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Ban On 'Gay Panic' Defense Passes California Assembly, Heads To Governor Jerry Brown

JerrybrownUnder California state law, murder charges can be reduced to manslaughter if it is shown that the act took place suddenly or in the heat of the moment. These events could be deemed "panic" killings, but as of now it is viable for killers to suggest that a person's gender or sexual identity triggered the "panic." If AB2501, which passed the California Assembly in a 50-10 vote on Wednesday, is approved by Governor Jerry Brown, the "gay panic" defense will no longer be allowed in courts. 

The Sacramento Bee reports:

AB2501 by Democratic Assemblywoman Susan Bonilla of Concord would bar defendants from using their victims' gender or sexual orientation to support a so-called panic defense.

Bonilla says such defenses legitimize violence against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people.

The American Bar Association urged governments to curtail the use of panic defenses. The gay rights group Equality California says California would have the first statewide prohibition.

Governor Brown has a good track record with LGBTQ issues; hopefully the Golden State is on its way to making history with this new legislation. 

Steve Carell To Play NJ Gay Rights Activist In 'Freeheld' Alongside Ellen Page, Julianne Moore

SteveCarellThe long-gestating narrative film adaptation of Freeheld, originally an Oscar-winning short documentary from Cynthia Wade, has added a new star to its cast according to Entertainment Weekly. Steve Carell has now replaced Zach Galifianakis in the role of Steven Goldstein, founder of Garden State Equality and an important ally to protagonist Laurel Hester who attempted to amend New Jersey's domestic partnership act to provide pension benefits for her partner. 

The film also stars Julianne Moore and Ellen Page, who was attached prior to her public coming out.

Freeheld does not yet have a release date.


Gay Bathhouses Across America Threatened By Lowered Attendance, Outdated Public Opinion

70sBathhouseOriginally conceived as important bastions of sanitation in urban centers, American bathhouses became meccas for gay hook-up culture and entertainment in the 1960s and 70s. At that time, nearly 200 bathhouses were open around the country; now only 70 remain, and owners are scrambling to alter their image and attract youthful crowds of a new generation.

ABC News reports:

"Bathhouses were like dirty bookstores and parks: a venue to meet people," said Sykes, who still owns the smaller North Hollywood Spa. "Today, you can go to the supermarket..."

Privately run, gay-owned bathhouses proliferated in the 1970s, offering a haven for gay and bisexual men to meet. Clubs like New York City's Continental bathhouse and Los Angeles' 8709 Club saw a steady stream of patrons...

Amid the AIDS epidemic in the early 1980s, bathhouses were vilified for enabling promiscuity and helping spread the disease, and many either closed voluntarily or by legal pressure. Those that remained were stigmatized, and now many younger gays see them as anachronisms.

BathIn an effort to regain appeal, many bathhouses offer cheap admission prices for the younger set and amenities beyond the standard towel. Ohio's Cleveland-based Flex Spa, for example, contains luxury hotel rooms and nightclub venues; as such, it has become a fixture of gay culture beyond its sexual and social connotation, serving as the location for the Gay Games and the city's gay pride parade.

[Flex Spas CEO Todd] Saporito said more progressive views on homosexuality aren't evenly spread across the country, underscoring the need for modern bathhouses in some areas. Still, he takes nothing for granted, regardless of the location.

"Bathhouses at some level will go extinct if you don't offer something more than a towel," Saporito said.

And there is community, safe sex, and companionship to be found as well.

"You're either hooking up online or you are here, or you go to bars in West Hollywood, get drunk and hook up," said [22-year-old Brett] Sparks, acknowledging that although the bathhouse crowd skews older, it's not as risky as going home with a stranger. "Here it's a safer environment — there's condoms and other protection."

Here's hoping that bathhouses overcome the stigma and become important communal fixtures once more.


Lithuanian Broadcasters Cite 'Family Values' Law in Refusal to Air Pro-LGBT Television Ad: VIDEO

Lithuania

An advertisement produced by LGBT rights organization LGL and featuring gay, lesbian, and allied couples will not be aired on Lithuanian television according to broadcasters. The ad depicts several couples living their day-to-day existence, seemingly happy; at the end, though, statistics paint a different picture of the LGBT experience in Lithuania. "61% LGBT persons in Lithuania feel discriminated against," it states, and still citizens are barred from viewing the video. The broadcasters, for their part, claim there is good reason behind the refusal to air LGL's ad.

