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Suspended Anti-Gay New Jersey Teacher Viki Knox Drops Reinstatement Bid: VIDEO

Viki knox

Viki Knox, a former high school teacher who was suspended for posting anti-gay comments on Facebook in 2011, has dropped her bid for reinstatement, reports CBS New York.

Knox’s comments referred to homosexuality as a “perverted spirit” that “breeds like cancer”.

Her attorney filed notice with the U.S. District Court in Newark on Tuesday.

Speaking to CBS 2 regarding the controversy in 2011, the former teacher’s husband Gene said:

“Everybody’s entitled to an opinion. They can persecute her, but they can’t prosecute her.”

However, Knox was suspended without pay following an investigation and resigned several months later, citing health problems.

In 2013 Knox sued the school district for religious and racial discrimination, free speech violations and denial of due process.

The lawsuit, which is continuing in federal court, seeks compensatory and punitive damages and back pay.

Watch the 2011 interview in which Gene Knox supports his wife, AFTER THE JUMP...

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Laramie, Wyoming Passes Comprehensive LGBT Non-Discrimination Ordinance: VIDEO

Wyoming

Laramie City Council, Wyoming has approved Laramie Order 1915 which will prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity in housing, employment and access to public facilities, the AP reports.

The council of the town where Matthew Shepard was murdered 17 years ago voted 7-2 in favor of the motion.

2d45feb61e914cc8ba60947c055bf952-Photo-1-324x450The Legislature had repeatedly rejected anti-discrimination bills, most recently early this year.

Jeran Artery, head of the group Wyoming Equality, said:

"What a day for Wyoming, and what a day for the city that became synonymous with Matthew Shepard's murder to now step up and do this right thing. And I would really encourage other communities across the state to follow Laramie's lead."

Matthew Shepard’s mother Judy, who is active in a Denver foundation focusing on equality issues, said she was thrilled “that Laramie's doing it, at the same time sort of saddened that the state of Wyoming can't see fit to do that as well. Maybe the rest of Wyoming will understand this is about fellow human beings and not something that's other than what they are."

Openly gay Rep. Cathy Connolly (D-Laramie) (above) said:

“Know that, in Albany County, five of six of your senators and representatives not only supported that measure, but actively, vigorously supported that measure, and we will continue to do so. My hope is from tonight that we will do so using the leadership of Laramie”

Two councilors voted against the ordinance. Both Joe Vitale and Bryan Schuster said they were concerned the ordinance caused concerns about religious freedom.

Rep. Kendell Kroeker (R-Evansville), who voted against the anti-discrimination bill this year, said “the Matt Shepard case was a tragedy, but I don't see how an anti-discrimination ordinance would have stopped somebody from committing that heinous crime."

Watch a report, AFTER THE JUMP...

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FDA Proposes End To Lifetime Ban On Blood Donations From Gay Men: READ

6a00d8341c730253ef01b8d0a85a76970c-250wiEarlier today, we told you about the upcoming report from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) that was expected to revise the stringent regulations banning gay men from donating blood in the U.S. That report was released by the FDA today and as expected, advocates for a roll back of the lifetime ban on blood donations from gay men. In the announcement, the Obama administration acknowledged that the current policy “is perceived by some as discriminatory.” 

The proposed new guidelines will still ban gay men from donating blood if they have had sex with another man in the past year.

The Hill reports:

Critics of the ban, which was enacted during the national AIDS epidemic in 1983 and last updated in 1992, say it ignores mounds of scientific evidence concluding that blood donations pose no risk than the greater public if properly screened.

The FDA said in its draft rules the ban has become less effective over time, admitting that “some individuals knowingly donate despite the deferral."

The agency will now collect public comments on the rule for 30 days. 

The American Medical Association quickly praised the move, releasing a statement that called it “a step in the right direction to end the lifetime ban that prohibits men who have had sex with men (MSM) from ever donating blood.”

Groups such as the American Red Cross and America’s Blood Centers have also voiced support of the policy change, calling the ban “medically and scientifically unwarranted.”

Read the new proposed blood donation guidelines, AFTER THE JUMP...

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FDA To Consider Removing Blood Donation Ban On Gay Men: VIDEO

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The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) is expected to submit guidance in the coming days that could relax a ban on blood donations from gay men, reports BuzzFeed.

The guidelines are also expected to clarify rules related to blood donations from transgender people.

According to sources, the draft will flesh out details of a proposal announced last December by officials for the Food and Drug Administration, a subdivision of the HHS.

At that time it was proposed that existing rules banning any blood donations from men who have had sex with another man since 1977 would be relaxed.

