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Mario Cantone's Most Annoying Stories Of 2014: VIDEO

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2014 had a number of, shall we say, "problematic" news stories, such as rumors that the Pentagon was going to drastically shrink the size of the army, or that Boston was allegedly being plagued by a serial tickler. Meredith Vieira invited Mario Cantone onto her show to have him go over his own list of most annoying stories of the year and surprise! the Kardashians made the cut.

You can watch the rest of the celebretiy-centric rundown AFTER THE JUMP...

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Archdiocese of Miami Threatens To Fire Employees For Showing Support For Gay Marriage: VIDEO

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Following the overhaul of Florida's ban on same-sex marriage, Archbishop of Miami Thomas Wenski issued a letter (below) to employees of the archdiocese warning that any conduct or behavior “inconsistent with the teachings of the Catholic Church", in other words, in support of same-sex marriage, could result in termination. NBC News reports:

The letter, from Archbishop Thomas Wenski, told employees that "because of the Church’s particular function in society, certain conduct, inconsistent with the teachings of the Catholic Church, could lead to disciplinary action, including termination, even if it occurs outside the normal working day and outside the strict confines of work performed by the employee for the Archdiocese.”

Wenski’s letter also warned employees that the conduct requirements also extend to the Internet. “Employees should exercise discretion when posting on social media sites, and note that online activity indicative of prohibitive behaviors may subject an employee to disciplinary action or termination," it read.

Earlier, Florida's Catholic Bishops came out against the arrival of same-sex marriage in the Sunshine State, claiming same-sex marriage “threatens both religious liberty and the freedom of individuals to conscientiously object.”

Late last year Pope Francis was thought to have been sending mixed messages about whether he and the Catholic Church would reconsider their stance on same-sex marriage. However, following media speculation, the Pope was quick to make a statement clarifying that same-sex marriage was not on the table for discussion.

Watch a news report on the letter from the Miami Archdiocese, AFTER THE JUMP...

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Appeals Court Denies Gender Reassignment For Trans Prisoner: VIDEO

  Michelle Kosilek

The full First Circuit Court of Appeals has reversed a ruling that the Commonwealth of Massachusetts must provide an incarcerated transgender woman with medically-necessary gender reassignment surgery, reports Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders (GLAD).

The Court of Appeals issued an initial ruling in January upholding an earlier finding that the Massachusetts Department of Corrections (DOC) engaged in a pattern of “pretense, pretext and prevarication” to deny Michelle Kosilek (above) treatment against the recommendations of multiple doctors, including those hired by the DOC itself. Born Robert Kosilek, Michelle Kosilek is serving a life sentence for the murder of her wife Cheryl (below, right) in 1990.

Cheryl KosilekThe latest decision was divided with a 3-2 majority and two sharply worded dissents.

Predicting that the case will not stand the test of time, Judge Thompson wrote:

“I am confident that I would not need to pen this dissent, over twenty years after Kosilek’s quest for constitutionally adequate medical care began, were she not seeking a treatment that many see as strange or immoral. Prejudice and fear of the unfamiliar have undoubtedly played a role in this matter’s protraction.”

Jennifer Levi, director of the Transgender Rights Project at GLAD, said:

“I am appalled by this decision, which means that Michelle Kosilek will continue to be denied the life-saving medical care she needs and has been seeking for years.  

"It is difficult or impossible to imagine a decision like this one – that second-guesses every factual determination made by the trial court – in the context of any other prisoner health care case.  

"This decision is a testament to how much work remains to be done to get transgender people’s health care needs on par with others in the general public.

“There is no scientific or medical basis for denying transgender people their health care needs. The consensus position of the medical community is that surgery may sometimes be essential treatment.”

Watch a report on a television interview with Kosilek, AFTER THE JUMP...

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Philly Gay Bashing Suspects Due In Court Today: VIDEO

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The trio of individuals accused in the September 11 assault on a gay couple in City Center, Philadelphia, are in court today for a preliminary hearing. The defendants, 26-year-old Kevin Harrigan, 24-year-old Kathryn Knott, and 24-year-old Philip Williams, are accused of aggravated assault, simple assault, recklessly endangering another person and criminal conspiracy. All three have plead not guilty. 

