Monday, April 20, 2015

McGuffey Pennsylvania School Superintendent Says Allegations Some Students Organized Anti-Gay Day Unfounded As Parent Of One Student Accused Says "Boys" Wore Flannel Shirts "To Represent Their Beliefs And Rights As Christians," Federal Judge Rejects Georgia Transgender Inmate's Request To Be Transferred Lower-Security Prison

An update on a previous post: In Pennsylvania, allegations of a reported “lynch list” and physical harassment of gay students and their supporters at McGuffey High School are unfounded so far, according to a statement released Monday by McGuffey Superintendent Erica Kolat. “On Thursday, April 16, 2015, allegations of harassment were brought to administration’s attention following the McGuffey High School Gay-Straight Alliance Club’s observance (Wednesday) of GLSEN’s ‘Day of Silence.’ Administration and school police officers have been investigating all allegations and continue to do so. At this time, no witnesses have seen the rumored ‘lynch list’ that was mentioned in previous news reports. Additionally, no statements have included physical harassment. Our investigation is ongoing, and we encourage anyone with information to contact McGuffey School District administration immediately. McGuffey School District is committed to providing a safe, supportive environment for all children,” she wrote. When asked about the list, in which gay students and their supporters purportedly are named, Roger Szuminsky, school police chief, said, “We have heard that. (The investigation) absolutely continues until we get to the bottom of it.” A group of McGuffey High School students sparked controversy after allegedly holding an “Anti-Gay Day” during school Thursday in protest of the National Day of Silence, an annual event intended to bring attention to bullying of the LGBT community. Accounts of as many as 100 students, mostly boys, wearing flannel shirts and writing messages like “anti-gay” on their hands have proliferated online. Since news of the protest broke, allegations of death threats, bullying and physical altercations against those on both sides of the issue have been posted online, including on the Observer-Reporter’s website. Melissa Shingle, mother of one of the boys pictured in flannel shirts in photos posted online, said some of the boys have received threats against their lives. “These eight boys did not do any shoving or bullying.” Shingle said. “These boys do not want harm to come to anybody. These eight boys are being attacked.” Shingle said she and her husband, Ed, went before the school board in the past to express their concern about class time being used to promote school clubs. She said they are not opposed to the GSA club, in particular, but to any club activities taking place during school hours. “We just wanted people to know that the club exists,” she said. “We don’t believe in that lifestyle, but we’re not stopping anyone from having a club. They have the same rights as anyone else does. It’s being misconstrued as hate.” Shingle said that the boys wore flannel not to intimidate any group but to “represent their beliefs and rights as Christians.” She said her son was made to take down a sign with a Bible verse on it that he hung on a wall of the school. She said he was told by a school official that legal action would be taken against him if he did it again. “The Christian fellowship club is not allowed to promote,” Shingle said. “Kids feel they are not being afforded expression.” Representatives of Washington County Gay Straight Alliance have been attending McGuffey school board meetings for months after learning that people were coming before the board and making comments in opposition to the school’s GSA. Attempts to contact Assistant Superintendent Laura B. Jacob, Principal Mark J. Bonus, GSA adviser Margaret Mizell and school board President Carl Group, and to seek further comment from Kolat, were unsuccessful.

An update on a previous post: In Georgia, according to the New York Times, Ashley Diamond, the Georgia inmate whose lawsuit is making her a protagonist in transgender rights history, said in her first federal court appearance on Monday that she had come to blame herself for being a victim of multiple prison rapes, internalizing the guilt placed on her by corrections officials. Ms. Diamond, a transgender woman who has been housed in male prisons since entering the system three years ago, said, “If I wasn’t so feminine, maybe if I didn’t talk the way I talked or move the way I moved, I would be less of a victim that way.” Turning to address the judge directly, she continued in a soft voice: “I also feel a little less human because when I did report things, the very people I wanted help from, Your Honor, would tell me things like, ‘You brought this on yourself.'" Judge Marc T. Treadwell of United States District Court nonetheless denied Ms. Diamond’s request that he order her transferred to a lower-security prison. While that might well be “the optimum solution,” higher courts have warned district judges “not to second-guess prison authorities,” he said, and Ms. Diamond had not proved their “deliberate indifference” to her fear of sexual assault and harassment. Instead, Georgia authorities appeared to have made a “tectonic shift” as a result of the lawsuit she filed in February, Judge Treadwell said a couple of weeks ago, at the first part of Ms. Diamond’s hearing. He described it as a “tactical victory” for Ms. Diamond’s lawyers at the Southern Poverty Law Center. The judge was referring to Georgia’s decision, after the Justice Department intervened in Ms. Diamond’s case and a subsequent profile in The New York Times brought it considerable attention, to end its blanket denial of new hormone therapy to transgender inmates. Earlier this month, Georgia said it would now provide such prisoners with “constitutionally appropriate medical and mental health treatment.” It started Ms. Diamond on hormone therapy in March, though her lawyers say the dose appears too low to be therapeutic. In court, Ms. Diamond explained to the judge that when she entered the prison system, “I had breasts that were quite full, Your Honor, unlike now.” Wearing close-cropped hair and a white uniform with “state prisoner” printed on the back, Ms. Diamond looked little like the womanly photographs of herself in the days when she wore flirty wigs and form-fitting minidresses. She had ended up in prison for what the sentencing judge referred to as “crimes of survival”; her major offense was burglary. Testimony in Ms. Diamond’s case is highlighting the difficulties that prison systems across the country are experiencing as they grapple with an inmate population that defies their rigid classification systems and needs special protection. While Georgia State Prison officials — also in response to her lawsuit — recently issued Ms. Diamond a couple of bras, they have insisted on referring to her as “Mr. Diamond” in court. “It is a male facility, sir, and he is, indeed for what I have been told from my experience, it is a male offender,” testified Janet Brewton, a deputy warden, who added that she had been responsible for overseeing transgender women inmates since 1996. “So for 20 years, you’ve been referring to transgender inmates with the male pronoun because you view the facility as a male facility?” Ms. Diamond’s lawyer, David Dinielli, asked. “That is correct, sir,” the deputy warden said. Monday’s hearing concerned only Ms. Diamond’s request for an immediate transfer from Georgia State Prison. It did not address the allegations that corrections authorities had failed to protect her from serious harm before she filed her lawsuit, during a period when, she said, she endured seven rapes and attempted suicide and auto-castration multiple times. Ms. Diamond had claimed that her recent transfer to Georgia State — a prison that used to house the state’s most dangerous inmates — was retaliatory for her lawsuit. But the judge said that the state had made a persuasive argument that it had transferred her as a “positive” reaction to the lawsuit. She is housed in the system’s smallest unit, which has 11 inmates, all with individual cells. It is a supported living unit for rape victims and for inmates with special mental health needs, state officials said, and they testified that they had increased security there over the past couple of weeks. Ms. Diamond, however, testified that she had been sexually harassed, threatened and forced to pay protection money since her arrival. She said she had not gone to the mess hall for 17 days because she feared encounters with maximum-security inmates there. She said that when she declined to be put in protective custody, which she called “lockdown,” prison officials coerced her into signing affidavits saying she was doing well. (Officials denied any coercion.) The prison’s psychologist was subpoenaed by Ms. Diamond’s lawyers but did not appear in court on Monday; state officials said he had taken suddenly ill. Ms. Diamond said in court that the psychologist had told her that he was afraid he would lose his job if he testified “truthfully.” The judge said this gave him some “lingering concerns.” Given a couple of minutes to embrace her mother and sobbing sister before being shackled for transport back to prison, Ms. Diamond sought to comfort them. “It’s not over,” she said. “It’s just the beginning. Y’all stay strong.”

Opponents Of California Assembly Bill 1266 Which Protects Transgender Students Submit Voter Initiative Mandating Those In Government Buildings Use Facilities Corresponding To Biological Sex, United States Supreme Court Refuses To Hear One Last Legal Attempt By NOM To Overturn Federal Ruling Allowing Gays And Lesbians To Marry In Oregon, Florida's "Conscience Bill" Allowing Private Adoption Agencies To Refuse Child Placement With Gay And Lesbian Appears Derailed, Couples That Successfully Overturned Wisconsin Same Sex Marriage Ban Now Seeking To Change How Births Of Children To Gay And Lesbian Couples Are Recorded, Grandville Michigan Police Continue Extra Presence Outside Auto Repair Shop Whose Owner Brian Klawiter Refuses To Serve Openly Gay Customers, Openly Gay Giorgio Armani Says Gay Men Should Not "Dress Homosexual"

In California, the Sacramento Bee reports that opponents have opened up a new front in the fight against a California law allowing transgender students to use public school facilities such as bathrooms, showers and locker rooms that correspond to their gender identities. Privacy For All, the group targeting Assembly Bill 1266, on Friday submitted a proposed 2016 initiative that would mandate people in government buildings use facilities in accordance with their biological sex. It would allow people who feel their privacy was violated – or who chose not to use a facility because of a violation of the measure – to sue the government or the individual for damages and attorney’s fees. The Personal Privacy Protection Act, which would require 365,880 signatures to make the ballot, also aims to shield business owners from lawsuits for requiring that patrons and employees use bathrooms in accordance with their sex. Privacy For All sued after then-Secretary of State Debra Bowen announced last year that the group came up several thousand signatures short of the number needed to qualify their repeal for the November 2014 ballot. Referendum advocates said while they hope to prevail in court, the initiative is needed because it applies to all government buildings, including schools. “We hope to wrap up the court battle over the AB 1266 referendum and place that on the ballot, said spokeswoman Karen England. “But we also expect to have this new initiative before the voters at the same time.”

