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Wednesday Speed Read: South Carolina, Gay Books, Maura Healey, Carl DeMaio, Barney Frank, Chad Griffin

BY LISA KEEN / Keen News Service

CoursonS.C. BUDGET CUTS GET SECOND LOOK:

A South Carolina senate subcommittee recommended a budget that leaves out the House-passed cuts to public colleges using gay books. The chair of the subcommittee, Senator John Courson, told Associated Press he thinks books “should be up to the presidents of the institution and the board of trustees which the General Assembly elects.” The decision by Courson, a Republican, bucks the Republican-led House plan to cut $70,000 from the budgets of two state universities because they used gay positive books in their curricula. According to an Associated Press report Sunday, the Senate Finance Committee could begin debating the budget this week.

AN ENDORSEMENT RUSH:

HealeyOpenly lesbian Massachusetts attorney general candidate Maura Healey racked up a string of endorsements recently from women’s PACS: EMILY’s List, Women’s Campaign Fund, Feminist Majority, and Barbara Lee. The Women’s Campaign Fund named Healey one of their 40 “Game Changers,” for whom they promise to raise $40,000. Feminist Majority President Eleanor Smeal called Healey a “trailblazer for women’s rights, civil rights, and human rights.” Emily’s List has endorsed Healey, as well as her former boss Martha Coakley for governor. Healey needs the support: As of April 17, Healey had $363,644 in her campaign coffers compared to her Democratic primary opponent’s $602,400.

CARL DEMAIO ON LGBT INTOLERANCE:

DemaioRealClearPolitics.com quoted openly gay Republican U.S. House candidate Carl DeMaio about how he’s been received by opposite ends of the political spectrum: "I've found more tolerance, acceptance and inclusion from social conservative groups who have to reconcile that I'm a Republican who happens to be gay...versus the intolerance the LGBT leaders see me as a gay man who happens to be a Republican."

FRANK’S BURNING MEMORIES:

A just previewed documentary about the life of former U.S. Rep. Barney Frank includes a story about Frank receiving a letter from one of his former roommates at Harvard in which the roommate told Frank he was gay and had a crush on Frank. According to the Boston Globe, Frank was not openly gay at the time and feared that being so would hurt his political career. He burned the letter and gave the roommate no indication he was gay, too.

GRIFFIN ECHOES ‘ONE CHAPTER’:

GriffinNew York Times reporter Jo Becker has defended criticism of her book about “inside the fight for marriage equality” (Forcing the Spring) by saying it’s about “one chapter” of that decades-long battle. Her chapter is the Proposition 8 litigation organized by Chad Griffin and his American Foundation for Equal Rights, which included lead attorney Ted Olson. Griffin was on MSNBC’s Morning Joe talk show Tuesday morning and was immediately tackled with a question about all the criticism Becker’s received for focusing her book squarely on Griffin as a sort of “Rosa Parks” for marriage equality. Griffin has issued statements vigorously acknowledging that he is not the lone hero of the marriage equality movement. He did so again on Morning Joe. Interestingly, his questioner was an old comrade from AFER –Nicole Wallace. Wallace served as a spokesperson for AFER when Griffin was in charge and she’s also worked for the Human Rights Campaign, which Griffin leads now. “What was so interesting to me,” said Wallace, talking to Griffin, “was to see how raw nerves were within the movement –that there were activists who were so offended by the attention paid to what I think a lot of people on the outside thought was a very important chapter.”

Watch the Morning Joe segment, AFTER THE JUMP...

© 2014 Keen News Service. All rights reserved.

Continue reading "Wednesday Speed Read: South Carolina, Gay Books, Maura Healey, Carl DeMaio, Barney Frank, Chad Griffin" »


Proposed Financial Punishment of South Carolina Colleges For Assigning Gay Books May Die In Senate

Early last month, South Carolina Republican lawmakers in the House voted to slash about $70,000 in funding to the College of Charleston and the University of South Carolina Upstate in Spartanburg because the schools assigned LGBT-themed books to incoming freshmen.

SmithBut it looks like the House’s proposal may die in the state Senate. The State reports:

The debate could come up in Senate Finance Committee, which will work this week to complete its budget plan for the fiscal year beginning July 1. But the subcommittee that writes the budget for public colleges didn't include the cuts in its recommendations. That panel's chairman, Senate President Pro Tem John Courson, made clear he believes the Legislature shouldn't micromanage universities' curriculum.

"I think that should be up to the presidents of the institution and the board of trustees which the General Assembly elects," said Courson, R-Columbia…

"This whole issue is pretty baffling to me that we're talking about something like this in the year 2014," said Sen. Brad Hutto, D-Orangeburg, noting the students are adults…

Rep. Garry Smith (pictured), who proposed the cuts, argues that freedom comes with responsibility, and the colleges were neither responsible nor responsive to legislators who approve their budgets. The Legislature sets policy, and the budget should be "reflective of the values and mindset of the citizens of the state," said Smith, R-Simpsonville.

