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Idaho House Committee Kills 'Add the Words' LGBT Non-Discrimination Bill

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Idaho's House State Affairs Committee has voted 13-4 along party lines to defeat a bill that would have added "sexual orientation" and "gender identity" to the state's Human Rights Act. 

The Idaho Statesman reports:

"We have come a long way. I think this very hearing has brought us a long, long way," said Rep. Ken Andrus, R-Lava Hot Springs, addressing supporters of the bill. "Do not despair. Your concerns are legitimate, very legitimate, and people in Idaho and in the Legislature have heard you and are hearing you."

But, he added, "We have to be very careful how we make those rules and today my feeling is that this is not the rule that addresses the whole picture."

Thursday's vote came after nearly 21 hours of public testimony Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday.

KBOI2 adds many supporters of the bill left the auditorium in tears, and lined the halls of the Statehouse with their hands over their mouths in silent protest. 

The Statesman, which came out in support of the bill in an editorial this week, had a sticky note on yesterday's front page reading "Add No Words: Stand Up to Bullying!"

Mike Jung, the paper's publisher, offered the following statement in regards to the front-page ad:

Idaho"It's unfortunate the advertising Post It note that appeared on the front page of the Statesman has created hurt and anger among some readers. That was not the intent.

"We welcome and encourage open discussion and dialogue among many topics, including the legislation to ban discrimination against gay, lesbian and transgender people, commonly referred to as Add the Words. In fact, if a company or individual wanted to communicate they were in favor of the legislation, we would have accepted their paid advertising. Our position is clear on the billas we strongly support its passing.

"Regarding the paper accepting the ad, we provide a platform for both sides of every issue. I would have accepted the same Post-It note if it had read, 'Add the Words, Stop the Bullying.' We offer the same advertising opportunities regardless of the opinion shared within the advertisement. That said, we reserve the right to refuse advertisements that include slanderous or defaming statements. Wednesday's ad was marked as 'Paid for by Lance Wells.' "

Wells, a Christian writer and musician, has called homosexuality "a perversion – a very serious sin – that its practitioners and defenders will invariably demand that others accept it, approve of it, and (to one degree or another) participate in it." 

He also thinks homosexuality should be re-criminalized:

I would prefer to see the United States reenact laws condemning these unhealthy and indecent lifestyles in the most certain of terms, implementing serious consequences for those found guilty of practicing them.  For such people are, quite literally, enemies of the state.  Their behavior spreads spiritual, mental, and physical disease and disorder.  It undermines the most important bastions of society:  the Church and the family.


North Dakota Senate Reconsiders Bill Banning Discrimination Based on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity

North Dakota's Senate is again considering a nondiscrimination bill that would protect LGBTQ people from being discriminated in the workplace on the basis of their sexual orientation and gender identity. Nebraska currently has an abysmal record on LGBT civil rights according to the Human Rights Campaign’s 2014 State Equality Index report. The Dickinson Press reports:

6a00d8341c730253ef01b8d0c4c1ca970c-800wiSen. Carolyn Nelson, D-Fargo, is the primary sponsor of Senate Bill 2279, which is similar to bills brought forward in 2009 and 2011 that failed to pass.

“The reason I think that this bill is important is that I think that the young people are looking at not only getting a good job but moving to communities that are accepting,” Nelson said. “Despite the fact that Fargo and Grand Forks are pretty liberal and above board, there are a lot of places in North Dakota that are not yet there.”

The nondiscrimination bill could have an impact on Nebraska's job market and the type of companies and talent the state will be able to lure:

JboscheeRep. Josh Boschee, D-Fargo, a co-sponsor of the bill, said one way supporters of the bill are appealing to the Legislature’s conservative majority is pointing to the positive effect it will have on workforce development and attracting businesses to the state.

“We continue to need to fill jobs in the state,” Boschee said. “As someone who has done a job search and looked throughout the country and is gay, the first thing I do is look at the laws on the books -- what are the protections afforded to me at my place of employment.”

Should the bill pass, the Department of Labor would be empowered to investigate claims of discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity, an authority it does not currently have.

Nebraska's current non-discrimination laws only include protections for "race, religion, sex, national origin, age and physical or mental disabilities."

