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04/19/2007


Mississippi Legislature Passes Anti-Gay 'Religious Freedom' Bill

Less than a month after the Mississippi legislature sent the state’s Senate Bill 2681 (aka the “license to discriminate bill”) to committee for review, it returned — and has now passed, the Washington Blade reports:

IMississippi_flagn a development that largely went unnoticed on the national stage, the State House and Senate on the same day both approved a conference report for S.B. 2681, the Religious Freedom Restoration Act. The vote in the Republican-controlled House was 78-43 and the vote in the Republican-controlled Senate vote was 38-14.

Much like the controversial Arizona bill known as SB 1062 vetoed by Gov. Jan Brewer, the six-page legislation never once mentions the words “sexual orientation,” “gender identity” or “gay.” Still, LGBT advocates insist the legislation would have the effect of allowing discriminatory practices against LGBT people seeking services in Mississippi.

The bill would allow businesses to deny service to LGBT people while claiming “exercise of religion.” But new text added to the resurrected bill would allow businesses to defy any “state laws, rules, regulations, and municipal and county ordinances” as long as they did so under “exercise of religion.”

The bill closely resembles the bill that Arizona Governor Jan Brewer vetoed in February. Keep in mind the the NFL, MLB, Intel, Apple and the last two Republican presidential candidates all spoke out against Arizona’s bill.

BryantDeep South Progressive reported on the bill yesterday:

The point, of course, is to say that there is almost nothing over which a claim of religious belief does not take precedence. A law doesn’t have to be intended to interfere with religious exercise; a religious person just has to claim it interferes.

This version of the bill goes beyond protecting free exercise of religion, instead solidly establishing claims of religious exercise in a privileged position above all else... That could jeopardize recent advances made in Starkville, Hattiesburg, and Oxford, where anti-discrimination effort – including discrimination against LGBT people and other minority – via diversity resolutions have passed to great fanfare in recent months.

The Blade adds:

Sarah Warbelow, the Human Rights Campaign’s state legislative director, said the bill would in essence make “LGBT people strangers to the law.”

“Before Mississippi has had the opportunity to robustly discuss the lived experiences of LGBT people, this bill would hollow out any non-discrimination protections at the local level or possible future state-wide protections,” Warbelow said. “Just as we’ve seen in other states, this bill is bad for business, bad for the state’s reputation, and most of all, bad for Mississippians. Gov. Bryant must veto the measure.”

The ACLU released a statement about the bill's passage:

If Governor Phil Bryant (pictured) signs, the law will go into effect on July 1, 2014

“We remain hopeful that courts throughout the state will reject any attempts to use religion to justify discrimination,” said Jennifer Riley-Collins, executive director of the ACLU of Mississippi. “Nobody should be refused service because of who they are.”

The law could allow individuals and businesses to bring challenges against what they view as substantial government burdens against religion, including challenging existing nondiscrimination laws. Legislatures across the country, including in Georgia, Idaho, Maine, and Ohio, have rejected similar measures. On February 26, 2014, Governor Jan Brewer vetoed Arizona’s version. Bills are still pending in Missouri and Oklahoma.

“Even though the Mississippi legislature removed some of the egregious language from Arizona’s infamous SB 1062, we are disappointed that it passed this unnecessary law and ignored the national, public outcry against laws of this nature,” said Eunice Rho, advocacy and policy counsel with the ACLU. “We will continue to fight in state legislatures across the country to ensure that religious freedom remains a shield, not a sword.”


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" »


Michigan Family Adopts Disowned Gay Teen: AUDIO

Corey NicholsSo many gay children and teenagers who are disowned by their families wind up living on the streets with nowhere to go and no one to turn to. Fortunately, Michigan teenager Corey Nichols was spared this fate when the parents of his friend Aubrey legally adopted Nichols as their own son after his family disowned him for his orientation.

Nichols tells of how his conservative family, his father in particular, consistently espoused vile anti-gay sentiment and suspected that Nichols was gay. When he came down with pneumonia, his family ignored his illness, leaving him so distressed and delusional that he told Aubrey how he planned to commit suicide. Aubrey's mother happened to see the messages and ran to get him, eventually nursing him back to health from a severe case of pneumonia. His family never once asked about him.

