Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Savage Beating Of Gay Man In Eastern Kentucky Motivated Solely By Sexual Orientation Testifies Relative Of Two Men Accused Under Federal Hate Crimes Law, Memphis Tennessee City Council Finally Votes To Add Sexual Orientation And Gender Identity To Non-Discrimination Ordinance, East Aurora Illinois School Board Passes Policy Protecting Transgender Students, Gay Man Arrested Under Washington State Hate Crime Law For Harassing Women Opposed To Same Sex Marriage, Washington State Proponents Of Same Sex Marriage Out Raise Opponents By Wide Margin, Anne Hathaway Donates Monies From Wedding Photographs To Marriage Equality Campaigns, Colton Haynes, Kellan Lutz, One Direction

In Kentucky, a relative of two men charged in an alleged hate crime in Harlan County said the men assaulted a gay man because of his sexual orientation. The two targeted the victim in part because "he would be an easy target because he was gay," Mable Ashley Jenkins testified Wednesday as the trial for the two got under way in federal court in London. Jenkins is the sister of Anthony Ray Jenkins and a cousin of David Jason Jenkins. The two men are charged with kidnapping and beating Kevin Pennington in April 2011. A federal grand jury charged that the Jenkins cousins targeted Pennington, who is gay, because of his sexual orientation. As I have previously posted, the case is the first in the nation in which people were charged under a section of the federal hate-crimes law that law that makes it illegal to attack someone based on the victim's real or perceived sexual orientation. According to the Herald-Leader, Assistant U.S. Attorney Hydee Hawkins said the cousins had attacked a friend of Pennington's in 2009 and had decided to attack Pennington last year over that "unfinished business." Ashley Jenkins, who is known by her middle name, said she and Anthony Jenkins' wife, Alexis, took part in a plan to lure Pennington into Anthony Jenkins' pickup truck with a false story that she wanted Pennington to buy drugs for her. The real plan was to take Pennington to a remote area of Kingdom Come State Park and attack him, she said. "They was going to take him up on the park and beat him to death," then dispose of the body, she said. Anthony and Jason Jenkins, who is known by his middle name, concealed their faces when Pennington got into the truck so he couldn't see them, Ashley Jenkins testified. When they got to the park, the two men dragged Pennington from the truck and beat him while yelling slurs such as "die, faggot!" Ashley Jenkins testified. When the two stopped beating Pennington to look for a tire iron to kill him with, he escaped into the woods, Ashley Jenkins said. Ashley and Alexis Jenkins pleaded guilty to aiding the attack and are cooperating with prosecutors. In their opening statements, defense attorneys acknowledged that there was an altercation involving the two men and Pennington, but they said it had nothing to do with him being gay. Pennington went with the four to buy drugs, but Jason Jenkins was concerned that the person Pennington planned to deal with was a police informant, said Willis Coffey, Anthony Jenkins' attorney. Jenkins was drunk and high; he and Pennington argued, and it escalated, Coffey said in his opening argument. "There was simply an argument that led to a fight because Jason Jenkins was out of his head," Coffey told jurors. In questioning Ashley Jenkins, Coffey said she has told inconsistent stories in the case. He suggested that she lied about the alleged plan to attack Pennington because of his sexual orientation so she could get the best deal she could get from prosecutors. The trial continues Wednesday afternoon.