In Oregon, the U.S. Supreme Court on Monday refused to hear one last legal attempt by the National Organization for Marriage to overturn a federal judge's ruling allowing gays and lesbians to marry in the state. The high court's action came nearly a year after U.S. District Judge Michael McShane of Eugene on May 19, 2014, struck down Oregon's voter-approved constitutional amendment prohibiting same sex marriage. "It's a good day," said Portland attorney Lake Perriguey, who brought one of the two lawsuits that led to McShane's ruling. "It's a distraction we don't have to worry about anymore." According to the Oregonian, Tom Johnson, a Portland attorney involved in the other lawsuit, said he was confident that the Supreme Court would deny the National Organization for Marriage's last-ditch legal appeal. But until the court ruled, there was "that tiny, little bit of uncertainty," he said. John Eastman, the chairman of the National Organization for Marriage and an attorney for the group, said his group could still wind up playing a legal role in Oregon, depending on what the Supreme Court decides in a case involving the states of Michican, Ohio, Kentucky and Tennessee. The court will hold oral arguments on April 28 on whether those four states can ban same sex marriage or whether gay and lesbian couples have a constitutional right to marry no matter which state they are in. No one was granted the legal standing to appeal McShane's decision in Oregon. Unlike attorneys general in many states, Oregon Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum also argued that Oregon's law unconstitutionally discriminated against gay and lesbian couples. As a result, several lawyers have said, McShane's ruling could well stand no matter how the Supreme Court rules in the cases out of Michigan, Ohio, Kentucky and Tennessee. However, Eastman said that if the high court allows states to ban gay marriage, Rosenblum should seek to reverse McShane's decision. If she didn't do that, Eastman said his group or a party in Oregon -- such as a county clerk -- could seek to reverse McShane's ruling. Thirty-six states and the District of Columbia now allow gay and lesbian couples to marry, mostly following legal actions relying on the Supreme Court's 2013 ruling that it was unconstitutional for the federal government to refuse to recognize legally performed same-sex marriages. In addition, a federal judge this year struck down Alabama's ban and the U.S. Supreme Court allowed same sex marriages to proceed there, but the Alabama Supreme Court has ordered local officials to stop issuing marriage licenses to same sex couples. The National Organization for Marriage, which has fought gay marriage in cases around the country, unsuccessfully sought to intervene in Oregon and has appealed every adverse ruling as far as it could go. Last June, the Supreme Court in a one-sentence order refused to stay McShane's ruling. In its latest action, the high court included the Oregon case -- listed as National Org. For Marriage v. Geiger, Deanna L., et al -- on a long list of petitions that it refused to hear.

In Florida, the Tallahassee Democrat reports that a "conscience protection" bill that would allow private adoption agencies to refuse child placement with gay and lesbian couples hit a potentially killing snag Monday when a Senate committee adjourned without voting on the controversial proposal. The Senate Rules Committee ran out of time and postponed action on the proposal, which would protect private adoption agencies from lawsuits or loss of state funding if their religious or moral principles prevent them from arranging adoption by gay and lesbian parents. Chairman David Simmons (R-Altamonte Springs) said he would talk with Senate President Andy Gardiner (R-Orlando) about holding another Rules Committee meeting on the House-passed bill. With less than two weeks remaining in the session, and many pressing issues pending in the House and Senate, revival of the adoption measure appears doubtful. The bill by Representative Jason Brodeur (R-Sanford) (HB 7111) would allow adoption agencies with written, established ethical policies to refuse service to potential adoptive parents whose lifestyles are at odds with those policies. Although the bill does not mention homosexuality, it was filed in the House after U.S. District Judge Robert Hinkle last year struck down Florida's constitutional ban on same sex marriage. The Legislature last week sent Governor Rick Scott a separate adoption package which contains a House amendment repealing the state's 1977 ban on adoption by homosexuals, whether married or single. That law was struck by a state appeals court in 2010 and has not been enforced by the Department of Children and Families. In more than an hour of public testimony, a long succession of witnesses spoke on both sides of the proposal. Representatives of the Florida Conference of Catholic Bishops and Florida Baptist Childrens Home said faith-based organizations provide vital adoption services but must not be forced to violate their moral convictions by arranging adoptions for people whose lifestyles violate religious teachings. Opponents of the bill said, however, that the "conscience protection" amounted to state-sanctioned discrimination against gays, and that the bill would put the interests of private adoption agencies ahead of service to needy children. "Freedom of conscience, yes — state-funded discrimination, no," said the Reverend Brant Copeland, pastor of First Presbyterian Church in Tallahassee. But Jerry Haag of the Baptist children's home said "this conscience-protection bill will allow us to continue to help children without violating our deeply held religious beliefs." Without it, he said, private adoption agencies could face costly lawsuits by couples claiming they were discriminated against in child placement. Proponents of the bill said there are dozens of other adoption agencies that will place children with unmarried, gay or lesbian couples, and that those with religious convictions against such unions should not be required to arrange adoptions.

In Wisconsin, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports that the couples who successfully overturned the state's same sex marriage ban are now seeking in court to change how births are recorded for the children of gay and lesbian couples in the state. Eight same sex couples successfully sued last year to overturn the amendment to the Wisconsin Constitution banning gay marriage and civil unions, winning in both a federal district court in Madison and in the U.S. 7th Circuit Court of Appeals in Chicago. The case made it all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court, which in October rejected without comment the appeals from Wisconsin and four other states seeking to preserve their same sex marriage bans. On Monday, the American Civil Liberties Union of Wisconsin and other attorneys filed a motion in district court on behalf of a couple, Kami Young and Karina Willes, asking that a judge clarify whether both spouses in a same sex marriage should be listed on the birth certificates of their children. "Wisconsin law provides that a male spouse of a woman who gives birth to a child is presumed to be the child's parent. The same should be true for same sex couples," ACLU legal director Larry Dupuis said in a statement. A spokesperson for state Attorney General Brad Schimel had no immediate comment. "Our daughter has two parents who love and adore her. We are a team when it comes to the care of our child," Young said in a statement. "One of the main reasons we decided to be plaintiffs in this lawsuit was to secure legal recognition that my spouse Karina would be the parent of a child born while we were married. A birth certificate with Karina's name as one of our daughter's parents would help provide such recognition."

In Michigan, Grandville police plan to continue extra patrols this week outside Dieseltec, an auto repair shop whose owner posted to Facebook that he'd refuse to serve openly gay customers. Grandville Police Chief Dan Steere said officers have been monitoring the area and had no major issues stemming from a weekend protest. "At the event on Saturday, everybody pretty much behaved themselves," said Steere, noting that people from Dieseltec shared food with protesters. "People expressed their views without incident and went home. We're going to continue extra patrols. We're not going to station anybody there." Dieseltec owner Brian Klawiter last week sparked a social media frenzy by posting a Facebook rant that, among other things, stated his business would offer a discount to gun-carrying customers and refuse service to people who are openly gay. Klawiter previously told the City Council that he would not seek a business license because he sees it as a violation of his civil rights. The comments, amid media coverage, prompted death threats, a thwarted egging of the Dieseltec building and a Saturday, April 18, protest as well as shows of support. Klawiter over the weekend posted to Facebook that he's trying to protect his home and his business from things that he believes are evil.

One of the world's most famous fashion designers has appeared to condemn gay men for dressing "homosexual." The Telegraph reports that Giorgio Armani, who has never denied that he is gay, said "a man has to be a man." The outspoken 80-year-old also criticized men who work out too much, saying he does not like muscle. "A homosexual man is a man 100-percent. He does not need to dress homosexual," Armani said. "When homosexuality is exhibited to the extreme - to say, 'Ah, you know I'm homosexual,' - that has nothing to do with me. A man has to be a man." Armani's fashions have dominated the catwalk for the last four decades, affording him the opportunity to dress the world's most famous stars - from George Clooney and David Beckham to Cate Blanchett and Nicole Kidman. The Italian, who is understood to have earned a £5bn personal fortune, also branded cosmetic surgery "idiocy," adding, "A small breast does not have to become big," he told The Sunday Times Magazine. "I prefer to look at a natural woman. A woman should be courageous to become older, not be desperate to look younger than her age. With time, a woman's body is better. As a woman goes to work, has babies, she is strong. She has character. Look at Cate Blanchett." As for men, he added: "I don't like muscle boy. Not too much gym. I like somebody healthy, somebody solid, who looks after his body but doesn't use his muscles too much." Unafraid to criticise his contemporaries, Armani described Miuccia Prada's designs as "snob fashion." He also recalled a time when his rival Gianni Versace, known for his flamboyant and sexy designs, told him: "I dress sluts. You dress church ladies." Armani's comments come a month after his fellow designers Domenico Dolce and Stefano Gabbana caused controversy when they criticised same sex families. The acclaimed designers evoked fury from a string of A-list celebrities, including Elton John, when they said in an interview that they opposed gay adoptions and that "the only family is the traditional one." The Italian duo said: "No chemical offsprings and rented uterus: life has a natural flow, there are things that should not be changed." In a scathing post on picture-sharing site Instagram, Elton John, who has two children with husband David Furnish, branded the designers "archaic" and "judgmental." He told the pair, who founded Dolce & Gabbana and who were a couple for 23 years, that he would never wear their designs again.

