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Can Eureka Springs, Arkansas Buck Recent Trend Of Voters Repealing LGBT Protections?

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Voters in Eureka Springs, Arkansas — known as "the gay capital of the Ozarks" — will decide today whether to repeal the town's LGBT-inclusive nondiscrimination ordinance. 

The Eureka Springs City Council hurriedly approved the ordinance in February, hours after the Arkansas Senate passed a bill prohibiting cities from adding classes to nondiscrimination ordinances that aren't included in state law.  

Council members in the gay-friendly enclave hoped to send a message to state lawmakers and set up a possible future court challenge to the law. However, opponents of the Eureka Springs ordinance gathered the 96 signatures needed to place a repeal on the ballot. Even if the ordinance is upheld, the city will no longer enforce it after July 20, when the state law takes effect.  

Nevertheless, today's vote has plenty of symbolic significance and has drawn national attention. In addition to its designation as "the gay capital of the Ozarks," Eureka Springs is overlooked by the 66-foot-tall "Christ of the Ozarks" statue, the site of a play depicting Jesus' final days. 

The Associated Press reported this weekend: 

CHristOpponents of the ordinance argue it's another step in a direction that they say threatens the future of the Great Passion Play, a seasonal outdoor production that draws about 50,000 people a year to a campus that includes a Bible museum and the statue of Jesus.

Randall Christy, the play's chief executive officer, has been among the most vocal opponents of the ordinance, arguing it would unnecessarily split the town and force churches to perform same-sex weddings.

"They have divided this city," Christy said.

But supporters of the ordinance say the pro-repeal campaign is one doing the dividing with a campaign they say is preying on voters' fears. Signs hung on residents' doorknobs urge voters to "keep our daughters safe in Eureka Springs bathrooms" and argue that sexual predators would use the law to falsely claim they're transgender.

The divide in Eureka Springs was evident last month when a pro-LGBT church was excluded from a "Celebrate Jesus Easter Parade." 

If voters uphold the ordinance, they will buck a recent trend in the region. Voters in Fayetteville, Arkansas and Springfield, Missouri, have recently repealed LGBT protections. 

More from the AP

Mayor Robert "Butch" Berry, who supports the ordinance, said he believes his town eventually will come together.

"It doesn't matter which side of the fence you're on, let those without sin cast the first stone," Berry said in Biblical terms. "There's been a lot of stones cast."


Arkansas Baptist Pastor and Anti-LGBT Spokesman Exposed as Convicted Serial Rapist: VIDEO

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Anti-LGBT activists in Eureka Springs, Arkansas recently released a video pushing for the repeal of Ordinance 2223, which protects LGBT people from discrimination.

The video features a number of prominent spokespeople, including a Baptist pastor who has been exposed as a serial rapist, the Arkansas Times reports:

Acra Lee Turner, 60, currently serves as a pastor of Penn Memorial Baptist Church in Eureka Springs. In an interview with the Times, he confirmed that he is the same Acra Lee Turner who, as a 22-year-old man, was convicted of three counts of rape in Stephens County near Lawton, Okla. In April 1977, he was sent to prison for three concurrent sentences of 30 to 60 years for those crimes, including — according to this story from an Oklahoma newspaper — the rape of an 80-year old woman who was beaten so badly that she was almost unrecognizable.

Turner claims he has turned his life around with Jesus.

Watch the Repeal 2223 video, AFTER THE JUMP...

Continue reading "Arkansas Baptist Pastor and Anti-LGBT Spokesman Exposed as Convicted Serial Rapist: VIDEO" »


LGBT-Affirming Church Barred From 'Celebrate Jesus Easter Parade' In Gay-Friendly Eureka Springs, Arkansas: VIDEO

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Eureka Springs, Arkansas, has long been known as "the gay capital of the Ozarks." 

But in a state that recently banned LGBT protections and passed an anti-LGBT "religious freedom" law, the popular resort town increasingly finds itself at the epicenter of the battle for equality. 

The latest culture clash occurred this weekend, when Eureka Springs simultaneously hosted one of its three annual "Diversity Weekends" as well as the Celebrate Jesus Easter Parade. 

A pro-LGBT Methodist Church asked to participate in the parade, but was turned away. OzarksFirst.com reports: 

The Celebrate Jesus Easter Parade has been growing in Eureka Springs over the past three years. This year the Eureka Springs First Methodist Church applied to be in the parade, wanting to carry a sign saying "Jesus loves all." The church was denied, and now they're asking why. 

First United Methodist of Eureka Springs applied to be in the parade, and was initially accepted. One week before the parade, however, they were told they were no longer welcome. Church member Suzie Bell believes it's because of their stance on the LGBT community. 

"They wanted to know what our banner was going to say, and it said "Jesus loves all. They had decided that they did not want us in the parade, and that we weren't welcome." Bell said. 

