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Maryland Teen Makes History as Openly Gay Eagle Scout

Pascaltessier

Pascal Tessier was blown away last night when he became one of, if not the first openly gay youths to receive his Eagle Scout ranking. The resolution allowing gay scouts, which passed last May, went into effect on January 1st, and many people believe that Tessier, a member of Troop 52 in Chevy Chase, MD, is the first to achieve the prestigious ranking while being completely open about his sexuality.

Becoming an Eagle Scout is no easy task, requiring twenty-one merit badges, a community service project, and a meeting with a board of review, and Tessier's road was even more difficult to traverse. The teenager spoke, and was open about being gay, to media last year while participating in a demonstration prior to the Boy Scouts of America's vote regarding gay members. The outcome was positive, but Tessier easily could have jeopardized his standing with the Scouts, who still will not allow openly gay adults to participate.

The Washington Post reports:

“It’s just really amazing, and it honestly hasn’t really sunk in yet,” said Tessier, a senior at Bethesda-Chevy Chase High School. “We didn’t know if it was going to happen at all.”

Both Zach Wahls, outspoken executive director of Scouts for Equality, and Eric Andresen, father of Ryan Andresen, who was denied his Eagle Scout rank due to his sexual orientation just last year, commented on Tessier's achievement.

“I don’t know of any other Scouts out there who have said, ‘I am gay and I defy BSA to kick me out’ — and Pascal has done that,” said Eric Andresen...

“The fact that Pascal is now able to get his award is directly because of what Ryan unfortunately went though,” Andresen said...

“We certainly think this is a day to celebrate,” Wahls said. “As we see more Pascal Tessiers coming up though the program, getting their Eagle Scouts, other scouting parents and other scouting leaders who might be a little more conservative will see there is nothing to be afraid of, that Pascal is a phenomenal young man and people like him make scouting better.”

Tessier and his mother, Tracie Felker, were overjoyed at the news, but hesitant about the limitations still placed on gay scouts. And for good reason: Tessier's older brother, Lucien, is also an openly gay scout.

Even as he celebrated Monday night, Tessier was well aware of how the partial policy change could affect him. He will turn 18 in August.

“It’s kind of a backhanded acceptance: We accept you for now,” he said. “It says to you you’re a monster of some sort.”

...

Felker said the problem with the Boy Scout’s new policy is that it suggests something changes in her children once they hit 18.

“What no one really wants to talk about is the suggestion that gay adults are child abusers, and that is infuriating,” she said.

“It’s impossible to believe that the creme de la creme of the Scouts, just because they turn 18, are no longer suitable to participate in the programs,” Felker said.

For now, though, Tessier sets an amazing example of what openness and honesty can achieve. A formal ceremony will be held for him and other Eagle Scout honorees in June. Congratulations, Pascal! 


Maryland Will Recognize Same-Sex Marriages Performed in Utah

Maryland's Attorney General Douglas Gansler says the state will recognize same-sex marriages performed in Utah before the Supreme Court stay on a lower court ruling striking down the state's ban, the WaPo reports:

GanslerThe Human Rights Campaign has been seeking assurances that the marriages in Utah would be recognized in states such as Maryland, where gay nuptials are allowed.

“If any of them were to move to Maryland, we would recognize those marriages as being valid,” Gansler said in an interview Friday afternoon.

In a letter to Chad Griffin, president of the Human Rights Campaign, Gansler, who is running for governor, said “we are witnessing a historic change in how the American people regard same-sex marriage.”

“Maryland has been on the forefront of this change since 2010, when I issued my opinion concluding that same-sex marriages that are valid in the state in which they were performed would be recognized as valid here in Maryland,” Gansler wrote.

Gansler's announcement comes on the heels of Attorney General Eric Holder's announcement earlier today that the federal government would recognize the Utah marriages.


Maryland Lawmakers to Introduce Trans Rights Bill, 'Ex-Gay' Therapy Ban

Maryland lawmakers this week introduced bills to ban discrimination based on gender identity and expression and also harmful "ex-gay" therapy for minors, the Washington Blade reports:

MadalenoState Sen. Rich Madaleno (D-Montgomery County) will introduce the transgender rights bill in the state Senate. State Del. Luke Clippinger (D-Baltimore City) plans to bring forth the measure in the House of Delegates, even though the chamber passed a trans rights bill in 2011.

“We didn’t want to lose the opportunity to work with our House members,” said Equality Maryland Executive Director Carrie Evans.

The Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee last March by a 6-5 vote struck down a bill Madaleno and state Sen. Jamie Raskin (D-Montgomery County) introduced that would have banned anti-trans discrimination in housing, employment and public accommodation. State Sens. Norman Stone (D-Baltimore County), C. Anthony Muse (D-Prince George’s County) and James Brochin (D-Baltimore County) voted against the measure.

Both Senate President Thomas V. “Mike” Miller (D-Prince George’s and Calvert Counties) and House Speaker Michael Busch (D-Anne Arundel County) back the bill.


Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity Chapter Under Investigation for Rejecting Pledge Because He's Gay

Alpha Iota, the Morgan State University chapter of Kappa Alpha Psi, is under investigation at Morgan State University for rejecting Brian Stewart, who pledged the fraternity because his pastor and mentor from his youth was a member.

