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Gay Organizations Issue Last Minute Call for Arkansas Governor to Veto Bill Banning LGBT Non-Discrimination Ordinances

Arkansas

A bill seeking to prohibit cities and municipalities in Arkansas from enacting LGBT non-discrimination ordinances is expected to go into effect tomorrow after Governor Asa Hutchinson said Friday he plans on letting the bill become law without his signature.

National organizations are now finally calling on Gov. Hutchinson to veto what they call an "unconstitutional" law meant to single out LGBT people for discrimination, but it may be too little too late. 

The following statement is a portion of the response from the American Civil Liberties Union, ACLU of Arkansas, Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders, Lambda Legal, and National Center for Lesbian Rights:

HutchinsonSB 202 was passed to thwart cities like Little Rock and Eureka Springs that recently have enacted sexual orientation and gender identity nondiscrimination protections, and like Fayetteville, which tried to do so. So if Governor Hutchinson allows this bill to take effect, it will amount to a giant, flashing "Gays Stay Away" sign. It will block sincere local efforts to show that Arkansas communities are welcoming places beckoning talent, innovation and workforce diversity. It will do precisely what Arizona's Governor Brewer decided to avoid last year when she vetoed that state's "discrimination as religion" bill. [...]

SB 202 is misleadingly called the "Intrastate 30 Commerce Improvement Act." But make no mistake -- this bill is not about alleviating drags on commerce within Arkansas, and no one truly thinks it is. A bill with that goal might, for example, reduce the variation in municipal tax rates and other local rules that actually can bedevil businesses. But it's not burdensome for businesses to treat gay and transgender people fairly. In fact, dozens of research studies have found again and again that ending discrimination, and supporting diversity, is good for business.

So the real purpose isn't helping businesses, it's targeting LGBT people. This is obvious from the sponsors' consistent and constant claims that this is needed because of an ordinance in Fayetteville that provided protections for LGBT people. And as in Arizona last year, the speed of the bill has meant the critiques are now coming in a wave after the legislature whizzed the bill through.

This eleventh hour effort by Gay Inc. hasn't gone unnoticed by activists, however. In a column Friday on HuffPost, Michelangelo Signorile blasted gay leaders for not speaking out louder, sooner and warned the bill could become a template for future anti-gay efforts across the nation:

The passage of a draconian, stealthily worded anti-gay bill set to become law in Arkansas, with little resistance from the national business community, and muted response from even national LGBT leaders and figures such as Bill and Hillary Clinton, raises two very important questions: 1) Have gay leaders become so cocky, so deluded by victories that they don't see the backlash organizing right in front of them (or do they see it, but have some foolish, toothless plan to battle it that is equally fed by their delusions)?; 2) Has the anti-gay right found its gay "version" of "partial birth abortion," or is it at least coming close to it as it tries out various strategies through trial and error?

He also lit into HRC and Arkansas-based corporations for remaining silent on the bill:

Screen Shot 2015-02-22 at 3.40.38 PMNo matter if you lose, you must always show the opposition you will put up a nasty fight. Instead, HRC's Sainz and its President Chad Griffin, who hails from Arkansas and has thought nothing of rushing back for a photo op when local activists have had wins in the past, have said absolutely nothing about it. Nor have they clearly put the pressure on business leaders like Walmart, headquartered in Arkansas, and which likes its 90% HRC Corporate Equality Index score, to speak out. And we haven't seen any comment from Bill Clinton, for whom Griffin used to work in the White House, or Hillary Clinton, for whom Griffin will raise millions of dollars in a presumed presidential race, as he did for Obama.

On Friday, we reported on an open letter written by Donald Collins, the gay brother of Arkansas Rep. Charlie Collins, who voted to approve the bill, scolding his brother for supporting discrimination. The letter was posted on VetoSB202, a 'take action' site which appeared over the weekend which provides phone numbers and contact information to Hutchinson's office.

