Religion Hub




Suspect May Have Used Grindr To Target Two Seattle Murder Victims: VIDEO

Ali Muhammed Brown

Ali Muhammed Brown, a radical jihadist charged with killing Ahmed Said and Dwone Anderson-Young in Seattle on June 1, may have targeted his victims using Grindr. Brown is also wanted for failing to register as a sex offender.

NY Daily News reports that Brown has since been seen in his home state of New Jersey, allegedly committing an armed robbery.

According to Q13Fox.com, 30-year-old Brown met up with Said and Anderson-Young after they left gay bar R Place on the night of May 31.

Police say Brown allegedly shot his victims after driving to Anderson-Young’s house.  Brown is thought to have then stolen Said’s car which was later found abandoned in south Seattle.

In the charging documents, police said they linked Brown to the slayings after finding his fingerprints and three shell casings inside Said’s car.

Although a motive for the murders has not been listed, Q13Fox.com reports that Brown underwent jihadist training in April and that Said and Anderson-Young were targeted because their sexual orientation offended Brown’s radical Muslim beliefs.

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

Continue reading "Suspect May Have Used Grindr To Target Two Seattle Murder Victims: VIDEO" »


Faith Leaders Ask President Obama For ‘Robust Religious Exemption’ From Executive Order On Anti-LGBT Discrimination: READ

Letter

As mentioned in our coverage of the Supreme Court's Hobby Lobby decision earlier today, religious leaders close to The White House sent a letter to President Obama on Tuesday, petitioning for a "robust religious exemption" to President Obama's earlier announced executive order that would make it illegal for all federal contractors to discriminate in the workplace on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity, The Washington Post reports. This letter comes on the heels of a previouis letter from 140 religious leaders asking for a similar exemption. Importantly, Tuesday's letter was sent in the immediate wake of the Hobby Lobby decision at the Supreme Court. The letter argues that religiously affiliated organizations should be able to discriminate against LGBT people:

The letter reminds Obama of his own earlier faith-based opposition to same-sex marriage, as well as the government’s massive partnerships with faith-based social service groups that work on issues including housing, disaster relief and hunger. […]

“An executive order that does not include a religious exemption will significantly and substantively hamper the work of some religious organizations that are best equipped to serve in common purpose with the federal government.,” it said. “When the capacity of religious organizations is limited, the common good suffers.” […]

“Without a robust religious exemption . . . this expansion of hiring rights will come at an unreasonable cost to the common good, national unity and religious freedom.”

None of the groups mentioned in the letter have explicitly said they would pull out of their partnerships with the White House if they do not get an exemption.

Executive Director for the National Center for Lesbian Rights Kate Kendell commented on the request for a religious exemption, stating, "This would be a catastrophic erosion of non-discrimination protections. We will not stand for this.”

6a00d8341c730253ef01a511b8305a970c-150wiMeanwhile, Former Director of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force and Towleroad guest blogger Matt Foreman, also took issue with narrower interpretations of The Hobby Lobby ruling and asserted how disastrous it would be for the LGBT community should Hobby Lobby influence a religious exemption to President Obama's executive order:

Such an exemption would have been bad enough before Hobby Lobby, but the decision makes it even more deadly. The Hobby Lobby majority said the decision shouldn't be read to undermine employment nondiscrimination laws. BUT if the EO contains the ENDA exemption, there's nothing to stop the reasoning in Hobby Lobby from having full force and effect in justifying anti-LGBT discrimination by federal contractors - pushing the door even more widely open for discrimination against our people for essentially any reason whatsoever.

The only acceptable religious exemption is the one long-contained in Title VII. Anything else can spell disaster for years to come, including profoundly weakening the impact of future federal nondiscrimination laws and our hopes to secure meaningful civil rights protections in the 29 states that still lack them.

There is no moral or political justification for President Obama to cave and endorse LGBT people having less protections from discrimination than other Americans. This issue is not a side show; it is core to our equality.

You can read the letter to the President for yourself, AFTER THE JUMP...

Continue reading "Faith Leaders Ask President Obama For ‘Robust Religious Exemption’ From Executive Order On Anti-LGBT Discrimination: READ" »


News: Episcopal Support For Gay Marriage, Rugby, Omar Sharif Jr., Gay CEOs

Jesus RoadAwesome counter-protest at Chicago Pride.

RoadA guy in Britain had his already well endowed member made girthier thanks to plastic surgery.

RoadChris Colfer tweets he was let go from Glee; reps then say his account was hacked and the actor will in fact be returning to the show.