From Philadelphia Magazine: 

Here’s what we can expect to happen: The case will be brought before a municipal court judge to determine if there was probable cause to arrest the suspects in September. Attorney for Kevin Harrigan, Josh Scarpello, tells me, “we won’t decide the truth of the matter in that first hearing. It is a probable-cause hearing to establish if the case should go to trial.”

If the case goes to trial — and if no plea bargain is reached — Scarpello suggests that there might not be a trial date until well into the new year. "The earliest would be February or March," he says. "If it's scheduled to be a jury trial, it could take even longer."

The AP also reports that the defendants contest the plaintiff's version of the assault: "Defense lawyers insist that both parties played a role in the encounter, and say the men's sexual orientation wasn't an issue." Despite these claims, reports have abounded that the fight was preceded by homophobic slurs hurled against the victims by the defendants. You’ll also recall the social media sleuthing done by activist Scott Wooledge who dug into accused attacker Kathryn Knott’s Twitter account and found a history of homophobic remarks. 

Social media played a large role in the case from the onset, with the individuals being identified by social media sleuths looking to hunt down the perpetrators of the heinous assault. 

The accused will not face hate crimes charges as Pennsylvania does not currently have hate crimes legislation on the books that covers sexual orientation. However, that may change if State Rep. Brian Sims and State Sen. Jim Ferlo have their way.

Watch a news report on the hearing, AFTER THE JUMP...

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'Ex-Gay' Organization Erects Billboard In Virginia Claiming 'Nobody Is Born Gay' - VIDEO

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A Virginia-based “ex-gay” activist group has erected a billboard in Richmond along a major state highway with the words “Nobody is born gay”, reports Huffington Post.

The group behind the billboard Parents and Friends of Ex-Gays & Gays (PFOX) has publicly supported the notion of “conversion therapy” or “reparative therapy” in the past, despite the fact that the harmful practice has been condemned by the American Psychological Association and banned in two states and Washington, D.C.

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Bizarrely, PFOX says that the billboard aims to “increase others’ understanding and acceptance of the ex-gay community.”

The billboard refers to two studies that purportedly deny the existence of a “gay gene”. This interpretation of the study has been refuted by its main researcher.

In response to the billboard, Bill Harrison of the Richmond Gay Community said:

"We do not know why people are heterosexual. Maybe when we figure that out, we can determine why some people are not. What we do know is that this type of therapy has caused many people to commit suicide."

A representative for Lamar Advertising, the group that owns the billboard said:

“It is in the best interest of our company and the communities we serve to accept advertising copy openly. We do not accept or reject copy based upon agreement or disagreement with the views presented.”

The billboard is set to run through January 4th.

Watch a report, AFTER THE JUMP...

In 2012, a school district in Maryland defended the distribution of flyers from PFOX to high school students.

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Florida State University Lecturer Resigns Following Racist, Homophobic Rant - VIDEO

Deborah O'Connor

Florida State University College of Business senior lecturer Deborah O’Connor has resigned from her position following an outburst last week on Facebook in which she used racist, Islamophobic and homophobic slurs, reports the Tallahassee Democrat.

Eborah O'connor 2In response to a post by hair stylist Colin Lively last Thursday on the police killings in Ferguson, Staten Island and Cleveland, O’Connor’s comments included:

“YOU elected POTUS, Holder et al. And they are supposed to represent all Americans, not just blacks … why don’t these ass clowns insert themselves into their stories?”

“Take your Northern fagoot [sic] elitism and shove it up your ass.”

“I teach at a University, you asshole. What do you do?”

“You are an intellectual fraud, just like your Messiah. Obama has single-handedly turned our once great society into a Ghetto Culture, rivaling that of Europe. France is almost at war because of his filthy rodent Muslims who are attacking Native Frenchmen and women.”

O'Connor has confirmed her decision to bring a planned retirement next spring forward as “the path of least resistance.” Her comments have since been deleted.

Lively said:

"I'm surprised her employers weren't aware of her and hadn't done something about it. I feel very bad for any woman who carries that kind of rage inside her heart. I feel very bad and sorry for her."

Watch a report, AFTER THE JUMP...

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