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White House Voices Concerns Over Indiana’s Discriminatory 'Religious Freedom' Law

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The White House voiced concerns today over the passage of Indiana’s religious freedom law that could potentially allow discrimination against LGBT people reports Metro Weekly. White House press secretary Josh Earnest told reporters that the Religious Freedom Restoration Act signed into law yesterday by Indiana Gov. Mike Pence raises legitimate concerns for companies considering doing business in the state and is a step backward for all Americans.

Said Earnest:

"I have seen that there are a number of private businesses and nonprofit organizations that have said that the signing of this law prompts them to reconsider doing business in the state of Indiana. All those business and some of those who are considering having conventions in Indiana have raised concerns about whether all of their employees can count on being treated fairly in Indiana. 

"I think that is a testament to the kind of reaction I think a lot of people all across the country had, which is that the signing of the bill doesn’t seem like it’s a step in the direction of equality and justice and liberty for all Americans. Again, that’s not just the view of the administration, I know that’s the view of the Republican mayor of Indianapolis and a whole host of nonprofit and private sector companies who have legitimate concerns about the impact of this legislation."

Earnest added that he hasn’t spoken to President Obama directly regarding Indiana’s new law, or the "Kill the gays," ballot initiative that California Attorney General Kamala Harris is currently fighting.


Texas School Bars Lesbian Student From Making Adorable 'Promposal' To Another Girl: VIDEO

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A lesbian teenager in Texas says her high school refused to allow her to make a "promposal" to another girl.

Promposals, apparently a tradition at Timber Creek High School in Keller, near Fort Worth, are dramatic, public invitations to prom between students. 

BoxCasey Akers (above), 16, planned to jump out of a box with flowers on it (right) holding cookies and a sign that said, "Out of all these cookies, you're my favorite one. Prom?" The name of the girl Akers planned to invite to the prom is Cookie. 

Akers said she got approval for the promposal from school administrators — until they found out she was inviting another girl. reports: 

"I gave them all the details before. They say it’s fine. They find out who I am asking, then say it’s not fine," Akers said.

Akers sent a direct message about what happened to a friend on Twitter. Akers' friend who tweeted a screenshot of the message — with Casey’s permission — and it didn’t take long for the hash-tag campaign #LetCaseyPromposal to take off. 

“People are tweeting me from all over the U.S.," Akers said. "I had someone tweet from Toronto, Canada. This is spreading like crazy, and all I want to do is get the word out.”

TextsIn the message to her friend, Akers said she was walking into lunch when administrators pulled her aside and said her promposal was not appropriate. When she asked why, they said, "You know why. It's just not appropriate." 

Akers still plans to attend the prom with Cookie. 

"This is spreading like crazy and all I want to do is get the word out," she told "I just want equality for everyone." 

The Keller Independent School District later issued a statement alleging that all promposals are prohibited, not just same-sex ones: 

"In response to recent social media posts regarding “promposals” at our high school campuses, Keller ISD does not grant permission for any student, regardless of gender, to conduct public prom invitations, or promposals, on campus during the school day. Any previous promposals that have occurred have done so without District approval. Promposals, and other similar public displays, may create a disruption to the academic setting, therefore they are not allowed for any student."

The district's statement may reflect a realization that under Title IX, administrators cannot discriminate based on sex. Therefore, the school could be in violation of federal law if they allowed straight promposals but not gay ones.

Watch's report, AFTER THE JUMP ...

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Federal Judge Blocks Gay Workers in Four States From Taking Unpaid Leave To Care For Sick Spouses


Republican Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton has been in office less than three months, but he's already making a name for himself as one of the nation's biggest anti-gay bigots. 

Last month, Paxton (above with Sen. Ted Cruz) sought to void the marriage of a 30-year lesbian couple, even though one of the women has ovarian cancer. And last week, he filed a lawsuit against the Obama administration over a new labor department rule extending benefits under the Family & Medical Leave Act to same-sex couples who live in states that don't recognize their marriages. 

On Thursday, Paxton — a "tea partier" who admitted to securities fraud last year — won a small, temporary victory in his ongoing war against LGBT people. 