RoadThrowback Thursday: TRL returns for one day only.

RoadThe Episcopal Diocese of St. Louis announces support for challenge to Missouri's same-sex marriage ban: "Bishop George Wayne Smith said in a statement that he 'supports St. Louis Mayor Francis Slay and City Counselor Winston Calvert in their challenge to Missouri law prohibiting same-sex marriage. Even as the Episcopal Church works to clarify our theological understanding of and pastoral practices around same-sex blessings, I believe that it is not the place of the State of Missouri to deny the privileges and responsibilities of marriage to anyone, basing that denial solely on the gender of the couple.'”

RoadJessica Chastain played Juliet in NYC's Shakespeare in the Park.

RoadFault in Our Stars star Ansel Elgort to play gay pianist Van Cliburn in biopic.

RoadFirst official image of Henry Cavill as Superman in Batman vs. Superman: Dawn of Justice.

Henry RoadPennsylvania High School won't allow production of Monty Python's Spamelot because play features gay wedding: "Dawn Burch, director of the school’s drama department, told WNEP news that Principal Jesse Smith wrote an email to her informing her that homosexuality does not exist in a conservative community such as South Williamsport. Smith did not respond to a ThinkProgress inquiry regarding these specific comments."

RoadApparently, there were some fireworks on the set of The Notebook. Hate and love are the closest emotions.

RoadAustralian rugby team Sydney Convicts are first gay team to play on professional level: “The Sydney Convicts are very excited and proud to be the first gay and inclusive rugby team to be invited to play as part of an elite level rugby match," [The president of the Convicts, Dave] Whitaker told the Gay News Network. “We hope this game helps to challenge these misconceptions while also raising awareness that homophobia in sport is still a major issue and gay people often still feel unwelcome.”

RoadHorrible Bosses 2 trailer released.

RoadOmar Sharif Jr. one of People's hottest bachelors.

RoadBrothers & Sisters alum and out actor Luke MacFarlane to play gay service-member on NBC's Night Shift

RoadRussian conductor Valery Gergiev, known for being close with Russian President Vladimir Putin, says Russia's anti-gay propaganda law isn't anti-gay: “It’s not anti-gay… Nothing to do with gay. It’s about propaganda in schools, in schools, what they call ‘non-traditional’. I don’t understand all these things; I also don’t understand the campaign [of protests against his performances].” He went on to claim that the impacts of the law are exaggerated by western media, saying: “I didn’t know about this law. I learnt about this law in the west. Nobody knows about this law in Russia because [the] law is never applied. No one is put in prison, no one is killed, no one is arrested. We have no idea what is this law in reality to do with our lives here. No idea. Nobody here is about this at all.”

RoadGay CEOs reluctant to come out? "'Of course there are gay CEOs and I reached out to many of them and got an extremely cool reception,' said New York Times columnist Jim Stewart on CNBC, 'Not one would allow to be named for the column.'"


Mormon LGBT Rights Advocate John Dehlin Faces Excommunication: VIDEO

Dehlin

John Dehlin, a Mormon advocate of LGBT rights, has said that no decision has been made on whether he will be excommunicated from the church.

Last month a top Mormon official reiterated the church's stance against same-sex marriage.

Speaking to The Washington Post, Dehlin, who runs the Mormon Stories website, said that regional Mormon church leader Bryan King told Dehlin he needed time to think and pray on whether to send the case to a disciplinary panel.

Writing on Mormon Stories, Dehlin says “that many LDS church leaders have good intentions, but I am deeply troubled by their historical and current treatment of women, racial and sexual minorities, and scientists/intellectuals.”

He also writes:

“I believe that I am being considered for disciplinary action because of: 1) the popularity of Mormon Stories podcast, 2) my support for LGBT rights within Mormonism, and for the legalization of same-sex marriage, 3) my support for Ordained Women, and 4) I believe that both local and high-level church leaders are blaming Mormon Stories for the fact that some people inevitably leave the church.”

Although Mormon officials have not specifically discussed the case, they have said the church welcomes questions and conversations about the faith.

Dehlin has agreed to no longer talk with the media about the case.

Watch a video of Dehlin speaking about LGBT rights at a TEDx talk this past November, AFTER THE JUMP...

