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Could Repealing LGBT Protections Cost Houston The 2016 Final Four, 2017 Super Bowl?

FinalFour

Since Indiana Gov. Mike Pence signed an anti-LGBT religious freedom bill this week, the backlash has been enormous. 

Celebrities, corporationschurches and even the White House have come out against the discriminatory law — with some announcing boycotts of the Hoosier State. They include the NCAA, which issued a statement saying it's concerned about how the law will affect its student-athletes and employees during the men's basketball Final Four in Indianapolis next weekend. There's also a petition calling for the Big 10 Conference to move its football championship out of Indianapolis.

Meanwhile, in Houston — which is scheduled to host the 2016 Final Four and the 2017 Super Bowl — anti-LGBT groups continue their efforts repeal an Equal Rights Ordinance passed by the City Council last year. 

Super-Bowl-Houston-BannerAfter Houston became the last major city in the US to add LGBT protections in May, opponents launched a petition drive to repeal them. The city eventually rejected the petition, saying it didn't have enough valid signatures to qualify for the ballot.  

Anti-LGBT groups filed a lawsuit, and last month a jury determined that among other things, the petition contains widespread forgery. Based on the jury's determinations about which signatures should be considered valid, Judge Robert Schaffer began a final count. More than a month later, Schaffer revealed this week that opponents of the ordinance are roughly 3,000 signatures short of the 17,269 needed to qualify for the ballot. However, approximately 8,500 signatures remain in question because they appear on pages circulated by people whose names aren't legible. 

The Houston Chronicle reports: 

The plaintiffs argue that legibility should not be a factor.

"We can't empower the government with the right to be the judge, jury and executioner on whether somebody has a right to vote based on penmanship," said Andy Taylor, attorney for the plaintiffs.

The city, however, contends that if they can't determine who a circulator is based on their signature or printed name, all the other signatures collected on that page should be discarded, per city charter and the judge's ruling.

"The plaintiffs are mounting every desperate challenge they possibly can to try to overcome the effect of the jury's verdict and the effect of the judge's post-verdict rulings," said Geoffrey Harrison, lead attorney for the city. "The plaintiffs lost at trial. They lose on the law. They lose on the facts. But they are prolonging this process by refusing to accept reality."

Judge Schaffer is expected to rule in early April on the final signature count. If he determines the petition has enough valid signatures, the ordinance likely would appear on the November ballot. If he determines the petition doesn't have enough valid signatures, the plaintiffs are expected to appeal.  

Either way, perhaps opponents of the ordinance and other citizens of Houston should take note of what's happening in Indiana. If Houston repeals LGBT protections and again becomes the only major US city without them, it's hard to imagine there wouldn't be a push to get the NCAA to move the 2016 Final Four and to get the NFL to move the 2017 Super Bowl — among other things. 

Texas lawmakers might also want to take note, as several measures similar to the Indiana bill have been introduced in the current session of the state Legislature.

Houston and Texas have a reputation as business-friendly places, but judging by what's happened in Indiana, that could easily and very quickly change. 


Indiana Restaurant Owner Calls in to Radio Station Proudly Saying He'll Refuse to Serve Gay Customers: LISTEN

Kyle and rache

Warning: this might just ruin your Saturday morning.

Indianapolis morning radio show Kyle & Rachel was busy fielding caller comments on the state's discriminatory "religious freedom" bill yesterday when a local bigot decided to call in and voice his support for the state's new law.

Listen to Ryan, who says he owns a local restaurant and has discriminated against gay customers in the past, casually explain why he's looking forward to his new "license to discriminate" AFTER THE JUMP... (warning: autoplay)

In related news, former NBA star Charles Barkley has called on the NCAA to move its March Madness Final Four tournament out of Indiana over the new law. 

[h/t joe.my.god]

Continue reading "Indiana Restaurant Owner Calls in to Radio Station Proudly Saying He'll Refuse to Serve Gay Customers: LISTEN" »


Homophobic Washington Florist Barronelle Stutzman Fined for Discriminating Against Gay Customer

Stuzman

Richland, Washington florist Barronelle Stutzman has been fined $1000 plus $1 for court costs and fees for her refusal back in 2013 to provide flowers for a longtime customer's wedding to his same-sex partner because of her "relationship with Jesus Christ."

The Associated Press reports:

In a February ruling, [Benton County Superior Judge Alexander] Ekstrom found that Stutzman's refusal to provide flowers because of sexual orientation violated Washington's anti-discrimination and consumer protection laws. Along with the fine, the judge's ruling also requires that everything Arlene's Flowers sells to opposite-sex couples has to be available at the same price to same-sex couples.

