West Virginia Hub

College Running Back Arrested for Assaulting Gay Couple He Saw Kiss on the Street: VIDEO


Steward Butler, a running back for the Marshall University football team in Huntington, West Virginia, has been arrested and charged with battery after beating a gay couple he saw kiss on the street, WSAZ reports:

Investigators said the couple involved, Zackery Johnson and his partner, Casey Williams, were walking down the street, when Butler spotted them embracing and kissing and began yelling slurs and punched them.

Huntington Police said Butler was, at first, in a car with two other Marshall football players.

"He was traveling in the vehicle, he saw this, saw these two individuals walking, saw them give each other a kiss. He had the driver stop the car, he gets out, confronts him and said some choice, some bad choice words," HPD Detective Chris Sperry said. The couple tells us they were in town visiting friends, and were headed to their hotel after dinner and a few bars.

Investigators said after Butler punched the two men, in an apparent hate crime, the other two Marshall players told him to stop and leave.

Huntington Police said Butler claimed the attack was out of self-defense and that none of the men in the confrontation knew each other.

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

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West Virginia High School Athlete Couple Go To 'Perfect' Prom Together

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In a turn of events that gives hope for the future, a gay couple in West Virginia attended their prom together last Saturday, reports Outpsports.

Michael Martin, a four-year starter on Mussleman High School’s soccer team, attended the prom with his tennis player boyfriend Logan Westrope, who attends Hedgesville High School. Michael, who is also an all conference swimmer and tennis player, shared his coming out story with Outsports back in December. The two have been dating for four months.

11170355_840833039322292_748096629259618102_nMichael asked Logan to the prom last month in the parking lot of Chik-fil-A, where Logan works:

"I asked Logan to the prom after his work. I gave him a bag with a chicken sandwich inside and asked, 'Are you a chicken or will you go to the prom with me?' He easily and gladly said yes."

Logan told Outsports:

"We knew this would be a night to remember. We walked in, checked in with our tickets, and were off to have fun!  At first we were both a little hesitant to hold hands, not knowing how the rest of the student body would react. But after a short while, we were always next to each other and danced together the whole night.

"Some of the slow songs we danced to were 'Stay With Me' (Sam Smith), 'See You Again' (Wiz Khalifa), and 'All of Me' (John Legend). At the moment when the slow songs played, we would just stare into each other's eyes and would think of how lucky we are to have each other.

"We didn't hear any negative comments about Michael and I. A lot of people would come up to us (especially the girls) and say, 'You both are so cute!' or 'You guys look great!'  Once we left the prom, I remember Michael saying to me in the car, 'Logan, this is our last prom and I'm so glad I got to spend it with you.' I couldn't have asked for a more perfect night."

Two more of the adorable photos, AFTER THE JUMP...

Continue reading "West Virginia High School Athlete Couple Go To 'Perfect' Prom Together" »

Trans Teen's Lawsuit Prompts South Carolina DMV to Change Driver's License Photo Policy

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A transgender teen who filed a federal lawsuit last September against South Carolina’s Department of Motor Vehicles for sex discrimination and violating free speech won her case reports NPR.org. Chase Culpepper, 17, filed the suit after DMV officials told her to remove her mascara and eye shadow before taking her driver’s license photo, arguing with her that her cosmetics was a "disguise."

Screen Shot 2015-04-24 at 8.14.20 AMThe department claimed that a 2009 rule prohibits applicants from "purposely altering his or her appearance so that the photo would misrepresent his or her identity." Culpepper filed a lawsuit in response to the Spring 2014 incident calling the policy "unconstitutionally vague and overbroad" and arguing it allowed DMV officials to make "arbitrary and capricious" decisions based on the department’s personal biases regarding gender presentation.

The Transgender Legal Defense and Education Fund, a New York-based group backing Culpepper, helped reach a settlement in the case, with South Carolina’s DMV agreeing to change its policy to allow applicants to be photographed as they are regardless of officials’ expectations of what they think applicants should look like. The department also promised Culpepper an apology letter and intends on training employees on how to treat transgender and gender non-conforming individuals. Culpepper announced she is pleased with the results of the settlement.

Said Culpepper:

"I am thrilled with the outcome of my lawsuit. My clothing and makeup reflect who I am. From day one, all I wanted was to get a driver's license that looks like me. Now I will be able to do that. It was hurtful to be singled out for being transgender and made to feel that somehow I wasn’t good enough."

The new department policies go into effect in May; Culpepper intends on taking her new driver’s license photo then with her makeup on. Since Culpepper’s win, the Transgender Defense and Education Fund received several similar requests for legal representation and support after the news of Culpepper’s successful case spread reports The Los Angeles Times. The advocacy group is currently in negotiations with West Virginia’s DMV after three transgender women reported that the department ordered the women to remove wigs and fake eyelashes before having their driver’s license photos taken.