Bell said she believes the church was turned away "based purely on our love and acceptance of the LGBT community." Meanwhile, parade director Laura Nichols released a statement that failed to explain the decision. From the statement: 

"This day isn't a day of pointing fingers or playing the blame game. This parade is to honor our Lord and Savior and for praising God for sending His only Son who willingly went to the cross, died and rose on the third day that when we repent of our sins and accept Him. ... 

"Regardless of what has been stated in the papers. We do not have anything against the Methodist Church. After all my uncle was a Methodist minister. Nor do we have anything against the homosexual community. When I worked downtown I had homosexual people that I considered my friends and still do."

With the Arkansas Legislature set to ban local LGBT protections in February, Eureka Springs quickly passed a nondiscrimination ordinance, in hopes that officials could eventually challenge the state law in court. Then, last week, the Legislature passed an anti-LGBT religious freedom law that was ultimately revised before being signed by the governor due to backlash. But the friction between LGBT-friendly Eureka Springs and anti-LGBT forces goes back far beyond that. 

ChristThe massive Christ of the Ozarks statue (right) overlooks the town from a theme park that is home to theatrical re-enactments of the events around Jesus’s crucifixion. But attendance at the park dropped off as Eureka Springs became known as a gay destination, and it closed in 2012 before reopening recently, according to The Guardian.  

The Rev. Phil Wilson, of First Christian Church, was one of the stars of the American Family Association's 2007 video, "They're Coming To Your Town," billed as “a look at how a handful of homosexual activists infiltrated the Eureka Springs, Arkansas, government and changed the very moral fibre of the city”.

Wilson is now leading opposition to Eureka Springs' LGBT protections — which will be voted on in May — based on discredited arguments about transgender bathroom use. 

The Guardian reports: 

“There have been many things that have happened in Eureka Springs that have made us be perceived as an eminently desirable homosexual destination,” he said. “We have 6,000 years of Judeo-Christian history that has affirmed that homosexuality is morally wrong and we live in a society that says it’s morally right.”

Asked if he truly believed that Christians in the US were under threat of oppression and needed laws to protect them, he referenced the Islamist terror attack that killed 147 people in Kenya on Thursday.

“It’s on Fox News continually in the last day or two,” he said. “I see persecutions.”

Watch OzarksFirst.com's report on the parade and a promo for AFA's hate video "They're Coming To Your Town," AFTER THE JUMP ...

Continue reading "LGBT-Affirming Church Barred From 'Celebrate Jesus Easter Parade' In Gay-Friendly Eureka Springs, Arkansas: VIDEO" »


Eureka Springs Passes LGBT Protections, Tells Arkansas Legislature To 'Bring It On'

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Hours after the Arkansas Senate voted to prohibit cities from passing LGBT protections, the City Council in Eureka Springs — known as "the gay capital of the Ozarks" — thumbed its nose at lawmakers by doing just that. 

The Arkansas Senate voted 24-8 Monday to prohibit cities from adding protected classes to nondiscrimination ordinances that aren't included in state law. Senate Bill 202, which now goes to the House, is a direct response to Fayetteville's decision to pass an LGBT-inclusive nondiscrimination ordinance, which was later overturned at the ballot box. 

The Associated Press reports: 

Republican Sen. Bart Hester, who proposed the legislation, said it is intended to standardize laws across the state, which he said is just as important as civil rights.

"What we need to do in the state of Arkansas is create a uniform and standardized process for any business to come in," Hester said.

The proposal was approved on a mostly party line vote, with three of the Senate's 11 Democrats voting for the bill. The state Democratic Party issued a statement opposing the measure, and the top Democrat in the chamber portrayed the restriction as hypocritical compared to Republicans' rhetoric.

"If Washington passed something like this and passed it down to the states, we would scream about federal overreach," said Senate Minority Leader Keith Ingram.

If SB202 becomes law, Arkansas would be the second state to prohibit cities from banning anti-LGBT discrimination. The other is Tennessee, where the law is being challenged in court by the National Center for Lesbian Rights. In 1996, the U.S. Supreme Court struck down Colorado's ban on gay protections, saying it was unconstitutional for legislators to target a specific group. 

In response to the state Senate's passage of SB202, the City Council in Eureka Springs rushed through an LGBT-inclusive nondiscrimination ordinance on Monday night. The council also passed a resolution opposing SB202 and an emergency clause to make the ordinance effective as soon as possible.  

Arkansas Online reports: 

BerryEureka Springs Mayor Robert D. "Butch" Berry [pictured right] said he'll sign the ordinance today or Wednesday after document changes requested by the council have been made and a fresh copy of the eight-page ordinance is available. When that happens, Eureka Springs will become the only city in Arkansas with such an ordinance. ...

At Monday's council meeting, City Attorney Tim Weaver said SB202 is written to prevent the enforcement of city ordinances like the one the council was discussing. ...

Council member Mickey Schneider asked if Weaver meant the city would likely be sued by the state.

"I'm not saying the state's going to sue you," said Weaver. "It's more likely to come from a right-wing group."

"That's even better!" said Schneider. "Bring it on!"


