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Emails Reveal School Lied About Canceling School Musical For 'Homosexual Themes' - VIDEO

Spamalot

Emails procured through Pennsylvania’s “Right To Know” law confirm that South Williamsport Jr/Sr High School cancelled a production of Monty Python’s Spamalot because it included a same-sex wedding, reports Think Progress.

The uncovered emails show that despite the school’s attempt to claim otherwise, the only justification for the cancellation given by Principal Jesse Smith was the play’s “homosexual themes.”

Records also prove that contrary to claims made by school district Superintendent Mark Stamm that the musical had not actually been canceled because it was only “under consideration,” Principal Smith had already signed a check for nearly $2,000 to order the licensing rights for the play last May. South-Williamsport-Spamalot-Check-638x262

In emails sent last June, Smith said that he was concerned about “a gay wedding being performed.” Musical director Dawn Burch replied, “I am fully aware of their place in the script and am not certain what offense they create,” noting that marriage equality had recently arrived in Pennsylvania.

Smith then explained that he was “not comfortable with Spamalot and its homosexual themes” because “this type of material [would make] it very hard” for families to attend. He added that he did not “want students to have to choose between their own personal beliefs and whether or not to take part in a production.”

When Burch wrote to Stamm that she found it “extremely disappointing that homosexuality would be the basis of not approving a show,” noting that “this is how we raise children to be haters,” the superintendent replied that he was familiar with Smith’s objections and stood by them.

Last year, a high school in Ottumwa, Iowa said that students could not perform The Laramie Project, Moisés Kaufman's play about the hate crime murder of gay Wyoming teen Matthew Shepard, because it is "too adult."

Watch South Williamsport Area School Board President John Engel, Jr., address a July 3 press conference on the controversy over the cancellation of the play, AFTER THE JUMP...

Continue reading "Emails Reveal School Lied About Canceling School Musical For 'Homosexual Themes' - VIDEO" »


PA Bakery Owner Cites Desire to 'Stand True to God' In Her Refusal to Bake Gay Couple's Wedding Cake: VIDEO

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A popular bakery in Schuylkill County, Pennsylvania is making headlines after denying a wedding cake to a gay couple, WFMZ reports:

Screen Shot 2014-08-14 at 9.04.42 AMBethany and Jennifer Petrich now have to make a change of plans for a ceremony to renew their vows, WBRE reported. The women wanted to get a cake from The Cake Pros, a bakery in Schuylkill Haven.

"I loved the work they did and it tasted great. It's a hometown bakery. I wanted to support my hometown," said Jennifer Petrich. "My mom, who is planning our wedding, called and made the appointment for us. It was okay at that time and she was open and honest and said it's for Bethany and Jennifer."

But the women say things took a not-so-sweet turn when Jennifer's mom received a phone call.

"They had called and said to her that they were a Christian bakery and the owner had talked to Jesus for two weeks and that because it was two females getting married she couldn't make our cake," said Jennifer.

Watch an Eyewitness News report on the story, AFTER THE JUMP...

Screen Shot 2014-08-14 at 8.52.55 AMSaid bakery owner Lorraine Fleming:

"I'm not sorry for my decision and I feel strong. I know that I'm doing the right thing...It was hard to do. We have homosexuality in our family and it was a hard decision to make. But in the end, when I die and am one-on-one with God, I have to stand true to him"

Fleming said since news got out of her refusal, her employees have faced harassment and she has been forced to take down the cake shop's Facebook page. 

Last week, we reported on a similar story out of Columbia County, Pennsylvania - where a bridal store turned away a lesbian couple looking to buy wedding gowns.

Pennsylvania remains one of the 29 states without a comprehensive, sexual orientation-inclusive non-discrimination law on the books. 

Continue reading "PA Bakery Owner Cites Desire to 'Stand True to God' In Her Refusal to Bake Gay Couple's Wedding Cake: VIDEO" »


Fredia Hurdle, Plaintiff In Pennsylvania Marriage Equality Case, Dies At 50 Having Never Married Her Partner

Lynn&FrediaFredia Hurdle (on the left) fought a long, tough battle to achieve marriage equality in Pennsylvania, the state she and partner Lynn Hurdle called home. Nearly three months ago they won, and Pennsylvania was yet another domino of inequality struck down by the courts. However, in a tragic turn, Fredia passed away last week after suffering a stroke, never having married her partner of 24 years. She was only fifty years old. 

The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports:

Maybe they could get officially married in July, Lynn Hurdle thought, to mark the fifth anniversary of their original wedding ceremony. But her daughter planned to marry in October, and Fredia Hurdle said they should wait until after her wedding. It was her year, her “moment in the sun,” she told the woman she had long considered her wife.

