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North Carolina Transgender Teen's Suicide Mirrors Death Of Leelah Alcorn: VIDEO

Ashlyn Haffner

A North Carolina mother believes that bullying led to her teen transgender son’s suicide, reports WSOCTV.

Alcorn16-year-old Ashlyn Haffner died close to his family’s Indian Trail home late last month. According to an accident report Ashlyn - who went by the name Ash - stepped into the path of an oncoming vehicle, the same way Ohio transgender teen Leelah Alcorn (right) died in December of last year.

Ash’s mother April Quick said the bullying started when Ash decided he wanted to transition from female to male.

Quick found a suicide note on Ash’s iPad that read in part:

“Please be WHO YOU ARE... Do it for yourself. Do it for your happiness. That's what matters in YOUR life.  You don't need approval on who you are.  Don't let people or society change who you are just because they're not satisfied with your image."

At a memorial service outside Porter Ridge High School, where Ash was a student, family and friends lit candles, shared memories of the teen and pleaded for acceptance of all people. The school’s principal said the district is fully cooperating with investigators as they dig deeper into Ash’s death.  

Watch a Fox News report, AFTER THE JUMP...(warning: autoplay)

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Charlotte, NC City Council Rejects LGBT Non-Discrimination Ordinance in 6-5 Vote: VIDEO

Charlotte

After hours of contentious debate, much of it centered around the use of bathrooms by transgender citizens, the Charlotte, North Carolina City Council voted down several LGBT non-discrimination ordinances, the Charlotte Observer reports:

Before the final vote, council members had removed the section of the ordinance that would have allowed transgender people to use the bathroom of the gender they identify with. That issue drew the most vigorous opposition from dozens of speakers.

“All over the world, there are restrooms for men and restrooms for women,” said Driggs, a Republican. “It does not place an unreasonable burden on them and it does not stigmatize them.”

But even with the bathroom portion removed, council remained divided. Several council members had said they were opposed to removing that part, which would also have applied to locker rooms and showers, because it weakened the ordinance.

Q Notes adds:

The 6-5 vote is the second time in two decades that Charlotte has rejected LGBT-inclusive protections. LGBT advocates are condemning the vote.

...If passed, Charlotte would have become the first city in North Carolina to pass LGBT-inclusive public accommodations and other protections. Other ordinances proposed for amending — adding marital status, familial status, sexual orientation, gender identity and gender expression — included commercial contracting, passenger vehicles for hire and regulations for the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Community Relations Committee.

Watch a report from WSOCTV, AFTER THE JUMP...

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NC Senate Approves Bill Allowing State Officials to Discriminate Against Gay Couples on Religious Grounds

The North Carolina Senate voted 32-16 on Wednesday to approve a bill allowing courthouse officials to recuse themselves from marrying gay couples if they have religious objections to doing so, the Fayetteville Observer reports:

Flag_ncThe legislation stems from federal court decisions this past fall that legalized gay marriage in North Carolina. Some magistrates, who officiate civil marriage ceremonies, and assistant registers of deeds, who issue marriage licenses, for religious reasons did not want to perform these services for gay couples. They were told that their oath to uphold the U.S. constitution requires them to do so anyway.

Most Republicans voted for the bill; most Democrats voted against it. Supporters said the bill say it protects the employees' First Amendment freedom of religion rights. Critics said would codify discrimination into state law.

Seven or eight of the state's magistrates have left their positions as a result of having to perform gay marriages, according to statements made during senate debate. The new law would allow them to return to office without losing their benefits.

Other points in the bill are a requirement of the court system to ensure magistrates are on hand at least 10 hours a week, that all couples seeking lawful marriage can have one, and that if local magistrates don't want to perform a gay couple's marriage the state would send one to perform the duty.

NC paper News & Observer is not pleased with it:

Sworn public officials have to do their duty, and this not-so-clever bit of legislating is certain to be found unconstitutional. Magistrates and registers of deeds don't get to cop out of their jobs based on their personal beliefs.

This is amateur hour at the General Assembly, and a petty action that could get expensive. The legislature already has spent nearly $100,000 to have outside lawyers appeal the federal rulings on same-sex marriage. State Attorney General Roy Cooper, a Democrat, wisely decided not to press on with appeals once the U.S. Supreme Court agreed to hear the issue.

The bill now heads to the House.


North Carolina Conservatives Relying On Transphobic Robocalls To Defeat Non-Discrimination Ordinance

750px-Flag_of_North_Carolina.svgThough North Carolina Family Action claims to be a nonpartisan, “research and education” organization, the group has been actively engaged in a harmful, discriminatory robocall campaign spreading misinformation in an attempt to defeat an upcoming LGBT non-discrimination ordinance. 

