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Washington, New York, Connecticut Rescind Indiana Travel Bans

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Washington, New York, and Connecticut have all lifted their bans on state-funded travel to Indiana following Gov. Mike Pence's signature on an amended "religious freedom" law that prohibits it from being used to discriminate against LGBT individuals.

Washington Gov. Jay Inslee issued the following notice to cabinet agencies:

Earlier this week, after the state of Indiana passed its Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA), IC 34-13-9, I ordered executive-level agencies and small cabinet agencies to prohibit publicly funded non-essential travel to Indiana. I issued my order because Indiana's RFRA opened the door to allowing private companies to discriminate against individuals in that state, in sharp contrast to our own state's long commitment to diversity and inclusion. My order stated that the travel ban would remain in effect so long as Indiana's law existed in its original form.

In response to the intense public criticism stemming from the passage of Indiana's RFRA, the Indiana Legislature moved quickly to fix the law. Yesterday, Indiana Governor Mike Pence signed legislation amending the law and remedying the most egregious elements of the law. The new amendment prohibits businesses and individuals from refusing service or goods to potential clients based on that client's sexual orientation, gender identity, or other characteristics. This is a promising step toward greater cultural inclusion and acceptance for LGBT communities. Accordingly, I am lifting the ban on publicly funded non-essential travel to Indiana.

NY Gov. Andrew Cuomo's statement:

“After reviewing the amendments made to Indiana’s state law and consulting with LGBT advocacy groups here in New York, I believe the changes enacted by the Indiana Executive and Legislature should prevent the Religious Freedom Restoration Act from being used to discriminate against gay, lesbian, bi-sexual and transgender citizens and travelers. As a result, I am lifting New York's ban against state funded and state sponsored travel to Indiana, effective immediately.  

“Here in New York, we believe that all Americans, regardless of race, sex, sexual orientation or any other protected classes, should be treated equally under the law. Our nation's Constitution ensures equality and justice for all. We must never forget that 'all' does not mean 'some', but all of us and we will continue to fight and stand up for equality until it is a reality for all Americans.”​​

Said Connecticut Gov. Dannel Malloy:

“Unlike Connecticut – which has been a national leader in LGBTQ protections – this is the first time that Indiana has codified any protections for individuals based upon their sexual orientation or gender identity. While the law even in its amended version remains divisive, I believe it is a step in the right direction.
 
“In 2015, we cannot, and should not, tolerate laws that open the door to discrimination against citizens. We need to actively stand up to them – and that’s what we did this week. We are gratified that several other states, businesses, trade organizations, and so many stood with us, and we are pleased that numerous states besides Indiana have sought or are seeking changes in their laws with the specific aim of preventing discrimination.
 
“We will continue to monitor other states that enact reforms similar to the original Indiana RFRA, because discrimination in any form is unacceptable. We cannot watch states pass laws that seek to turn back the clock either on Connecticut residents, or our fellow Americans. We have an obligation to do what’s right, and to protect against discrimination whenever and wherever we see it.”
 
It continues to remain completely legal to discriminate against an individual based on their sexual orientation or gender identity in Indiana. 

Newt Gingrich Blasts 'Lynch Mob' Attacks On Discriminatory 'Religious Freedom' Bills: VIDEO

Gingrich

Newt Gingrich has told Huffington Post that opposition to "right to discriminate" bills in Indiana and Arkansas is an example of a liberal "lynch mob" mentality that seeks to “destroy religious liberty.”

The former Speaker of the House said that Indiana Governor Mike Pence's promise to fix his state's anti-gay law and Connecticut Governor Dan Malloy's ban on state-funded travel to Indiana are misguided responses to "selective outrage.”

Gingrich, who believes that religious rights are being "outlawed" by gay rights activists, said:

“The fact is, for example, the governor of Connecticut announced he wouldn't send people to Indiana. Well, Connecticut has exactly the same law. They adopted it 20 years ago. The head of Apple announces that he's deeply disappointed. Apple sells cell phones in Saudi Arabia, where being homosexual is a death penalty. The level of selective outrage, the opportunity to pick a fight -- the news media couldn't help themselves.”

When challenged that it's possible to uphold traditional values without being discriminatory, the thrice-married Gingrich disagreed saying:

"Go down the list of what religions really believe, and then look at how many things are now politically incorrect. You read certain passages from the Bible, and you're going to be attacked on some university campuses because you violate their politically-correct code."

Watch the interview, AFTER THE JUMP...

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Seattle, San Francisco, and Connecticut to Ban Government-Funded Travel to Indiana

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Seattle Mayor Ed Murray, San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee, and Connecticut Governor Dan Malloy plan to ban government-funded travel to Indiana over the newly passed "religious freedom" bill which allows businesses to discriminate against gay customers.

KING5 reports:

Seattle Mayor Ed Murray is banning city-funded travel to Indiana. He plans to sign an executive order next week. "Laws that say you can discriminate have no place in this country," he told reporters Saturday. Murray's opinion on the order has company. San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee is making a similar move.