Tammy BaldwinNumerous medical organizations and advocacy groups are expected to examine the draft rules to determine whether the federal government sees them as a transitional step or a final solution.

In a November joint statement, the American Red Cross, the American Association of Blood Banks, and America’s Blood Centers said that the existing ban is unwarranted and expressed support for a one-year deferral for men who have had sex with men. The statement added that they back “rational, scientifically-based deferral periods that are applied fairly and consistently among blood donors who engage in similar risk activities.”

Senator Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) (right) has said that the guidance should be part of an evolving policy moving toward a risk-based system rather than a black-and-white policy that disqualifies donors based solely on their sexual orientation.

“I have long fought to end this discriminatory, lifetime ban on blood donations. I look forward to seeing the Administration’s plans to achieve this goal and one thing is for sure, I will continue to push the Administration to do the right thing by moving away from this outdated policy that is medically and scientifically unwarranted and toward our ultimate goal of risk-based policies that allow all healthy individuals to donate.”

However, critics say that although the proposal is a step forward, it effectively maintains the ban for the vast majority of gay and bisexual men, who have sex more than annually.

Watch a recent report on the issue, AFTER THE JUMP...

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Virginia's Largest School District Now Protects Trans Students and Employees From Discrimination

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Virginia's Fairfax County School Board passed an amendment on Thursday that protects transgender students, staff and faculty from discrimination reports BuzzFeed. Fairfax's decision upsets a trend set by two other school districts in Virginia that banned trans students from using single-sex facilities that match their gender identity.

Fairfax is the largest school system in Virginia with more than 186,000 students. School board member Ryan McElveen, a proponent behind the amendment, said the proposal is designed to bring a "new age of respect," for transgender individuals.

Said McElveen:

"Whenever we make a decision, it has bearing on state and national policy, and we are hoping this will bring a new age of respect and valuing of transgender and gender-nonconforming students and employees.

"We have never had a single complaint about a student's restroom use, sports team participation, or transgender staff raised to our level (on the school board), and I think that proves we have handled our cases successfully. Our policy is not changing our practices."

However, the passage of the amendment proved contentious when opponents and supporters of the amendment crowded the meeting room, with opponents attempting to frame the debate around whether the amendment would "let boys snoop in girls' restrooms." Debates between the two groups proved so acrimonious that security was called to mitigate the tension between them.


Five Legal Scholars' Ties to Dangerous Anti-Gay Activist Groups Exposed: VIDEO

Robin Fretwell Wilson

Media Matters has profiled five legal scholars who are defending religious-based "right to discriminate" laws in the U.S.

While media outlets have relied on these scholars to downplay fears that such laws could result in anti-LGBT discrimination, many of the profiled supposedly neutral experts harbor their own anti-LGBT agendas.

Helen AlvareThe six scholars profiled are Robin Fretwell Wilson (above), Mary Ann Glendon, Helen M. Alvaré (right), Robert P. George and Michael W. McConnell.

  • University of Illinois law professor Robin Fretwell Wilson has ties to anti-gay group Family Foundation of Virginia, the National Organization for Marriage (NOM), Family Research Council (FRC), Focus on the Family and the Alliance Defending Freedom.

  • A Harvard Law professor and former U.S. ambassador to the Vatican, Mary Ann Glendon signed a February 2014 letter defending the Arizona's expanded "religious freedom" law. She has called marriage equality a "radical social experiment", warned that "children will have to be taught about homosexual sex" and fear mongered about the threat posed by "alternative family forms."

  • George Mason University School of Law professor Helen M. Alvaré actively opposes same-sex marriage and has advocated for "ex-gay" conversion therapy. She signed the Arizona RFRA letter and testified in support of Kansas's 2013 RFRA. She has ties with Focus on the Family, the National Association for Research & Therapy of Homosexuality and pro-RFRA group Women Speak for Themselves.

  • A law professor at Princeton, Robert George has pledged to defy "man-made law" to follow "God's law" in the face of marriage equality. George signed pro-RFRA letters in Indiana and North Dakota, is a co-founder of NOM and serves on the board of FRC. He has argued that same-sex relationships have "no intelligible basis in them for the norms of monogamy, exclusivity, and the pledge of permanence” and has been described as the "reigning brain of the Christian right.”

  • Stanford University Law professor Michael W. McConnell was a potential Supreme Court nominee under George W. Bush. He signed both the Arizona and Indiana RFRA letters and has a history of portraying LGBT-rights activists as bullies who silence any "dissenters." He has argued that lawyers who oppose a same-sex marriage have been "bullied into silence” because "the level of sheer desire to crush dissent is pretty unprecedented.”

Watch Wilson discuss her views on same-sex marriage, AFTER THE JUMP...

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