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Tuesday Speed Read: Chuck Hagel, Human Rights Charter, North Carolina, Tennessee, Michigan, Boy Scouts

BY LISA KEEN / Keen News Service

DOD SIGNS MORE INCLUSIVE CHARTER: Hagel

Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel signed a “Human Goals Charter” Monday. “By signing this charter today,” said Hagel during the ceremony, “DOD’s civilian and military leaders commit ourselves – all of us – to making DOD a model for equal opportunity and [fair treatment] for all. …As the charter says, we will continue striving to make military service a model – a model of equal opportunity for all, regardless of race, color, sex, religion, sexual orientation, or national origin.” SPART*A, an LGBT military organization, called the addition of “sexual orientation” to the charter a welcome “symbolic gesture” but only a “first step.” "The next logical step,” said SPART*A Policy Director Allyson Robinson, “is to amend related DoD directives to add sexual orientation to military equal opportunity and non-discrimination policies; only then will gay and lesbian service members be protected.” SPART*A noted that sexual orientation was added to the Human Goals Charter for DOD’s civilian force in 1998.

CHURCH CHALLENGE: Ucc

In a first of its kind lawsuit, a group of ministers filed a complaint in federal court Monday against North Carolina’s ban on marriage for same-sex couples, saying that the law’s penalties against clergy who conduct ceremonies for same-sex marriages violates their free exercise of religion. The lawsuit, United Church of Christ v. Cooper, was organized by the United Church of Christ and filed in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of North Carolina, in Charlotte. Jon Davidson, legal director for Lambda Legal, called the lawsuit “particularly promising” because North Carolina law makes it a misdemeanor for a “minister, officer or any other person authorized to solemnize a marriage” under North Carolina law to marry a couple without them having obtained a marriage license, which same-sex couples cannot obtain from the state.

N.C. AG OPPOSES RELIEF: R_cooper

The Democratic attorney general of North Carolina, Roy Cooper, filed a brief in another marriage equality lawsuit Monday, opposing a request to recognize a lesbian couple’s marriage in Massachusetts on an expedited basis to secure health coverage for their sick child. In the ACLU-led lawsuit, Fisher-Borne v. Smith, Cooper said the potential harm for the family is “outweighed by the harm to the public if State officials are enjoined from enforcing the democratically ratified State laws and Constitution.”

APPEALS COURT GRANTS STAY:

A three-judge panel of the Sixth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals April 5 granted Tennessee’s request for a stay of a district court judge’s ruling. District Court Judge Aleta Trauger denied the request for a stay on a narrow and temporary order she issued in Tanco v. Haslam in March requiring the state to recognize the marriage licenses of three same-sex couples who obtained marriage licenses out of state. The panel granted the stay and ordered that a hearing by a panel of the appeals court should be scheduled “without delay” to hear the merits of the state’s appeal.

AND ‘NO’ TO SKIPPING A STEP:

The Sixth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals also issued an order Monday, denying the state of Michigan’s request to skip over a three-judge panel and go straight to the full appeals court with its appeal of a district court ruling that its ban on same-sex marriages is unconstitutional. The one-page order stated simply that “no judge of this court” voted to send the case directly to the full bench.

BOSTON GLOBE ON BOYS SCOUTS:

A Boston Globe editorial Monday characterized the Boy Scouts of America policy banning gay scout leaders as “stuck in the past” and said “the organization itself exists in a 1950s time warp….[where] there are no merit badges for inclusiveness….”

© 2014 Keen News Service. All rights reserved.


Monday Speed Read: Taxes, Alaska, Texas, Project One America, Boy Scouts, Asian Commission

BY LISA KEEN / Keen News Service

ALASKA COURT TAX VICTORY: Aclu_alaska

In a partial victory, the Alaska Supreme Court ruled unanimously Friday that a tax break given to seniors and people with disabilities “potentially treats same-sex couples less favorably than it treats opposite-sex couples.” The ACLU-led case, State v. Schmidt, was appealed to the high court by the state and Anchorage on behalf of three same-sex couples. The court ruled that the denial of the partial property tax exemption to same-sex couples who cannot marry violates the equal protection guarantee of the state constitution. (The ruling did not include the third couple because neither partner formally owned the property.) In its decision, the court said the state’s existing ban on same-sex marriages does not prohibit or permit the state to offer or deny a benefit it grants to married couples to same-sex couples “who demonstrate they are similarly situated to married couples.” Committed same-sex couples who want to marry,” said the decision, “are similarly situated to opposite-sex couples who want to marry.”

