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Hillsborough County, Florida Extends Non-Discrimination Protections To LGBT Citizens - VIDEO

Kevin beckner

Florida’s Hillsborough County Commission voted Wednesday to extend its Human Rights Ordinance to protect LGBT citizens, reports The Tampa Tribune.

The ordinance prohibits discrimination in employment, public accommodations, real estate transactions and county contracting and procurement.

The unanimous 7-0 vote reverses a 1995 decision that removed gay people from the county’s protection ordinance.

Several speakers at the commission meeting opposed extending protections to LGBT citizens. One speaker referred to homosexality as a “disfunction” and suggested that to extend protections would lead to special rights for pedophiles.

The vote was a victory for Kevin Beckner, the county's first out gay commissioner, who had assembled a business coalition in support of the amended ordinance, making it easier for some of the more-conservative commissioners to vote yes.

Members of the coalition argued that a more inclusive and diverse community is also more prosperous and attractive to highly trained workers.

Terry Wolfe, a resident who spoke in favor of the ordinance, said that the vote “goes a long way toward creating a climate of equality” in the county.

Watch a report on the leadup to the vote, AFTER THE JUMP...

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December Court Date Set For Three Charged in Philly Gay Bashing: VIDEO

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The three suspects charged in the September 11 attack on a gay couple in City Center, Philadelphia will not face a preliminary hearing in court until December 16, according to NBC 10 News. 

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. The December court date was granted because attorneys for the accused “requested more time before [the] preliminary hearing”: 

6a00d8341c730253ef01bb078c5a13970d-300wiPolice accuse the two men and a suburban police chief's daughter with taking part in an assault that left one man with a wired jaw.

Despite the charges they face, the suspects -- through their attorneys -- insist the gay couple instigated the fight when one of them threw the first punch, and that gay bashing was not the motive

"With respect to my client, he was not the aggressor," said Fortunato Perri, an attorney for Williams. "[He] did not initiate anything and only became involved in the incident after one of the purported victims in the case punched one of the girls in the face."

Despite the defendants’ claim that they were not the instigators, 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. 

The accused attackers have all been released on bail. They will not face hate crimes charges as Pennsylvania law does not offer hate crime protections on the basis of sexual orientation. However, that may be about to change if State Rep. Brian Sims and State Sen. Jim Ferlo have their way.

Watch a news report on the latest update out of Philadelphia, AFTER THE JUMP…

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Christian Shoots Gay Couple With BB Gun In Minneapolis Bar: VIDEO

Minneapolis

A gay couple visiting Minneapolis from Brooklyn and Philadelphia were targeted and shot with a BB gun by a homophobic Christian man in a popular local gay, KMSP-TV reports. The man, 43-year-old Wayne Steven Odegard, harassed customers at the Saloon, hurling expletives and making disparaging remarks “towards a couple that was holding hands”, a public display of affection that Odegard “obviously didn't appreciate": 

EricksonShortly after his expletives, Odegard's sheer disregard for the establishment, or humanity, then escalated. After yelling gay slurs, he allegedly pulled out a CO2 powered BB gun.

“I ran after him and then it ended up he shot a different gay couple in the leg, with that gun and it went through his jeans and drew blood,” [said Tyler Erickson (pictured right), a security guard at the Saloon.]

Before Odegard could run even 30 feet, Erickson nabbed him, arrested him and called police.

“He told me multiple times that I'm going to go to hell and he's going to bring me with him,” Erickson said. “He recited a biblical passage -- I think it's a deuteronomy passage.”

Being that they were from out of town, the couple "joked that they came to progressive Minneapolis and got shot for being gay,” according to Erickson. Though neither was seriously injured, Erickson pointed out, “Even if the guy was shot with the same CO2 powered bb gun in the face it would've gone right through his cheek." Odegard now faces second-degree assault and gun possession charges.