In 2011, Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam signed a similar bill into law


HRC and DOMA Lawyer Roberta Kaplan Launch 'The People's Brief' - VIDEO

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As the Supreme Court's consideration of same-sex marriage draws closer, the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) and über gay rights litigator Roberta Kaplan (who argued against DOMA on behalf of plaintiff Edie Windsor) have launched a new campaign that will allow individuals across the nation to join in on an amicus brief that will let their voices be heard by the Court. The brief, the first of its kind, has been dubbed, "The People's Brief": 

As the nine Justices prepare to hear oral arguments in four critical marriage equality cases this spring, The People’s Brief marks the first time that tens of thousands of fair-minded Americans will have the opportunity to have their voices formally heard in a civil rights case of this magnitude. Americans who are LGBT or have LGBT friends, family members, and colleagues can review the content of the brief, and affix their name to a document that will be considered by the highest court in the land.

Said Kaplan of the brief, "Modern technology allows us and allows HRC to reach so many more people than have ever been reached before."

DOMA plaintiff Edie Windsor urged people to sign the brief:

I think it's important for the Supreme Court, for the justices, to see an incredible quantity of people. Americans are fair; they know about fairness. They like justice and if everybody is signing this thing I think the justices will read that as very important.

Watch a video of Kaplan and Windsor talking about The People's Brief and the fight for marriage equality, AFTER THE JUMP...

You can read The People's Brief HERE and sign it HERE.

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Anti-Gay Activist Scott Lively Considers Run For Congress in Massachusetts: VIDEO

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Vile homophobic activist Scott Lively, who has been accused of inciting anti-gay hatred in Uganda, is considering running for Congress in a challenge to Democratic Representative Richard Neal, reports Right Wing Watch.

Lively, who was profiled in last year’s Human Rights Campaign report The Export of Hate, made the announcement on BarbWire, the nasty website belonging to Peter LaBarbera, one of the more dangerous anti-gay activists in the U.S.

His run at congress appears to have come about following a “huge victory” in last year’s run for Massachusetts governor - Lively polled 19,000 votes, less than 1% of those cast.

Lively explains he is hoping to serve in Congress in order to fight the “homosexual agenda” and "anti-Russian propaganda" that is "robbing social conservatives of their most valuable potential alliance in the world today.”

He also makes clear that god is on the side of the bigots in their fight to implement the “goals of Biblical Christianity” around the world.

It is not clear how the news that Lively is to stand trial for crimes against humanity for his “work” spreading anti-gay hatred around the globe will affect his run for congress.

“There are a number of reasons why I would pursue Congress rather than a state office, but one of them is my interest in foreign policy and concern about the disastrous actions of the Obama administration around the world.   

“I am especially concerned that the Neoconservatives (read Republican liberals) have aligned with the Obama administration re Russia and are jointly waging a campaign of anti-Russian propaganda designed to deceive conservatives into supporting a hot war with Russia.

“This is a not only very dangerous game geopolitically, it is robbing social conservatives of their most valuable potential alliance in the world today.  American and Russian conservatives could today be cooperating together to roll back liberalism around the world.  Instead, the cultural Marxists of both major US political parties are trying to drive a wedge between us with the absurd lie that Russia is trying to revive the Soviet Union.

“Neither Russia nor its president are without flaws, and it is as impossible to defend them against a campaign of relentless criticism as is anyone else but Jesus Christ.     

“But if  we ask the simple question ‘Which countries of the world and their current leadership align most closely to the goals of Biblical Christianity and of ideological conservatism?’ it’s a whole different ballgame.

“If we rank the current leaders and countries of the world by that standard Putin and Russia rank high on the list — certainly much higher than Obama and his version of America.  Indeed, is there any world leader speaking in defense of persecuted Christians in the Middle East like Putin has?  Is there any other ‘first world’ nation standing up against the homosexual agenda like Russia is doing?"

Watch Lively explain his bizarre theory on the different types of homosexuality, AFTER THE JUMP... (hint - you're a dysfunctional bully)

Continue reading "Anti-Gay Activist Scott Lively Considers Run For Congress in Massachusetts: VIDEO" »


Pro Bono Attorneys Handling Same-Sex Marriage Cases Slam Gay Inc. For Lack Of Financial Support

Nessel

A pro bono attorney who's challenging Michigan's same-sex marriage ban is publicly criticizing national LGBT organizations for failing to adequately support her efforts. 

