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Michigan Civil Rights Commission Endorses Model Local LGBT Non-Discrimination Ordinance

Screen Shot 2015-03-25 at 1.29.36 PMThe Michigan Civil Rights Commission endorsed a model local non-discrimination ordinance that covers sexual orientation and gender identity at a meeting held at the Holocaust Memorial Center on Monday reports the Daily Reporter. The ordinance states that no one should be denied "civil rights or be discriminated against," on the basis of gender expression, identity and sexual orientation. The model also bars bias based on education, age, disability, race, sex, religion, weight, national origin, marriage or family status. Commission Chairman Arthur Horwitz stated that the ordinance is designed to provide a more cohesive anti-discrimination view for over 30 Michigan municipalities.

Said Horwitz:

"The concept of developing a model non-discrimination ordinance grew from the fact that more than 30 Michigan municipalities have non-discrimination ordinances that vary significantly in their structure, wording and scope... developed model language that municipalities could access if, in their own discretion, they decided they wanted a starting point for their own discussions and deliberations."

In a January appearance before the commission, Republican Gov. Rick Snyder expressed hope that the GOP-controlled Michigan legislature would continue discussing a bill to add protections for gay, lesbian, transgender and bisexual people to the state civil rights law. However, House Speaker Kevin Cotter, a Midland Republican and American Family Association of Michigan leader, believes the measure is unnecessary saying that gay and gender identity laws are a "solution in search of a nonexistent problem," and that they "have a history of themselves being discriminatory" in forcing people to choose between their morals or religious beliefs.


Eleven Senate Republicans Join Democrats in Voting to Guarantee Equal Benefits for Married Gay Couples

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In an unexpected move Thursday night, eleven Senate Republicans joined all Democrats on a nonbinding vote to guarantee equal Social Security and veterans benefits to married same-sex couples, regardless of state laws on gay marriage.

Buzzfeed reports:

The amendment, proposed by Sen. Brian Schatz, addressed the fact that both Social Security and some provisions of veterans’ benefits are, by statute, provided to spouses on the basis of whether a couple’s marriage is recognized by the state in which they live. The amendment would provide for benefits for spouses for all married same-sex couples, regardless of where they live.

The four Republicans who have previously announced support for marriage equality — Sens. Susan Collins of Maine, Mark Kirk of Illinois, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, and Rob Portman of Ohio — were joined by seven GOP colleagues in supporting the amendment. Of the four, only Portman lives in a state that does not recognize same-sex couples’ marriages.

The other seven GOP senators were Kelly Ayotte (NH), Richard Burr (NC), Thom Tillis (NC), Shelley Moore Capito (WV), Dean Heller (NV), Ron Johnson (WI), and Bob Corker (TN). 

Yesterday, we reported on a U.S. district judge in Texas issuing an order blocking the new Family & Medical Leave Act rule allowing married, same-sex couples to take unpaid leave to care for sick spouses. The order affected Texas, Arkansas, Louisiana and Nebraska.


Oregon House Of Representatives Passes Measure Outlawing Conversion Therapy

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The Oregon House voted on Tuesday to outlaw the dangerous practice of conversion therapy, with several lawmakers arguing the practice is heavily discredited and can cause irreparable emotional and mental damage reports KATU.com. The passage of HB 2307 makes it illegal for social workers or licensed mental health professionals, such as psychiatrists or psychologists, to practice conversion therapy on children under the age of 18 in the state of Oregon. The bill even received support from Rep. Knute Buehler, a Bend Republican.

Said Buehler:  

"Conversion therapy itself can cause incredible emotional and mental trauma to people, particularly young people in the process of coming to terms with their sexual identities."

The measure passed 41-18 and now heads to the Senate. New Jersey and California recently passed laws banning the dangerous therapy with Federal appeals courts upholding the bans. However, others such as Rep. Duane Stark, a Republican from Grants Pass who voted against the bill, felt there should be an opt-in option for the treatment should youth choose to pursue the treatment on their own volition.

Said Stark: 

"It's a normal, common practice that when people come in they can request from their therapist what sort of therapy they want to receive. I felt like there should be some sort of opt-in option for youth and empower them in that client-centered therapy."

However, the American Medical Association and the American Psychological Association have both condemned the dangerous therapy, with proponents of the bill saying the therapy leads to anxiety, depression and destructive behaviors in children. 


GOP-Dominated Florida House Moves to Remove Language Banning Gay Adoption from Law

The Florida House of Representatives is likely to strike language banning gay adoption from its laws in an acknowledgement of the court ruling five years ago declaring the state's gay adoption ban unconstitutional, the AP reports. The body gave it an early approval on Tuesday:

CrisafulliThe full bill still needs a House vote, but it has wide support. The Senate and Gov. Rick Scott would also have to approve the bill before the gay-adoption language is deleted from law.

