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Bullied Gay Student And LGBT Activist Isaiah Smith Sues Texas School District

Smith

Isaiah Smith was 16 when an episode of "What Would You Do?" inspired him to petition the City Council in small, conservative Keller, Texas, to add LGBT protections. He would go on to speak repeatedly at council meetings, including calling on the mayor to sign a pledge in support of marriage equality. 

A year later, Smith was suspended from Birdville High School for carrying a Bible from which he'd ripped out pages containing anti-gay passages. Smith, a Christian, said his decision to carry the Bible was a silent protest against bullying, after other students told him being gay is a sin and he was going to hell. 

After the American Humanist Association sent a complaint to the school district alleging it had violated Smith's First Amendment rights, the suspension was overturned, and he was allowed to continue carrying the Bible. Which brings us to this week, when the AHA filed a lawsuit on Smith's behalf against the district and its board over its practice of promoting Christian prayers. Fort Worth Weekly reports: 

According to the lawsuit, filed on behalf of a former student, Isaiah Smith, the school board has had a longstanding policy of choosing students to offer Christian prayers at the beginning of public school board meetings. Smith claims that the prayers made him feel unwelcome at the public meetings and that the school board endorsed Christianity. Students and teachers also regularly attend the meetings. ...

The lawsuit asserts that the Birdville District is a repeat offender of the separation of church and state, including school sponsorship of religious baccalaureate ceremonies, school overnight trips to churches, and inclusion of Christian iconography in classrooms. In addition, Smith was wrongfully suspended from his high school for carrying a ripped Bible as an act of peaceful protest against students who bullied him because of his sexual orientation. The legal center successfully convinced the school district to expunge his record, but it so far refused to cease prayers in school board meetings.

In addition to enduring bullying at school, Smith was kicked out of his home by an unaccepting parent, according to his Facebook page. Last year, he launched a petition calling on the US to cut off all aid to Uganda over the country's anti-homosexuality law. And earlier this month, Smith received the AHA's Humanist Pioneer Award.   


Texas Lawmakers Advance 'Pastor Protection Act,' Continue Full-Fledged Assault On Same-Sex Marriage

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Last week, we told you how witnesses compared same-sex marriage to bestiality and pedophilia when they testified in support of a bill that would prevent churches and pastors from being forced to participate in gay weddings. 

On Monday, the Texas Senate responded by advancing the bill in a 21-10 vote, with one Democrat joining the chamber's 20 Republicans. 

The Texas Tribune reports on passage of the so-called "Pastor Protection Act": 

State Sen. José Rodríguez, an El Paso Democrat who voted against the measure, questioned whether it could be used to justify a refusal to perform interracial marriages — shielding religious officials from prosecution "no matter how extreme [their] views are."

Pointing out that same-sex marriage is banned in Texas, state Sen. John Whitmire, D-Houston, asked what problem the bill was trying to fix. 

Whitmire said it was "unheard of" that a same-sex couple would try to force a pastor to perform a wedding ceremony if that pastor did not accept their marriage. 

"They just want to be left alone to love their partner, they want to get married with clergy in a setting that embraces that union," he said.  

More from the The American-Statesman

The legislation also stipulates that clergy, religious organizations and people employed by a religious group could not be sued for damages, prosecuted for criminal violations, lose tax-exempt status or forfeit a government contract or grant for refusing to provide services, open facilities or sell goods related to same-sex marriages.

“I think the language is awfully broad,” said Sen. Kirk Watson, D-Austin, adding that a clause protecting groups supervised and controlled by a religious organization would seem to allow for-profit health care, nursing home and other companies to refuse to serve same-sex couples.

The Texas House is set to vote on an identical bill Tuesday. 

Also Tuesday, the House will vote on a far more dangerous bill, by Rep. Cecil Bell (above), that seeks to undermine a U.S. Supreme Court ruling in favor of same-sex marriage. 

The Texas Observer reports: 

The bill would bar state and local employees from issuing, enforcing or recognizing same-sex marriage licenses—and prohibit public monies from being used to do so—regardless of any court order.

LGBT advocates say if the high court rules in favor of same-sex marriage, HB 4105 would set up a showdown between state and federal law, costing Texas millions of dollars in litigation and potentially delaying the effectiveness of the decision by years. They say the bill would unleash chaos similar to what’s been seen in Alabama over same-sex marriage, and generate the type of business backlash associated with passage of an anti-LGBT religious freedom law in Indiana. ... 

Rebecca Robertson, legal and policy director at the ACLU of Texas, said HB 4105 is designed to give Texas another legal basis for challenging same-sex marriage in court: state sovereignty. And she said it could be used as a model by other states for resisting the Supreme Court ruling.

“The last time that we saw similar efforts to undermine court rulings about what the Constitution requires was when Southern states attempted to use the power of the purse to avoid having to comply with federal court orders ordering school desegregation,” Robertson said. “Those tactics were rejected, but obviously it took years of litigation to get to that point. HB 4105 is trying to do the same kind of end run around the Constitution.”

Despite comparisons to Indiana's religious freedom law, few businesses have come out publicly against the Texas anti-gay marriage bill, according to The Washington Blade

As Texas lawmakers prepare to vote on legislation aimed at circumventing an anticipated U.S. Supreme Court decision in favor of same-sex marriage, the state's business leaders are largely keeping quiet.

The business community's opposition in Indiana helped ignite a media firestorm against a religious freedom law there that is so far absent in the Texas debate. ... 

Robert Wood, spokesperson for the Texas Association of Businesses, said his organization hasn't "taken any position, nor testified" on the legislation and doesn't have any comment at this time.