Dana Nessel, co-counsel for Michigan marriage plaintiffs April DeBoer and Jayne Rowse (all three shown above), told Bloomberg Politics that attorneys from national LGBT organizations initially tried to dissuade her from filing the case because they said it didn't fit into their national strategy. When Nessel and her clients began to have success, she said organizations wanted to take over the case. After she refused, they denied requests for financial assistance, all the while using the case to raise money for themselves. 

From Bloomberg Politics

Nessel1An historic triumph for gay marriage may be within reach this spring on the biggest possible stage, but attorney Dana Nessel’s chief frustration at the moment is actually not anti-gay opponents. Rather, she’s taking aim at an unlikely target: the biggest, richest civil rights and gay rights organizations, all of which have left her team to beg and scrape for the estimated $1 million they need to litigate at the Supreme Court. “Nobody even wanted us to file this case, they all tried to stop us, and even now they’re not helping much,” she says tartly. “The great irony is, we’re the ones going to the Supreme Court.”

Private attorneys handling same-sex marriage cases in other states echoed some of Nessel's complaints, which are certainly nothing new to the movement. If you'll remember, national LGBT orgs didn't initially support the lawsuit challenging California's Prop 8, which was ultimately funded by the American Foundation For Equal Rights. 

However, one of the attorneys serving as Nesser's co-counsel in the Michigan case, Carole Stanyar (right), painted a slightly different picture in a statement to Daily Kos' Kerry Eleveld

Stanyar"While this article is mostly accurate in detailing our experience with the civil rights and gay organizations, it grossly understates the contributions of both GLAD and Lambda Legal. Mary Bonauto (GLAD) helped us the moment we asked her and has never stopped helping us. She is our co-counsel and deserves to be acknowledged. Throughout the case, Lambda has provided a great deal of assistance to us also. They helped us -- any time we asked -- to locate trial witnesses, to garner resources and research from around the country, and to help fund one of our expert witnesses (a $13,000 contribution). I was aware of a 'national strategy' to avoid the states in the Sixth Circuit, however, I don't recall either GLAD or Lambda ever discouraging us from filing or pursuing this lawsuit." 

According to Bloomberg, Lambda Legal was the only organization that responded to requests for comment about Nessel's complaints: 

TaylorLambda’s Marriage Project director Camilla Taylor (right) rejected the criticism, insisting: “We don't ever try to take over someone’s case. To my knowledge [the Michigan attorneys] are thrilled with all of the help we have provided, including financial resources.” She would not specify what those resources were and would not respond to questions about whether the group advised various plaintiffs not to file their suits. Attorney-client privilege extends to potential clients even if they don’t end up retaining the organization, Taylor said.

Certainly there are valid points on both sides of this debate, but as gay PR guru Bob Witeck (right) suggests in the Bloomberg piece, now's not the time for bickering: 

WiteckWhile national groups pressured Nessel to back off her critique for this report, unaffiliated activists say blaming her for speaking out is yet another illustration of the problem. “This is the case of our lifetime,” said Bob Witeck, a public-relations strategist who has worked with Human Rights Campaign and the National Lesbian and Gay Journalists Association, and advises American Airlines on their gay marketing outreach. “If others are raising large chunks of money and they’re not feeding and servicing the lawyers and the litigants in these cases, what are we giving it to? There can’t be weak links. We have to have our ‘A’ game going in. There can’t be any part of this defense that isn’t fully prepared.”

On that note, you can contribute to the Michigan marriage effort here

And watch the touching video of Nessel and her clients celebrating a federal judge's decision to strike down the state's marriage ban in 2014, AFTER THE JUMP ... 

Continue reading "Pro Bono Attorneys Handling Same-Sex Marriage Cases Slam Gay Inc. For Lack Of Financial Support" »


HRC Spurns 'Deeply Flawed' Mormon 'Deal' as Utah Gay Dems Celebrate It

The Human Rights Campaign today criticized a proposal from leaders at the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in which the Mormon church pledged support for Utah LGBT non-discrimination initiatives in exchange for religious exemptions, couching its proposal in "religious freedom" rhetoric.