After he recovered, Nichols came out to his parents, who allegedly flew into a rage and called him the devil. Nichols ran away that night, and a few weeks later Aubrey's parents adopted him as their own. Nichols' parents never showed up to contest the adoption.

You can listen to the interview Nichols gave to Out in Santa Cruz about his disownment and adoption below.


Gay Man Sues The Chinese Government

_73652343_chinagayrightsactivist
The LGBT activist, Xiang Xiaohan, is the first gay man to do so. Xiaohan had attempted to register his group, Same-Sex Love Assistance Network, as a non-governmental organization (NGO) but his application was denied. In response, Xiaohan filed a defamation lawsuit in February but the case was thrown out of court earlier this month.

The BBC reports:

_73652347_hunanletterXiang Xiaohan filed the lawsuit in the provincial capital, Changsha, after the Hunan government turned down his application to register his organisation. 

In a written reply to him, the local government said homosexuality had no place in Chinese traditional culture and "the building of spiritual civilisation" - a catchphrase in modern China for what many believe is the party's indoctrination.

"I believe what the government said [in the reply] defames the reputation of the gay and lesbian community in China, and I want them to issue a written apology," said Mr Xiang.

He also wants the government to reverse its decision not to register his organisation. Registering his group as an NGO would enable it to legally receive donations and enjoy tax exemptions.

Some activists point out the importance of the government agency's response to Xiang.

Yu Fang Qiang from Justice For All - a non-profit organisation dedicated to safeguarding the rights of disadvantaged members of the public - said it also marked a significant step forward by the government.

"It is the first time in China that a local government department has formally given a written reply to a request from the gay and lesbian community, whereas in the past the government would just simply ignore it," he told the BBC.

A copy of that letter is above. Xiang intends to appeal the ruling.

Xiang and his organization are active in the fights for LGBT rights in China. Last year, he was arrested for organizing a gay rights march in the city of Changsha. Watch a news report about that march, AFTER THE JUMP.

Continue reading "Gay Man Sues The Chinese Government" »


Homosexuality A 'Social Evil' As Serious As Terrorism According To Kenyan MP

Anti-gay Africa

Africa is perhaps the least hospitable continent for homosexuals, which is actually illegal in 37 countries and is subject to widespread taboos, thanks in no small part to the dissemination of lies and stoking of hatred from evil religious evangelical lunatics like Scott "The Nazis were gay" Lively and Martin "Eat da poo-poo" Ssempa.

While Uganda is one of the most hostile, Kenya is not far behind. Since 2010, 595 cases of homosexuality have been investigated, according to MP Aden Duale. In an assembly with other MPs, Duale even said that "gayism" and "lesbianism" are "as serious as terrorism," a level of educated insight that harkens back to the days of Oklahoma representative Sally Kern.

However, Duale responded to calls for tougher laws to penalize homosexuality by saying that the Kenyan constitution and penal code were sufficient, and that the decision to not follow Uganda's methods was in no way influenced by the fact that international donors have suspended aid to Uganda in response to their treatment of homosexuals.


Hawaii Catholic Schools Implement New Contract: Gay Teachers Can Be Fired

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A new teaching contract approved by the Hawaii Catholic schools office states that any educator can be fired if they engage in “homosexual activity” or marry someone of the same sex. The Huffington Post reports:

“The school expressly reserves the right to terminate the employment of any Teacher, who by word or example, denies the teachings or authority of the Church, or whose personal life or conduct is, based on Catholic teaching, immoral,” says a portion of the contract that was obtained by Honolulu Civil Beat.

The contract, which is called the "Standard Teacher Employment Agreement," is for full- and part-time teachers who must sign it every year they work.

HCS-StampThe contract, which is slated to go into effect for the 2014-2015 school year, explicitly says “homosexual activity” and “same-sex unions” are not permitted. The contract also lists other acts that could justify firing, including abortion, in vitro fertilization, or “unmarried cohabitation.”

Michael Rockers, the superintendent of all Hawaii Roman Catholic schools, said that while the provision is new, the expectations outlined in it are not.

He said the ultimate goal is to provide positive role models for students and that if a teacher's homosexuality were made public it would negatively affect the children.

“We want to be authentic about what our moral teaching is,” he said. “We’re trying to be pastoral about this and centered on what’s best for the students.”

Rockers said the written provision was not a response to last year’s legalization of same-sex marriage in Hawaii. 


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