The bill is thought to have bipartisan support at this time. Here's to hoping it passes. 


Anti-LGBT Groups Vow To 'Fight To The Legal Death' As Trial Begins Over Houston Equal Rights Ordinance: VIDEO

Welch

Allegations of fraud and forgery took center stage as a trial over Houston's Equal Rights Ordinance began this week, according to a report from The Houston Chronicle.

After the council approved the ordinance in May, anti-LGBT groups said they turned in more than 30,000 signatures on a petition to repeal it. However, city officials rejected the petition, saying it had only 16,500 valid signatures, fewer than the 17,269 needed to force the City Council to repeal the ordinance or place it on the ballot.

That prompted a lawsuit from opponents of the ordinance, led by former Republican Party Chair Jared Woodfill and Texas Pastor Council Executive Director Dave Welch (above). In court documents, the city has accused the anti-LGBT groups of fraud, forgery and other dishonest tactics in gathering signatures. From the Chronicle

TaylorAttorneys for the city of Houston signaled in court Tuesday they intend to prove rampant fraud in a petition drive led by opponents of the equal rights ordinance who hope to force a repeal referendum. ...

In his opening argument in court Tuesday, Alex Kaplan, an attorney for the city, said the petition is "full of problems." ...

Andy Taylor (right), attorney for the plaintiffs, said any claims of fraud were untrue and the city's argument is "laughable." He said "well-intentioned voters from time to time didn't follow all the rules" but there was no fraud. 

"They're talking about ticky tacky deficiencies like we're missing a comma or our signatures are hard to read," Taylor said. "Give me a break. Did our forefathers die in battle so that commas could prevent their children from voting." 

Taylor told My Fox Houston that his clients will "fight to the legal death" to repeal the ordinance. And while the trial is focused on technical issues as opposed to the merits of the ordinance, Taylor's legal representation appears severely tainted by his bigotry. From My Fox Houston: 

"Why in the world would we create a law that confers special rights on men who just want to pretend they are women so they can go into female restrooms in Houston and take advantage of young girls?” asks Taylor. ...

Taylor claims this case is going to trial not because of an invalid petition but because Mayor Parker doesn't want the issue on the ballot.

“She just told her lawyers kill this thing. Smother this thing in the crib because she doesn't want voters to have a chance to pass on the lunacy of this bathroom ordinance. Well her day off reckoning is about to come," Taylor says. "We are very confident the jury, after it hears all the evidence, is going to say one thing, mayor you got it wrong. Let the people vote."

The city's lead attorney, Geoffrey Harrison, told Click2Houston.com that the people have already voted:

"The people elected Mayor Annise Parker and elected the members of City Council who voted for this ordinance."

The trial could last two months as jurors go over more than 5,000 pages of signatures to determine how many are valid. 

Watch reports from My Fox Houston and Click2Houston.com, AFTER THE JUMP ... 

Continue reading "Anti-LGBT Groups Vow To 'Fight To The Legal Death' As Trial Begins Over Houston Equal Rights Ordinance: VIDEO" »


Gay Chinese Viral Sensation Suing Former Employer For Homophobic, Wrongful Termination

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Mu Yi inadvertently became something of an internet celebrity last year when he was recorded on camera in the midst of a dispute with another man who is thought to be gay.

In the video Mu and a man in a red hat appeared to be arguing as a Nanshan police officer mediated the dispute. Mu, who headed the sales department of a Chinese design company, is now claiming that being in that video effectively outed him against his will and gave his employer reason to fire him.

"During that time (when the video went viral) I was a total wreck. I couldn't go out. I couldn't answer the phone. I even lost my job," Mu explained. "I was the victim to begin with, it doesn't make any sense for my company [to punish me.]”

Now Mu is suing his former employer with what his attorney describes as the first sexual-orientation discrimination lawsuit to be filed in China. Though homosexuality was decriminalized in China in 1997 and the Ministry of Health removed it from its list of mental illnesses in 2001, there are few legal protections in place for LGBT individuals.

Re-watch the video that first sparked Mu's controversy AFTER THE JUMP... 