Sunday, April 19, 2015

United Kingdom Food Writer And Lesbian Mother Of One Jack Monroe Quits Twitter Following Homophobic Abuse As Police Arrest 22-Year-Old In Connection To Incident, Parent's Of Maine Primary School Complain After Boy About Transgender Child Read To Classes, Wisconsin Governor And Likely Republican Presidential Candidate Scott Walker Discusses Attending Relative's Same Sex Marriage, GOP Presidential Candidate Marco Rubio Tells Face The Nation He Does Not Believe Sexual Orientation A Choice For "Enormous Majority Of People" But Contends Marriage To Between One Man And One Woman, IBM Voices "Strong Opposition" To Proposed Religious Freedom Bill In Louisiana Arguing Its Anti-Gay Stance Will Create Hostile Environment In State, Mostly Peaceful Protest Outside Michigan Auto Repair Shop Whose Owner Brian Klawiter Says He Will Refuse To Serve Openly Gay Customers

In England, a man has been arrested after one of the United Kingdom’s most celebrated young food writers, Jack Monroe, was bombarded with homophobic abuse by someone claiming to be from the UK Independence party (Ukip). The Guardian food writer, blogger and campaigner said she did not feel the microblogging site was a safe place to be after receiving messages of “hate” and “vitriol," which she described as “suffocating." Detective Inspector Phil Jones of Avon and Somerset police said they had arrested a 22-year-old man in connection with their investigation into homophobic messages posted on social media, believed to be the ones targeting Monroe. Monroe, a 26-year-old mother of one, who became hugely popular thanks to her recipes for people like her struggling on tiny budgets, said the vitriol she had received was dreadful. “It’s all a bit exhausting, frightening and very deeply saddening,” she told the Observer on Saturday after posting a tweet entitled “final word” in which she begged people not to respond to the attacks on her behalf. “Please do not retaliate to the trolls and abusers with abuse. Not in my name. Please, not in my name,” she wrote. A Ukip spokesperson said police had been informed by Alex Wood, a former Ukip candidate in Somerset, that someone was using the account to send out homophobic and sexist abuse. The abuse began after Monroe, a recent convert to the Green party, wrote a piece for the Guardian following Thursday’s election debate. In it she praised the Green leader Natalie Bennett’s stance on immigration and criticised Ukip leader Nigel Farage’s “circus act." The poster, writing under the handle @Alex_WoodUKIP, wrote to Monroe saying, among other messages: “Your sick form of Lesbianism and militant queerism is destroying this country. Get out and give us Britain back! #VoteUKIP.” Monroe, who is gay and campaigns on food rights, at first responded, tweeting: “God it’s men like this that make me wish I wasn’t a lesbian. Be still my beating heart for the charm and intellect.” Monroe is the latest in a long line of high-profile women to be targeted by vile online abuse. TV presenter Sue Perkins left Twitter this week when she received death threats after reports that she might replace Jeremy Clarkson on Top Gear. Stella Creasy MP saw one of her trolls jailed last year, and Caroline Criado-Perez, who campaigned for equal representation of women on UK banknotes, was subjected to horrific messages which, at their peak, were running at around 50 an hour from multiple anonymous accounts. In her “final word”, Monroe called upon her supporters to pray for peace or “meditate upon kindness”. “Wish them better – nobody who is whole and happy seeks out strangers to deliberately target hatred. “Stay positive,” she added. “There are good people and strong voices here. Be one of them, and not one of the others. With love, because if I have not love I have nothing.” It comes after Twitter’s top lawyer, Vijaya Gadde, admitted the site had been “inexcusably slow” in tackling abusers, and had let internet abuse go unchecked for too long. Denouncing the @Alex_WoodUKIP Twitter account – which has also been used to direct abuse at another Guardian writer, Owen Jones – as fake, the Ukip spokesperson said he hoped Twitter would act to delete the account as quickly as they could, adding, “To people like Jack Monroe and Owen Jones we can only feel sympathy. No matter our differences they do not deserve these coarse and unpleasant attacks. Political discourse can be robust but must keep within boundaries of decency. We are also concerned that a young man is having his own name and reputation dragged through the mud, again.” The spokesperson added that Wood left the party in January. Wood was the centre of an earlier Twitter storm when he was briefly suspended from the party in April last year. Pictures of him emerged from his Facebook account showing him posing with a knife between his teeth in front of a union jack and of making what looked like a Nazi salute. He said he was simply reaching out to take the camera when a misleading shot was taken. Wood declined to comment, saying the matter was being dealt with by the police.

In Kittery, Maine, Mitchell Primary School officials have drawn criticism from some parents after a children’s book about a transgender child was read to most of the school's students. During a lesson on tolerance and acceptance implemented by the guidance department, the book I Am Jazz by Jessica Herthel and Jazz Jennings was read to 20 of 22 classes in the Grades K-3 school. The story is about a young child “with a boy’s body but a girl’s brain,” who goes through a childhood struggle of identifying with her true self until she and her family speak with a new doctor and come to understand the child is transgender. Superintendent of Schools Allyn Hutton said it was an oversight that parents weren't notified in advance of the lesson. “We have a practice of if a topic is considered sensitive, parents should be informed,” Hutton said Friday morning. “In this situation, that didn’t happen. The whole culture at Mitchell School is about teaching tolerance and respect. The people presenting the lesson thought (the book) was one more piece of teaching that lesson. In retrospect, we understand that toleration is tolerating people of all opinions.” Hutton said educating students about transgender people is important because there are students within the district who identify as such. Criticism against the school became public when conservative TV personality Sean Hannity put a post on his website about the lesson. Hannity cited an e-mail from a mother who was angry because her first-grade child received the lesson without advance notification to parents. A parent of a transgender child in the Kittery school system provided a statement about the school’s lesson. The parent requested anonymity to protect the identity of his child. “We fully support the staff of Horace Mitchell School,” the statement began. “People in this country, parents in this country are outraged by bullying, teen suicide rates and the depression in children. The staff of Mitchell School is doing something about this. By teaching acceptance and love they are shedding a light on (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender or questioning) issues. Reading ‘I Am Jazz’ by Jazz Jennings to students is a way of showing them that gender can be more complicated than just boys and girls. Some people are born somewhere in between. LGBTQ issues should never be classified as a ‘sensitive subject’ — there is nothing sensitive about the way we are born. Blonde hair, brown hair, gay, straight or somewhere in-between, we are all people and we all need acceptance.” On Thursday, a day after the Hannity post was published, Hutton sent a notice to parents clarifying the lesson and the process that was used. “The Kittery School District embraces diversity and is committed to creating an atmosphere of respect and tolerance for all people, regardless of their race, religion, political belief system or sexual orientation,” the letter read. “… With this in mind, guidance staff of the Horace Mitchell School recently read aloud the book, I Am Jazz, a book about a transgender student. “In general, it is the practice of the (KSD) to inform parents when sensitive material is being introduced in a classroom,” it continued. “Unfortunately, this did not occur in this situation and as a result some parents were uncomfortable with the material and/or felt unprepared for follow up discussions with their children.”Hutton said a majority of parents expressed support of the lesson, while others would have rather had notification beforehand. “Some parents may feel strongly not to have their children participate, whether philosophically or if they think developmentally it’s too early,” Hutton said. “Most of the calls from parents I’ve taken are in regards to, say at the dinner table and they ask their child what they did in school today, they would be aware of the conversation and be able to follow up and support their child.”

In New Hampshire, the New York Times reports that Governor Scott Walker of Wisconsin, a likely Republican presidential candidate, addressed an issue on Saturday night that has been roiling his party in recent years: gay marriage. Asked by a reporter if he would attend a same sex wedding, Mr. Walker, a conservative and a son of a preacher who prays regularly for guidance, said he had attended a reception for a gay relative who had been married. “That’s certainly a personal issue,” Mr. Walker said at a brief news conference after addressing a gathering of New Hampshire Republicans here. Referring to his wife, he continued, “Tonette and I and our family already had a family member who’s had a reception. I haven’t been to a wedding. That’s true even though my position on marriage is still that’s defined between a man and a woman, and I support the Constitution of the state. But for someone I love, we’ve been at a reception.” The governor was away on business when the wedding occurred, but he later attended a reception for the newlyweds. Last June, a cousin of Mrs. Walker, Shelli Marquardt, was married to her partner at Waukesha County Courthouse outside Milwaukee, according to media reports. The Walkers’ then-19-year-old son, Alex, served as a witness and signed his name to the marriage certificate. The marriage occurred after a federal judge struck down the state’s ban on gay marriages; soon after, the judge put a halt to those marriages while the ruling was appealed. In 2013, Mr. Walker told Buzzfeed that his two sons had tried to convince him that government should stop involving itself in marriage issues and leave them up to churches and other institutions to define marriage for themselves. “That’s a solid argument,” Mr. Walker said at the time. “I personally may not embrace that yet. But that, to me, is a bigger question.” He added, “I get their concerns.”

According to Bloomberg News, Republican presidential candidate Marco Rubio says he does not believe sexual orientation is a choice for the "enormous majority of people." The Florida senator's comments came Sunday on CBS's Face the Nation, where he said that it should be up to states rather than the Supreme Court to define marriage and that he considers marriage to be between a man and a woman. "I also don't believe that your sexual preferences are a choice for the vast and enormous majority of people. In fact, the bottom line is, I believe that sexual preference is something people are born with," Rubio said. “I also don't believe that your sexual preferences are a choice for the vast and enormous majority of people.” He and other Republican presidential hopefuls have faced questions in recent days about their positions on same sex marriage as the nation's top court prepares for what is expected to be a broad ruling on the constitutionality of the issue in June. Americans support the right of same sex couples to wed, 55-percent to 42-percent, according to a Gallup poll in May 2014, reflecting sweeping movement in public opinion over nearly two decades. Republican support has also grown, but stands at just 30-percent, according to the poll. In an interview with Fusion published Wednesday, Rubio said he would attend a same sex wedding. “If it’s somebody in my life that I care for, of course I would,” he said. “I’m not going to hurt them simply because I disagree with a choice they’ve made or because I disagree with a decision they’ve made, or whatever it may be." Texas Senator Ted Cruz said he has never had to make such a decision, dodging the question. Former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum, who has not announced a campaign yet, said he would not attend such a wedding. Ohio Governor John Kasich, another possible candidate, said he and his wife had been invited to a same sex wedding and plan to attend, CNN reported Saturday. "I went home and I said to my wife, 'My friend's getting married. What do you think? You wanna go?' She goes, 'Oh, I'm absolutely going.' I called him today and said, 'Hey, just let me know what time it is,'" Kasich said, according to the report. "My friend knows how I feel about the issue, but I'm not here to have a war with him. I care about my friend, and so it's pretty simple for me."

IBM voiced "strong opposition" to Louisiana's proposed religious freedom bill, asking Governor Bobby Jindal to work with state lawmakers to ensure the legislation is not discriminatory. UPI reports that IBM vice president James Driesse said such a bill would create a hostile environment for the tech company's employees and prospective employees. "IBM has made significant investments in Louisiana including most recently a technology services delivery center in Baton Rouge, creating new jobs for Louisiana workers. We located the center in Baton Rouge because we believe Louisiana has great talent and would continue to be a rich source of such talent," Driesse said. "However a bill that legally protects discrimination based on same sex marriage status will create a hostile environment for our current and prospective employees, and is antithetical to our company's values. IBM will find it much harder to attract talent to Louisiana if this bill is passed and enacted into law." The warning is the latest from industries across the country to states considering controversial religious freedom laws. Recently passed laws in Indiana and Arkansas have faced strong opposition and forced lawmakers to make changes. Critics say the law gives businesses free reign to discriminate against anyone, including gay, lesbian and transgender people, on religious grounds. Jindal responded to the IBM letter, saying IBM leaders may be "confused about what the bill would accomplish in practice" and said the law would not legalize discrimination in any way. "All the bill seeks to do is ensure the STATE cannot discriminate against any individual or entity on the basis of that persons sincerely held religious view about traditional marriage," he wrote. "The bill absolutely does not provide a right for an individual or business owner to discriminate against gays or lesbians."