In Tennessee, the Memphis City Council Tuesday approved a non-discrimination ordinance that includes workplace protections for sexual orientation and gender identity, ending a debate that began in 2010. "City of Memphis employees will go to bed tonight and wake up in the morning to hear the news that their hard work will be respected and their ability to contribute to their community will be preserved," said Jonathan Cole, vice president of the Tennessee Equality Project, one of the backers of the legislation. "It's a new day in Memphis, Tennessee." The legislation sponsored by council members Lee Harris and Shea Flinn and approved in a 9-4 vote includes protections against discrimination for "sexual orientation, gender identity, age, ethnicity, national origin and disability." It applies only to employment by the city of Memphis, not private individuals or groups that may contract with the city. Council members Flinn, Harris, Harold Collins, Edmund Ford Jr., Janis Fullilove, Wanda Halbert, Reid Hedgepeth, Myron Lowery and Jim Strickland voted for the ordinance. Council members Bill Boyd, Joe Brown, Bill Morrison and Kemp Conrad voted against it. According to the Commercial Appeal, the council originally voted to include sexual-orientation protections in the ordinance in September before delaying a final vote on the measure for 30 days to determine whether the legislation would violate the city's charter and require a referendum. An opinion by City Attorney. Herman Morris said the protections for sexual orientation do not conflict with the charter and would not require a referendum, clearing the way for the final vote. City code and policy already prohibited discrimination based on "race, color, religion, sex, national origin, age, disability, genetic information, veteran status, political affiliation, or other non-merit factors." Morris said the inclusion of "other non-merit factors" signaled that "drafters intended to leave open the possibility of other factors beyond those listed in the charter and the ordinance." However, council attorney Allan Wade said the council could have drafted a resolution ordering the Human Resources director to craft a non-discrimination policy that included sexual orientation and gender identity. After Wade's suggestion, Flinn proposed and the council approved a resolution requiring the Human Resources director to develop a new policy. The council's chamber was crowded Tuesday with both opponents and supporters of the protections for people no matter their sexual orientation and gender identity. Paul Houghland of the Family Action Council of Tennessee called the legislation approved Tuesday the first item in a gay and lesbian political agenda that could erode the traditional family and lead to more legislation, such as city benefits for same-sex couples. "We're on a slippery slope," said Houghland. Father Valentine N. Handwerker of the Cathedral for the Immaculate Conception, referring to Memphis' historical struggle with civil rights, said approval of the legislation would remove a stain from the city's image. "I hope the City Council will help turn the page on another form of discrimination with the passage of this proposed ordinance," said Handwerker. This is the second time the city has wrestled with the issue of workplace protections for gay, lesbian and transgender employees since 2010. That year, an ordinance sponsored by Flinn was pulled off the council's consent agenda and defeated. Memphis is the third large city in the state to provide such workplace protections, following Nashville and Knoxville. Councilman Hedgepeth said he received disturbing emails over his support for the ordinance and "robo-calls" on his cellphone from opponents of the legislation. Hedgepeth said Houghland and the Family Action Council were behind the calls. "It would lock my phone up for hours depending on how they did it that day," said Hedgepeth. "The hateful reactions from this small group claiming to be Christians is unbelievable," said Hedgepeth.

In Illinois, the East Aurora school board voted to unanimously approve a policy that affects transgender students Monday night. The policy set forth several guidelines for school administrators to use when addressing the needs and rights of transgender and gender nonconforming students. The policy also addresses how state laws should be implemented. The new policy specifically states that transgender and gender nonconforming students have the right use the restroom that corresponds to their gender-related identity that is consistently asserted at school. The student has the right to be addressed by the name they want to be called, too. “A court-ordered name or gender change is not required, and the student needs not change his or her official records,” the policy states. In most cases, transgender students should have access to the locker room that corresponds to their gender-related identity, according to the policy. “In no case shall a transgender student be required to use a locker room that conflicts with the student’s gender-related identity,” the policy reads. Classes or teams that are segregated by gender should also be open to students according to the gender that the student self-identifies with. In the case of competitive sports teams, the policy says district administrators should consult policies issued by the governing interscholastic athletics administrative body. Questions regarding eligibility should be handled on a case-by-case basis. According to the Illinois High School Association’s policy, the IHSA makes a final ruling on student participation. A group of medical personnel advises the organization in those rulings. According to the criteria, a transgender student is a student whose gender-related identity is different from their gender assigned at birth; a gender non-conforming student is a student whose gender expression differs from stereotypical expectations.

