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Chris Christie Launches PAC Following Speech to Conservatives in Iowa: VIDEO

Christie

New Jersey Governor Chris Christie has launched a Political Action Committee, an expected move as he prepares the way for a 2016 presidential campaign.

The AP reports:

Christie, who has been pitching himself to donors as a candidate who can expand the Republican Party's tent by appealing to minority, women and independent voters, also appears to be forging a populist message, adding that, "We must support candidates who share our vision, people who know that only through strong, bold leadership will we be able to take on these challenges and act on the promise of a better tomorrow for working and middle-class Americans."

TIME adds:

Former Republican National Committee Finance chairman Ray Washburne, who announced earlier this month he would step down to take a position with Christie, will hold the same role for the new group. Former Republican Governors Association executive director Phil Cox and longtime Christie strategist Mike DuHaime will serve as political advisers. Matt Mowers, the outgoing New Hampshire GOP executive director, and Phil Valenziano, a former aide to Iowa Governor Terry Branstad, will be the PAC’s on-the-ground presence in those two presidential early states.

Christie spoke over the weekend at the Iowa Freedom Summit hosted by Rep. Steve King which attracted several far-right conservatives interested in testing the water for a 2016 run at the presidency. These included Mike Huckabee, Rick Santorum, Donald Trump, Ben Carson, and word salad masterchef Sarah Palin.

Upon introducing Christie, King trumpeted him as "pro-life" and praised him for vetoing the gay marriage bill in New Jersey. Christie was heckled at the beginning of his speech on immigration by Cesar Vargas of the DREAM coalition.

Watch the heckling and the speech, AFTER THE JUMP...

Vargas

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NCLR Hosting #BornPerfect Twitter Town Hall On Conversion Therapy

Screen Shot 2015-01-06 at 4.42.05 PM

Screen Shot 2015-01-06 at 4.44.43 PMThe National Center for Lesbian Rights said it's hosting a Twitter town hall today at 6:30 p.m. ET to discuss the dangers of conversion therapy, the efforts to stop these practices once and for all and what the community can do in a release issued to the public. The town hall comes days after the tragic death of Leelah Alcorn, who took her life after facing years of rejection and enduring the harmful effects of conversion therapy. Twitters users can submit their questions using the hashtag #BornPerfect.

Town hall panelists include NCLR Executive Director Kate Kendell, conversion therapy survivor and marriage and family therapist James Guay, Rev. Dr. Justin Tanis of the the Center for Lesbian and Gay Studies in Religion and co-author of the National Transgender Discrimination Survey, NCLR Staff Attorney and #BornPerfect Campaign Coordinator Samantha Ames and Maris Ehlers-sister of Kirk Murphy who took his life at the age of 38 in 2003 after undergoing conversion therapy as a child.

NCLR launched the #BornPerfect campaign in June 2014, an initiative geared toward eliminating the practice of so-called “ex-gay” or “reparative” therapy through increased public awareness and the passage of laws across the country to protect LGBT kids from the serious harm caused by these practices. Recently NCLR helped pass legislation in California, New Jersey and the District of Columbia to ban the dangerous practice of conversion therapy. In November 2014, members of the United Nations Committee Against Torture (CAT) questioned U.S. Department of State representatives asking why the use of conversion therapy is still considered a valid practice despite reputable medical organizations condemning the practice.


New Jersey Assemblyman Tim Eustace Introduces Bill to Ban 'Gay Panic' Defense

Openly gay New Jersey Assemblyman Tim Eustace has introduced a bill that would ban the use of the "gay panic" defense in court, NJ.com reports:

Eustace“I want to make sure that we’re paying attention to things before they happen,” said Eustace, who is the Legislature’s second openly gay member.

Under New Jersey law, a defendant can be charged with manslaughter – a lesser charge than murder – if, among other things, the crime “is committed in the heat of passion resulting from a reasonable provocation.”

Eustace’s bill states that that a provocation can not be interpreted as reasonable if it is based on “the discovery of, knowledge about, or potential disclosure of the homicide victim’s actual or perceived gender identity or expression,” including “circumstances in which the victim made an unwanted, non-forcible romantic or sexual advance toward the actor, or if the victim and actor dated or had a romantic or sexual relationship.”

Earlier this year, California became the first state to ban the "gay panic" defense. In 2013 the American Bar Association unanimously passed a resolution “urging federal, state, local and territorial governments to pass legislation curtailing the availability and effectiveness of the use of 'gay panic' and 'trans panic' defenses by criminal defendants.”

[h/t joe.my.god]


Seven New Jersey High Schoolers Charged With Hazing-Related Sex Crimes - VIDEO

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Six of seven New Jersey high school students are being held in police custody this week after being charged for hazing-related sexual assault crimes. Acting as members of the Sayreville War Memorial High School football team, the accused teenagers are said to have restrained, abused, and inappropriately touched four fellow teammates. Families of the arrested teenagers are awaiting preliminary decisions that will determine whether students, whose ages range from 15-17, will be charged prosecuted as minors or adults.

"Everything revolves around getting the kids ready to play Bomber football," Cary Melenez, a local resident explained of her city.

The allegations have shaken parents and school administrators concerned for the well being of their children and students. Though not known for churning out star football players, Sayreville’s culture revolves heavily around football participation. The implications of a scandal like this have prompted a number of vocal protestations. In light of the developing case, Sayreville school superintendent made the executive decision to cancel the remainder of the high school's fall football season. 

"In the ensuing days, weeks, and months," Sayreville school superintendent Richard Labbe said in a statement, "we will come together as a school district and greater community to harness the strength required to support the young men who may have been victimized and then to begin the healing process for our beloved community."

ChristieChris Christie echoed the superintendents intentions of exhaustively delving into the specifics of the case in hopes of exposing the truth of the events and sending a clear message.

"The facts as reported currently are extraordinarily disturbing, and as the father of a number of teenage athletes, the idea that that kind of conduct could be permitted -- if it's true ... in a high school athletics program, or anywhere else in our state for that matter, is absolutely unacceptable."

Watch footage of Sayreville school superintendent Richard Labbe addressing the hazing scandal AFTER THE JUMP...

Continue reading "Seven New Jersey High Schoolers Charged With Hazing-Related Sex Crimes - VIDEO" »


Third Circuit Upholds New Jersey's Ban on 'Ex-gay' Conversion Therapy for Minors

New jerseyThe Third Circuit Court of Appeals has upheld New Jersey's ban on 'ex-gay' conversion therapy for minors, which was being challenged by the National Association for Research and Therapy of Homosexuality (NARTH) and other 'ex-gay' activists. 

Last year, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie signed the bill into law banning the dangerous practice.

Read the ruling below:

13-4429 #34586 - Judgment via Equality Case Files


Steve Carell To Play NJ Gay Rights Activist In 'Freeheld' Alongside Ellen Page, Julianne Moore

SteveCarellThe long-gestating narrative film adaptation of Freeheld, originally an Oscar-winning short documentary from Cynthia Wade, has added a new star to its cast according to Entertainment Weekly. Steve Carell has now replaced Zach Galifianakis in the role of Steven Goldstein, founder of Garden State Equality and an important ally to protagonist Laurel Hester who attempted to amend New Jersey's domestic partnership act to provide pension benefits for her partner. 

The film also stars Julianne Moore and Ellen Page, who was attached prior to her public coming out.

Freeheld does not yet have a release date.


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