In Michigan, despite a couple loud exchanges between supporters of an anti-gay auto shop owner and protesters standing on a Grandville sidewalk, peaceful demonstration prevailed outside Dieseltec. About 45 protesters showed up for two hours Saturday, April 18, to wave signs and show solidarity against views expressed by Brian KIawiter on Facebook. The group gathered in front of the shop on Ottawa Avenue SW. Nearly as many supporters of Klawiter, or at least his right to free speech, milled about near a garage-door entry for a barbecue. The controversy surrounding Klawiter erupted earlier this week when he posted on his business Facebook page that "I would not hesitate to refuse service to an openly gay person or persons. Homosexuality is wrong, period." Since then, amid media coverage, a torrent of criticism came his way along with some reported threats. He also received some support, as well. Saturday's protest was organized by a Muskegon pastor, the Rev. Robert Teszlewicz. Most of the protesters brought signs. Some read "Love Wins," "God = Love," "Stop Bigotry. Spend your dollars where all are welcome," "Gay is OK," and "Who are you to judge God's children?" Teszlewicz said he wanted the protest to be peaceful. "I don't think you can consider yourself a Christian and deny service to someone else," he said. "If you're going to call yourself a Christian, then you need to respond in a Christian way," adding, "I can't believe it's 2015 and we're still discriminating against people. The LGBT community has had enough of this. I have no hate or animosity for the man." A friend of Klawiter, who didn't want to be named, said he believes Klawiter's post on Facebook was misinterpreted by many. He said Klawiter does not intend to ask customers if they are gay, but only meant to say he would refuse service if there was some sort of blatant showing of homosexuality. Supporters of Klawiter at Saturday's barbecue said they simply think he has a right to free speech. "He's got a right to his own opinion," said Bob Smith. "He's not violating the law." Tomas Ojeda, of Grand Rapids, also was there to support Klawiter. "When someone says something unpleasant or insensitive, it's our freedom to do that," he said. "I just wanted to make sure there was an even playing field, so I showed up," he said about the gathering. Among the protesters was Holli Johnson-Biggs, a lesbian from Montague who has three young children with her partner. She said the controversy surrounding Klawiter is really tied in with the larger discussion about same sex marriage. "I think you shouldn't be allowed to discriminate against anyone based on sexual orientation," she said. Johnson-Biggs said she's heard the controversy might be harmful to Klawiter's business. "Nobody wants anyone's livelihood to be in jeopardy, but if you're going to make a public stand ... as a business owner, I feel you have certain responsibilities," she said.

Friday, April 17, 2015

Two Australians Sentenced To Life Imprisonment With 21-Year Minimum For Fatal Gay Bashing Of 48-Year-Old Warren Batchelor, Nevada Delays Vote On Bill That Would Discriminate Against Transgender Students, Texas District Judge Rules Opponents Of Houston's Non-Discrimination Ordinance Failed To Gather Enough Valid Signatures To Force Repeal Referendum, Pittsburgh Pennsylvania-Area High School Students Stage Anti-Gay Day Allegedly In Response To National Day Of Silence, Suspect In Fatal Shooting North Carolina Community College Employee Ron Lane Says He Feels No "Remorse" And Committed Act To Protect Brothers From Gays, Terminated California Psychiatrist Claims He Was Victim Of Opposition To Gay Conversion Therapy

In Australia, ABC Online reports that two Perth men have been sentenced to life in jail with a 21-year minimum for the fatal bashing of a gay man in a public toilet at a Perth reserve. Mark Taylor and Daniel Wade Jones were found guilty of murdering 48-year-old Warren Batchelor at the Middle Swan Reserve in November 2013. The Supreme Court was told Jones and Taylor, who was with his four children, were camping in the reserve and were angry it was used by gay men for sexual encounters. Mr Batchelor had been having a sexual encounter with another man in a disabled toilet when Jones and Taylor burst in and bashed him. Taylor threatened the two men with a knife and punched and kicked Mr Batchelor while Jones beat him with a pole. The other man managed to escape. Mr Batchelor died in hospital two days later. Prosecutors had alleged the bashing was a vigilante attack to rid the area of gay men, but Supreme Court Justice Lindy Jenkins said she would not go so far as to say the men were vigilantes. "I don't accept that, but nevertheless I have no doubt you wanted that behaviour to stop ... and warn others away from the reserve," she said. "You were motivated by prejudice and hostility." Justice Jenkins said Mr Batchelor had done nothing to provoke Taylor and Jones who attacked an "unarmed and unsuspecting man." She said while Taylor may have had concerns about his children being exposed to sexual activity and other antisocial behaviour, his actions went "far beyond what might have been expected by a father." Justice Jenkins said the men should have reported what was going on to police or the local authorities, or asked those engaging in the activity to stop. "Sexual conduct in a public place is not provocation for an assault of any kind," she said. She also said the men showed no regard for whether Mr Batchelor lived or died and made no attempt to get him medical help. Both men denied fatally injuring Mr Batchelor but a Supreme Court jury found them guilty. With time already served the men will first be eligible for release in 2034. After the sentence Mr Batchelor's family issued a brief statement. "Knowing our beloved Warren, he would have forgiven them already," it said. "While we pray for them to be rehabilitated, and if ever returned to the community as better persons, we remain broken for the rest of our lives. Our thanks again goes out to everybody."

In Nevada, a controversial bill to segregate Nevada's transgender children into separate school bathrooms was moved to the back burner Friday afternoon as proponents tried to sway more lawmakers to support it. According to the Reno Gazette-Journal, passage would move Assembly Bill 375 into the Senate, where the bill would need majority approval before landing on Governor Brian Sandoval's desk for signing into law or veto. An Assembly vote against the bill would kill it. The bill will likely be voted on next week.

In Texas, the Houston Chronicle reports that opponents of Houston's non-discrimination ordinance failed to gather enough valid signatures to force a repeal referendum, a state district judge ruled Friday, validating city officials' decision to toss out the petition foes submitted last summer. After separate rulings from both a jury and state District Judge Robert Schaffer, attorneys for both sides entered dueling counts of the valid signatures, adding and subtracting voters as Schaffer responded to motions. By early this week, the counts were closer together than ever before, fewer than 1,000 signatures apart. Ultimately, Schaffer on Friday ruled the final count of valid signatures was 16,684, leaving opponents short of the threshold required in the city charter of 17,249 signatures, or 10-percent of the ballots cast in the last mayoral election. "The jury's verdict and the judge's ruling are a powerful smack-down against the forces of discrimination and intolerance," said Geoffrey Harrison, lead attorney for the city, in a statement. "And maybe, just maybe, they'll reconsider their misguided ways." The law, on hold during trial, is now in effect, according to a city spokesperson. Mayor Annise Parker released a statement celebrating the verdict. "I would hope that the plaintiffs would not appeal, they lost during a jury trial and today they also lost with the judge's ruling," Parker said. "Now all Houstonians have access to the same protections." But opponents, largely conservative activists and pastors whose objections center on the protections the law extends to gay and transgender residents, say they will appeal the decision. Andy Taylor, attorney for the plaintiffs, said he remains confident they will ultimately take the law to voters. He was particularly upset with rulings that some illegible signatures were disqualified. "We intend to appeal and are confident the higher courts will agree that good handwriting is not a valid reason to deny citizens of their constitutional rights to vote," Taylor said. Mayor Annise Parker and her former city attorney rejected the petition last August, triggering the lawsuit. At issue in the case was not the ordinance itself, but whether opponents' petition contained enough valid signatures. City officials said the 5,200-page document was riddled with forgery and errors, while opponents said the city sought and falsely found problems with the petition. Approved last May by the City Council, the ordinance bans discrimination among businesses that serve the public, private employers, in housing and in city employment and city contracting. Enforcement of the ordinance remains on hold while the law is tied up in the courts. Schaffer's ruling reflects a higher but not wildly different tally than the 15,250-signature count former City Attorney David Feldman announced in rejecting the petition last year. Feldman threw out nearly half the petition pages, saying many of those who circulated the pages made serious errors. The court case, with a week of testimony followed by a week of jury deliberations, went into the weeds on these technical issues, often focusing on the validity of the signatures and even the penmanship of individual petition organizers and signers. Even this week, attorneys on both sides were still seeking to preclude or add signatures as Schaffer put together his finaly tally. On Friday morning, Taylor filed a last-minute plea for a recount, asking Schaffer to order City Secretary Anna Russell to count the number for registered Houston voters that signed the petition.

In Pennsylvania, a Pittsburgh-area school district is investigating allegations of harassment involving students. Several parents and students from McGuffey High School in Washington County contacted WPIX Friday, voicing concern about a so-called “Anti-Gay Day” allegedly organized by some students. A group of students allegedly spread the news that if they were “anti-gay,” they were to wear a flannel shirt and write “Anti-Gay” on their hands. “It hurts me to see how rude and cruel, and some of these people were my friends before this started,” said Zoe Johnson, a student at McGuffey High School. The students allegedly organized the “Anti-Gay Day” in response to the observance of the nationally recognized “Day of Silence,” where attention is called to gay and lesbian bullying and harassment in schools. "Yesterday, there was pushing, posters hung on homosexual students’ lockers. Teachers were having to run out and take them down,” said Johnson. Johnson took to Facebook, writing, “This is why so many students hate going to school.” She also spoke out at Thursday night’s school board meeting, saying that administrators need to do something. “They made an announcement this morning, saying the only colors are blue and gold, but I feel like that is not getting the point across. Just to ignore it isn't going to work,” said Johnson. A statement from Dr. Erica Kolat, the superintendent of McGuffey School District, reads: “Yesterday afternoon, April 16, 2015, allegations of harassment were brought to the attention of our administration. McGuffey School District, along with school police officers, continue to investigate all allegations. We will follow our Student Code of Conduct, and file legal citations, as warranted. We resolve to ensure that all children can grow and learn in a safe, supportive environment free from discrimination.” In the meantime, several students who reached out to WPIX said they are afraid to go to school. “It's sad to me. It's a high school. We should feel safe here. We don't, and it's starting to get worse,” said Wagers. While students wore flannel shirts Thursday in support of the alleged “Anti-Gay Day,” WPIX reported that they wore orange Friday and allegedly have another five days’ worth of “anti-gay” attire planned next week.

