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Judge Issues Split Ruling In Anti-Gay Group's Unauthorized Use Of Gay Couple's Photo

Kissing

In September 2012, husbands Brian Edwards and Thomas Privitere (pictured above) sued the Public Advocate of the United States — a Virginia-based conservative political group — for using their personal engagement photo in an anti-gay mailer targeting two 2012 Colorado “Republican state legislative candidates who lost their primary races.”

WeddingU.S. District Court Judge Wiley Daniel ruled against Edwards’ claim that the postcard was an “unlawful appropriation of [‘his] name and likeness,” and said that the political group had the legal right to non-commercially use the couple’s photo in addressing a matter of legitimate public concern (same-sex marriage) under the First Amendment.

However, the Judge Daniel also ruled that “the gay New Jersey couple and their photographer — have a plausible copyright infringement claim’… [since] Neither they nor their photographer, Kristina Hill, gave permission for their engagement photograph to be used.”

The mailer's creators deleted the photo's original background of the Manhattan skyline and Brooklyn Bridge and added the Colorado landscape to give the mailer local appeal. The Southern Poverty Law Center (who filed the suit on the gay couple’s behalf) lists the Public Advocate of the United States as an active anti-LGBT hate group.


Alabama Judge Restores Lesbian Mother's Visitation Rights

Lesbian-moms
The Southern Poverty Law Center called the ruling "a first in Alabama". The group has just finished representing Chelsea Hughes in Mobile County court. Hughes separated from her then-husband after following him to Mobile from Seattle, due to a military transfer. Once the couple separated, her ex-husband denied her access to her four children, due to the fact that she had chosen to be with a woman after the divorce. She subsequently enlisted the help of SPLC, and filed for visitation rights. Unfortunately, as was noted by the group, gay parents (who are just as, if not more, competent at raising families than straight parents) face an uphill battle when filing for visitation rights in Alabama:

"A circuit judge approved favorable visitation rights in a July 25 order. Although similar rulings may have occurred in Alabama where such orders are not widely published, this appears to be the first time an Alabama trial court has approved standard visitation rights for an avowedly lesbian or gay parent. Overnight restrictions – sometimes referred to as 'paramour' restrictions – especially burden same-sex parents who are still prohibited from marriage in Alabama."

Senior staff attorney Sam Wolfe hailed the ruling as a groundbreaking victory:

"This sets the right precedent for LGBT parents – and any unmarried parent in Alabama because LGBT people and unmarried parents have just as much right to their children as heterosexual couples...Parents should never have to choose between their children and an unmarried partner. LGBT parents have faced serious mistreatment in Alabama and it has got to stop."

Luckily, last week's ruling marks a step in the right direction. 


Former Ex-Gay Therapist Publishes Troubling Op-Ed In USA Today

Nicholas-Cummings-Ex-Gay-Therapist
Despite certain bans being put in place both in the U.S. and abroad, ex-gay therapy continues to be offered by 70 different clinics in 20 different states, according to the Southern Poverty Law Center. Luckily, the SPLC has filed a lawsuit against one such organization, Jews Offering New Alternatives for Healing (or JONAH), alleging consumer fraud. The New Jersey lawsuit will hopefully break new ground, and set a precedent for similar lawsuits against other similar organizations. 

That doesn't sit well with Nicholas A. Cummings, a former therapist and head of the American Psychological Association, who used the lawsuit as an avenue to advocate for ex-gay therapy in an op-ed piece he wrote for USA Today. "The sweeping allegation that such treatment must be a fraud because homosexual orientation can't be changed is damaging," he wrote, claiming that the Southern Poverty Law Center has "gone astray" from its original "service for our nation in fighting prejudice."

It is worth mentioning straight away that Cummings' credentials as a therapist date from 1959–1979, and his credentials as head of the APA date from 1979–1980. As ThinkProgress pointed out, "it’s unclear what professional experience he’s had since then." Since Cummings' time as head, the APA has recognized the practice of ex-gay therapy as ineffective and potentially harmful. Nevertheless, Cummings maintains that "of the patients I oversaw who sought to change their orientation, hundreds were successful." He went on to explain:

"I believe that our rate of success with reorientation was relatively high because we were selective in recommending therapeutic change efforts only to those who identified themselves as highly motivated and were clinically assessed as having a high probability of success."

When it came to providing specific numerical or even anecdotal evidence of this "high probability of success", Cummings chose to stay conspicuously silent in his op-ed piece. Instead, he chose to lament the politicization of ex-gay therapy, and claimed that:

"Accusing professionals from across the country who provide treatment for fully informed persons seeking to change their sexual orientation of perpetrating a fraud serves only to stigmatize the professional and shame the patient. 

Exgay-therapy-23034it is also worth mentioning that Cummings does agree with the fact that "homosexuality is not a mental disorder". That is, unfortunately, where he and the APA split, since the organization has agreed that sexual orientation cannot be changed by therapy. As for those claiming to be changed by therapy? Studies indicate that they are simply "acting the part". Thus, Cummings' op-ed, which ThinkProgress calls "a rehash of an affidavit he filed defending JONAH in the lawsuit," serves only to toss around old credentials and vague evidence to advocate for abusive treatment, as was reported by plaintiffs in the JONAH lawsuit. 