You can take action against House Bill 4105 here and here


Ted Cruz's Father Suggests He'll Die Fighting Same-Sex Marriage, Which Will 'Destroy America': VIDEO

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Ted Cruz's whacko father is at it again.  

Rafael Cruz, a preacher from Lewisville, Texas, addressed a Republican group in Alvin, Texas, the day after the U.S. Supreme Court heard oral arguments on same-sex marriage last week, according to Right Wing Watch

While boasting that his son, Ted Cruz, has introduced two measures in the U.S. Senate to block a Supreme Court marriage equality ruling, Cruz told the audience that “we are going to have to stand firm on the agenda to destroy America.”

“I lost my freedom once, I’m not willing to lose it again. I will die fighting before I lose it again and so should you,” he added.

Rafael Cruz went on to say that same-sex marriage will lead to pastors being forced to perform gay weddings, even though that would violate the First Amendment and has never happened in any state where it's legal. He also said America is at a crossroads and Christians must choose between obeying God and obeying government. 

The question is, if you're seeking to pass laws banning same-sex marriage, aren't you ultimately advocating that people obey government? If you're going to obey God, why even bother with the government part? Why not just take up arms and "die fighting"? Better yet, just hurry up and die. 

Watch clips from Cruz's speech via Right Wing Watch, AFTER THE JUMP ... 

Continue reading "Ted Cruz's Father Suggests He'll Die Fighting Same-Sex Marriage, Which Will 'Destroy America': VIDEO" »


Vice President Joe Biden Tells LGBT Leaders, 'This Is No Time To Let Up' - AUDIO

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If the U.S. Supreme Court rules in favor of nationwide marriage equality in June, Obergefell v. Hodges will be remembered alongside the landmark civil rights case Brown v. Board of Education, according to Vice President Joe Biden. 

Biden made the statement Saturday night during his keynote speech at the Gill Foundation's annual OutGiving Dinner in Dallas, which was also attended by attorney Mary Bonauto of Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders, who argued for the Obergefell plaintiffs at the high court last week. 

"If the court does the right thing, this is going to be as consequential, and Mary [Bonauto] is going to be as remembered as Brown versus school board and Thurgood Marshall, it's that fundamental," Biden said, referring to the NAACP's lead counsel in Brown, which ended state-sponsored segregation. 

Biden credited the LGBT community for the dramatic cultural shift of the last decade, pointing out that in 2004, 11 states passed same-sex marriage bans when President George W. Bush was re-elected. Today, same-sex marriage is legal in 37 states that are home to 224 million Americans, Biden said. 

"It's because so many of you, men and women in this room of character and consequence, were willing to step forward early, risking your positions, risking in some cases your physical security. You stepped up and you spoke out," Biden said. "You've changed the basic politics of this nation, because of all that you've done."

But there is still work to do, Biden said, noting that polls show nine in 10 Americans believe it's already illegal to discriminate against LGBT workers, when in fact only 22 states have banned it — which he said "shocks the conscience." He added that 15,000 LGBT youth are homeless, largely because of family rejection, and that LGBT students are twice as likely to be bullied in school. 

Biden said after he recently came out in favor of banning gay conversion therapy, he received 790,000 emails.   

"Folks, the American people are with us," he said. "The momentum is with us. This is no time to let up." 

Listen to audio of Biden's remarks, beginning at the 41:00 minute mark, AFTER THE JUMP ...

Continue reading "Vice President Joe Biden Tells LGBT Leaders, 'This Is No Time To Let Up' - AUDIO" »


Bill Maher Tackles Tallywackers and Anti-gay Signs at SCOTUS in 'New Rules' Segment: VIDEO

Maher

Bill Maher’s New Rules segment on last night’s Real Time addressed the lip-locking anti-gay signage outside the Supreme Court during the gay marriage case this week. Maher also had a new rule for Tallywackers, the Hooters-style restaurant featuring scantily clad male servers that is coming to Dallas’ gayborhood.

Watch, AFTER THE JUMP...

Tallywackers

Continue reading "Bill Maher Tackles Tallywackers and Anti-gay Signs at SCOTUS in 'New Rules' Segment: VIDEO" »


Hooters-Style Restaurant Featuring Scantily Clad Male Servers Coming To Dallas' Gayborhood

Tallywackers

The male equivalent of the breastaurant Hooters reportedly is coming to Dallas' Oak Lawn gayborhood. 

TallywackersAccording to a Craigslist help wanted ad, Tallywackers is a bar, restaurant and entertainment venue that will feature scantily clad male servers. From the Dallas Eater blog: 

If you've ever wondered why there wasn't a male version of the skeezy dining establishment that is Hooters, well, your prayers are about to be answered: Brace for the arrival of Tallywackers, coming soon to the gayborhood. ... 

If Hooters and Twin Peaks are considered breastaurants, does that make Tallywackers a... dickstaurant? Discuss.

Tallywackers3Billed as Dallas' "newest and most exciting place to be" and scheduled to open in May, Tallywackers staged a hiring event Saturday for bartenders, servers, cooks, bus boys and hosts. And judging by photos from the event on Facebook (right and below), there were some highly qualified applicants. 

We reached out to Tallywackers for more info but didn't hear back right away.

For those familiar with Dallas, Tallywackers will occupy a seemingly cursed spot on Lemmon Avenue that changes restaurants every few years. But in a city that supports more than its fair share of gay dancer bars, perhaps Tallywackers will have better luck. 

At the very least, Tallywackers could make for another scandalous float in the gay Pride parade — and piss off the local newspaper columnist who's obsessed with that Squirt.org billboard. 

Check out more photos from the Tallywackers hiring event, AFTER THE JUMP ... 

Continue reading "Hooters-Style Restaurant Featuring Scantily Clad Male Servers Coming To Dallas' Gayborhood" »


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