U.S. District Judge Reed O’Connor, a President George W. Bush appointee, issued an order blocking the new FMLA rule from taking effect as scheduled on Friday in Texas and three other states that joined Paxton's lawsuit — Arkansas, Louisiana and Nebraska.  

“The Obama Administration’s attempt to force employers to recognize same-sex marriages would have put state agencies in the position of either violating Texas law or federal regulations,” Paxton said in a statement. “We are pleased that the Department of Labor’s effort to override our laws via federal rulemaking has been halted, and we will continue to defend our sovereignty in this case.”

Reed-OConnor_bigJudge O'Connor (right) presides over the Northern District of Texas in Wichita Falls, an extremely conservative area that has brought us, among others, the Rev. Robert Jeffress. In his 24-page decision, O'Connor wrote that if the new FMLA rule was allowed to take effect, "irreparable injury would occur." From the decision: 

“The Full Faith and Credit Statute affirms Congress’ intention to reserve the power to define marriage and accompanying rights and benefits to the states, and Windsor cabins Congress’ authority to aggrandize that power. Congress could not have delegated to the Department the power to define marriage in a way as to override the laws of states prohibiting same-sex marriages.”

The Human Rights Campaign issued this statement in response to O'Connor's ruling: 

“No legally married same-sex couple should be denied family leave simply because they happen to live in a state that fails to respect their marriage,” said HRC Legal Director Sarah Warbelow. “Because of Judge O’Connor’s decision, countless legally married same-sex couples in Texas are now unable to access to their federal FMLA benefits. With a pending Supreme Court decision on nationwide marriage equality this summer, we are confident that justice will ultimately prevail.”

In other words, if the U.S. Supreme Court issues a nationwide decision in favor of marriage equality in June, Paxton's lawsuit will quickly go away. 

Therefore, it's quite possible that the only thing Paxton has really accomplished, aside from pandering to the GOP base, is wasting taxpayer dollars on a frivolous lawsuit, which would seem contrary to the avowed principles of the tea party. Of course, Paxton has also ensured that he will go down in history as someone who sought to preserve the right of employers to legally fire gay people who want to take unpaid leave to care for ailing loved ones. Truly, this lawsuit is one of the more disgusting displays of anti-gay bigotry from any elected official in recent memory. 

View some of the responses Paxton has received on Twitter, AFTER THE JUMP ...

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'Bridegroom' Creator Shane Crone Brilliantly Responds To Anti-Gay Protesters At Texas Screening: VIDEO


A group of anti-gay protesters reportedly staged a prayer circle this week outside a screening of the film "Bridegroom" in East Texas. 

"Bridegroom," of course, is the award-winning documentary about Shane Bitney Crone and his partner of six years, Tom Bridegroom, who died in a tragic accident. Crone had no legal rights because they could not marry and was barred from attending the funeral by Bridegroom's family. He created a viral YouTube video, "It Could Happen To You," that was adapted into the movie, which premiered in 2013.  

BrideGroomOn Monday, the film screened at the University of Texas at Tyler in conservative East Texas. In a post on Instagram, Crone detailed the anti-gay protest outside:

While the film was playing, a prayer circle formed in the lobby. I watched as the small group congregated, quietly praying for the "Heavenly Father" to "help everyone inside that theatre to see the truth." Apparently a local Catholic group on Facebook had put out a call to action, urging "prayer warriors" to get down to the screening of the "controversial" film.

Crone said when he invited the protesters in for the post-film Q&A, they seemed shocked by his hospitality and apologized for the fact that he'd been discriminated against by other Christians: 

I appreciated their sympathy, however their sentiments came with a caveat: "But you have a choice to act on your impulses to sin."

And here's how Crone describes his response: 

I explained that while it's important to respect other people's views, I disagreed with the heart of their statement. "If all sins are equal, then it's hard for me to comprehend why an entire group of you would have an emergency prayer session outside of the screening of a film that tells a love story about two men. If you are willing to go to such great lengths to stop everything you're doing to try and 'save' everyone who came to the screening, shouldn't you be having these same kind of prayer circles around divorce attorneys' offices to 'save' people from acting on the sin of divorce?"

I can't understand why people go to such great lengths to shout from the rooftops that "Homosexuality is a sin and must be stopped!" when every single one of us is a "sinner" to some degree.

