Uber, Lyft Laws May Shuttle Gay-Rights Fights To Red States


As ride-hailing services like Uber and Lyft continue to grow in popularity, more and more states are considering legislation to regulate them. 

The goal is to establish statewide standards and bar cities — some of which have stopped Uber and Lyft from operating — from regulating the services. 

Uber and Lyft both include sexual orientation and gender identity in their nondiscrimination policies, and because they've been involved in drafting the legislation, LGBT protections are generally included. But that isn't going over well in places like Oklahoma, where the Senate voted this week to remove sexual orientation and gender identity from the state's ride-hailing bill. The Associated Press reports: 

The House-passed version of the bill included language that prohibited the companies from discriminating against customers based on sexual orientation or gender identity. But Sen. Jason Smalley said he rewrote the bill to eliminate that language and allow private businesses to establish their own policies regarding discrimination.

"I believe if a private business owner wants to serve or not serve an individual, they have that purview right now," said Smalley, a Republican.

One Democratic senator unsuccessfully tried to amend the bill to require drivers wishing to discriminate against LGBT riders to post notice on their vehicles. More from the AP:  

"Uber's policy is to serve every neighborhood, every driver and every person who needs a ride," company spokeswoman Jennifer Mullin said. The company will continue to enforce its current terms of service, "which make clear that discrimination in any form is not tolerated and will result in removal from the platform," she said.

Troy Stevenson, executive director of Freedom of Oklahoma, said in a statement that the group does not "understand why a member of the Oklahoma Legislature wants to remove protections for (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) Oklahomans from a bill that is specific to an industry that already protects them, in their corporate policies. Oklahomans do not believe in discrimination, and it is time for ideological law makers to quit trying to distract from the real problems of our state by attacking the LGBT community."

It's unclear how many states have passed LGBT-inclusive legislation regulating Uber and Lyft. But it's safe to say that in some red states, it would amount to the first time sexual orientation and gender identity have been mentioned in statute.  

Texas, for example, is considering a similar bill, which currently includes sexual orientation and gender identity. But it's hard to imagine Republican lawmakers — who are seeking to bar cities from enacting LGBT protections — won't try to remove sexual orientation and gender identity from the ride-hailng bill.

Would it be too much to ask for Uber — which actively opposed Indiana's "religious freedom" law — to insist that LGBT protections remain in the bills? 

Stay tuned. 

Posted Apr. 18,2015 at 3:00 PM EST by in Discrimination, Gay Rights, LGBT Rights, Oklahoma, Texas | Permalink | Comments (5)

Drew Carey Officiates Massive Wedding for 'Price Is Right' Audience Members: WATCH


If you look closely, you might be able to spot a gay couple or two.


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Posted Apr. 18,2015 at 2:07 PM EST by in Gay Wedding | Permalink | Comments (5)

Log Cabin Republicans Accused Of 'Bullying,' 'Shaming' Their Way Into Western Conservative Summit


Earlier this week, we reported that the Log Cabin Republicans had been denied a booth at the Western Conservative Summit in Denver this summer.  

After a media firestorm, the Colorado GOP has attempted to quell the controversy by inviting Log Cabin to share its booth at the event — a major conservative conference put on by Colorado Christian University and its Centennial Institute think tank. 

Not surprisingly, rather than apologizing for their bigotry and stupidity, organizers of the summit have responded by trying to play the victim. From The Denver Post

Party Chairman Steve House, who took over in March, made the announcement Thursday afternoon, one day after a firestorm over the snub by summit organizers to the Log Cabin Republicans.

"We're fine with the Colorado Republicans sharing some table space at the summit with all their affiliated groups. We're not fine with the shaming and bullying pressure tactics of Log Cabin Republicans' national office," said summit chairman John Andrews.

I was unable to find any specific examples of bullying or shaming by Log Cabin Republicans National. I did find a long thread of comments in support of LCR on the summit's Facebook page, as well as a few tweets like these: 

The bottom line appears to be that the Colorado GOP — along with many rank-and-file Republicans — has come to realize that alienating LGBT people and their allies is no longer in the party's best interest. But the religious right wing of the party, as well as most of its presidential candidates, have not. Of course, they're still willing to take Log Cabin's votes and money: 

"I hope the state party's sensible approach gives the local Log Cabin folks more reason to sign up" as delegates to the summit," Andrews said.

"We want to be fair to them if they'll be fair to us."

