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Federal Court to Hear Challenge to Louisiana’s Gay Marriage Ban on Wednesday

Martin FeldmanNew Orleans-based U.S. District Judge Martin Feldman [pictured] is set to hear arguments Wednesday in the case challenging Louisiana’s voter-approved ban on same-sex marriage.

The Advocate reports:

Six Louisiana couples will argue that the Supreme Court’s decision means Louisiana must recognize their marriages from other states, just as the federal government now does.

A victory for those couples would not necessarily mean that same-sex couples could get a marriage license in Louisiana, but those married legally elsewhere could adopt children in Louisiana together, file joint tax returns and enjoy other benefits extended to opposite-sex couples. 

The Times Picayune adds:

LouisianaFeldman has received 23 amicus briefs from parties with interest on one side of the argument or the other. Among them is the city of New Orleans, which weighed in on the side of the same-sex couples by saying the city recognizes domestic partnerships and allows its employees to extend their municipal benefits to their partners.

"Indeed, as expressly set forth in the New Orleans Municipal Code, the city has an interest in strengthening and supporting all caring, committed and responsible family forms," city attorney Sharonda Williams wrote in the brief.


Hear Eyewitness Accounts of the Largest Mass Murder of Gay People in U.S. History: VIDEO

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On June 24, 1973 an arsonist’s blaze killed 29 people in New Orleans’ Upstairs Lounge bar. Another three people died from burns sustained from the fire, making it the largest anti-gay mass murder in our nation’s history.

We’ve shared footage, reporting and stories from the catastrophe in the past as well as provided an in-depth look at an art exhibit dedicated to the lounge and those that perished.

But the tale of the survivors and other people affected by the crime will finally be heard thanks to Upstairs Inferno, a documentary set for release this year. The horror, disbelief and sadness still lives on, but with it a glimmer of love and the conviction that no one should ever suffer such injustice just because of who they are.

Watch the trailer AFTER THE JUMP…

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New Orleans Saints' Jonathan Vilma is Worried Gay Players Will Look At Him in the Shower

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New Orleans Saints linebacker Jonathan Vilma appears to have some unresolved fears about gays in the locker room. When asked by NFL Network’s Andrea Kramer about potentially playing with a gay teammate, Vilma responded:

"I think he would not be accepted as much as we think he would be accepted. I don't want people to just naturally assume, oh, we're all homophobic. That's really not the case. Imagine if he's the guy next to me, and you know, I get dressed, naked, taking a shower, the whole nine, and it just so happens he looks at me, how am I supposed to respond?"

Vilma is apparently unaware that he’s been showering with gay men his whole life without much hullabaloo...

[via Outsports]


Lance Bass Describes How He Popped The Question to Michael Turchin in New Orleans: AUDIO

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Yesterday Towleroad reported that Lance Bass became engaged to his boyfriend Michael 'Turkey' Turchin.

On a special Sunday edition of his SiriusXM show broadcast from The Bourbon Pub at New Orleans' Southern Decadence festival, Bass talked about how he popped the question, in front of the city's Jackson Square, his favorite spot in NoLa:

Well, [when we got there I find out that] they locked all the gates this weekend, and you can’t get into the park.  So we peeled off, and I told him we [had] to pick up [Dirty Pop/SiriusXM] producer Sam up…so as we were walking to ‘pick up Sam,’ I started talking about the last two and half years [and] I got down on one knee and I proposed, right in front of Jackson Square, my favorite place.  And it was great too because a couple just happened to see…I was down on one knee [for only about]…two seconds…right as I was about to propose, I was pretty nervous.”

It was great because this couple who had also proposed right at this same spot, they had just gotten married and said ‘We just saw you propose, can we please take your camera and take a picture [of you] on your knee?’ So I will have that for the rest of my life."

Listen to Bass tell his story, AFTER THE JUMP...

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Hate Crime Against New Orleans Gay Activists Caught on Surveillance Video: WATCH

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(via michael democker times picayune)

Video of an early morning hate crime being committed against John Hill and John Weimer, Jr., two prominent New Orleans gay activists, was caught on surveillance camera on Saturday. A man stole the Pride flag from in front of their historic district home and sprayed "fags" on their front door. Hill is the chairman of Louisiana's Forum for Equality, an LGBT rights organization. Police are seeking assistance in identifying the perpetrator.

The Times Picayune reports:

The video, filmed from a neighboring gallery, shows a van parking directly in front of Hill's townhouse in historic Julia Row, in the 600 block of Julia Street. A man emerges, walks to the rear of the van and pulls down a ladder. He walks to the sidewalk, sets the ladder in place, climbs up it and tears the flag from Hill's second-story balcony. He puts the flag and the ladder in the van.

Then, instead of leaving, the man re-emerges holding a can of spray paint. He sprays an anti-gay slur on a shutter before getting back in the van and driving away.

Hill and Weimer are undaunted by the attacks and have replaced the stolen Pride flag with two new ones.

Said Hill to FOX8: "I thought what an idiot. He thinks he's intimidating me, well, you got the wrong gay fella. I'm just doubling down now."

Watch a report from NOLA's FOX8 and the surveillance footage, AFTER THE JUMP...

(via kenneth in the 212)

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The Largest Mass Murder of LGBT People in U.S. History Was 40 Years Ago Today: VIDEOS

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In June 1973, a fire broke out in a gay bar in New Orleans' French Quarter. The fire at the Upstairs Lounge took 32 lives — bodies burned beyond recognition. Approximately 20 people escaped the blaze, which was set by an arsonist. The likely suspect was a customer who had been thrown out of the bar the night of the fire.

Upstairs1Press coverage of the fire, which was the worst in New Orleans history, was brief, sensational. No city official would make a statement about it.

I've written many times on Towleroad about the UpStairs Lounge fire. For an excellent primer, check out the photo essay I did on artist Skylar Fein's 2010 installation on the tragic event.

The UpStairs Lounge was located on the second floor of an old building at Chartres Street and Iberville Street, just off Canal Street, near the edge of the French Quarter. In 1973, June 24th fell on a Sunday, and most of the 60 or in attendance were members of New Orleans' Metropolitan Community Church, which held services in the bar. That evening, they sang their unofficial anthem, Brotherhood of Man's "United We Stand," with accompaniment from resident pianist David Gary. They socialized. Just before 8 p.m., a doorbell rang. Someone opened the door, and discovered the Lounge's wooden staircase was ablaze. The UpStairs Lounge was promptly engulfed.

Patheos has an excellent report on what happened that night. The Times-Picayune explores the event in a video, discussing it with eyewitnesses and experts.

Some families refused to claim the bodies of the victims out of embarrassment that their sons had been killed in a fire at a gay bar. Many victims were buried in unmarked graves.

Watch news reports from the night of the fire, the Times-Picayune's video, and a trailer for a new crowd-funded documentary on the incident, AFTER THE JUMP...

Continue reading "The Largest Mass Murder of LGBT People in U.S. History Was 40 Years Ago Today: VIDEOS" »


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