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

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MEXICO: 30,000 March Against Same-Sex Marriage In Coahuila - VIDEO

Anti-gay marriage march Mexico

Around 30,000 people have taken part in a protest against the legalization of same-sex marriage in Coahuila state, Mexico, reports SDGLN.com.

By a margin of 19-1, the Congress of Coahuila voted for marriage equality of September 1st. The new law, which alters more than 40 parts of the state's Civil Code, came into effect one week after the vote.

MarriageThe protest march in the capital city of Saltillo was organized by Casa de Rescate "Cristo Vive,” an evangelical group modeled on anti-gay religious groups in the U.S.

At the head of the march was a huge banner that read “Rescuing The Family.” Protesters were heard to chant “true love is found in mom and dad.”

According to El Universal, Casa de Rescate Pastor Carlos Pacheco quoted the usual, well-worn passages from the bible to condemn LGBT people and same-sex marriage.

Same-sex marriage is currently also legal in two other Mexican states, the Federal District (which includes Mexico city) and Quantana Roo. Coahuila borders the U.S. state of Texas.

Watch a Spanish language news clip on the legislation approving same-sex marriage, AFTER THE JUMP...

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South Africa LGBT-Friendly Mosque May Close Down Barely A Week After Opening - VIDEO

Open Mosque South Africa to close down

South Africa’s first gay-friendly mosque could be shut down barely a week after it opened because it has violated municipal by-laws by not having any parking spaces, reports AFK Insider.

According to Taj Hargey, the director of the “forward thinking” organization Muslim Educational Centre of Oxford and Imam of the university’s Islamic Congregation, the Open Mosque in Wynberg, a Cape Town suburb - which opened last Friday - welcomes all genders, religions and sexual orientations. The mosque also allows women to lead prayers.

Taj hargeyHargey said that he has received many positive responses to the mosque but confirmed that he has also received “a lot of death threats.”

The Muslim Judicial Council, an umbrella organization of the South African Islamic clergy, condemned the mosque, stating that Hargey’s establishment cannot be considered a true mosque given that it does not adhere to both the Qur'aan and the teachings of the Prophet Muhammad.

However, Hargey told the BBC that although his “autonomous and independent” mosque has been targeted by the City Council using “ridiculous bylaws,” he “will not be threatened by them or anyone else.”

Protesting outside the mosque, Imam Bilal Ghorieb said that his argument against the mosque is personal and "not part of the religion['s] understanding, my understanding, a selfish understanding."

Elsabeth Muirhead said that, as a Unitarian, she went to the opening to support the mosque's message of "tolerance, interfaith dialog and equality with women."

Watch a report on the opening of the Open mosque, AFTER THE JUMP...

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Rhode Island Firefighters Allege Rights Were Violated Following Order To Drive In Gay Pride Parade - VIDEO

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A lawyer for Providence, Rhode Island has argued that former city mayor Buddy Cianci did not violate the rights of firefighters ordered to drive a fire truck in a 2001 Gay Pride parade, reports StarTribune.

A lawyer for the two firefighters yesterday told the Rhode Island Supreme Court that her clients' constitutional religion and free speech rights were violated when they were ordered to take part in the parade.

Representing Cianci, Kevin McHugh, who said the case is “ridiculous,” argued that the city sent trucks to various parades as a matter of course and driving in the 2001 Gay Pride parade was part of the firefighters' regular duties.

Although the firefighters' lawyer argued that the act of participating in the parade suggested that they supported gay rights, justice Maureen McKenna Goldberg said they are “anonymous public servants” and compared Cianci’s order to being called to fight a fire in a temple or in a mosque.

Cianci, who was forced from office in 2002 following a conviction for corruption and is currently in the midst of a campaign to win back City Hall, said if elected he would likely make the same decision again.

Back in June, Brett Smiley, another candidate for the mayoral race in Providence, claimed in a campaign video that he proposed to his husband Jim DeRentis with a PowerPoint presentation.

Watch an NBC report on the case, AFTER THE JUMP...

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