In North Carolina, the man who confessed to killing a Wayne Community College employee said Wednesday he feels no remorse for the crime and fatally shot Ron Lane to protect his younger brother. In an exclusive telephone interview from a Florida jail, Kenneth Morgan Stancil III told WRAL hat Lane deserved to die because he made sexual advances toward his brother through messages on Facebook. “He didn’t touch him,” said Stancil, 20, who added that Lane also made passes at him. “But he was in the proposal to try to, and I wasn’t going to let that happen. I took it in my hands to take care of the business that needed to be took care of.” Stancil, who was arrested in Daytona Beach, Florida, on Tuesday after he was found sleeping on a beach, will be returned to North Carolina to face a murder charge in the death of Lane, a 44-year-old openly gay man who ran the college print shop where Stancil previously served as a work-study student. Investigators said Stancil walked into the print shop shortly after 8:00 am Monday armed with a 12-gauge pump shotgun and fired a single shot at Lane, killing him. Stancil had been dismissed from the work-study program at the beginning of March because of too many absences. During his phone interview Wednesday, Stancil said he is a neo-Nazi committed to the preservation of the white race and hates gay people “with a passion.” He used a slur to describe others working in the print shop and said they conspired against him to have him dismissed. Stancil said his dismissal and the sexual advances toward his brother led him to plan the killing several days in advance. “I don’t take remorse for nothing. I did what I did and I got to live with it. If I get life (in prison), I get life," he said. "I’m a (expletive) murderer. What the (expletive) do I gotta care? I don't give a damn if I go back to society” Neither Lane nor Stancil has a criminal record, and investigators said no complaints of a sexual nature – or any other kind – were ever filed against Lane. Stancil told WRAL that he killed three other people in the last four years – two black men and a Hispanic man – that he encountered on the streets in Wayne County. He said didn’t know their names and stabbed them to death. “I butchered them,” he said. “I left them like they were Swiss cheese.” However, investigators with the Wayne County Sheriff’s Office said there are no unsolved homicides that match the account given by Stancil. In an interview with the Associated Press, Stancil’s mother, Debbie Stancil, said she thinks her son is confused. “He just snapped. That is not my son,” she said. “He’s probably out of his mind. I think he needs mental help." Debra Stancil said her son never recovered after his father committed suicide in 2009. The former Eagle Scout quit the program and became a tattoo artist. Stancil said he gave himself face tattoos, including a recent one that represents Hitler. Stancil said before shooting Lane, he left a note and a video behind to explain his actions and told family members that he loved them. “I never wanted to live like everybody else,” he said. “I’ve always had a criminal mind with a criminal background, so I did what I did.”

In California, Courthouse News reports that a Sacramento psychiatrist who practices gay conversion therapy defamed a gay attorney-prison guard to his employer after confining him with "a large dog under compelled coercion," the lawyer claims in court. Calvin Chang says he was referred to Dr. Benjamin Kaufman after filing a discrimination complaint against his employer, the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation. Chang, who'd complained that he was denied promotion because of his sexual orientation, claims there were "no facts or lawful basis whatsoever" to justify his referral to Kaufman. Chang says he is a licensed attorney with more than 20 years of law enforcement experience. In his April 15 complaint in Superior Court, Chang says Kaufman told him that he (the doctor) "was a 'conservative Republican,' and thus he knows discrimination (implying that conservative Republicans are the real victims of discrimination-not gay men)." (Parentheses in complaint.) Chang says in the lawsuit that Kaufman is "a nationally recognized and outspoken critic of gay men, whom he views as having a mental disorder[;] he describes as 'the homosexual condition' as a 'self-destructive behavior,' a 'sexual deviation,' deeply disturbing and a threat." Kaufman co-founded the National Association for Research & Therapy of Homosexuality (NARTH) in 1992, a group identified by the Southern Poverty Law Center as an extremist organization, and believes that "behind every homosexual person or gay person is a heterosexual person that has not emerged,'" according to the complaint. Chang claims Kaufman disclosed private information to the prisons department, including false allegations that Chang was a threat to specific law enforcement officials, and that these lies cost him his job. He claims that the prisons department fired him just after his fourth and last session with Kaufman, three years before he became eligible for a public safety pension. Chang now practices law in Sacramento. Chang says Kaufman subjected him to "reparative therapy" without his consent and threatened to have him fired if he didn't accept the prisons department's offer of demotion. He says Kaufman subjected him to discriminatory and threatening behavior because of his sexual orientation. Among other things, he says, he "was subjected to confinement in a room with a large dog under compelled coercion and behind numerous locked doors." NARTH states on its website that it is "committed to protecting the rights of clients with unwanted same-sex attractions to pursue change as well as the rights of clinicians to provide such psychological care." President Obama on April 8 called for an end nationwide to the use of "conversion therapy" on minors. California and New Jersey already prohibit the practice on minors. Chang says that during one therapy session he asked Kaufman what caused him to conclude that Chang was unable to perform the essential functions of his job, and that Kaufman replied: "the idea that you're being discriminated against on the basis of lifestyle and basis of skin color or ethnicity and seeing everything through that lens."

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Franklin Kentucky Circuit Court Judge Thomas Wright Strikes Down State's Same Sex Marriage Ban And Immediately Stays Order Ahead Of United States Supreme Court Hearing On Voter-Approved Legislation, Colorado Republican Party Invites Gay Rights GOP Group To Share Booth At Western Conservative Summit, Philadelphia Judge Denies Motion To Dismiss Charges Against Three Bucks County Residents Accused In September 2014 Savage Beating Of Two Gay Men, Anti-Gay Auto Repair Shop Owner Brian Klawiter Refuses To Obey Grandville Michigan Law Requiring Business License Because He Argues It Allows City Inspectors To Enter Property Without Warrant Thereby Allegedly Violating Fourth Amendment Of Constitution

In Kentucky, the Lexington Herald-Journal reports that a Franklin Circuit Court judge on Thursday struck down Kentucky's ban on same sex marriage, although he immediately put his decision on hold because the United States Supreme Court will hear arguments on that ban in less than two weeks. Judge Thomas Wingate ruled for two Lexington couples who were denied marriage licenses by the Fayette County Clerk in 2013 because Kentucky's Constitution was amended by voters in 2004 to define marriage as exclusively between one man and one woman. The couples sued Gov. Steve Beshear and Fayette County Clerk Don Blevins, alleging the state's treatment of gay men and lesbians is unfairly discriminatory and violates their civil rights under the U.S. Constitution. Wingate sided with the couples, ruling the marriage ban "lacks a rational basis," Wingate writing, "This court believes that Kentucky's statutory and constitutional proscriptions against same sex marriage violate plaintiffs' right to equal protection under the law. Upon closer inspection, the state's interest in preserving the tradition of marriage is nothing more than a kinder way of describing the state's moral disapproval of same sex couples. These provisions isolate a group of citizens for no reason other than their shared characteristic of sexual orientation, depriving them of the equal right to marry and enjoy the advantages attached to that legal status. These laws act to exclude, rather than include, on a discriminatory and unsupportable basis." Although Wingate granted the couples' request for summary judgment against the state, he stayed his decision while the U.S. Supreme Court considers a nearly identical federal court challenge to marriage bans in Kentucky and three other states. Oral arguments in that case are set for April 28. The federal cases are expected to make history because — depending on how far the Supreme Court goes — they could be the final word on whether states must acknowledge a constitutional right to same sex marriage. Thirteen states prohibit gay marriage, including Kentucky. A federal district judge in Louisville last year ruled in favor of Kentucky's same sex couples and struck down the state's marriage ban. He was overturned by a 2-1 decision from the 6th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals in Cincinnati, setting up the Supreme Court appeal. The state case before Wingate has proceeded simultaneously, if more slowly. Attorneys for the couples did not immediately return calls seeking comment Thursday. David Hardee and Marshall Robertson have lived together in Lexington for more than 25 years. Lindsey Bain and Daniel Rogers have lived together for 20 years and legally married in Connecticut in 2009, although Kentucky does not recognize that marriage. Beshear responded by reiterating his stance that the U.S. Supreme Court is the appropriate venue for a decision on same-sex marriage. "Judge Wingate was wise to stay the decision pending the ruling from the country's highest court," Beshear said.

An update on a previous post: The Denver Post reports that the Colorado Republican Party has invited a gay GOP group that wasn't allowed to set up a table at the Western Conservative Summit in Denver to share its booth. Party Chairman Steve House, who took over in March, made the announcement Thursday afternoon, one day after a firestorm over the snub by summit organizers to the Log Cabin Republicans. "We're fine with the Colorado Republicans sharing some table space at the summit with all their affiliated groups. We're not fine with the shaming and bullying pressure tactics of Log Cabin Republicans' national office," said summit chairman John Andrews. The summit, which has become a must-attend for some of nation's best known conservatives, will be at the Colorado Convention Center June 26 to 28. Speakers including several presidential hopefuls. It is put on by Colorado Christian University and its think tank, the Centennial Institute. John Andrews said Wednesday that the Log Cabin Republicans advocate gay marriage "contrary to our agenda and our core beliefs" so couldn't set up a table at the event, creating a firestorm nationally. "I hope the state party's sensible approach gives the local Log Cabin folks more reason to sign up" as delegated to the summit, Andrews said. "We want to be fair to them if they'll be fair to us."