Attorney General Bob Ferguson, whose office requested the fine, said in a statement Friday that the ruling is a reminder of the reach of Washington's anti-discrimination laws.

"My primary goal has always been to end illegal discrimination," Ferguson said. "I'm pleased that today's ruling clearly prohibits discrimination against same-sex couples."

Last month, we reported Stutzman had rejected a settlement offer in the case and said taking the offer would have been like Judas betraying Jesus.


The Gays Are Free to Discriminate Against Christians in Hilarious 'Religious Freedom' Parody Video

Truthwinsout

Sorry, but the Church of Harvey Fierstein has a strict "No Christians" policy.

Watch, AFTER THE JUMP...

Continue reading "The Gays Are Free to Discriminate Against Christians in Hilarious 'Religious Freedom' Parody Video" »


Eagle Scout Launches Petition To End Discriminatory BSA Policy Targeting His Gay Identical Twin: VIDEO

Liam Easton-Calabria

In support of his gay identical twin brother, August Easton-Calabriaand has launched a Change.org petition asking the Boy Scouts of America (BSA) to end a policy preventing openly gay people participating in the organization once they turn eighteen, reports The Advocate.

August and his brother Liam (above) grew up as part of the BSA. Both reached the rank of Eagle Scout last year.

Bsa-logoThe petition reads in part:

“I am straight. Liam is gay. In the eyes of the BSA, I am worthy to share Scouting with my children, but he is not. This heartbreaking consequence for Liam, me, and our parents goes against all I learned in Scouting.

“In the face of the National Council’s continuing prejudice against gay and lesbian parents and volunteers, it is up to individuals and local Councils to demonstrate support for dropping the anti-gay ban. That is why I am calling on my local Council to follow the lead of other Councils across the country and speak out for change.”

The petition is now close to receiving 25,000 signatures.

Watch the short documentary Clipped Wings which tells Liam's story and follows Geoff McGrath, a scoutmaster who was ejected from scouting because of his sexuality, AFTER THE JUMP...

Continue reading "Eagle Scout Launches Petition To End Discriminatory BSA Policy Targeting His Gay Identical Twin: VIDEO" »


Arkansas Senate Passes Discriminatory 'Religious Freedom' Bill, Governor Asa Hutchinson Says He'll Sign

An Indiana-style bill allowing individuals to discriminate based on religious beliefs has just passed the Arkansas Senate. Arkansas Online reports the bill first heads back to the House to consider amendments added on the Senate side before heading to Gov. Asa Hutchinson's desk.

Hutchinson said Thursday he intends to sign the bill. 

HRC reacts via statement:

HutchinsonToday, the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) and HRC Arkansas condemned the Arkansas senate's passage of H.B. 1228, an Indiana-style bill that will open the door to discrimination against LGBT people, people of color, religious minorities, women and other minority groups across the state. After a formal procedural hurdle, the bill will be on its way to Governor Asa Hutchinson's desk. HRC has repeatedly called on the governor to veto this legislation, including at a press conference featuring HRC president Chad Griffin yesterday.

"This bill is a poison pill for jobs and investment in the state of Arkansas, and Governor Hutchinson has a duty to veto it," said HRC President and Arkansas native Chad Griffin following the Senate vote. "If he does not, his reputation will be forever stained and the people of the state of Arkansas will suffer for his willingness to cater to a small political faction whose sole intent is to discriminate against their fellow Arkansans."

The bill has been opposed by Wal-Mart, Apple, and the Arkansas Municipal League for weeks. Yesterday, following the enactment of a similar bill in Indiana, a wave of high-tech companies like Yelp and Salesforce -- precisely the kinds of investment Governor Hutchinson has said he hopes to attract to the state -- have condemned this kind of legislation.

At a press conference today in Little Rock today, HRC President and Arkansas native Chad Griffin announced that the...

Posted by HRC Arkansas on Thursday, March 26, 2015

Jon Stewart ripped into the bill in a segment last week. Civil rights legend Julian Bond has also spoken out against the bill, saying:

"H.B. 1228 in Arkansas opens the door to a hateful past that some had thought this country had left behind. This legislation cloaks discrimination in the guise of religion--and it will mark people of color, LGBT Arkansans, religious minorities and women as second class citizens. Governor Hutchinson has a duty and a moral obligation to veto this legislation or the ghosts of the past will haunt his legacy."

Hutchinson's office can be reached at 501-682-2345. 

Senate passes HB1228 and the amendment goes back to the House for final approval. This bill is on a fast track to the...

Posted by HRC Arkansas on Friday, March 27, 2015

 


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