NellermoeDIVORCE DELAYED:

A Texas appeals court on Thursday granted a request to stay a state district judge’s ruling that the state “cannot discriminate against same-sex couples” and that the state’s ban against allowing same-sex couples to marry violates the child’s right to equal protection of the law. The Austin Statesman reports that the appeals court in San Antonio granted state Attorney General Greg Abbott’s request for an emergency stay of the ruling. Abbott said Judge Barbara Nellermoe’s ruling in the lesbian divorce and custody case last Tuesday could create “legal chaos.” The appeals court has set a May 5 deadline for briefs in the appeal.

PoaSHORING UP THE SOUTH:

The Human Rights Campaign Saturday announced a three-year, $8.5 million project to help improve legal protections for LGBT people living in three southern states. The campaign, called Project One America, will also devote a staff of 20 people concentrating on Alabama, Arkansas, and Mississippi –the states where, says an HRC press release, “there are no non-discrimination protections for LGBT people at the state or local level in employment, housing or public accommodations, and where each state’s constitution expressly prohibits marriage equality.” HRC says it has 57,000 members in these three states.

BsaBOY SCOUT BELLY FLOP:

Legal counsel for the Louisville Metro Council advised the local Boy Scouts troop last week that the city could not pay for the group to use a local pool because the Boy Scouts’ policy exhibits “intentional discrimination.” The Louisville Courier-Journal reported April 25 that at least $45,000 in city money was appropriated for scout activities last year. It said the troop’s assistant scoutmaster threatened to end scout volunteer work at local park clean-ups in retaliation it the city doesn’t provide the financial assistance.

TWO NAMED TO ASIAN COMMISSION:

Two of the 14 newly named members of President’s Advisory Commission on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders are openly gay. One is the head of Asia Services in Action, Inc., Michael Byun, of Ohio; the other is actor Maulik Pancholy, best known for is secondary roles on the hit series 30 Rock and Weeds.

© copyright 2014 by Keen News Service. All rights reserved.


Boy Scouts Kick Out Church, Revoke Its Charter for Supporting Openly Gay Scout Leader

Geoffrey_mcgrath

In early April we reported on openly gay Seattle scoutmaster Geoffrey McGrath, who was the first Scoutmaster ousted from his troop for being gay under new rules created last year. Rainier Beach United Methodist Church, which charters McGrath’s troop, however, stood by him, and continued to allow him to lead the Scouts.

McgrathNow the BSA is responding by kicking out the church and revoking its charter, GLAAD reports:

In a letter dated April 17, Steven P. McGowan of the Boy Scouts of America's General Council notified the Rainier Beach United Methodist Church that its charter would be revoked:

"As you are aware, the policy of the Boy Scouts of America does not allow open or avowed homosexuals to serve as adult volunteer leaders [...] Nevertheless, Rainier Beach United Methodist Church has stated that it will not remove [McGrath] as a leader and will continue to allow him to serve as an adult leader in violation of the charter agreement and the policies of the Boy Scouts of America. As a result of this refusal to comply with the policies, guidelines, rules, and regulations of the Boy Scouts of America, Rainer Beach United Methodist Church is hereby advised that it is no longer an authorized chartered organization and may no longer use the Scouting program or any of its registered marks or brands."

"That the Boy Scouts of America would punish a church and the young people of Troop 98 because the church's core values emphasize fairness and equality for all of God's children is simply unconscionable," said GLAAD President & CEO Sarah Kate Ellis. "The fact that the Boy Scouts of America chose Easter weekend to once again blatantly discriminate against gay and lesbian people, as well as the churches that support them, flies in the face of the values of Scouting and sends a hurtful message to youth."

"As a Reconciling Congregation, it's important to us that we are open to all people," said Rainier Beach United Methodist Church Pastor Monica Corsaro. "It's a part of our values that the spirit of inclusion is also reflected in the Boy Scout Troop we charter. The congregation stands with Geoff, because his work with this Troop reflects the spirit and the values of Rainier Beach United Methodist Church. In light of the BSA's decision to infringe on our religious liberties, sending us such discriminatory communication on Good Friday, we have acquired legal council to assess our options."