In Washington State, a woman who opposed same sex marriage was a victim of malicious harassment –the state’s hate crime law – and the man involved was arrested Wednesday morning, deputies said. According to the Seattle Times, the suspect saw the woman’s sign to reject Referendum 74 Sunday afternoon in the parking lot of the Burien Safeway. He became offended and allegedly told the woman he was gay as he tore off the sign, and then shoved another woman who stepped in to help, deputies said. An investigating detective arrested the man Wednesday morning. Under Washington law, someone is guilty of malicious harassment if that person causes injury to a person, makes threats, or damages property because of the perception of the victim’s race, color, religion, ancestry, national origin, gender, sexual orientation, or mental, physical, or sensory handicap. Malicious harassment is a class C felony. “With sexual orientation it doesn’t say gay, it says sexual orientation,” Sheriff’s Sgt. Cindi West said. “So it goes both ways.” In addition to the suspected malicious harassment for ripping off the traditional marriage support sign, deputies say the suspect made several racial slurs to the African-American woman who stepped into help. “So we really have two different instances here,” West said. The suspect, who has not been charged, is expected to have a bail hearing Thursday afternoon. The Washington United for Marriage campaign manager Zach Silk said in a statement his group condemns “any act of this sort and we have been explicit with our supporters — we respect everyone, no matter where they stand on Referendum 74.”

Also in Washington, the campaign to uphold the state's same sex marriage law raised $2.8 million in cash contributions over the past six weeks. According to filings posted with the Public Disclosure Commission on Tuesday, Washington United for Marriage has raised a total of more than $10 million in cash and in-kind donations for its campaign, compared to the more than $1.8 million raised by Preserve Marriage Washington, which is trying to overturn the new law. Preserve Marriage's latest fundraising report had not yet posted to the PDC site. R-74 asks voters to either approve or reject the law passed earlier this year that allows same sex marriage in the state. That law is on hold pending a November vote.

In September, actress Anne Hathaway celebrated her wedding day with longtime partner Adam Shulman. The 29-year-old actress, who starred in this summer's blockbuster The Dark Knight Rises and who is featured in this winter's big-screen adaptation of Les Misérables, enjoyed a private wedding with family members and friends in Big Sur, California. Now, reports Freedom to Marry, Hathaway is doing her part to ensure that same-sex couples across the country can enjoy a fairytale wedding like hers; this week, she announced that she'll be donating some of the sales from her wedding photographs to non-profits advocating for marriage for same-sex couples, including Freedom to Marry. Reports also indicate that she'll be splitting the profits between groups like the American Cancer Society, St. Jude Children's Research Hospital, and The Girl Effect. The donation from the sales of her wedding photos is the latest way that Hathaway has taken a stand for the freedom to marry. In 2008, she talked publicly for the first time about her brother, who is gay, and explained that their relationship has compelled her to advocate as an ally to the LGBT community. In 2008 she was awarded the Human Rights Campaign's Ally Award and gave a rousing speech about the importance of acceptance of LGBT people. She said, "I don't consider myself just an ally to the LGBT community, I consider myself your family. And so, I'm doing what we should all do with our families - I'm loving you, I support you, I completely accept you as you are, as I hope you do me, and if anyone ever tries to hurt you, I'm going to give them hell." Most recently, Hathaway and Shulman have been serving as members of our National Honorary Host Committee for our National Engagement Party, which wrapped on Saturday, October 13 and raised a total of $500,000 for Freedom to Marry's Win More States Fund, 100% of which is strategically channeled into the four states - Maine, Maryland, Minnesota, and Washington - where marriage is on the ballot on Election Day.

Colton Haynes (still closeted, sadly) is leaving Teen Wolf, the exact reason a bit of a mystery.

Kellan Lutz says he will win an Academy Award “one day,” and he said that with a “straight” face.

A series of Twitter photographs from One Direction, a tad Niall Horan heavy, and absent Liam, however.

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