Someone might want to tell Representative Smith that “the values and mindset of the citizens of the state” are gradually creeping towards acceptance of gay and lesbian citizens.


South Carolina Town Takes Action in Defense of Fired Lesbian Police Chief: VIDEO

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Last week, we reported the developing story on the controversial firing of Police Chief Crystal Moore of Latta, South Carolina. Moore says she was fired by Mayor Earl Bullard because of her sexual orientation, a claim backed up by a leaked audio recording of Bullard saying he’d rather have an alcoholic be responsible for his kids than a gay person with a “questionable” lifestyle.

The city council, which has been looking into the issue, is now taking action in defense of Moore.

Think Progress reports:

First, the Latta Town Council voted unanimously (6-0) on an emergency ordinance that blocks Bullard from replacing Moore for about two months. During that time, the town will have a chance to vote on a referendum adjusting the basic governing structure to grant more power to the council and less to the mayor. If that adjustment is made, council members say they will vote to rehire Moore.

In a separate symbolic vote, the council voted 6-0 to support Moore for her 20 years of service to the town.

Earlier this week, Moore also appeared on MSNBC to discuss her situation. You can watch the interview AFTER THE JUMP

Continue reading "South Carolina Town Takes Action in Defense of Fired Lesbian Police Chief: VIDEO" »


Thursday Speed Read: Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon, Ohio, Oregon, Michael McShane, NOM, Crystal Moore

BY LISA KEEN / Keen News Service

IMPEACHABLE OFFENSE?

NixonThe Republican-led committee of the Missouri legislature discussed a proposal Wednesday to impeach Democratic Governor Jay Nixon because he issued an executive order allowing same-sex couples who have obtained marriage licenses in other states to file joint state tax returns in Missouri. Rep. Nick Marshall, who introduced the resolution, said he did so because Nixon “usurped the people and their authority to determine their constitution.” Voters in 2004 amended the constitution to ban same-sex marriages. The St. Louis Dispatch noted that the resolution has little time to advance, given the legislature adjourns in four weeks. Earlier this month, a Missouri judge denied a petition for a temporary restraining order to block Nixon’s directive. The judge will hold a hearing on the challenge May 2.

LET THE SIGNING BEGIN:

An LGBT group in Ohio earned a go-ahead to begin collecting signatures to put a ballot measure before voters to repeal the state’s ban on same-sex couples marrying. The Ohio Ballot Board announced Tuesday that FreedomOhio can begin collecting signatures the more than 385,000 signatures it needs. A spokesman for the group told the Cleveland Plain Dealer that FreedomOhio is working with other gay groups to determine what ballot to shoot for.

‘VOTING ON PEOPLE’S RIGHTS’:

McshaneOpenly gay U.S. District Court Judge Michael McShane held a two-hour-long hearing Wednesday on two lawsuits seeking to strike the state’s same-sex marriage ban. The Oregonian newspaper said McShane asked attorneys whether voters should get another vote at the ballot box "before the court steps in." Sheila Potter, representing the attorney general, who says the ban is unconstitutional, replied, "We are asking you to make a statement that we don't get to vote on peoples' constitutional rights." Basic Rights Oregon has a proposed initiative in the works to put a repeal measure on the ballot in November. The group has said it will drop that plan if the court strikes the ban as unconstitutional before May 23, an important ballot measure deadline.

ABOUT THOSE MARRIAGE PLANS:

NomlogoMcShane said he would hold a hearing May 14 on whether the National Organization for Marriage qualifies to intervene in the lawsuits to defend the ban since the attorney general has declined to do so. NOM has complained publicly that there are “serious ethical questions” about whether McShane should be presiding over the two marriage lawsuits because he is gay. “Judge McShane is in the same position as the two gay men challenging the marriage amendment, raising troubling questions about his impartiality," said John Eastman, an attorney for NOM. In court Wednesday, Judge McShane addressed that suggestion. According to the Oregonian, McShane said he and his partner “have no plans to get married.”

TINY TOWN FIGHTS BACK:

MooreLatta, South Carolina, population 1,410, is fighting to keep its openly lesbian 20-year veteran police chief. Many people in town believe Mayor Ed Bullard fired Crystal Moore because she is gay. On Tuesday, the town council voted unanimously to block Bullard from replacing Moore during the next two months. That followed a vote last week to hold a referendum June 24 on a new structure for government that would enable the town council to hire Moore back. WPDE News reported that a standing room only crowd turned out for a council meeting to show their support for Moore.

‘THE NAACP FOR GAY PEOPLE’:

In an interview with Jo Becker, author of the controversial book Forcing the Spring, NPR’s Terri Gross mentioned that Chad Griffin is now head of the Human Rights Campaign, which is, “you know, a big gay rights group.” “Exactly,” said Becker. “It’s the NAACP for gay people.”