LdsSaid HRC Legal Director Sarah Warbelow in a press release:

"Symbolically, seeing the church leaders advocating so openly for these protections will no doubt be deeply meaningful to Mormon families with LGBT members, and provide encouragement to LGBT youth in the church. But, as a matter of public policy, it appears deeply flawed....We share the church's commitment to freedom of religion. We embrace the principles of the First Amendment and believe churches do and should have the right to make determinations about who fills their pews. But non-discrimination protections only function when they are applied equally. It should be stated that there are countless LGBT Mormons, and Mormon allies, who support equality, not in spite of their faith but because of it. All Americans should have the right to be employed, receive housing and services in environments free of discrimination. We await the day the church embraces that fully, without any exceptions or exemptions."

Meanwhile, gay Utah Democrats were celebrating the 'deal'.

DabakisSaid state Senator Jim Dabakis in a statement:

"I am proud that the LDS Church has seen fit to lead the way in non-discrimination. As a religious institution, Mormons have had a long history of being the victims of discrimination and persecution. They understand more than most the value and strength of creating a civil society that judges people by the content of their character and their ability to do a job. Since serving as a Senator, and as the only LGBT member of the Utah legislature, I can say one of the joys of the job has been to meet and enjoy the company of LDS officials. I know that together, we can build a community that strongly protects religious organizations constitutional liberties and, in addition, creates a civil, respectful, nurturing culture where differences are honored and everyone feels welcome. Now, lets roll up our sleeves, get to work and pass a statewide Non-Discrimination Bill."

Equality Utah also saw the Mormon deal as a win.

Said Equality Utah Executive Director Troy Williams in a statement:

“We laud the LDS Church’s statement of support. The Church joins a growing number of faith, civic and corporate leaders who also stand on the side of compassion and fairness. We believe that gay and transgender Utahns can live and work beside people of faith. Many within the LGBT community are themselves people of faith. We look forward soon to the day when all Utahns have the opportunity to live and work freely in the state we call home.”

Watch the Mormon press conference from earlier today HERE.


UK Government Urged to Pardon the 49,000 Men and Women Who Were Persecuted Under Anti-gay Laws

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Spurred to action in response to the public's newfound awareness of gay World War II codebreaker Alan Turing, actors and activists are now calling on the British government to pardon the tens of thousands of other British citizens who were persecuted under draconian anti-gay laws of the past. 

In 2013, Queen Elizabeth II pardoned Turing, who committed suicide after being convicted of "gross indecency" for being gay.

Following a screening of The Imitation Game in London Wednesday, actor Stephen Fry said the pardon was only the start of what should be done to honor Turing. 

Via The Hollywood Reporter:

Fry

"Should Alan Turing have been pardoned just because he was a genius," Fry asked, "when somewhere between 50 to 70 thousand other men were imprisoned, chemically castrated, had their lives ruined or indeed committed suicide because of the laws under which Turing suffered? There is a general feeling that perhaps if he should be pardoned, then perhaps so should all of those men, whose names were ruined in their lifetime, but who still have families." He continued, "It was a nasty, malicious and horrific law and one that allowed so much blackmail and so much misery and so much distress. Turing stands as a figure symbolic to his own age in the way that Oscar Wilde was, who suffered under a more but similar one."

[Benedict] Cumberbatch, meanwhile, emailed THR from the set of the next Sherlock series to offer his full and enthusiastic agreement with Fry's idea. "Alan Turing was not only prosecuted, but quite arguably persuaded to end his own life early, by a society who called him a criminal for simply seeking out the love he deserved, as all human beings do. 60 years later, that same government claimed to ‘forgive’ him by pardoning him. I find this deplorable, because Turing’s actions did not warrant forgiveness — theirs did — and the 49,000 other prosecuted men deserve the same."

HRC president Chad Griffin ran an ad in Friday's New York Times on the campaign to pardon the other 49,000 persecuted gay men and women. You can check out the full ad, AFTER THE JUMP...

There's also a Change.org petition underway for the campaign HERE

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