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Indiana Conservatives Poised To Introduce License to Discriminate Bill

SchneiderEver since the U.S. Supreme Court decided to let stand a federal judge’s decision striking down Indiana’s same sex marriage ban, social conservatives in the state have rallied together in favor of legislation that would protect their “religious liberties.” Republican state Senator Scott Schneider (right) has become one of Indiana’s most vocal proponents of a new bill that would effectively empower small, privately-owned businesses to discriminate against LGBT patrons on religious grounds.

"The focus has been on same-sex marriage because that's the hot topic right now, but it goes far beyond that," he said of his vision of a future ‘religious liberty framework.’ "It's important to have some religious freedom and protection."

Though Indiana’s legislative session does not re-commence until January 6th, conservatives are already in the process of working out some of the finer detailed of the so called ‘freedom of conscience’ bill. Modeled after president Bill Clinton’s federal Religious Freedom Restoration Act, the bill would also severely limit queer couples’ ability to adopt children. Those against the bill, like State Rep. Ed DeLaney, worry that the bill could cause more harm than good if passed.

"We are not being prevented from exercising our faith, nor are we being forced to do something we don't want to do," he lamented. "It's kind of sad, really."

[via The Courier Journal]


15 Years After Landmark Ruling In Favor Of Gay Straight Alliances, School Districts Continue To Deny Them

NPhighschool

Fifteen years after a landmark federal court ruling upholding the right of students to form Gay Straight Alliance clubs at public schools, some districts continue to violate the law by refusing to recognize GSAs.  

The American Civil Liberties Union filed a federal lawsuit Tuesday against a school district in Bainbridge, Indiana — 35 miles west of Indianapolis — on behalf of three students and the GSA at North Putnam High School. 

ACLU

The students formed the GSA at North Putnam more than a year ago, but after months of stalling, the school board voted Nov. 20 not to recognize the club. 

The ACLU alleges the district's failure to recognize the GSA violates both the federal Equal Access Act and the students' First Amendment rights: 

LGBT students at the school have frequently been harassed and wanted to form the GSA to provide a place to educate the community and support vulnerable students. The school, which allows other non-school-sponsored clubs and activities to meet, such as the Fellowship of Christian Athletes, Key Club and Best Buddies, has denied recognition of the GSA club for more than a year. The students followed all the school's required procedures outlined in its student handbook to establish the club, including securing a faculty member to supervise the group. ... 

"The law is clear in this matter," said Ken Falk, ACLU of Indiana legal director. "There is no excuse for the school district's intransigence, which is causing real harm to its students."

The ACLU of Indiana was successful in reversing a similar decision by a school in the Town of Munster in July, 2014.

"The actions of the school district in clear violation of federal law leave the most vulnerable students at North Putnam without critically needed support," Chase Strangio, Staff Attorney at the ACLU added.

In November 1999, a federal judge ruled that the Salt Lake City school district's decision to reject a GSA at East High School violated the federal Equal Access Act. The Salt Lake district said it was banning all non-curricular clubs to get around the Equal Access Act, but continued to allow other clubs to meet. 

From Lambda Legal, which served as lead counsel in the Salt Lake City lawsuit: 

This case more than any other put the issue of GSAs on the nation's radar, letting students know they could fight back and letting school districts know they might be in violation of the law.

Apparently, some districts still haven't gotten the message. 

Read the ACLU's lawsuit, and watch U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan's video in support of GSAs from 2012, AFTER THE JUMP ... 

Continue reading "15 Years After Landmark Ruling In Favor Of Gay Straight Alliances, School Districts Continue To Deny Them" »


Indiana Methodist Church To Close After Firing Gay Choral Director - VIDEO

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A church in Indiana is to close at the end of the year following a mass walkout by members prompted by gay choir director Adam Fraley being forced to resign, reports LGBTQ Nation.

Back in January, First United Methodist Church in Alexander lost 80 percent of its congregation after Pastor David Mantor declined to rehire Fraley who had been in the position for six years.

Dr. David Steele, a member of the church for nearly 60 years, was also fired from his leadership position after he advocated on behalf of Fraley.

However, Mantor believes that the closure is due to a “downward spiral” of membership and donations across the whole United Methodist church for the past 30 years.

Watch an interview with Fraley and Steele, AFTER THE JUMP...

The United Methodist Church states that gay men and women are welcome but that they are forbidden from being "certified as candidates, ordained as ministers, or appointed to serve in The United Methodist Church". UMC also believes the practice of homosexuality is "incompatible with Christian teaching" and states that ceremonies that "celebrate homosexual unions" shall not be allowed in churches. 

In October, the Judicial Council of the United Methodist Church upheld an appeals panel ruling reinstating pastor Frank Schaefer, who was defrocked for officiating at his son's wedding to another man in 2007. 

Continue reading "Indiana Methodist Church To Close After Firing Gay Choral Director - VIDEO" »


Indiana Anti-Gay Church Pastor Accused of Grabbing Man's Genitals, Soliciting Oral Sex: VIDEO

Pastor

Gaylard Williams, the pastor at the Praise Cathedral Church of God in Seymour, Indiana, has been accused of making sexual advances on a man and been charged with battery, reports WLKY.com.

