures show that although 58 percent of the LGBT black community strongly favored same-sex marriage, 12 percent oppose it. However, the Republican LGBT community opposed same-sex marriage the most with 19 percent (1 in 5) against same-sex marriage with only 45 percent of LGBT Republicans supporting same-sex marriage. Only eight percent of bisexuals oppose gay marriage and 22 percent of bisexuals didn't feel strongly either way about it. Only two percent of lesbians oppose same-sex marriage while four percent of gay men opposing same-sex marriage.

However, the study is only representative of those polled for the study and not a complete representation of all LGBT Americans views on same-sex marriage. Transgender people were also surveyed for the study however, according to Pew the sample size was too small to analyze separately.

For more information on the study and a breakdown of other groups involved in the study, head to pewresearch.org.


Sundance Double Review: 'I Am Michael' and 'The D Train'

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BY NATHANIEL ROGERS 

One of the most interesting trends of this year's Sundance Film Festival is confrontational stories about people being pushed out of or willfully stepping away from their sexual comfort zones. THE DIARY OF A TEENAGER GIRL has earned the best reviews and the most press but let's discuss two films with more LGBT appeal.  I AM MICHAEL, a drama about religion and homosexuality, and THE D TRAIN, a comedy about a high school reunion, feature grown men whose lives spiral out of control when they stray from their true selves. 

How many gay kids growing up confused about what they were feeling within religious environments used this Bible verse in ways that would horrify fundamentalists?

Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and you shall find; knock, and it shall be opened to you:
-Matthew 7:7 

It's a lovely sentiment whether you're religious or not. Everyone needs to know themselves and find their own way. Those who've come before us lay down tracks for us to follow but we all still have to choose which to take or construct our own. But Matthew's promise won't work for everyone. What if you don't know what to ask, don't know what you're looking for or, like the protagonists of these movies, are totally unsatisfied with the knowledge you already have about your true character?

CONTINUED, AFTER THE JUMP...

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Figure Skating Legend Toller Cranston Dies At 65: VIDEO

Toller Cranston

Canadian figure skating legend Toller Cranston has died at the age of 65 in Mexico. The cause is yet unclear but is thought to be a heart attack, and no foul play is suspected in his death.

Cranston was known for inspiring generations of figure skaters with his creative sense of style, and in later years became one of the most sought-after choreographers. However, his performance aesthetic and reputation with judges during the Olympics was practically the inspiration for Stick ItHe was penalized for his flamboyant sense of style, and wrote in his book Zero Tollerance, "The judging world is an eternal Jurassic Park. There are always the same dinosaurs out there. They’re immune to the aging process. . . They simply refused to die."

The Canadian Press put together a brief remembrance video that you can watch AFTER THE JUMP... 

Continue reading "Figure Skating Legend Toller Cranston Dies At 65: VIDEO" »


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