Continue reading "Gay Chinese Viral Sensation Suing Former Employer For Homophobic, Wrongful Termination" »


LGBT Rights Activists and ‘Supporters of Religious Freedom’ Face Off in Idaho Hearing on Non-Discrimination Bill: VIDEO

IDAHO1

As we reported yesterday, an Idaho House Committee had finally agreed to hear testimony on a proposed non-discrimination bill that would add protections for Idahoans based on their sexual orientation and gender identity. The hearing, which began yesterday and continues today, saw at-times heated disagreement between LGBT rights activists who have long campaigned for legislators to "add the words" "sexual orientation" and "gender identity" to the state's existing Human Rights Act and backers of so-called "religious freedom" who claim that adding protections for LGBT individuals would infringe upon the rights of the religious.

The AP reports:

"Don't make laws that protect (against) laws against nature and sexual deviant acts," said Paul Thompson of Twin Falls. "Regardless of sexual orientation, it is a law that makes a mockery of all that is created and to our creator."

State Rep. John McCrostie of Boise, currently Idaho's only openly gay state lawmaker, responded that he, too, was a Christian and asked if Thompson's beliefs were greater than his own.

"I respect an individual's desire to want to live out their lives as they feel compelled to do so," Thompson said. "But I owe myself authority to the written word of God."

Many LGBT individuals spoke up at the hearing to share their own stories of discrimination in an attempt to underscore the importance of the bill:

"I want to be valued as a human being based on the person that I am, the person that my mother raised me to be," said Julie Stratton of Post Falls. "Please include my wife and me as fully equal citizens of this state and help us to be proud of living here."

Stratton's testimony —along with many other personal stories of discrimination from lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered Idahoans— was countered by the many concerns coming from pastors, small business owners and national conservative organizations afraid the bill would infringe on free speech and religious freedoms.  

Arizona-based United Families International President Laura Bunker cited cases in other states where businesses were sued for declining to serve to same-sex couples getting married. 

"In the end these non-discrimination laws are not fair to all. Someone is ultimately discriminated against," Bunker said. "Why would Utah, or Idaho, sorry, want to put that kind of wedge between its citizens?"

As KIVI News Boise reports, the hearing will resume Tuesday morning from 8:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m., and again at 5:00 pm if needed.

You can watch a livestream of the Idaho House committee's ongoing session today, HERE

And watch video on the testimony given yesterday, AFTER THE JUMP... (warning: autoplay)

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Continue reading "LGBT Rights Activists and ‘Supporters of Religious Freedom’ Face Off in Idaho Hearing on Non-Discrimination Bill: VIDEO" »


Mike Huckabee: God Hasn't Given Us 'Permission' to Change the Definition of Marriage Yet - VIDEO

Mike Huckabee

Mike Huckabee is still at it.

The former Arkansas governor and failed presidential candidate is still spouting discrimination against gay marriage and general LGBT equality, likely to drum up some hard-right support for his probable 2016 presidential bid. Perhaps he's forgetting that it's no longer 2004 and the anti-gay animus that worked so well for Bush's campaign isn't going to fly so well a decade later. Like all good devout public figures, though, he hides behind the Bible to excuse his bigotry.

Appearing on The Jim Bakker Show, a Christian Television talk show, Huckabee states explicitly that he just follows, "a standard that was not ours, it was God's, and that for us to change it we would have to get permission." So, apparently, he'd be all about supporting the gays if that pesky ol' God would just let him.

Huckabee1Host Jim Bakker is quick to stroke Huckabee's ego, pointing out that he employs gay people and even invites them into his home, so he's not a "hater"; he treats them with "Southern respect." An apt description - "southern nice" often carries with it the implication of passive-aggression or backhandedness; see "bless your heart" - as Huckabee follows Bakker's assessment with assertions that conservatives need to get involved with the limiting and undermining of LGBT rights and equality.

Mike Huckabee: he'd love us if God would let him, but until then it's his sacred duty to make us as second-class as possible. You can watch him speak for himself AFTER THE JUMP...

Continue reading "Mike Huckabee: God Hasn't Given Us 'Permission' to Change the Definition of Marriage Yet - VIDEO" »


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