Williams (59) appeared at the Jackson County Superior Court on Tuesday.

According to court documents, the pastor approached a 27-year-old man at his vehicle parked at a lake, grabbed and squeezed his genitals and requested that he perform oral sex.

Williams allegedly left the scene after the victim acted like he was reaching for a gun. Police later found gay pornography in the pastor’s car.

According to 'Church of God' beliefs, homosexuality is a sin, also, "We will engage in those activities which glorify God in our body and which avoid the fulfillment of the lust of the flesh." And of course, marriage is between a man and a woman.

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

Continue reading "Indiana Anti-Gay Church Pastor Accused of Grabbing Man's Genitals, Soliciting Oral Sex: VIDEO" »


Study Finds Straight People - And Even Many Gays - Are Still Alarmingly Uncomfortable With Same-Sex PDA

Becker.John

Some gay activists have long espoused a theory that the so-called "ick factor" — straight people's aversion to the idea of same-sex intimacy, especially involving men — is a fundamental obstacle to full equality. It helps explain the strategy behind historical gay kiss-in protests — or, more recently, same-sex couples posting photos of themselves kissing (above) on the Facebook page of anti-gay reality stars Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar.

But now a scientific study gives credence to the "ick factor" theory and, in doing so, could even help chart a course for the LGBT movement post-marriage equality.

The study, authored by Indiana University researcher Logan Doan and published in The American Sociological Review, surveyed more than 1,000 people and found that while 70 percent of heterosexuals support things like inheritance rights for same-sex couples, only 55 percent approve of gay men kissing on the cheek in public, according to Al Jazeera America. That's compared to 95 percent who approve of straight couples kissing on the cheek in public.

What's more, over 20 percent of heterosexual respondents said they disapprove of gay men talking about their relationships.

Even gay male respondents were less approving of gay PDAs than straight PDAs — perhaps, Doan says, due to internalized stigma and an inherent fear of hate crimes. And not surprisingly, heterosexual respondents were far more approving of lesbian PDAs, at a rate of 72 percent.

But approval of gay male PDAs was similar to support for same-sex marriage (53 percent), which many Americans view as a social construct separate from equal legal rights. And while marriage equality can be achieved in the courts, it seems a significant percentage of straight Americans still won't approve of same-sex relationships on a moral level.

From Al Jazeera America:

“We had civil rights laws long before we had positive attitudes toward ethnic minorities,” Doan said, adding that Americans support rights because they see themselves as egalitarian, regardless of their personal views on homosexuality.

“The more informal, subtle types of prejudice linger much longer, because that actually requires people to change their views,” he said. ...

The survey may offer clues to gay rights activists on the direction of the movement going forward, Doan said. “It would be great to take a more comprehensive approach.”

“There’s this informal type of prejudice that has primarily been neglected. There’s a push for more positive portrayals in the media, but the bulk of what people think of when they think of the gay rights movement is marriage,” he said.

Of course, we all know marriage equality isn't going to stop gay youth from being rejected by their families, or LGBT people from being fired by their employers — much of which correllates to the "ick factor."

But the solution isn't just more same-sex PDAs or gay sex on TV. It's for gay people to be not only out, but also open about their relationships.

Before we can do that, though — as the study's finding of lower approval for same-sex PDAs among gays would suggest — we'll first need to fully accept ourselves.


Eric Holder Announces Federal Government Will Recognize Gay Marriage in Seven New States: VIDEO

Holder

Responding to the Supreme Court's marriage decision last week, Attorney General Eric Holder announced today that the federal government will begin recognizing same-sex marriages taking place in Indiana, Oklahoma, Utah, Virginia, Wisconsin, Nevada, and Idaho - with additional states likely to follow.

Said Holder:

“I am pleased to announce that the federal government will recognize the same-sex marriages now taking place in the affected states, and I have directed lawyers here at the Department of Justice to work with our colleagues at agencies across the Administration to ensure that all applicable federal benefits are extended to those couples as soon as possible.  We will not delay in fulfilling our responsibility to afford every eligible couple, whether same-sex or opposite-sex, the full rights and responsibilities to which they are entitled.

He continued:

The steady progress toward LGBT equality we’ve seen – and celebrated – is important and historic.  But there remain too many places in this country where men and women cannot visit their partners in the hospital, or be recognized as the rightful parents of their own adopted children; where people can be discriminated against just because they are gay.  Challenges to marriage restrictions are still being actively litigated in courts across the country.  And while federal appeals courts have so far been unanimous in finding that bans on same-sex marriage are unconstitutional, if a disagreement does arise, the Supreme Court may address the question head-on.  If that happens, the Justice Department is prepared to file a brief consistent with its past support for marriage equality. 

Watch Holder's full remarks HERE.

In addition to the seven states above, marriage equality has also come to West Virginia, North Carolina, and Arizona (announced earlier today).

Gay marriage began in Alaska but has since been put on hold while the state appeals a pro-equality ruling to the Supreme Court (expect marriages to resume later today)

A federal court ruling in the challenge to Wyoming's gay marriage ban is expected Monday, with Governor Matt Mead saying the state will respect whatever decision is made.


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