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Gay Florida Couple Wins Battle To Have Son Baptized At Episcopal Church: VIDEO


After a week of national outcry, an Episcopal church in Florida has decided to baptize a same-sex couple's baby after initially canceling the ceremony. 

The controversy began last Saturday, when Rich McCaffrey (above with his husband, Eric) reported on Facebook that the Episcopal Cathedral Church of St. Luke in Orlando had canceled their son's baptism because some members of the congregation objected: 

JackWe chose Sunday, April 19 for the baptism. We attended Sunday services and recommended classes, becoming more familiar and pleased with our choice. We invited friends and family, both local and from out of town, and we looked forward to celebrating with Jack on what was to be an important day. On Thursday, April 16 we received a message from Dean Clark asking us to contact him regarding “a development” concerning the baptism. With relatives in the room, I called and what I heard still creates a lump in my throat. The Dean shared there were members of the congregation who opposed Jack’s baptism and although he hoped to resolve the conflict, he was not yet able to (the Bishop of Central Florida, Greg Brewer, was also involved). After probing further the Dean said “the issue is with you and Eric being the first two men who will baptize their child at the Cathedral.” He offered his apologies and further explained this was a bigger deal because of the exposure that comes along with the baptism taking place at the Cathedral. In essence “this is not no forever, just not now.” Three days before our son was to be baptized he was turned away. At that moment, he was unwelcomed by the church, and denied his rite to be recognized as a Christian. I was speechless, angry, and heartbroken.

McCaffrey's post was shared more than 1,000 times and garnered national media attention. An online petition calling for the church to baptize Jack reached almost 25,000 signatures.  

The outcry prompted Brewer, the bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Central Florida, to reach out to the couple. And McCaffrey reported Friday that Brewer had agreed to allow Jack to be baptized in the church: 

Bishop Brewer extended an invitation to meet with us and we had the opportunity to speak with him yesterday evening. We spoke frankly and openly about the chain of events. ... He genuinely wanted to learn about us and expressed his apologies for how it had been handled. Most importantly, he was clear he is supportive of Eric and I, two dads, baptizing our son at the Cathedral and offered to be a part of it. 

We are appreciative and are looking forward to the baptism to take place this summer. At the same time we know on many fronts there is healing to be done which will take time. ...

I close with one more lesson for Jack – Aspire to live your life with grace and forgiveness. You will be better for it.

Change is seldom easy. I thank each of you for listening to us, supporting us, and engaging in the conversation.

Watch a report from WFTV.com, AFTER THE JUMP ...

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Florida HIV/AIDS Organization Makes People Over 40 Pay For 'Free' Fundraiser

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Impulse Group South Florida, a community outreach group dedicated to spreading HIV awareness and education, has come under fire for age discrimination at one of its recent social functions. A massive pool party was thrown in Miami meant to spread word about the recently renovated Vagabond Hotel, a local landmark. Entrance into the highly publicized pool party was free to the public under the age of 40, but those 41 and above quickly realize that there would be a $50 cover fee if they wanted to join in the festivities. For a party that was being hashtagged on Instagram and Twitter with #JudgmentIsDirty, many felt as if judgment, and ageism, were in full effect.

“I’m amazed at the invite I just received – free admission up to 40 years of age and $50 over 40,” Ed Stevens, a would-be party goer said to South Florida Gay News. “In addition to whether this is even legal, it’s a shocking and blatant attempt to exclude mature people and another instance of how people in our community should know better, given the discrimination and judgements we face in the mainstream world. And I was looking forward to going back to this beautifully restored landmark.”

Since the pool party, disgruntled members of Miami’s gay community have taken to Impulse’s Facebook page expressing their concerns that the organization is more interested in throwing parties that cater to the young rather than addressing the health needs of the community as a whole.

“The primary strategy is to organically establish a following of socially active, young gay men through engagement at large, organized events, such as Evolution, which occurred in Miami on April 18,” Impulse responded in a press release yesterday. “The purpose of events like Evolution is to create a lively, fun atmosphere where these men can interact while simultaneously being exposed to information about HIV in a non-judgmental environment.”

Tiered pricing for community events like Evolution is common enough, with logic suggesting that younger, less economically established people would benefit from discounted tickets. That being said, it’s not hard to see why people interpreted two age-based tiers as somewhat problematic.

HRC Warns 12 States ‘Don’t Repeat The Mistakes Of Indiana' In New Media Campaign

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The Human Rights Coalition launched a new ad campaign asking 12 state governors to reject bills that target LGBT people like the one Gov. Mike Pence passed in Indiana. HRC's new campaign comes after a study conducted by the organization yielded results stating that a majority of Hoosiers believe Pence’s bill is damaging Indiana’s economy. JoDee Winterhof, HRC's vice president for policy and political affairs, warned of the repercussions states could endure if they follow Pence’s example.