Homophobic 'Religious Freedom' Bills Defeated in West Virginia

House Bill 2508 and Senate Bill 487, two pieces of West Virginian legislation that would have codified and sanctioned widespread discrimination against the state’s LGBT population, have been defeated. Neither of the bills made it to their respective bodies’ voting floors before West Virginia’s legislative session ended this past weekend, effectively cutting the discriminatory laws off at the knees.

6a00d8341c730253ef01a511603fb9970c-800wi“Fairness and equality have prevailed in West Virginia,” said Marty Rouse, National Field Director to the Human Rights Campaign. “These bills were assaults on liberty and justice, and without the work of Fairness West Virginia, HRC members, and allies in the state, they could have very well been passed into law.”

H.B. 2508 followed in the recent trend of conservative House bills designed to circumvent laws protecting LGBT people from workplace, housing, and employment discrimination. Similarly S.B. 487 would have empowered West Virginian government officials to claim religious exemptions in those instances where they were required to render services for LGBT people like issuing marriage licenses.

In many ways the bills worked to support the vision laid out in H.B. 2881, a defeated bill that--had it passed--would have rolled back any and all protections for queer people under the pretense of improving intrastate commerce.

“As evidenced by the overwhelming public opposition to discriminatory legislation, it’s clear that West Virginia is no place for intolerance and hate,” explained Andrew Schneider, Fairness West Virginia executive director. “We look forward to continue working with our allies in the WV Legislature to ensure that West Virginia is a more inclusive and attractive place to call home.”

Democratic Senator Joe Manchin Can't FInd It In His Heart To Support Marriage Equality

ManchinSen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) has not changed his position on same-sex marriage and will not sign an amicus brief being put together by Sen. Diane Feinstein (D-Calif.) and other Senate Democrats urging the U.S. Supreme Court to recognize nationwide marriage equality when it considers same-sex marriage later in the year. The Washington Blade reports:

Asked by the Washington Blade if Manchin would announce support for marriage equality and add his name to the brief, Jonathan Kott, a Manchin spokesperson, replied, “No. His position has not changed.”

Now that former Sens. Mark Pryor and Mary Landrieu have been voted out of office, Manchin is the only Senate Democrat to remain opposed to same-sex marriage. He’s designated as an opponent of gay nuptials on the Human Rights Campaign congressional scorecard, which cites a 2012 statement from a spokesperson saying Manchin believes marriage is between one man and one woman.

Manchin is unfazed by the dramatic shift in favor of marriage equality both across the nation and within his own party. The Blade notes that Manchin dodged the question of same-sex marriage earlier this year after President Obama historically called same-sex marriage a civil right in his state of the union address, saying he didn't remember Obama making such a grand and sweeping declaration in favor of marriage equality.

By remaining a stalwart opponent of same-sex marriage, Manchin is also directly opposed to his party's platform, which in 2012 stated,

“We support marriage equality and support the movement to secure equal treatment under law for same-sex couples. We also support the freedom of churches and religious entities to decide how to administer marriage as a religious sacrament without government interference.”

Manchin previously voted against the repeal of DADT but came out in favor of ENDA.

West Virginia Panel Advances Bill Banning LGBT Anti-Discrimination Ordinances

WVH.B. 2881, a bill that would ban local municipalities in the state of West Virginia from enacting LGBT anti-discrimination ordinances, advanced out of committee today and now moves to the House floor for an up or down vote. The bill is a facsimile of the anti-gay bill Arkansas recently enacted.

The bill, named the "West Virginia Intrastate Commerce Improvement Act", claims its intent is to "improve intrastate commerce" and business by enacting "uniformity" of laws, thus benefitting "the businesses, organizations and employers seeking to do business in [West Virginia] and will attract new ones to [it]." In actuality, the bill prevents local governments from protecting its LGBT citizenry from discrimination. 

The bill reads:

(a) No county, municipality or other political subdivision may adopt or enforce a local law, ordinance, resolution, rule or policy that creates a protected classification or prohibits discrimination on a basis not contained in state law.

And adds:

(b) Any local law, ordinance, resolution, rule or policy adopted before the operative date of this act that violates subsection (a) of this section shall be null and void.

Prior to the bill advancing out of committee, Andrew Schneider, Executive Director of Fairness West Virginia, told The New Civil Rights Movement, 

"HB 2881 not only prohibits the rights of communities to govern themselves but it also interferes with democracy in its purest form: city and town councils. When a nondiscrimination ordinance or resolution is considered or passed, each community has the opportunity to speak out against it, vote the city or town leadership out of office, or repeal the ordinance. There’s no need for interference by the state legislature." 


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