An update on a previous post: In Pennsylvania, the Intelligencer reports that a Philadelphia judge Thursday denied a motion to quash charges against three Bucks County residents accused in the beating of two gay men in September. Judge Frank Palumbo’s ruling means Kevin J. Harrigan, 26, of Warrington; Philip R. Williams, 24, of Warminster; and Kathryn G. Knott, 24, of Upper Southampton, will all be tried on charges of aggravated assault related. Philadelphia Assistant District Attorney Mike Barry said a trial is expected sometime in the fall. The three are scheduled for a pretrial “bring back” hearing next month, which is intended to check the status of the case and see how preparations are going for their criminal trial. The defendants are free on bail. According to Knott’s defense attorney, Louis Busico, the defense introduced the motion to quash the charges on the grounds that not enough evidence was presented to prosecute them at a January preliminary hearing. However, after Thursday’s hearing in Philadelphia Common Pleas Court, Busico said the denial wasn’t unexpected. “No one was surprised with the court’s ruling today,” he said. Prosecutor Barry also said he expected the motion to be denied, as he feels the commonwealth wouldn’t have charged the three without having enough evidence. “We don’t arrest people with charges that we don’t think we can prove at trial,” Barry said. “If we didn’t think they were involved, we wouldn’t have charged them.” The three are charged for their suspected involvement in a violent assault on two gay men that took place in Center City Philadelphia on September 11. The men were left bleeding on the pavement. “Miss Knott assaulted no one and she maintains her innocence,” Busico said of his client. The incident prompted gay rights and community activists in Philadelphia and Bucks County to demand the state Legislature include protection for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender individuals in the Pennsylvania hate-crime statute. After police released surveillance footage of suspected individuals in the incident, the case gained attention as social media sites lit up in an online effort to help identify the suspects. Social media also played a part in Knott, the daughter of Chalfont police Chief Karl Knott, losing her job as an emergency room technician at Lansdale Hospital, after photos of patient X-rays she posted came to the forefront when she was named a suspect in the Philadelphia case.

An update on a previous post: In Michigan, the auto shop owner who posted on Facebook that he would refuse to serve openly gay customers does not have a city business license, according to Grandville administrators. Brian Klawiter earlier this year told the City Council that requiring a license violates his constitutional rights because it authorizes city inspectors to enter his property without a warrant. "This is a blatant and intentioned violation of the Fourth Amendment of the Constitution," Klawiter told the council on January 26. "I dispute your lawful ability to do what you claim. I will not sign the application. I cannot and will not give up my civil rights, especially when requested by a government entity for which the Constitution was designed to limit the power of. "Would you sign something giving me the right to search your home as I pleased?" It came to the city's attention last year that Dieseltec lacks a city business license, City Clerk Mary Meines said. Grandville requires businesses to pay a $100 licensing fee, with no cost for annual renewals. The licensing process requires applicants to share contact information and details about the business premises, such as alarm system information. A city licensing ordinance states that inspectors have the right to enter a licensed building without a warrant. Grandville notified Dieseltec that it needs to get licensed, prompting Klawiter to attend the meeting at which he objected to the licensing. "We don't usually run into this," Meines said. "Usually they're cooperative and do it. We've sent him all the paperwork and all the forms. It's really in his court to come in and take it out. We'll have to decide what way to go if he doesn't." The fine for not complying with the city's licensing ordinance is $50. Grandville has not pursued enforcement against Dieseltec, said Matt Butts, assistant city manager. Mayor Steve Maas said the city likes to get compliance without enforcement, if possible. He said it might be awkward to enforce compliance now, amid a social media firestorm surrounding statements made by Klawiter. Klawiter earlier this week posted on Facebook that he wouldn't hesitate to refuse to do business with openly gay customers, prompting threats of death and damage to his business and home. At least one attempt to egg the building at 2875 Ottawa Ave. SW was thwarted.

Alberta Wildrose Party Drop Candidate Russ Kuykendall Over Idiotic Anti-Gay 2007 Blog Post Complaining Of Activist Agenda, Guam Director Of Department Of Public Health And Social Services Resists Attorney General's Order To Begin Processing Marriage Licenses For Gay And Lesbian Couples, Owner Of Michigan Auto Repair Shop Claims To Have Received Death Threat Following His Announcement Refusing To Provide Service For Openly Gay Customers And Suggests He Is Victim, ACLU Threatens To Sue Maricopa County Arizona Attorney Bill Montgomery If He Fails To Drop Policy Not Affording Legal Assistance To Gay And Lesbian Couples Seeking To Adopt, Texas Republican Representative Byron Cook Pulls Bill Sanctioning Discrimination Against Transgender Students And Calls On Author To Revise Language, 20-Year-Old Toledo Ohio Resident Christopher Temple Sentenced To Five Years In Prison Less Time Served For Attack Of Transgender Woman, Illinois Lawmaker Outlines Pending Legislation Prohibiting Practice Of Gay Conversion Therapy On Minors, GLAAD Report Suggests Film Lagging Far Behind Television In LGBT Inclusiveness

In Alberta, the Wildrose Party is looking for a new candidate in Calgary-Varsity after the party rejected a potential candidate Wednesday over a blog deemed offensive to gays. According to the Calgary Herald, the Wildrose advised Russ Kuykendall it would not accept him as a candidate as a result of concerns over a blog he wrote in 2007. Wildrose Leader Brian Jean said Kuykendall was not an official candidate and was rejected following a vetting process. “As a result of going over that paperwork, I felt he would not make a good candidate for the Wildrose,” Jean said Wednesday. He declined to provide specific reasons. Kuykendall could not be reached for comment, but in the blog he wrote June 20, 2007, he took issue with then Edmonton mayor Stephen Mandel’s Pride Brunch — a gay youth camp fundraiser being held at an Edmonton Catholic Church. “The message that appears to be sent to Catholic Christians who don’t accept this ‘lifestyle’ as acceptable is that ‘equality’ means that gay activists can take their agenda not just to your front door, but inside the door to places that are consecrated to the Catholic faith,” Kukendall wrote in the Western Standard. He also complained about the fact two city police officers were posted at the front door “exercising state coercion to defend that right.” The Wildrose ran into similar controversy in the 2012 campaign when a dated blog by Edmonton candidate Allan Hunsperger surfaced that suggested that if gays and lesbians didn’t change their ways they would suffer the rest of eternity in a lake of fire. Wildrose Leader Danielle Smith refused to disqualify Hunsperger as a candidate, and her party, which had been leading in the polls throughout the election campaign, elected only 17 MLAs.

An update on a previous post: In Guam, the Associated Press reports that the attorney general directed officials to immediately begin processing same sex marriage applications Wednesday, putting the island on course to be the first U.S. territory to allow gay and lesbian couples to wed. The move by Attorney General Elizabeth Barrett-Anderson came two days after a lesbian couple barred from applying to wed sued over the territory's marriage laws. Despite the order, Leo Casil, the acting director of the Department of Public Health and Social Services, told the Pacific Daily News that officials won't accept applications "until further notice."Casil said he just received a letter from Barrett-Anderson, not a legal opinion. Gov. Eddie Baza Calvo's office said in a statement that the Legislature can take action or residents can hold a referendum to change the law "if it is the will of the people of Guam to make same sex marriage legal" while the issue is reviewed. The U.S. District Court of Guam falls under the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, which has ruled in favor of gay marriage. Barrett-Anderson said her directive stems from the 9th Circuit's decision in October finding state bans on gay marriage unconstitutional. The Department of Public Health and Social Services should treat "all same gender marriage applicants with dignity and equality under the Constitution," the attorney general said. Loretta M. Pangelinan and Kathleen M. Aguero sued Monday in U.S. District Court in Guam after their marriage application was refused last week. The couple, both 28, says they are challenging "the discriminatory denial of their freedom to marry in the Territory of Guam." Guam, which is 3,700 southwest of Hawaii, would be the first of five U.S. Pacific and Caribbean territories to allow gay marriage. A lawsuit challenging Puerto Rico's law defining marriage as between a man and a woman is pending before a federal appeals court in Boston. The 1st U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals said Tuesday that it would await a U.S. Supreme Court's decision on the issue before scheduling oral arguments in the Puerto Rico case. Puerto Rico's Justice Department previously has defended the law in court, but Justice Secretary Cesar Miranda said last month that the department would no longer do so. Omar Gonzalez-Pagan, a staff attorney with gay-rights group Lambda Legal who is involved in the Puerto Rico lawsuit, criticized Guam's governor and said he was ignoring 9th Circuit precedent. "We commend Attorney General Barrett-Anderson for recognizing that the freedom to marry is a fundamental right that applies equally to same sex couples," he said.

An update on a previous post: In Michigan, one day after posting online that he would not hesitate to refuse to do business with openly gay customers, the owner of a Grandville auto repair shop is under fire on social media. Brian Klawiter, who runs DieselTec, 2875 Ottawa Ave. SW, posted on Facebook Thursday morning that his family had received death threats and that others had threatened to burn down his business and home. "Listen up folks, If you have an opposing view to mine that IS OK, what is NOT OK is threats to kill me, my family, and friends; threats to burn down my shop and my home. I will stand firm on my views and will not back down, however, because of the ridiculous backlash I am requesting any supporters of ours that would be willing to stand with us to help secure my home and business." Numerous Facebook users have bashed Klawiter online since he first posted his message about openly gay customers. One Newaygo woman even stopped by his shop Thursday morning to briefly protest Klawiter's remarks. Others, though, have taken to his defense, with one person saying, "Freedom of speech is still in our constitutional rights!!" Klawiter declined to comment Thursday morning at his shop. He looked frazzled, and seemed surprised his Facebook comments had received so much attention. He now claims he has become the victim in this controversy.