StewartStewart is gay, and that's the reason he was rejected he says, a fact he discovered when a friend showed him some anti-gay online banter between two frat brothers, the Baltimore Sun reports:

Brian Stewart said he dreamed of joining Morgan's chapter of the Kappa Alpha Psi fraternity and thought members would be impressed by his academic accomplishments — Stewart said he was a White House intern — but he was rejected the day after his interview.

He believes it is because of his sexual orientation, citing social-media messages using an anti-gay slur that someone sent him and told him were between fraternity members.

"I couldn't even be angry because I was so hurt," he said.

Added Stewart: "I didn't know I was going to have no control — that my interview meant nothing, my achievements meant nothing, because they had already made up their minds."

Neither Kappa Alpha Psi's national organization nor the local chapter would comment on the story. Stewart says he is no longer interested in pledging the fraternity but filed the complaint to raise awareness about the bigotry he experienced.


Maryland Lawmaker Who Blamed Gay Marriage for Drunk Boating Accident, Arrested Again for DUI

Conservative Maryland Delegate Don Dwyer, who in 2012 had a drunk boating accident which injured four children and earlier this year blamed the drunken accident on the fact that some of his GOP colleagues voted for marriage equality, has been arrested for DUI, CBS Baltimore reports:

Dwyer“The officer was immediately concerned for the safety of everyone on the road,” said Justin Mulcahy, Anne Arundel County Police spokesman. “It was driving erratically to say the least. It crossed over several lanes of traffic multiple times, onto the shoulder several times as well, even getting in front of vehicles.”

According to the official police report, during the traffic stop, the officers could smell a strong odor of alcohol, Dwyer’s speech was slow and slurred, and his eyes were glassy and red. Police say Dwyer was traveling 70 mph in a 55 mph zone Tuesday morning. His car registration was expired and suspended for emissions, according to the police report. Police say he failed three field sobriety tests and refused a breath test.

Watch a news report on Dwyer's arrest, AFTER THE JUMP...

Last January, Dwyer said that a separation from his wife and the fact that Dels. Tiffany Alston, Wade Kach and Bob Costa voted for same-sex marriage, an issue he spent years crusading against, drove him to drink which culminated in the boat crash which fractured the skull of a five-year-old girl:

“That betrayal really affected me,” he said. “I was physically ill. You pour your heart into an issue like that and it’s devastating.”

Continue reading "Maryland Lawmaker Who Blamed Gay Marriage for Drunk Boating Accident, Arrested Again for DUI" »


Ohio Must Recognize Gay Couple's Marriage, Federal Judge Rules: VIDEO

Ruling

John Arthur and Jim Obergefell, the gay Ohio couple who last Friday filed a federal suit challenging Ohio's ban on same-sex marriage, must be legally recognized as a married couple in the state of Ohio, according to federal judge Timothy Black. Arthur and Obergefell married on a tarmac in Baltimore after they chartered a plane to Maryland especially equipped with medical staff to attend to Arthur who is terminally ill and suffering from ALS, also known as Lou Gehrig's disease. Arthur, who as Judge Black put it, "is certain to die soon" wanted to be recognized as married in his home state when he dies. It appears he will get his wish. BuzzFeed reports:

"The end result here and now is that the local Ohio Registrar of death certificates is hereby ORDERED not to accept for recording a death certificate for John Arthur that does not record Mr. Arthur’s status at death as ‘married’ and James Obergefell as his ‘surviving spouse,’” Judge Timothy Black wrote in granting the couple a temporary restraining order Monday. The order is in effect until 5 p.m. Aug. 5, unless the court extends the order at a later date.

“By treating lawful same sex marriages differently than it treats lawful opposite sex marriages,” the judge concluded, Ohio’s 2004 constitutional amendment banning recognition of same-sex couples’ marriages and Ohio’s statute addressing the same issue “likely violate[s] the United States Constitution.”

In his decision, Black cited not only the recent landmark case, United States v. Windsor that effectively struck down DOMA, but also the 1996 Romer v. Evans case, both cases in which Justice Anthony Kennedy gave the majority opinion. Judge Black wrote,

“Although the law has long recognized that marriage and domestic relations are matters generally left to the states, the restrictions imposed on marriage by states, however, must nonetheless comply with the [U.S.] Constitution...The purpose served by treating same-sex married couples differently than opposite-sex married couples is the same improper purpose that failed in Windsor and in Romer: ‘to impose inequality’ and to make gay citizens unequal under the law.”

The suit, filed against Governor John Kasich and defended by Attorney General Mike DeWine, was nonetheless not defended by the vital statistics registrar for the city of Cincinnati, Dr. Camille Jones. In a filing presented to the court, Dr. Jones stated,

Plane“The City will not defend Ohio’s discriminatory ban on same-sex marriages,but the City’s vital statistics registrar is bound to follow Ohio law until that law is changed or overturned.”

Rob Nichols, spokesman for Governor Kasich, in response to the ruling told BuzzFeed: “We don’t comment on pending litigation other than to say the that the governor believes that marriage is between a man and a woman.”

Many have already begun to speculate on the implications of this ruling for Ohio and the nation at large.

Watch a video of a local news report from WKEF and WRGT, AFTER THE JUMP...

Continue reading "Ohio Must Recognize Gay Couple's Marriage, Federal Judge Rules: VIDEO" »


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