Republican House Speaker Steve Crisafulli (pictured) said the vote isn't necessarily an endorsement of current policy that allows gays to adopt.

"Philosophically, I've never really been there on that, but I'm somebody who operates under the letter of the law," he said. "I recognize that this has been taking place for five years, so our bill is going to reflect that."

Basically, most of the Republicans are still against gay couples adopting children, they're just acknowledging they must abide by the law - five years later.


Ted Cruz: I'm The Biggest Anti-Gay Bigot In The 2016 GOP Presidential Field

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Facing intense competition for the anti-gay vote, U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, is aiming to set himself apart from the rest of the 2016 GOP presidential field. 

The Republican Primary promises to feature a healthy crop of truly formidable homophobes, from Rick Santorum to Mike Huckabee to Bobby Jindal to Ben Carson

But in a speech on Monday in Iowa, Cruz laid claim to the notion that he may be the No. 1 opponent of same-sex marriage. From The Des Moines Register

Cruz, R-Texas, described the ongoing shift toward legal recognition for gay couples as an "unrelenting assault on traditional marriage," and castigated judges who have struck down prohibitions for "ignoring their oaths, ignoring the Constitution and legislating from the bench."

The issue is one that Cruz said distinguishes him from other potential candidates in what looks to be a crowded 2016 presidential field. While others have de-emphasized or dropped altogether their opposition to same-sex marriage, he said, he would continue to make it a priority.

Cruz delivered his speech to a crowd of about 200 Iowa religious leaders and their spouses behind closed doors in a hotel ballroom in Des Moines. Although the American Renewal Project's "Pastors and Pews" event was closed to the press, reporters were able to hear and record Cruz's remarks from the corridor outside.

Cruz went on to call President Barack Obama "an apologist for radical Islamic terrorism." Also attending the event was Cruz's whacko father, Rafael Cruz, and it reportedly ended with attendees "laying hands" on the senator for an extended period. 

While it's truly scary that he's a US senator, let alone a presidential candidate, we're not going to argue with Cruz's claim about marriage, even though Huckabee or Santorum might have something to say. After all, Cruz is the author of legislation that would strip federal benefits from same-sex couples who live in states that don't recognize same-sex marriage, and he plans to introduce a federal marriage amendment later this year. 

The question is, while it may play well with social conservatives in Iowa, where Santorum won in 2012, will the anti-gay marriage card work in other early primary states like Nevada and New Hampshire, especially if the U.S. Supreme Court delivers nationwide marriage equality in June? Or will Cruz's campaign ultimately fizzle because he happens to be a total nutjob? 

For a look at what the other GOP presidential hopefuls have said about marriage, check out this recent report from CNN


Texas GOP Chair Pledges to Cancel Newspaper Subscription if Same-Sex Kiss Is Ever Published

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Last year, the Texas Republican Party added a plank to its platform endorsing the discredited practice of "reparative therapy." 

So it isn't too surprising that the party's newly elected chair believes being gay is a choice, and that businesses should be free to turn away LGBT people. Tom Mechler (above), who was elected to lead the Texas GOP over the weekend, also says that if his local newspaper ever publishes a photo of a gay couple kissing, he'll cancel his subscription. 

The Texas Observer reports: 

In a column for the Amarillo Globe-News last March, Mechler responded to LGBT activists who objected to a local gym’s refusal to offer a family membership to a same-sex couple.

“We have gone way past the point of reason in the attack by homosexual activists and other liberals who want to manipulate society to serve their purpose,” Mechler wrote. “One of the problems we are experiencing in our nation is that if you say you believe in the biblical definition of marriage (which I do), or if you express an opinion that liberals determine as being politically incorrect, they will attack you—sometimes viciously—frequently making threats against your life and property. They call your comments and thoughts homophobic or hate speech.”

Despite Mechler's victory, the outcome could have been worse for the LGBT commmunity One of the other candidates was Jared Woodfill, who has repeatedly sued out lesbian Houston Mayor Annise Parker over pro-LGBT initiatives. 

But according to the Observer, Mechler represents a step backward from the previous Texas GOP chair, Steve Munisteri:  

Last year, Munisteri provided a glimmer of hope that party leadership was inching forward on LGBT rights, when he responded to the controversy over a GOP plank endorsing “ex-gay” therapy by saying he didn’t believe it was possible for people to change their orientation. But Mechler doesn’t appear poised to continue that progress. ...

“I believe that everyone in our country has a right to protection of his or her person and property, and their personal lifestyle choice doesn’t make them a bad person. I also strongly believe that states have a right to decide the issue of marriage,” Mechler wrote in the column. “As a final note, if the Amarillo Globe-News ever publishes a picture of two men or two women kissing each other, I will cancel my subscription.”

If you'd like to send Mechler your kissing photos, you can find him on Facebook or Twitter, or email him at tom@tommechler.com


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