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PA Rep. Brian Sims Says He'll Bring Philly Gay Bash Victims to Capitol to Pass Hate Crime Law

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As we reported earlier, the group charged with assaulting a gay couple in Center City, Philadelphia last Thursday won't be charged with a hate crime because sexual orientation is not included in the state's hate crime statutes.

SimsBut Pennsylvania Rep. Brian Sims tellsVictor Fiorillo at Philly Mag that he'll bring the victims to the state legislature to try and get a hate crime bill passed that was introduced during the 2013 session.

Sims says that he hasn't yet spoken with the victims of last week's Center City attack of two gay men, simply because he's been told that they need time to heal. "I want them speaking with victims' advocates right now, not with me over policy," he explains. "But we'll find the time. I have to make sure that something comes of this, not just that I'm pissed off."

The bill would add gender identity, sexual orientation, and physical and mental disability to the state's hate crime law.

Hopefully this incident has awakened the public and lawmakers of the need for such additions.


Catholic High School Coach Fired for Alleged Role in Philadelphia Attack On Gay Couple - VIDEO

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An assistant basketball coach at a Catholic high school has been fired in connection with the brutal attack on a gay couple last Thursday in Philadelphia. Fran McGlinn, who had been serving on a contract basis with Archbishop Wood High School in neighboring Warminster, Pennsylvania, allegedly participated in the beating and robbery that left one victim with facial fractures and a jaw that had to be wired shut.

Said Kenneth Gavin, a spokesman for the Archdioceses of Philadelphia: "He was terminated this evening and will not be permitted to coach in any archdiocesan school. We expect all those who work with students in our schools to model appropriate Christian behavior at all times."

AttackAnd although no arrests have been made, at least a few of the alleged assailants have been interviewed by investigators - thanks in part to the work of Twitter and Facebook sleuths who helped police identify the attackers. Defense attorneys who represent some of the members of the anti-gay mob are claiming that it was actually the victim who started the fight. 

Watch a CBS Philly report on the developing case, AFTER THE JUMP...

The station adds that attacks based on sexual orientation are not classified as "hate crimes" under Pennsylvania law. This morning, Caryn Kunkle, a spokesperson for the victims in the attack, launched a petition asking lawmakers to amend the state's hate crimes laws to include sexual orientation. 

Continue reading "Catholic High School Coach Fired for Alleged Role in Philadelphia Attack On Gay Couple - VIDEO" »


Out PA Lawmaker Brian Sims Rappels Down Building In Philadelphia: VIDEO

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Brian Sims, the out Pennsylvania lawmaker who has been an outspoken advocate for the LGBT community, looked more like an adrenaline junkie than a state representative today as he was seen rappelling down the side of Philadelphia's Commerce Center Building in City Center. As Philly Magazine reports, Sims was practicing for an upcoming charity event on October 24 where he will rappel down Brandywine Realty Trust’s One Logan Square: "He, along with a team of local LGBTers lead by Angela Giampolo, are taking on the task to raise money for The Philadelphia Outward Bound School."

Watch a video of Sims' adventure, AFTER THE JUMP...

And ICYMI, be sure to peep Sims striking a pose (in a Towleroad tee no less!) in Emil Cohen's Provincetown portraits

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Continue reading "Out PA Lawmaker Brian Sims Rappels Down Building In Philadelphia: VIDEO" »


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

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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.


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