In Arizona, according to the Republic, the American Civil Liberties Union of Arizona sent a letter to Maricopa County Attorney Bill Montgomery Wednesday threatening to sue if he does not drop his policy of not affording legal assistance to same sex couples seeking to adopt. Last week, Lenora and Leticia Reyes-Petroff, who were married in California in 2013, called Montgomery's office to take advantage of a program that offers free legal services for adoptions. However, they were told the program did not apply to gay and lesbian couples. Lenora was trying to adopt Leticia's biological child, which the two have been raising since his birth. Arizona state law did not recognize same sex marriages until after a 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruling last fall. The law also did not allow other than married couples to adopt jointly. But the Reyes-Petroffs assumed that they would be allowed to do so after the 9th Circuit ruling bestowed the rights of marriage on same sex couples. When they contacted the county attorney's office and were turned away, Lenora posted a complaint on Montgomery's Facebook page. He responded that the 9th Circuit ruling applied to marriage licenses but not to adoption. Montgomery reiterated his argument the next day in a formal statement after The Arizona Republic published a story about the refusal. Montgomery had also supported a bill in the Arizona Legislature that would allow his office to stop offering legal services to adoptive couples, but it was vetoed earlier this week by Governor Doug Ducey, who said, "I want to see adoptions done legally into loving homes with loving families." On Wednesday, ACLU legal director Victoria Lopez sent a letter to Montgomery on behalf of the Reyes-Petroffs, calling Montgomery's decision a "discriminatory policy (which) violates the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment." "Arizona same sex married couples enjoy the same rights and privileges as opposite sex married couples," Lopez wrote. "The MCAO's continued enforcement of any policy to deny adoption services to same sex married couples that are provided to heterosexual married couples will result in litigation," she wrote. Montgomery's public information officer, Jerry Cobb, said that Montgomery had not yet seen the letter.

In Texas, a highly anticipated hearing on a bill limiting transgender students’ use of Texas school bathrooms and locker rooms has been delayed after a veteran Republican told the author to soften his language. Representative Byron Cook pulled the bill from a Wednesday hearing before his powerful House State Affairs Committee. He told fellow Republican Rep. Gilbert Pena that it wouldn’t make the committee’s agenda until its language is “toned down.” Pena said a revised version will be heard in committee next week. Pena’s is the only one of four “bathroom bills,” which would specify which bathrooms transgender Texans use and incriminate erroneous users, that had been scheduled for a committee hearing. Gay rights advocacy group Equality Texas called the postponement with only 47 days left in the legislative session “a victory.” Last year, the University of North Texas made several campus public restrooms gender-neutral. University administrators said they made the move to reflect on and meet the needs of their students.

In Ohio, a Toledo man was sentenced today to five years in prison for the downtown assault and robbery of a transgender woman. Christopher Temple, 20, of 701 Cherry St. apologized in Lucas County Common Pleas Court for the November 3 attack of Candice Rose Milligan, 33, at 13th Street and Madison Avenue. His attorney, Merle Dech, said Temple was high, drunk and with a group of people when he struck Ms. Milligan. Ms. Milligan, who did not appear in court, said in a written statement the attack has changed her life. “What gives you the right to destroy my life on so many levels? I wonder how he would feel if his sister or mother were attacked in such a brutal way,” a victim’s advocate read from the statement. Temple pleaded guilty on March 6 to felonious assault and aggravated robbery. Judge Dean Mandros credited Temple with 165 days served in jail.

In Illinois, a group of Illinois lawmakers, along with a statewide gay rights organization, say conversion therapy should be banned for those under 18. At a news conference in the Capitol on Wednesday, state Representative Kelly Cassidy, an openly gay Democrat from Chicago, outlined legislation pending in the House that would end the practice of attempting to turn gays into heterosexuals for minors. "I have spoken often of my experience coming out to my mom. She asked me if I would meet with a priest, and I did," Cassidy said. Cassidy said she is lucky because the priest she met with did not try conversion therapy on her. Rather, the priest helped Cassidy create a bond with her mother. "He saved my relationship with my mother," she said. Others said they did not have similar experiences. Curtis Galloway from Benton asked his parents for counseling when he told them he was gay. Galloway said the counseling was more to help him find himself and understand, but his counselor had a different agenda. "He started the conversion therapy. You know, telling me that I'm not wholly masculine. I'm not a real man and how I need to find my inner masculinities so that I can like women and not find men attractive and he really, he drove a wedge between me and my family," Galloway said. The counselor told Galloway's parents that if he actually did everything the counselor suggested Galloway would stop being gay. "I fell into depression because I wasn't feeling the way that my counselor said I should be feeling and I was doing everything that he wanted me to do," he said. Galloway said he stopped seeing the counselor after a while. He repaired his relationship with his family, but he aches for those who do not make it. "Some people just aren't as lucky. There are people committing suicide," he said. "I consider myself a survivor, but for those who are the victims, the ones that don't make it, the ones that commit suicide, the ones that are kicked out of their homes because they can't change their sexuality, I want to reach out to them." Galloway said he believes all he can do is have hope for those suffering. Jeff Zacharias is a social worker in Chicago who has worked with patients who have gone through conversion therapy, and he agrees it needs to stop. "What we know about conversion therapy is that it doesn't work," Zacharias said. He said he has worked with teens going through the therapy and is currently working with a man in his 60's who is dealing with the impact the therapy has left on him. "Anybody in the mental health professional organizations now realizes that this ... does irreparable harm," Zacharias said. The legislation states no one under 18 should be given therapy or referred to therapy that has a goal of changing his or her sexual orientation, and mental health providers that do so will be considered to have unprofessional conduct and will be disciplined accordingly. Cassidy said the legislation would let the Department of Professional Regulations penalize those who violate the code and help former patients deal with those responsible for the therapy. "(The legislation) will make it easier for survivors to seek redress under the consumer fraud act for those who have charged for these kinds of services, on the premise that they're claiming to be able to cure a disease that isn't a disease," she said. The legislation is House Bill 217.

The Wrap reports that Walt Disney Pictures and Sony received failing grades for their representations of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender individuals in 2014 as the rest of the film industry continues to lag behind its small-screen counterparts in LGBT inclusiveness, according to GLAAD’s annual report. The 2015 Studio Responsibility Index released Wednesday by GLAAD found that in the three years examining LGBT representations on film, unfortunately little has changed. “As television and streaming services continue to produce a remarkable breadth of diverse LGBT representations, we still struggle to find depictions anywhere near as authentic or meaningful in mainstream Hollywood film,” GLAAD President & CEO Sarah Kate Ellis said in a statement. “The industry continues to look increasingly out of touch by comparison, and still doesn’t represent the full diversity of the American cultural fabric.” The SRI — which tracks the “quality and quantity” of LGBT representations in mainstream films over the last year — found that of 114 films released by the seven major and mini-major studios, 20 included lesbian, gay or bisexual characters. There were no transgender characters in any of these major movies, GLAAD reports. That proportion, 17.5-percent, is up slightly from the 16.7-percent of films that qualified the previous year. Less than three percent of the U.S. population identified as lesbian, gay or bisexual in the 2013 National Health Interview Survey — the first and most recent to track sexual orientation (there was no question for self-identification as transgender) — so the film industry would seem to be ahead of the curve. But, GLAAD said, many of those portrayals were unsubstantial or stuck in the unenlightened past. “This year, we saw fewer overtly defamatory depictions in mainstream film compared to last year, though they were by no means absent,” the report reads. “Among the worst were those in Exodus: Gods and Kings (20th Century Fox), Top Five (Paramount) and Horrible Bosses 2 (Warner Bros.), all of which fed into outdated, defamatory stereotypes. GLAAD also found significant defamatory content in films that we did not count as LGBT-inclusive, such as Transformers: Age of Extinction and The Other Woman.” Of the 20 films that included LGB characters, only 11 passed the “Vito Russo Test,” a set of criteria GLAAD introduced to evaluate the quality of those depictions. Similar to the Bechdel Test for assessing the portrayal of women in film, the Vito Russo Test checks the LGB character’s vitality to the plot and whether the character has more dimensions that just his or her sexuality. Warner Bros. was the only studio to receive a “Good” score from GLAAD for its 2014 slate, which the advocacy group said featured the most consistent representation of the LGBT community. The studio released Tammy, for example, which was nominated for a GLAAD Media Award. But that isn’t exactly a sign of better things to come, the report said, citing Kevin Hart and Will Ferrell‘s “gay-panic exploiting” Get Hard as evidence that Warner Bros.’ 2015 is already off to a bad start. Lionsgate, 20th Century Fox, Paramount and Universal all received “Adequate” scores. Sony/Columbia Pictures received a “Failing” grade for its dearth of LGBT-inclusive films and a slate that included movies like The Interview, which contained a gag scene of rapper Eminem coming out as gay to play off “homophobic” lyrics in his songs. But the studio’s independent wing, Sony Pictures Classics, released Love Is Strange, which GLAAD applauds as “one of the most impactful films of 2014 to focus on a same sex relationship.” Disney’s “Failing” grade comes from its lone representation of LGB individuals, a cameo appearance in Muppets Most Wanted by pop singer Lady Gaga, who the report lists as bisexual. GLAAD, the nation’s lesbian gay, bisexual and transgender media advocacy organization, was founded in 1985. Formerly known as the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation, the group adopted its acronym-only name in 2013 to better include its support of bisexual and transgender Americans.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

France Says It Intends To Stand By Decision To Send Gay Diplomat To Vatican Despite Three Months Of Silence From Holy See, Girl Scouts Opening Troop At Salt Lake City Gay Pride Center And Says It Will Welcome Transgender Youth And Children From LGBT Families, Owner Of Grandville Michigan Auto Shop Says He Will Welcome Gun-Owning Patrons But Will Not Serve Openly Gay Customers, Oklahoma Senate Passes Bill Regulating Ride-Sharing Services But Omits Language Protecting Customers From Discrimination Based On Sexual Orientation And Gender Identity, Rock Hudson's Longtime Boyfriend Lee Garlington Opens Up