“It's legal. We have time,” she said.

Fredia Hurdle had long been a bus driver, first for Greyhound Lines (where she met Lynn, one of her many passengers, in 1990) and later for the Pittsburgh newspaper. She and Lynn raised children together, including Lynn’s daughter Ashley Wise and several of Fredia’s nieces and nephews. They were, in short, a caring, loving couple whose story resonated with Pennsylvanians and other Americans alike.

“I was looking for the next 25 or 50 years together,” Lynn Hurdle said. “It's been shell shock.”

Though their commitment to one another was never officially recognized by the state of Pennsylvania, Lynn and Fredia were married in a July 2009 ceremony, and one would be hard pressed to deny their deep-seeded affection. Still, it is a tragic occurrence and one which will surely not go unnoticed in the fight for marriage equality nationwide.

Our thoughts are with Lynn, the children the couple raised, and the rest of Fredia’s family. 

Photo via ACLU.


Pennsylvania Bridal Shop Refuses to Sell Wedding Gown to Lesbian Couple: VIDEO

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A bridal store in Columbia County, Pennsylvania is under fire for turning away a lesbian couple looking to buy wedding gowns, the AP reports:

W.W. Bridal Boutique owner Victoria Miller tells the newspaper that "providing those two girls dresses for a sanctified marriage would break God's law."

Bloomsburg Town Council plans to discuss the incident at a meeting on Monday. Council members say they will consider whether to propose legislation to ban businesses from refusing to serve gays and lesbians.

Check out a news report on the story, AFTER THE JUMP...

The New York Daily News adds

In the meantime, Miller isn’t budging. She’s hired an attorney to help defend her in case a lawsuit is filed.

Her lawyer Al Luschas says his client has a “liberty interest” in refusing to be involved in a wedding that violates her “firmly and honestly held religious beliefs.”

Pennsylvania remains one of the 29 states without a comprehensive, sexual orientation-inclusive non-discrimination law on the books. 

Continue reading "Pennsylvania Bridal Shop Refuses to Sell Wedding Gown to Lesbian Couple: VIDEO" »


Pennsylvania Clerk's Request For 'En Banc' Hearing To Gain Standing In Gay Marriage Case Denied

Theresa Santai-Gaffney, the Schuylkill County clerk who was denied standing in Pennsylvania's same-sex marriage case and received a "no" from the Supreme Court upon asking for same-sex marriages to be halted, has once again been turned down. This time the Third Circuit court of appeals denied Santai-Gaffney's request for an "en banc" hearing to gain standing in the case. An "en banc" hearing would up the amount of third circuit judges considering her case from three to fourteen.

SantaiGaffneyLGBTQ Nation reports:

On July 3, a three judge panel of the Third Circuit rejected Santai-Gaffney’s bid to gain standing in the case, affirming the District Court’s ruling that “if the highest elected official in the commonwealth chooses to abide by our decision, it defies credulity that we would permit a single citizen to stand in for him to perfect an appeal.”

...

Santai-Gaffney, who is represented by the Alliance Defending Freedom — a conservative legal group also representing clerks in Virginia and Oklahoma same-sex marriage cases — asked the U.S. Supreme Court last month to stop same-sex marriages in Pennsylvania. Without comment, Justice Samuel Alito rejected that motion.

Santai-Gaffney is expected to return to the Supreme Court to appeal the Third Circuit decision.

Some people never learn...


SCOTUS Justice Samuel Alito Denies Pennsylvania County Clerk's Petition to Intervene and Halt Gay Marriages

Santai-gaffneyTheresa Santai-Gaffney, the Schuykill County, Pennsylvania Clerk who has been waging a one-woman crusade against the state's legalization of gay marriage, petitioned the U.S. Supreme Court this week to intervene, halt the state's gay marriages and defend the state's ban in an appeal since the governor has refused.

Justice Samuel Alito denied Santai-Gaffney's request today, writes Lyle Denniston at SCOTUSblog:

In another development on same-sex marriage Wednesday, Supreme Court Justice Samuel A. Alito, Jr., denied without comment a Pennsylvania county clerk’s plea to stop such marriages in that state.  That appears to remove the last potential legal barrier to Pennsylvania becoming the nineteenth state in which same-sex marriages are permitted.  A federal judge struck down the state ban, and state officials declined to appeal.  The Schuylkill County clerk sought to appeal in their place, but that move has now been turned down at all three levels of the federal court system.


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