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Illinois Lawmakers Introduce Bill to Ban Harmful Gay 'Conversion Therapy' for Minors

LGBT advocates in Illinois today announced plans to launch an initiative intended to facilitate passage of a bill introduced on Friday in the General Assembly which would ban gay "conversion therapy" for minors, Equality Illinois reports:

CassidyState Rep. Kelly Cassidy (pictured) of Chicago introduced the bill on Friday. House Bill 217, the Conversion Therapy Prohibition Act, would make it illegal for mental health care providers to engage in sexual orientation change efforts with anyone under the age of 18. A Senate version will be introduced soon, sponsored by Sen. Daniel Biss of Evanston.

“Illinois should be at the forefront of banning this failed and discredited non-therapy that attempts to change the unchangeable, our innate sexual orientation and gender identity,” said Bernard Cherkasov, CEO of Equality Illinois, the state’s oldest and largest civil rights organization advocating for LGBT Illinoisans.

“It is tragic,” said Rep. Cassidy, “that LGBT youth suffer at the hands of so-called experts whose therapies have been refuted by every legitimate medical and mental health organization. That is why my bill would label the therapy as ‘unprofessional conduct’ and subject the perpetrator to disciplinary action.”

Bans on so-called "conversion therapy" have been passed in D.C., New Jersey, and California. An effort to pass one in New York state failed last June after GOP leaders blocked the bill from coming to the floor for a vote.


Illinois Governor-Elect Bruce Rauner Appoints Anti-Gay Pastor James Meeks To State Education Board

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Anti-gay Illinois Republican Governor-elect Bruce Rauner has appointed religious leader and homophobic former Democratic senator James Meeks (right) to head of the state Board of Education, reports the Chicago Tribune.

MeeksMeeks, pastor of Salem Baptist Church in Chicago, endorsed Rauner for governor and backs the increased use of charter schools and vouchers as alternatives to traditional public education.

While Rauner has claimed that he had no social agenda, Meeks has been an active opponent of same-sex marriage in Illinois.

Last year, Equality Illinois, along with associated community members and elected officials, unveiled a giant banner Rauner, showcasing a 2013 statement that he would have vetoed the state’s new marriage equality bill had it come to his desk as governor.

In 2008, it was revealed that Barack Obama often sought out Meeks for "spiritual counsel."


Illinois Obamacare Ad Features Married Gay Couple: VIDEO

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An ad for GetCoveredIllinois.gov features a married gay couple, Jake and Allen, talking about the benefits of signing up for affordable coverage.

Watch the 30-second spot where the duo explains how they got covered and its benefits for both of them as a married couple, AFTER THE JUMP...

[h/t joe.my.god]

Continue reading "Illinois Obamacare Ad Features Married Gay Couple: VIDEO" »


Mika Brzezinski Loses It On Air After Learning What A 'Furry Convention' Is: VIDEO

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MSNBC host Mika Brzezinski struggled to get through her on-air coverage on the Chlorine gas leak that hospitalized 19 "furries" who attended the annual Midwest FurFest Convention, after learning what furries are from her co-hosts. The host was left quite speechless after seeing one of the participants dressed in a tiger suit and wearing what appears to be a wedding dress outside of the building that was evacuated. The furry subculture involves interests in furry, anthropomorphic animal characters with human personalities and characteristics; some of its members include people from the LGBT community as well. Watch Brzezinski's incredulous reaction to the subculture and their "fursuits," AFTER THE JUMP...

In more serious news, Rosemont Police said the release of the chemical was intentional. Most of the 19 that were hospitalized complained of dizziness, nausea and breathing problems, but it's believed no serious injuries occurred. Eighteen of those hospitalized have already been released from care. Rosemont Police have yet to find a suspect involved with the chemical leak.

Continue reading "Mika Brzezinski Loses It On Air After Learning What A 'Furry Convention' Is: VIDEO" »


Gay Music Director Files Discrimination Complaint Against Illinois Catholic Church - VIDEO

Colin Collette

Colin Collette, a music director who served at the Holy Family Catholic Community church in Inverness, Illinois for 17 years, has filed a federal discrimination complaint after he was fired by pastor Terry Keehan in July for posting photos on Facebook of his proposal to his partner Will Nifong, reports the Chicago Tribune.

At the time, Keehan told Collette that his relationship violated the tenets of the Roman Catholic Church.

6a00d8341c730253ef01a73df9750e970d-800wiIn August, hundreds of people attended a meeting at which most people voiced support for Collette and a church cantor announced his resignation because of his dismissal.

Collette filed the complaint against Keehan and the parish's manager on Thursday alleging discrimination on the basis of sex, sexual orientation and marital status.

At a press conference, Collette said:

"It is with deep regret that I have had to pursue this course of action. I have chosen to enter into a marriage, as is my right under Illinois law, and perhaps I can open the door to other men and women who the church has chosen to exclude from the community."

In a written statement, Susan Burritt, a spokeswoman for the Archdiocese of Chicago, said:

"The Archdiocese of Chicago has not seen the complaints that Mr. Collette has filed with the civil authorities and so we are unable to comment on them. We will respond to the complaints in the forums in which they are filed at the appropriate time."

A successful claim of discrimination will likely turn on the "ministerial exception" to anti-discrimination law. In 2012, the Supreme Court issued a ruling that religious institutions have broad latitude in hiring and firing people whose jobs include religious roles.

Collette's lawyer, Kerry Lavelle said her client has reached out to Chicago's new archbishop Blase Cupich but has received no response:

"The archbishop will not take his calls. [Collette] wants his job back. That's what this is about."

Same-sex marriage became legal in Illinois on June 1.

Check out a Chicago NBC 5 report on Collette's September meeting with Cardinal Francis George, AFTER THE JUMP...

 

Continue reading "Gay Music Director Files Discrimination Complaint Against Illinois Catholic Church - VIDEO" »


Ohio Gay Teen Crowned Homecoming Queen

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A high school in Lakewood, Ohio, has crowned a gay male student as homecoming queen, reports Cleveland.com.

Last September, a transgender student in Huntington Beach, California, was crowned homecoming queen. In August 2013, two out gay students in Illinois were named homecoming king and queen.

Instead of naming a traditional king and queen, Lakewood High School decided to crown three people after Cooper Robar won the race for homecoming queen. Also named as members of “royalty” were Tess Jones, who received the most votes among girls, and Xavier Pedro, who was elected king.

Cooper’s mother Wendy explained that what started out as a joke turned into a statement on behalf of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community:

"It was him being a goofball and saying wouldn't it be fun if he could be queen. I was pretty shocked [that we won]. I was surprised by the roaring of applause and the yelling for Cooper….We are very proud of him being able to stand up for himself and tell the world he is who he is and have no misgivings about it.”

She added that although Cooper is popular at school, she was surprised he didn't encounter any serious backlash from critics.

Lakewood Principal Keith Ahearn said there was nothing in the rules preventing a boy from running as queen and deciding to name three members of royalty was the fairest way to handle the situation.


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