Said Winterhof:

"Gov. Mike Pence found that experimenting with anti-LGBT bills that allow businesses to discriminate killed his approval ratings and damaged the Hoosier economy. Governors who go down the same path as Mike Pence and put their state economy at risk in an attempt to further discrimination are going to find themselves at risk of being rejected by the voters."

The results of HRC's study reflects Winterhof's warning as a majority of voters (70% to 24%) believe that businesses should not discriminate against people based on sexual orientation or identity. Surprisingly a majority of Republican voters (58% to 36%) concur. Pence’s approval ratings have since plummeted, allowing for a potential Democratic challenger to make gains in the state. HRC's media campaign officially began today on social media in Alabama, Indiana, Louisiana, Florida, New Hampshire, Michigan, Missouri, North Dakota, North Carolina, South Carolina, Ohio and Texas. Although Pence attempted to clarify that official language in the new law would prevent LGBT discrimination, HRC isn’t buying it, noting that the state’s laws are still devoid of any clear LGBT anti-discrimination laws that would grant full protections to LGBT people in the state.

Florida Senate Committee Tables Anti-Gay 'Religious Freedom' Adoption Bill

A bill that would allow private agencies to deny adoptions by gay couples on religious or moral grounds has been put on hold, the Miami Herald reports:

FloridaThe bill was temporarily postponed and may be brought up again by the same committee, said state Rep. David Richardson, Florida’s first openly gay lawmaker.

“However, this committee does not have any more meetings scheduled this Legislative session. It would have to be a special order of the Senate president to convene the committee and continue hearing the bill,” said Richardson, D-Miami Beach.

Committee Chairman David Simmons, R-Altamonte Springs, said he would work with Senate President Andy Gardiner, R-Orlando, to determine how to proceed.

The bill had been passed by the House in early April.

Said Equality Florida's Nadine Smith: “With the clock running out, it is very likely the end of the line for this bad bill. The bottom line is the bill is unconstitutional. It would have allowed state-funded discrimination and in doing so threatened hundreds of millions of federal dollars for foster care and adoption. It was written in way to allow a broad range of discrimination at taxpayer expense.”

Florida Legislature Votes to Strike Language Banning Gay Adoption from State Laws: VIDEO


The Florida Senate voted today to strike language banning gay adoption from its laws in an acknowledgement of the court ruling five years ago declaring the state's gay adoption ban unconstitutional, Equality Florida reports, via press release:

In a bipartisan vote, the Florida Senate on Tuesday gave final approval to a bill designed to help more foster children find permanent homes. The bill also removes an outdated and unconstitutional ban on gays and lesbians adopting children.

Former Senate President Don Gaetz, R-Destin, spoke eloquently in urging his colleagues not to be swayed by objections that the measure might go against the religious principles of some private, taxpayer-supported adoption agencies.

Gaetz, a Lutheran, noted that his denomination placed 183 children in adoptive homes last year and did not discriminate against gay or lesbian parents. That’s “more than three times as many” as the Baptist and Catholic agencies that say they do not want to place children in gay or lesbian homes, he said.

“So I ask you today to follow the law. Follow the law that says we don’t discriminate. Follow the law that says we’re going to give these (children waiting for adoption) the best chance we can.”

 Watch Gaetz's speech arguing for removal of anti-gay adoption language, AFTER THE JUMP...

The Florida House voted to strike the language in March. The bill now goes to Florida Governor Rick Scott.

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Florida Teen Arrested For Hacking School Computer To Play Gay Prank On Teacher: VIDEO


An eighth grade student in Florida has been charged with a felony after changing the background image on a teacher’s computer to one showing two men kissing, reports the Tampa Bay Times.

The Pasco County Sheriff's Office has charged Paul R. Smith Middle School student Domanik Green with an offense against a computer system and unauthorized access.

SheriffAccording to Sheriff Chris Nocco (right), one of the computers Green accessed had encrypted 2014 FCAT questions stored on it. The 14-year-old did not access those files, but Nocco warned ominously although this was “just a teenage prank, who knows what this teenager might have done.”

However, Green - who had previously received a three-day suspension for accessing the system inappropriately - said that students would often log into the administrative account to screen-share with their friends. He explained that many students were able to access administrator accounts because the password is a teacher's last name.

Spokeswoman Linda Cobbe said the school district is now in the process of changing the network password.

Green received a 10-day suspension from school and will likely be granted pretrial intervention by a judge.

Watch a report, AFTER THE JUMP...

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