I am shocked by the amount of time, energy, and money people spend trying to deny LGBT people equal rights. Imagine if that same time, energy, and money were spent combatting world hunger or curing cancer; the world would be a healthier, happier place, I am sure.

Watch a report on the screening from KLTV, AFTER THE JUMP ...

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Texas Lawmakers Debate Whether To Take Alabama-Style Stand Against Gay Marriage: LIVE VIDEO


AUSTIN — Texas lawmakers are scheduled to debate a bill Wednesday that aims to bar county clerks from issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples — even if the U.S. Supreme Court strikes down state marriage bans as expected in June. 

The “Preservation of Sovereignty and Marriage Act," by GOP Rep. Cecil Bell, would remove authority over marriage licenses from elected county clerks and place it with the appointed secretary of state. It would also prohibit state or local funds from being used to license, register, certify or support same-sex marriage. 

The bill is set to be heard Wednesday by the House Committee on State Affairs. You can watch a live-stream of the hearing here, but it is not expected to begin until late Wednesday afternoon.

"Should this legislation pass, and then the Supreme Court rules in favor of the freedom to marry, Texans would have to foot the bill for millions of dollars of litigation," Equality Texas Executive Director Chuck Smith said during a press conference about the bill on Wednesday morning. 

Kathy Miller, president of the Texas Freedom Network, called the bill "a legislative temper tantrum" from those who refuse to accept that the U.S. Constitution guarantees equal protection for same-sex couples.  

"Passing the bill would put Texas on a collision course with both the United States Supreme Court and the harsh judgment of history, and in both cases Texas would fare very poorly," Miller said. 

The bill, which has 21 co-authors, is one of four anti-gay marriage bills introduced by Rep. Bell (shown above cutting cake at a rally in February to mark the 10th anniversary of the state's marriage amendment). If passed by a two-thirds majority, which is unlikely, it would take effect immediately. If passed by a simple majority, it would take effect Sept. 1, three months after the Supreme Court is expected to rule on the issue.

The bill is one of more than 20 anti-LGBT measures introduced in the Texas Legislature this year, the most in the history of any state. 

On Monday, Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore spoke during a rally at the Capitol and encouraged Texas lawmakers to follow his lead and defy federal court rulings in favor of marriage equality.

A federal district judge struck down Texas' marriage ban last year, but stayed his decision pending the state's appeal to the 5th U.S. Circuit, which heard oral arguments in January. The 5th Circuit has not yet ruled.   

Should you wish to contact members of the House Committee on State Affairs, their info is here

Austin Man Claims W Hotel Bouncer Called Him 'Fag' Before Assaulting Him During SXSW


An Austin man claims a W Hotel bar bouncer called him a "fag" before throwing him to the ground — breaking his arm, dislocating two bones in his hand and possibly causing nerve damage. 

Bobby Beltran, 31 said the incident happened Sunday, March 15, during South by Southwest. KVUE-TV reports: 

According to a police report, a hotel bouncer asked him and his friends to leave because they were too drunk. Beltran and the bouncer exchanged heated words, and that's when the hotel worker called him a gay slur.

"He was walking behind me and said, 'That's right, fag,' and continued to walk me out of the building," Beltran said. "I turned to him and said 'That's not right, you can't be doing that stuff.'"

Beltran said that's when the bouncer violently threw him to the ground. Once he was outside the hotel, Beltran said he realized how injured he was and that friends took him to the hospital.

Beltran's attorney planned to file a lawsuit against the W Austin Hotel on Wednesday.

The W Austin is situated near the city's largest gay clubs, and the chain is otherwise very LGBT-friendly. Parent company Starwood Hotels & Resorts received a perfect score of 100 on the Human Rights Campaign's most recent Corporate Equality Index. The W Austin provided this statement to KVUE: 

"Providing a safe environment is the essence of our business. The hotel contacted police the night of the incident and will cooperate with law enforcement in any investigation they undertake."

Watch KVUE's report, AFTER THE JUMP ...

Continue reading "Austin Man Claims W Hotel Bouncer Called Him 'Fag' Before Assaulting Him During SXSW" »


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