News: Johnny Depp, Eureka Springs, Clark Gable, Bounty Killer

road.jpg BOOK: Clark Gable was gay for pay. "David Bret’s angle on Clark Gable is this: Gable was 'gay for pay' and 'rough trade,' and he enjoyed having sex 'for bucks.' In addition, he 'would sometimes scrub his penis until it bled' and used a device to prolong erections. If these tidbits from the book’s first few pages aren’t too much information for you, you’re in luck. This breathtakingly trashy biography does not skimp on sordid anecdotes."

Jdepproad.jpg Johnny Depp the new, uh, face of Trojan condoms?

road.jpg Gawker goes to the NYC Black Party.

road.jpg T.R. Knight steps out with boyfriend Mark Cornelsen: We all have AIDS.

road.jpg Survey shows increased support for gay marriage in Ireland: "Eighty-four per cent of respondents to an opinion poll conducted this month by Lansdowne Market Research said they supported civil marriage or civil partnerships for gay and lesbian couples. This is the same figure as a similar survey carried out in November 2006. However, 58% said gay and lesbian couples should be allowed to marry in registry offices, compared to 51% in the previous survey."

road.jpg Did Heath Ledger father a love child?

road.jpg Could Al Gore be brought in for clean-up duty at the convention? "Let’s say the elders of the Democratic Party decide, when the primaries end, that neither Obama nor Clinton is viable. Let’s also assume — and this may be a real stretch — that such elders are strong and smart enough to act. All they’d have to do would be to convince a significant fraction of their superdelegate friends, maybe fewer than 100, to announce that they were taking a pass on the first ballot at the Denver convention, which would deny the 2,025 votes necessary to Obama or Clinton. What if they then approached Gore and asked him to be the nominee, for the good of the party — and suggested that he take Obama as his running mate? Of course, Obama would have to be a party to the deal and bring his 1,900 or so delegates along."

Madonnaroad.jpg Madonna on the paparazzi: "The paparazzi are out of control. I haven't been to Los Angeles in quite a while, and I don’t watch television here or in England, and I was told there's now a television show where the paparazzi are the stars of the show—is that true? That they film each other doing paparazzi jobs? Which gives them more fuel. I usually found that type kept their distance—they definitely do in England, because it's illegal to photograph children. But that's not how it is here. They get this close, and don't care how much they scare your children. Being famous has changed a lot, because now there's so many outlets, between magazines, TV shows, and the Internet, for people to stalk and follow you. We created the monster."

road.jpg Gay couple faces harsh realities in move from New Jersey to Idaho.

road.jpg Is Regent Entertainment circling gay publications Out and The Advocate?

road.jpg HIV-positive Canadian Martin Rooney takes on U.S. travel ban: "I said I was on disability. He said what's my disability. I said I have HIV. He hauled me into a backroom. ... He put on a set of rubber gloves to hold each of my fingers. Nobody else wore rubber gloves. Then he fingerprinted me, photographed me, ran me through the FBI's most-wanted list and told me to go back to Canada and not return until I came back with a waiver. I felt like I was being treated like a terrorist."

Eurekaroad.jpg Arkansas gays converge on Eureka Springs for 'Diversity Weekend': "Homosexual and transsexual residents say that living in Northwest Arkansas has its benefits, such as the small-town atmosphere, natural beauty, and amenities such as shopping and restaurants. But many lament the limited social venues and a lack of connectivity within their own community. 'There is a fairly large population of people that are gay, lesbian or bisexual, but there is no community,' said Fayetteville resident J. Judd Harbin."

road.jpg Ricky Martin battles human trafficking in Cambodia

road.jpg Human rights groups halt concerts by 'murder music' singer Bounty Killer: "In Germany, Bounty Killer's performance in Essen was cancelled and other German concert dates are now in doubt as gay human rights groups are coordinating a Europe-wide campaign to halt his 'Deadly Alliance' tour of the Netherlands, France, Belgium, Italy and Switzerland."


Eureka Springs, Arkansas to Issue Same-Sex Union Certificates

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Arkansas' most gay-friendly resort destination, Eureka Springs, will next week begin recording same-sex unions and issuing certificates in recognition. The certificates offer few new rights beyond recognition but could assist domestic partners seeking health insurance benefits. Of course, the religious right folk are up in arms:

Eurekasprings"The Reverend Philip Wilson, pastor of the First Christian Church, says he thinks the new service by the city is at odds with the town's image as a Victorian village. He has taken out newspaper ads expressing his concerns that recording same-sex unions will make Eureka Springs, as he put it, 'a homosexual Mecca.' The city council voted unanimously last month to set up the registry of unorthodox unions. The certificates will be issued to any pair over 18 years of age who pay a $35 fee. Mayor Dani Wilson -- no relation to the preacher of the same last name -- said she's gotten tons of e-mails wondering when the registry would be open for business."

The town is apparently a popular wedding destination, kind of like the Bible Belt's own Niagara Falls. Folks come to get married under the Christs of the Ozarks statue.


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