And by being "fair to us," Andrews presumably means not trying to stop them from bullying and shaming LGBT people. 

Posted Apr. 18,2015 at 1:00 PM EST by in Colorado, Denver, Gay Rights, LGBT Rights, Log Cabin Republicans, Republican Party | Permalink | Comments (23)

Tony Perkins Compares Dealing With Gays To Negotiating With Satan And Iran: AUDIO

Screen Shot 2015-04-17 at 4.07.10 PM

The ever elegant president of the Family Research Council, Tony Perkins, compared dealing with gays to negotiating with Iran and Satan reports Right Wing Watch. Perkins issued his lofty statements on his radio program Washington Watch, proclaiming his agreement with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that the U.S. shouldn’t negotiate with Iran (Netanyahu actually expressed he supports diplomatic talks in principle) quoting Ronald Reagan’s "We don’t negotiate with terrorists." Perkins went on to say Jesus didn’t negotiate with the Devil, and that negotiating with 'cultural totalitarians' should be dealt with in the same way.

Said Perkins:

"Did Jesus negotiate with the Devil? No, he said, 'Away with you Satan.' He goes on later in the scripture to talk about 'What fellowship has light with darkness.' The same can be said of the cultural totalitarians who want to force everyone to embrace and even celebrate their view of morality. You cannot compromise, you cannot appease. Just ask Gov. (Mike) Pence and others who have compromised their values in an effort to appease these folks. It only increases their aggressiveness and their demands."

You can listen to Perkins’ religious-tinted radio segment, AFTER THE JUMP

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Posted Apr. 18,2015 at 12:00 PM EST by in Family Research Council, Iran, Israel, Religion, Republican Party, Tony Perkins | Permalink | Comments (19)

Bankruptcy Lawyer Pens Brilliant Open Letter Smackdown to Homophobic Michigan Auto Shop Owner: READ


Grand Rapids bankruptcy attorney Jeffrey Mapes (pictured below) has penned the perfect response to Brian Klawiter, the owner of the Grandville, Michigan auto shop who declared this week he "would not hesitate to refuse service to an openly gay person or persons" but that gun owners would receive a discount at his shop.

Wrote Mapes on his practice's website:

MapesDear Dieseltec:

Allow me to introduce myself, my name is Jeffrey Mapes, and I specialize in bankruptcy law — helping individuals and corporations when things go wrong. I noticed your post on Facebook where you decided to alienate most of the general public by stating that you will refuse service to openly homosexual people. This is certainly an unorthodox business strategy, and perhaps it will work for you, but I get the feeling you will need a bankruptcy attorney pretty soon and I wanted to offer my services. Like you, I am white, male, Christian, a business owner, and a gun owner. Unlike you, I provide services to everyone regardless of their sexual orientation because it doesn’t matter to me — I hope this won’t be a deal breaker for you.

     If that upsets you, let me tell you a little bit more about our office to try and persuade you, The first thing you will notice is how friendly and compassionate the office staff is. Despite your inane, incoherent and just plain dumb comments, we know that everyone makes mistakes and we want to help you overcome them. They will also be more than willing to help you with some basic grammar that you seem to struggle with.

     If you still need more convincing, let me assure you that we will make certain that your bankruptcy petition is filed correctly and there are no errors. You stated in your post that you would incorrectly assemble a vehicle in order to prove a point. I want to let you know that despite the fact that I would love to prove a point to you about tolerance, I won’t compromise my standards of quality to do so. After all, I have to look in the mirror at the end of the day and if I didn’t do my best for everyone, I would have trouble sleeping. Perhaps you could give me pointers on how you sleep at night?

Continue reading, AFTER THE JUMP...

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Posted Apr. 18,2015 at 11:00 AM EST by in Brian Klawiter, Discrimination, Michigan, News | Permalink | Comments (25)

George Takei and Husband Brad Take a Trip to Google Headquarters And Discover Something Secret: VIDEO


In the second episode of George Takei's "reality" web seires It Takeis Two, the Star Trek icon and his husband Brad embark on a mission to Google Headquarters to see if they can scrub a "mean meme" off the internet. While there, Brad stumbles across Google's secret intelligence program that takes on a familiar form and helps pass along some Internet Age wisdom.


And in case you missed Part 1, click here.

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Posted Apr. 18,2015 at 10:04 AM EST by in George Takei | Permalink | Comments (1)

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