39 Washington lawmakers have signed a letter to the BSA expressing disappointment with their actions.


Gay Seattle Scoutmaster Defies BSA, Continues to Lead Troop with Support of Church: VIDEO

Geoffrey_mcgrath

Last week we reported that the Boy Scouts of America had removed openly gay scout leader Geoffrey McGrath in the first enforcement of its new rule barring scout leaders.

But McGrath has not stopped leading his troop. And the Rainier Beach United Methodist Church is backing him, KING5 reports:

"I have not tendered my resignation," said McGrath. "Until I am relieved of my duty properly, I stand in my post."

It's a post supported by Pastor Monica Corsaro who leads the host church for McGrath's charter application. "It's very disappointing that a policy that is so blatantly discriminatory is being acted out, and so I think it makes us stand more firm and be more clear that Geoffrey is our Scoutmaster and Geoffrey will remain our Scoutmaster," said Corsaro, who also said the Boy Scouts of America have yet to contact her directly.

"In my humble opinion, I don't feel like I've been communicated to by the Boy Scouts of America, Geoffrey also received an email which I was copied on but I have received no direct communication from the Boy Scouts of America."

Watch KING5's report on the church and troop's devotion to McGrath, AFTER THE JUMP...

Continue reading "Gay Seattle Scoutmaster Defies BSA, Continues to Lead Troop with Support of Church: VIDEO" »


Boy Scouts Remove Openly Gay Scout Leader: VIDEO

The Boy Scouts of American removed an openly gay scout leader in the first enforcement of last year's new rules barring them, NBC News reports:

McgrathGeoff McGrath, 49, leader of Troop 98 in Seattle’s Rainier Beach neighborhood, is believed to be the first gay adult to be booted from the Boy Scouts of America since it held a controversial ballot last May allowing gay youth—but not adults—to participate in one of the country’s most popular youth organizations. The Scouts had severed ties with gay adults in previous years, before the vote to admit gay youth, but McGrath, an Eagle Scout, had been hoping for a different response in this new era of Scouting.

“It’s extremely disappointing to not be fully supported and defended in my membership,” McGrath told NBC News. “They are complaining that the problem [his status as an openly gay man] is a distraction to Scouting and they don’t seem to understand that the distraction is self-inflicted.”

NBC News planned to do a story on Troop 98. The BSA said they removed McGrath after he "deliberately injected" his sexuality into Scouting in an "inappropriate" fashion by speaking to NBC News about it:

McGrath’s Troop 98 is part of the BSA's Chief Seattle Council, which said late Sunday that it didn't inquire about his sexual orientation—as directed by BSA policy—when he applied for a leadership position, according to Sharon Moulds, the council’s top professional leader.

Moulds said she found out McGrath was gay only after NBC News contacted her. “It was then that we became aware of his intentions to make a public statement about his orientation and use our program as a means to further a personal agenda,” she wrote in an email.

Seattle's KING5 spoke to McGrath about the dismissal.

Watch KING5's report, AFTER THE JUMP...

Continue reading "Boy Scouts Remove Openly Gay Scout Leader: VIDEO" »


Walt Disney World Cuts Ties with Boy Scouts Until They Are Fully Inclusive

You may recall that back in April of 2013, the Boy Scouts of America began allowing gay kids under the age of 18 to participate in scouting, but maintained that openly gay adults still could not serve as scout leaders. Walt_disney_world

This discriminatory policy has led Walt Disney World to discontinue funding the BSA through their annual “Ears to You” grant program until the policy changes:

In an e-mail to local members, Central Florida Council Board President Robert Utsey wrote: “We recognize that many Scout Units have received financial support over the last several years from this grant opportunity and are sad to see it go. The National BSA Council has reached out to [Walt Disney World] to try to resolve the situation, however, according to WDW, their views do not currently align with the BSA and they are choosing to discontinue this level of support.”

Since Scouts for Equality’s inception in 2012, seven major corporate sponsors of the Boy Scouts of America have ended their partnerships with the organization. These sponsors include Lockheed Martin, Caterpillar, Major League Soccer, Merck, Intel, UPS and now Walt Disney World.

Zach Wahls, the co-founder of Eagle Scout and Scouts for Equality — who is himself a straight Eagle Scout with two lesbian parents — said, “We’re never happy to see Scouting suffer as a result of the BSA’s anti-gay policy, but Disney made the right decision to withhold support until Scouting is fully inclusive.”


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