The calls, which have been going out to thousands of voters living in Charlotte, claim that supporting the ordinance will lead to policy changes that will allow men and women to use the opposite sex’s bathrooms. The messaging is a transphobic attempt to instill fear of a law that would, in actuality, block public establishments from refusing patrons because of their sexual orientation or gender identity. In those instances where people were harassed or denied service, they would be able to file complaints with some hope of legal recourse.

“This does not allow men to go into women’s bathrooms or women to go into men’s,” said Scott Bishop, chairman of the Mecklenburg LGBT Political Action Committee, told the Charlotte Observer. “Transgender women are women, and transgender men are men. … That’s where the misunderstanding is – who transgender people are. A lot of public education needs to take place.”

Opponents to the ordinance plan to gather at a rally next week and are already working themselves into a delusional frenzy claiming that transgender people will be uniquely positioned to become sexual predators should the law be put into effect. The fervency with which the law’s opponents are attacking North Carolina’s queer community, explained Charlotte Business Guild president Chad Sevearance, is a diversionary tactic that could ultimately hurt the state economically.

“Fortune 500 companies believe that LGBT (employees) are the best and the brightest,” Sevearance told the Observer. “(Before coming to Charlotte), they’ll be looking at how their people are going to be protected from discrimination.”


North Carolina Catholic School Fires Gay Teacher: VIDEO

Lonnie Billard

In yet another case of anti-gay discrimination in Catholic schools, Charlotte Roman Catholic diocese, North Carolina fired teacher Lonnie Billard (above left, with his partner Rich) after he announced his engagement on Facebook, reports the Advocate.

Before his dismissal, retired Billard had continued to work as a regular substitute teacher in Charlotte Catholic High School.

Although the diocese has claimed that the school made the decision, Billard has challenged this version of events:

“This was not a decision by Charlotte Catholic High School. I had talked with one of the administration officials. He knew [about the engagement announcement]. He didn’t care. He said he knew me to be a good teacher and a good person.

“Apparently there were a couple teachers there who are super-conservative Catholic. They are not friends of mine on Facebook, but they found out about it and escalated it so it got to the diocese.

I knew the Catholic Church is behind the times when it comes to understanding and acceptance of gay people, but I thought with the current pope saying, ‘Who am I to judge?’ that maybe things would be better, but apparently that’s not the case.”

According to diocese spokesman David Hains, Billard was not fired for being gay but for violating an employment contract that prohibited him from opposing church teaching.

However, responding to objections from the diocese on the facts as presented by Qnotes, the Charlotte-based LGBT community newspaper stated:

“The violation of Billard’s contract was his statement on his intention to marry. Without this statement, Billard wouldn’t have been fired. Therefore, it is factual and accurate to report that Billard was fired because he is a gay man who announced his intention to marry his same-gender partner — an act the church calls ‘disobedience,’ but which is also a fundamental human and civil right guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution, as recently upheld by North Carolina’s U.S. District Courts and the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals.”

In March of last year, an assistant theology professor at Charlotte Catholic caused a furore - and a backlash from parents and students - when she claimed in a speech that homosexuality occurs mainly as a result of pornography and parents' shortcomings.

Watch a report on the case, AFTER THE JUMP... 

 

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North Carolina GOP Lawmakers Ask Supreme Court to Review Gay Marriage Ruling

Nc

GOP lawmakers in North Carolina, joined by newly sworn in U.S. Senator Thom Tillis (above middle) and the National Organization for Marriage, are asking the Supreme Court to grant review of the ruling that brought marriage equality to the state back in October, The Washington Blade reports:

In a 35-page filing, the top lawmakers in the state legislature — President Pro Tempore of the Senate Phil Berger and Tillis in his capacity as House speaker — make the case for review in a petition for certiorari before judgment.

“The current push to redefine marriage to encompass same-sex relationships would remove several of the other key components of the institution of marriage,” the brief states. “It would remove biological complementarity, therefore depriving a significant number of children of being raised by both of their biological parents and removing them from a structured household with both masculine and feminine influences.”

The petition is an unusual move because the federal appeals court considering the lawsuit, in this case the U.S. Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals, has yet to issue a decision on lawmakers’ appeal of the marriage ruling.

But lawmakers argue that Supreme Court review of the North Carolina case at this stage is warranted because the Fourth Circuit already erred in its decision against Virginia’s ban on same-sex marriage by ignoring the 1972 decision of Baker v. Nelson, a marriage equality case the Supreme Court refused to hear for lack of federal question.

Earlier this week, the Supreme Court declined to hear a similar petition for certiorari before judgement from Louisiana. The high court is expected to announce whether it will take up a Sixth Circuit case tomorrow.

Read North Carolina's petition below via Equality Case Files:


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