Human Rights Campaign reports:

LithuaniaWhile the video itself does not contain anything provocative, commercial broadcasters fear that it may be in violation of the Law on the Protection of Minors Against the Detrimental Effect of Public Information. This law forbids information “which expresses contempt for family values, encourages the concept of entry into a marriage and creation of a family other than stipulated in the Constitution of the Republic of Lithuania and the Civil Code of the Republic of Lithuania.”

In an interview with Delfi, television representatives said the video raised some red flags because it spoke about various family models that differ from what is traditionally accepted. The video will now be reviewed by the Inspector of Journalist Ethics, though that could be a lengthy process.

The legislation in question sounds eerily similar to Russia's own anti-gay propaganda laws; we can only hope that the advertisement passes its review and that Lithuanians of all ages can see the positive message is represents. The likeliehood of approval is slim, however. Just last year an ad for Baltic Pride depicting a man whose shirt said, "For Family Diversity," was slapped with a mature rating and aired only after 11pm. 

Check out the sweet ad, AFTER THE JUMP...

Continue reading "Lithuanian Broadcasters Cite 'Family Values' Law in Refusal to Air Pro-LGBT Television Ad: VIDEO" »


Bryan Fischer's Latest Rant: 'God Will Use The Pagan Armies Of Allah To Discipline The U.S. For Our Debauchery' - WATCH

Bryanbeyonce

The American Family Association's reigning king of nonsense Bryan Fischer took to the airwaves with a new batch of offensive vitriol last week. Citing Sodom and Gommorah, "pagan armies," Israelites, and other Old Testament buzz words, Fischer worked to convince listeners that the United States would meet horrific ends at the hands of radical Islamic groups should our tolerance of "debauchery" continue. With the recent outburst of violence from ISIS, it seems that Fischer spotted a winning opportunity for religious and moral generalization.

Right Wing Watch reports:

Asserting that the people of Sodom and Gomorrah are "just like the Gay Gestapo is today" and that America is celebrating behavior that God calls an abomination while persecuting those who stand for God's values, Fischer warned that "God eventually is going to run out of patience with the United States."

And when that day comes, he said, God "will use pagan armies to discipline his people if they turn from him in rebellion and disobedience and descend into debauchery," pointing to the rise of ISIS to raise the possibility that "God will use the pagan armies of Allah to discipline the United States for our debauchery."

Watch as the hate spilleth over, AFTER THE JUMP...

Continue reading "Bryan Fischer's Latest Rant: 'God Will Use The Pagan Armies Of Allah To Discipline The U.S. For Our Debauchery' - WATCH" »


Student Fired From University Job Last Year After Coming Out Says Things Have Changed: 'Life Is Absolutely Fantastic'

StephenlovegroveLast year, Stephen Lovegrove was fired from his position as a resident assistant at Charleston Southern University after coming out. He had been inspired by Macklemore's performance of "Same Love" at the 2013 VMA's to spread a message of acceptance as someone both gay and Christian; when the school found out about a series of videos he had created about the subject, he was subject to immediate discrimination. 

One year later and Stephen's quality of life is on the mend. 

GLAAD reports:

Earlier this week, Stephen sent GLAAD a one-year update, noting how much his life has changed for the better after leaving Charleston Southern University. He writes:

One year later, I am happy to report that my life is in a very different place. I am at a new university that is truly diverse, and absolutely loving it. Actually, I’m the director of Safe Zones, a program we have to create a more inclusive school for LGBTQ students. I also host a YouTube talk show and have spoken with lots of different guests about issues of sexuality and spirituality. Best of all, I get to volunteer with Human Rights Campaign in a program with a youth center helping homeless LGBTQ youth in my city. And I’m in talks for a new independent reality show portraying characters who are young queer individuals grappling with love and spirituality in their college years.

Life is absolutely fantastic. :D I am still speaking out about employment discrimination and other issues faced by the queer community. My story always gets people attention and helps them understand all the work that still needs to be done. We are all in this movement together.

MTV also did a follow-up interview with Stephen about his life now, the initiatives he feels passionately about, and his initial inspiration, "Same Love."

That song helped me believe that I could love another human being, that my love was good and real and equal to every other human being.

Here's to a bright future!


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