© copyright 2014 by Keen News Service. All rights reserved.


South Carolina Police Chief Says Homophobic Mayor Fired Her for Being Gay: VIDEO

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The city council of Latta, South Carolina is investigating the circumstances surrounding the firing of Police Chief Crystal Moore by the town’s mayor. Moore claims she was fired because of her sexual orientation.

Mayor Earl Bullard fired Moore earlier this week after giving her seven written reprimands in one day (the first reprimands in her 20-plus years on the job).  Some elected officials and city residents, however, have rallied to Moore’s side, believing that Bullard has held a long-standing vendetta against Moore because she’s gay.

WBTW reports:

"I can't believe that we still have no equal rights. That's the biggest issue. I've been harassed, intimidated. This is the first time it's been this public. I'd tried living a quiet decent life and do what I'm supposed to," Moore said.

In an audio recording provided to WBTW by city councilman Jared Taylor, Mayor bullard is heard saying he’d rather have an alcoholic be responsible for his kids than a gay person with a “questionable” lifestyle:

Bullard“I would much rather have someone who drank and drank too much taking care of my child than I had somebody whose lifestyle is questionable around children, because that ain’t the damn way that they’re supposed to be,” Bullard says on the call. “I don’t agree with some of the lifestyles that I see portrayed and I don’t say anything because that’s the way they want to live. But I’m not going to let my child be around. I’m not going to let two women stand up there and hold hands and let my child be aware of it, and I’m not going to see them do it with two men neither. I’m not going to do it, because that ain’t the way the world works.”

The city council held a special meeting Thursday and voted for a referendum to weaken the mayor’s power. City residents will now be able to vote on the measure. 

Watch WBTW's report, AFTER THE JUMP...

Continue reading "South Carolina Police Chief Says Homophobic Mayor Fired Her for Being Gay: VIDEO" »


Tuesday Speed Read: Taxes, South Carolina, Ohio, Michigan, Violence Against Women Act

TAX DAY PROTEST:

SouthcarolinaEquality South Carolina is staging a tax day protest in Columbia, the state capital, today to show support for same-sex couples in South Carolina who have married in other states but must lie on their state tax returns and claim to be single. South Carolina is one of a number of states which are requiring legitimately married same-sex couples to file as single, even though the federal government requires such couples to file as married on their federal returns. The Human Rights Campaign has created a guide to the basics of what each state requires concerning same-sex married couples. Some states, like Texas, don’t have a state income tax. Others, like South Carolina and Michigan, require that, if couples file married for federal income tax purposes, they have to then recalculate their incomes as two single people on a federal return and fill out their state income tax return with that information.

OHIO JUDGE STRIKES BAN, STAYS ORDER:

T_blackU.S. District Court Judge Timothy Black issued a ruling yesterday, striking as unconstitutional Ohio’s ban on recognition of marriages for same-sex couples. In a footnote on the last page of the ruling, he stayed enforcement of the ruling in order for parties to the Henry v. Himes lawsuit to file briefs by 3 p.m. Tuesday, saying why they support or oppose a stay to remain in place “until completion of appeal” to the Sixth Circuit and the U.S. Supreme Court. He added, however, that he is “inclined” to allow the ruling to go into effect for the four plaintiff couples “because they have demonstrated that a stay will harm them individually due to the imminent births of their children and other time-sensitive concerns.” The case involves four couples –three who are due to give birth in June and one who is seeking to adopt— all of whom sought the right to include both parents’ names on the birth certificates of their children-to-be. Black announced in open court on April 4 that he intended to find the ban unconstitutional. His order Monday indicated he would rule “expeditiously” on the motion to stay.

ACLU SUES FOR THOSE WED IN MICHIGAN:

SnyderThe ACLU of Michigan filed suit in a federal district court in Detroit Monday on behalf of more than 300 same-sex couples who obtained marriage licenses in the state before a federal appeals court granted a stay of a decision striking the state’s ban on same-sex couples marrying. The lawsuit, Caspar v. Snyder, names eight same-sex couples married on March 22 and says they are being denied the benefits that “all legally married couples and their families deserve and are entitled to under the law.”

DOJ CLARIFIES COVERAGE:

The U.S. Department of Justice issued guidelines April 9 to clarify the reauthorized Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) covers victims of domestic violence, regardless of sex, sexual orientation, or gender identity. Among the specific guidelines is one saying that any entity receiving VAWA funds, including faith-based organizations receiving, cannot discriminate based on various factors, including gender identity and sexual orientation. “Gender identity is a person’s internal view of the individual’s gender. Transgender can be used to describe a person whose gender identity is different from the individual’s assigned sex at birth,” notes DOJ. “… best practices dictate that the [grant] recipient should ask a transgender beneficiary which group or service the beneficiary wishes to join.” 

© copyright 2014 by Keen News Service. All rights reserved.


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