Continue reading "Mormon LGBT Rights Advocate John Dehlin Faces Excommunication: VIDEO" »


California Baptist Pastor Who Came Out In Support Of His Gay Son To Attend White House Pride Reception

6a00d8341c730253ef01a511c97acc970c-500wi-1

Danny Cortez, the pastor of the New Heart Community Church in La Mirada, California will attend a White House reception today along with his fifteen-year old son Drew in honor of Pride month as a guest of President Obama, Pink News reports. Cortez made headlines earlier this month when he announced to his congregation that his son was gay and that he sought to welcome the LGBT community to his church. Some within the Baptist community branded him an ‘apostate’ for contravening The Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) constitution that states “explicitly that any congregation that endorses homosexual behavior is 'not in cooperation with the Convention,' and thus excluded from its membership.” Cortez’s own congregation, however, voted to keep him as pastor and become a ‘Third Way’ church.  

6a00d8341c730253ef01a3fd19ffc9970b-250wiThe New Heart church also issued a statement of support for Cortez and his family:

"As you know, the Cortez family has recently been under fire for reaching out to those in the LGBT community, who have been marginalized far too long.

“If you know Danny like we do, this is not out of character for him. He’s been standing in the gap, and seeking truth, and fighting for justice, and defending the widow, and loving the homeless—for years and years.

“He leads his family, he shepherds a church, and he has been there for you and me when we’ve needed him most. For good reason, we call him pastor."

Danny and Drew Cortez raised money for their travel to Washington, D.C. through a a successful crowd funding campaign. 


Supreme Court Limits Obamacare's Contraception Coverage

BY ARI EZRA WALDMAN

6a00d8341c730253ef01a73dd60f4d970d-300wiIn the words of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, dissenting today in Burwell v. Hobby Lobby:

In the Court’s view, [the Religious Freedom Restoration Act] demands accommodation of a for-profit corporation’s religious beliefs no matter the impact that accommodation may have on third parties who do not share the corporation owners’ religious faith—in these cases, thousands of women employed by Hobby Lobby and Conestoga or dependents of persons those corporations employ. Persuaded that Congress enacted RFRA to serve a far less radical purpose, and mindful of the havoc the Court’s judgment can introduce, I dissent. 

"Havoc" is one mild, understated way to put it. I would add "dangerous," "unprecedented," and "violent."

BrYbC7YCMAAOCqRWhen last we heard about Obamacare, the number of enrollees had exceeded certain Administration expectations. But if you recall, these enrollments were only allowed to happen after the Supreme Court concluded that the central piece of the law -- the individual mandate that requires people to have insurance -- is constitutional.

Today, Obamacare is back in legal news. In a 5-4 decision in Hobby Lobby, the Court held that family-owned corporations can opt out of generally applicable laws for religious reasons. You can read the full decision here. I previewed the legal issues back in March because this case has dangerous implications for the future of LGBT equality.

This case is a so-called religious freedom challenge to a federal law. The Affordable Care Act requires that health care plans provide their customers with certain contraceptives and contraceptive services free of charge. Hobby Lobby, a closely-held (that is a fancy legal term for "family-run") chain of retail arts and crafts stores run by a deeply religious family, took issue with providing its employees with contraceptives that it believed violated the owners' religious beliefs. The company challenged the requirement, arguing that corporations can have religious rights, should be able to sue to protect those rights, and that Obamacare violated its freedom of religion.

Many of us are concerned about our health care and the health care of others. This decision impacts directly all of us who work for companies that provide health insurance: granted, today's decision only applied to private, closely-held companies; but there is little in the opinion to prevent expansion down the road.

However, more to the point, Hobby Lobby sets a dangerous precedent in the gay rights universe. Gay equality laws -- from marriage equality laws in New York to the Employment Non-Discrimination Act that passed the U.S. Senate -- have religious exemptions. States that gained marriage equality by judicial decision still have vocal opponents whose arguments (perhaps pretextual) are based on religious freedom. They say they should not be forced to bake a cake for a gay wedding, or rent out their catering halls for gays, or provide any services to gay couples because they oppose gay marriage. If Hobby Lobby, an arts and crafts company that has nothing whatsoever to do with religion, can exempt itself from a federal law aimed at providing equal access to all, then perhaps a baker or a florist or a limousine driver can do the same to us.

Religious exemptions and religious freedom arguments can grow to a point where they endanger equality. Our community cannot simply be satisfied with Windsor, the post-Windsor marriage equality winning streak, and the prospect of an impending second shot at the Supreme CourtHobby Lobby could undo much of it.

AFTER THE JUMP, I discuss the Hobby Lobby decision, its dangers, and its limitations.

Continue reading "Supreme Court Limits Obamacare's Contraception Coverage" »


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