Perhaps even more troubling is the fact that organizations such as NARTH, who advocate for ex-gay therapy, are already championing Cummings' article to their supporters. Then again, "he has also featured as a keynote speaker at NARTH conferences, where he claimed that the LGBT movement uses “homophobia as intimidation” to oppress those who oppose homosexuality." 

Read the full op-ed for USA Today HERE.


Four Gay Men Sue 'Ex-Gay' Organization JONAH, Talk About the Lawsuit with CNN: VIDEO

Jonah

Four gay men sued the NJ "ex-gay" organization JONAH (Jews Offering New Alternatives to Healing) yesterday, the AP reports:

Three of the men at the news conference are Jewish, and the fourth is a Mormon now living in Salt Lake City who was a college student in New York when he signed up for the services.

Speaking for the men at Tuesday’s news conference were attorneys from the Southern Poverty Law Center, a Montgomery, Ala.-based civil rights organization.

“JONAH profits off of shameful and dangerous attempts to fix something that isn’t broken,” said Christine P. Sun, the center’s deputy legal director. “Despite the consensus of mainstream professional organizations that conversion therapy doesn’t work, this racket continues to scam vulnerable gay men and lesbians out of thousands of dollars and inflicts significant harm on them.”

CNN adds: Sun

Bruck and three male plaintiffs contend they were defrauded by JONAH's claim that "being gay is a mental disorder" that could be reversed by conversion therapy -- "a position rejected by the American Psychiatric Association four decades ago," the lawsuit said.

The therapy, which can cost up to $10,000 a year, put them at risk of "depression, anxiety and self-destructive behavior," while giving them no benefits, the suit said.

Jo Bruck, Sheldon's mother, and Bella Levin, the mother of plaintiff Chaim Levin, are also plaintiffs because they paid for their sons' conversion therapy and the counseling the suit said they needed to recover from it.

The conversion therapy techniques included having them strip naked in group sessions, cuddling and intimate holding of others of the same-sex, violently beating an effigy of their mothers with a tennis racket, visiting bath houses "in order to be nude with father figures," and being "subjected to ridicule as 'faggots' and 'homos' in mock locker room scenarios," the suit said.

Watch CNN speak with plaintiff Michael Ferguson and SPLC's Sun, AFTER THE JUMP...

Continue reading "Four Gay Men Sue 'Ex-Gay' Organization JONAH, Talk About the Lawsuit with CNN: VIDEO" »


Gay Couple Sues Virginia Conservative Eugene Delgaudio Over Stolen Wedding Photo

Wedding

The Southern Poverty Law Center, on behalf of Brian Edwards and Tom Privitere, a gay NJ couple, is filing a federal lawsuit against Public Advocate of the United States, the conservative non-profit organization led by Loudoun County Supervisor Eugene Delgaudio.

Delgaudio's group stole the couple's wedding photo for use in an anti-gay political mailing, the AP reports:

DelgaudioThe photo was used in mailers in a June primary election involving Sen. Jean White, one of a handful of Republicans who supported a civil unions bill that was blocked in the state House. The mailer, which replaced the Manhattan skyline with a snowy background, read: “State Senator Jean White’s Idea of ‘Family Values?’”

White lost the primary against a fellow Republican in a northwestern Colorado district.

Ypu may recall some of Delgaudio's past antics. He fought tooth and nail against an anti-discrimination ordinance in Loudon County, labeling transgender people "it" and "real life Tootsies" and has had an ongoing campaign against the Student Non-Discrimination Act which included an email sent out by the Weekly Standard warning people that federal anti-bullying legislation is a secret plan to "indoctrinate" children with "homosexual propaganda".

Delgaudio


Wayne Besen: A Gunman's 'Associate'? A 'Murderous Homosexual'?

Wayne_besen-766081Getting Wayne Besen off The O'Reilly Factor has, in the past 48 hours, become an obsession on the anti-gay right. Andrew Belonsky wrote about its first stirrings on Thursday, when several ex-gay groups jointly published a press release directed at FOX News, the nastiest paragraph of which might have been:

We ask the News Corporation, Fox News, and Bill O'Reilly to find more ethical spokespersons for the liberal view of sexuality. In their infamous Washington Post ad accusing FRC of hateful values, Besen and the SPLC claim that "words have consequences."  Yes, they do. And Besen's may lead to violence.

Wayne Besen is the founder of Truth Wins Out, and he occasionally appears on television to say nice things about the Southern Poverty Law Center -- the same Southern Poverty Law Center that's labeled the Family Research Center a "hate group" (partially because the FRC has stumped for legislation legalizing the execution of "repeat homosexual offenders" in Uganda), and who, therefore, are supposedly responsible for last week's non-fatal shooting of an FRC security guard by a crazyperson.

Now, the anti-Besenites have become totally unglued. They've penned a petition, bound for FOX News and signed by such headlining homophobes as Scott Lively, Matt Barber, Matt Staver, and Peter LaBarbera, in which they accuse Besen of being an "associate" of the FRC gunman. They ask readers to sign the petition, and finish off with this PS:

P.S. Thank you for standing with us against anti-Christian violence by murderous homosexuals.  Please forward this free petition widely to your friends!

Even Peter LaBarbera -- even Bryan Fischer -- has never before gone quite so far as to call a famous, non-violent gay activist "murderous." This is usually Fred Phelps's territory.

Wayne Besen responds here.


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