According to AFP, France said Wednesday it stood by its choice to send a gay diplomat to the Vatican despite three months of silence from the Holy See over the appointment. Paris has had no news on whether Laurent Stefanini, an openly gay Catholic, has been accepted to serve as its ambassador to the papal state. However despite the lengthy delay -- seen as indicative of a rejection -- French government spokesman Stephane Le Foll said Paris was not changing its nomination. "France has chosen its ambassador to the Vatican. This choice was Stefanini and that remains the French proposal," the spokesperson said. "Negotiations are under way. Every ambassador must be approved when they are nominated... we are awaiting the response from the Vatican." While the Vatican usually declares it has accepted a candidate around a month after an appointment is made, it makes no public statements at all if the answer is no. The French cabinet approved the appointment of the 55-year-old Stefanini on January 5 but has not yet received a reply. "A delay of three months like this is not normal," a source in Rome said last week. If there is a refusal, "the Vatican doesn't reply, doesn't offer an explanation and it's up to the country concerned to interpret this lack of a reply." The radio silence has prompted much speculation in French and Italian media over reasons the Vatican may have to snub Stefanini -- who already served in the Holy See as number two in the French embassy from 2001 to 2005. Italy's La Stampa daily's Vatican Insider blog said Stefanini's position on gay marriage -- not his sexual orientation -- may be the problem in getting the Vatican's green light. Same sex marriage has been legal in France since 2013, despite the Catholic Church's opposition. Stefanini was described by the foreign ministry as "one of our best diplomats." In 2007, France proposed openly gay diplomat Jean-Loup Kuhn-Delforge to be its ambassador at the Vatican. Paris never received a reply, and it eventually put forward another nominee. But unlike Kuhn-Delforge, Stefanini is single and is very discreet about his personal life. Italian daily Il Messagero described him as "a practicing Catholic, very cultivated, of absolute discretion." Pope Francis has been credited with bringing a more pragmatic approach to the Church's view on homosexuality, with previously unheard-of papal comments such as "Who I am to judge?" about gays. Francis' papacy -- he is the first Jesuit pope and the first from South America -- has marked a series of breaks with Vatican tradition. However his views on issues the Church deems sinful (including divorce) have irked conservatives who have tried to put the brakes on his reform drive.

In Utah, the Associated Press reports that the Girl Scouts are opening a troop at a gay pride center in Salt Lake City that officials say will welcome transgender youth and children from LGBT families. In an era where the Girl Scouts of the USA has struggled with declining membership and recruiting enough adult volunteers, the idea was conceived by a Utah staffer who helps create troops outside the typical scouting mold. Though the national organization says it isn't the first to openly invite transgender youth, the new group is drawing attention in conservative Utah where lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender groups have long struggled to find acceptance and were only recently given anti-discrimination protections. "Girl Scouts is all about empowering girls to become leaders who make the world a better place," said Shari Solomon-Klebba, who has helped start troops at shelters and refugee centers. "Why not at the Pride Center?" She went looking for leaders and found volunteer Olivia Cloe, a 39-year-old cardiac ultrasound technician whose grown son is gay. Cloe said that when she was a kid with a single parent, scouting helped her find friends even though she moved around a lot. "It gave me somewhere safe to go. It gave me something productive to do," she said. Cloe also lives near the Utah Pride Center, and she said she wants to help create similar bonds inside and outside the LGBT community. The new Utah troop had its first meeting Monday with five girls ages 7 to 11. They made friendship bracelets, learned the Girl Scout handshake and sang songs. Salt Lake City mother Sarah Hemmert said she brought her two daughters because her family includes members who don't conform to the gender they were born with, and she wants her girls to be in a place where their family dynamic is accepted. "They loved it. They had a great time, and they want to go back," she said. Though there aren't any transgender members of the group now, Utah Pride Center Director Sheila Raboy said that she expects some to join. It'll also help LGBT parents who want to help their kids with scouting, she said. "These girls will be able to enjoy the Girl Scouts the way girls who are from regular, heterosexual families are able to enjoy it," she said. Raboy said she's planning to reach out to the Boy Scouts as well in the coming months. Utah has a robust history of involvement with the Boy Scouts, which in 2013 started accepting gay scouts but continues to bar openly gay adult leaders. The Salt Lake City-based Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, which is the organization's biggest sponsor, supported that decision. There are no prohibitions on LGBT leaders in the Girl Scouts of the USA, Director of Communications Joshua Ackley said in an e-mail message. Any adults can volunteer, though all are vetted and undergo a background check. The Girl Scouts consider diversity one of their core values, and in an era when the rest of the country was segregated the organization welcomed scouts of all races, Ackley said. Nationally, transgender kids recognized as girls by their families and communities can join the Girl Scouts, though requests are handled individually, he said. It's not clear how many troops are affiliated with LGBT-pride groups because the national organization doesn't track that information, Ackley said.

In Michigan, the owner of a Grandville auto repair shop announced on Facebook he would not hesitate to refuse to do business with openly gay customers. The post, published Tuesday morning on Dieseltec's business Facebook page, says openly gay people aren't welcome and homosexuality is "wrong." However, gun-carrying customers are allowed at the business at 2875 Ottawa Ave. SW, the owner said, adding people who bring their firearms will receive a discount. That discount doesn't extend to on-duty police officers because "because that's not their gun," he said. The owner said Dieseltec will run in a manner that reflects his Christian values. He started the note by saying conservative rights are "squashed" every day. "Apparently if you are white (or close to it), you have a job, go to church, and own a gun... That translates into racists, privileged, bigot, conspiracy theorist," the post continuing, "Dishonesty, thievery and immoral behavior aren't welcome at the business. I would not hesitate to refuse service to an openly gay person or persons. Homosexuality is wrong, period. If you want to argue this fact with me, then I will put your vehicle together with all bolts and no nuts and you can see how that works." In response to dozens of commenters on the post, the shop owner said his issue lies in having to explain homosexuality to his children. It is his right to not be exposed to "certain behaviors," he argued. "If you are gay (and happen to own a diesel truck) don't tell me your gay, I don't need or want to know, but at least now you know where I stand and have given you a reason to just keep driving," he said in the comment. The Facebook post in its entirety is available at the source. Messages were left with Dieseltec's owner Wednesday night. He could not be immediately reached for comment.

In Oklahoma, the Senate on Wednesday passed a measure to set up the framework to regulate ride-sharing services such as Uber and Lyft. The companies rely on individual drivers and an electronic application. According to the World-Herald, House Bill 1614, by Rep. Katie Henke (R-Tulsa) and Sen. Jason Smalley (R-Stroud) passed by 35-11. It returns to the House for consideration of Senate amendments and then for final passage, Henke said. It could then go to Gov. Mary Fallin for consideration, she said. “I am extremely excited,” Henke said of the measure’s passage in the Senate. The measure would require companies to pay a $5,000 fee to operate. Henke said that figure does not apply to the drivers. The Oklahoma Corporation Commission would regulate the services, according to the measure. The measure was amended in the Senate to remove language that would have protected customers from discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity. Henke said companies could adopt their own discrimination policies. Senator John Sparks (D-Norman) said residents should expect to be treated fairly. “You don’t want to be on the wrong side of history,” he said. Smalley said the measure had nothing to do with discrimination, but established a framework for companies to come to Oklahoma and create a niche product.

People Magazine reports that at the height of his fame in the early 1960s, few people were closer to Rock Hudson than Lee Garlington, who dated the actor from 1962 to 1965. "He was a sweetheart," says Garlington, 77, a retired stockbroker. "I adored him." Thirty years after Hudson's death from AIDS-related causes on October 2, 1985, at age 59, Garlington and others who knew Hudson closely – including Dr. Michael Gottlieb, the immunologist who cared for Hudson after he was diagnosed with AIDS, his business manager, Wallace Sheft, and his Pillow Talk costar Doris Day – share their intimate memories of the friend they loved and lost in this week's issue of the magazine. Garlington was a young film extra when he first met Hudson in 1962. "He was the biggest movie star in the world, and the rumors were that he was gay," he says. "So I thought, 'Let me get an eye on him.' I stood outside his cottage on the Universal lot, pretending to read Variety, which was probably upside down at the time. He walked out and down the street. He looked back once. That was it." A year later, after Garlington had broken up with his boyfriend, he got a call from one of Hudson's friends, asking if he'd like to meet the actor. "I think he had me checked out," he says. "I was scared to death," Garlington says of their first meeting at Hudson's mansion on Beverly Crest Drive in Beverly Hills. "Of course, he was 6-foot-4, a monster. He offered me a beer, but nothing happened. Literally. I was too scared. He said, 'Well, let's get together,' and we did," adding, "I'd come over after work, spend the night and leave the next morning. I'd sneak out at 6:00 am in my Chevy Nova and coast down the street without turning on the engine so the neighbors wouldn't hear. We thought we were being so clever." The two went to move premieres together, but each brought a female date. "Nobody in their right mind came out," Garlington says. "It was career suicide. We all pretended to be straight. Once we met Paul Newman and his wife [Joanne Woodward] at a premiere. He looked at me and smiled. I just read in his face – that maybe he knew Rock and I were together. We kind of laughed about it." Hudson never had to ask him to keep their relationship a secret. "He assumed I would and I did," Garlington says. "He wasn't paranoid." But after a female fan broken into Hudson's house and slept in his bed when the two were on a road trip, the actor grew a bit more cautious. "In a drawer on a side table were pictures of me with no shirt on," Garlington says. "She didn't find them, but it shook him up. He realized he was vulnerable. He put gates on the house after that." He has fond memories of hanging out at the house and taking car trips to county fairs and through the South with Hudson. "Rock had no pretense," he says. "He was always casual. He liked to wear chinos and moccasins around the house and hang around and watch television. We'd go on road trips and sometimes he wouldn’t tell the studio where he was going," adding, "Rock was always himself. He would plant a kiss on a leading lady and I would say, 'Geez, he does that to me the same way.' That was always a giggle on my part." The two broke up in 1965. "One of the reasons we went our own way was because in a way I wanted a father figure and he was not strong enough," he says. "Rock wasn't a real strong personality. He was a gentle giant." They gradually lost contact by the time the screen icon revealed he had AIDS in 1985, the first well-known celebrity to succumb to the disease amid a mounting climate of fear and hysteria surrounding the epidemic. "I was shocked," Garlington says of the news. "AIDS killed everybody in those days. I called up the people taking care of him, but they said he was so sick that he wouldn't know who I was and it was best to remember him how he had been before." Garlington read in Hudson's biography, published after his death, that the actor had called him his "true love," and he recalls, "I broke down and cried. I just lost it. He said his mother and I were the only people he ever loved. I had no idea I meant that much to him."