The SF Chronicle reports:

In a statement, [Ed] Lee said the Religious Freedom Restoration Act signed by Indiana Gov. Mike Pence will legalize discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people. He said the city “will not subsidize” that kind of intolerance.

“Effective immediately, I am directing city departments under my authority to bar any publicly funded city employee travel to the state of Indiana that is not absolutely essential to public health and safety,” Lee said.

Malloy tweeted this morning:

Because of Indiana's new law, later today I will sign an Executive Order regarding state-funded travel. When new laws turn back the clock on progress, we can’t sit idly by. We are sending a message that discrimination won’t be tolerated.


Teacher Suspended for Reading Graphic Allen Ginsberg Poem About Gay Sex to High School Class: VIDEO

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An English teacher at South Windsor High School in Connecticut has been placed on leave after reading a sexually explicit Allen Ginsberg poem to his class, WTNH-TV reports:

News8The teacher, whose name has not been released, read the Allen Ginsberg poem “Please Master” aloud in an English class for high school students. That poem was written in 1968. He had another poem banned in the 1950s for obscenity. Parents were shocked when they heard and read the material for themselves.

“I don’t understand how that actually got into a high school class,” said one parent who wanted to remain anonymous. “I can understand parents being really upset about it.”

“My son is not in that class. If he was, I think I would be mortified,” the parent said. “It was extremely inappropriate.” [...]

South Windsor Superintendent Kate Carter condemned the poem as “highly inappropriate” in a statement.

“We take seriously the trust that parents place in teachers and administrators, and we do not tolerate the use of inappropriate materials in classroom settings,” said Carter in the statement.

Watch WTNH-TV's report on the story and read the poem yourself, AFTER THE JUMP...(warning: graphic language)

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Connecticut Ruling Could Lead To Retroactive Marriage Rights For Same-Sex Couples

A July 16th Connecticut Supreme Court ruling is adding to the debate on whether same-sex marriage rights should be applied retroactively, reports ABC News.

Charlotte Stacey and Margaret MullerThe case involved Margaret Mueller and Charlotte Stacey, who had a civil union in Connecticut in 2005 and got married in Massachusetts in 2008 after 23 years together, shortly before Connecticut approved gay marriage.

Mueller was diagnosed with ovarian cancer in 2001 but the couple learned in 2005 that the diagnosis was wrong and Mueller actually had appendix cancer. Stacey said her wife’s death could have been prevented if the original diagnosis had been correct.

The Connecticut Supreme Court ruled unanimously that Stacey may sue for medical malpractice over the loss of her wife's companionship and income, even though that right was limited to heterosexual married couples at the time of their marriage.

Lower courts had ruled that Stacey could not sue because only married couples had that right and Stacey and Mueller did not marry until 2008.

Although no states that allow same-sex marriage have made their laws retroactive, many believe that inheritance laws and other benefits that had been available only to heterosexual married couples should be extended to same-sex partners.

While the Connecticut court did not make its 2008 same-sex marriage ruling retroactive, it expanded common law to give gay people the right to sue over the death of a partner.

Speaking to Associated Press, Ben Klein, a lawyer for Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders in Boston, said:

"Because there was a time when many same-sex couples couldn't marry, they were subjected to a whole range of unfair treatment under the law and this decision is really a great step forward. We have these remnants from the past that the court, at least in this one instance, has rectified."

However, some groups that oppose same-sex marriage are also against making marriage rights retroactive.  Peter Sprigg, senior fellow for policy studies at the Family Research Council, said "Connecticut has no obligation to pay reparations to homosexuals for having maintained the natural definition of marriage until 2008."

Same-sex marriage is now legal in 19 states and the District of Columbia. Gay marriage bans that have been overturned in states including Utah continue to make their way through the courts.


'Fabulous' Gay Student Crowned Prom Queen at Connecticut High School: VIDEO

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Nasir Fleming - Instagram

17-year-old Danbury High School senior Nasir Fleming was crowned Prom Queen last week in front of hundreds of cheering students in a video posted online.

Watch it, AFTER THE JUMP...

Fleming, who says he was bullied as a child, "wanted to send a message about the absurdity of gender labeling, the toxicity of discrimination and the importance of being yourself" he told the CT Post, and accepted the nomination as queen, and not king. He was nominated for both:

Dattilo said Fleming received, and accepted, the nomination for prom king last year, though he didn't attend the event. She said she wasn't surprised he was nominated for king again this year.

"He's a very likable person," Dattilo said.

His nomination as queen was more of a surprise, and Fleming said he isn't sure about the intent of the students who submitted his name. It might have been a joke about his sexuality, he said, or maybe it was meant positively. Ultimately, he concluded, it doesn't matter.

"Either way, I'm still fabulous," he said.

Said Fleming on his YouTube page:

"Even though I identify as male, winning this title is a statement against transphobia. As gay people, more or less, are becoming accepted in society, transgendered people are still discriminated against severely. If I can win a title that is outside of my gender, there is no reason why a trans-person should have any problems winning titles in his/her gender (Prom Queen, Miss America, etc). Stop the hate, start the love."

Watch the video, AFTER THE JUMP...

Promking

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