An update on a previous post: In Honolulu, Hawaii, a nominee for the Ethics Board of Appeals has been withdrawn from consideration after making inflammatory comments against gays. Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell announced today he is pulling the nomination of Gary Okino. He says once he heard Okino's comments it was an easy decision. "Are you tolerant of murder? Are you tolerant of drug abuse? No you're not. So I have no tolerance for homosexuality and I get accused of being intolerant," said Gary Okino, on Tuesday during his nomination hearing before the Executive Matters and Legal Affairs Committee. Okino is a former City Councilman and Ethics Board of Appeals nominee. He compared gays to murderers and drug users. He also said gays are deviant, diseased and negatively affecting society. He says homosexuality goes against his Catholic beliefs. "So it's not hatefulness. It is intolerance, I'm sorry. It is intolerance for something that I believe that is absolutely wrong," said Okino, at Tuesday's hearing. Backlash had already been building leading up to his nomination vote before the full City Council next Wednesday. But today Mayor Kirk Caldwell pulled his Okino's name from consideration. "Bottom line he had a position that I think was contrary to many people in the community and definitely the position of Honolulu Hale. It's a form of discrimination and me as a mayor there is no room for any discrimination," said Kirk Caldwell, Honolulu Mayor. "These kinds of statements, particularly in a public position and sitting on the ethics panel, I think it's not acceptable." Councilmember Joey Manahan didn't object to Okino's comments on when they were said on Tuesday, but he did Friday. "You know sometimes it takes a while to digest. Once it does and you do think about it you have to do the right thing," said Manahan. "Everyone is entitled to their beliefs but as part of the first amendment but I think his comments went over the line." Okino says he isn't going to give in so willingly and may challenge the Mayor's action saying he doesn't want to let down his supporters or his God by giving up. Okino's opponents are thrilled with Caldwell's decision. It is the first time a current mayor has revoked a previous mayor's appointment. Caldwell says he will work on finding a new nominee to replace Okino. Prior to Mayor Caldwell's announcement, City Council members Ikaika Anderson and Stanley Chang had already stated they were going to vote against Okino's nomination. "I was appalled by former Councilmember Okino's testimony attacking the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, and Transgender (GLBT) community in this week's committee hearing, openly professing his 'intolerance' for behavior that he compared with 'murder' and 'drug abuse.' This kind of prejudice has no place in America, no place in Hawaii, and certainly no place in Honolulu. His testimony casts serious doubt on his ability to administer our ethics laws impartially. The City & County of Honolulu's own non-discrimination policy prohibits 'discrimination and/or harassment . . . based on . . . sexual orientation.' I was off-island when the nomination was voted on in committee, but should the nomination be presented to the full Council on Wednesday, I will vote against it," said Councilmember Chang, in a written statement. The following is Mayor Kirk Caldwell's full written statement regarding his decision to withdraw Okino's nomination: "I was extremely concerned to hear Gary Okino's statements to the City Council recently regarding his personal non-tolerance of the gay community. There is no place for discrimination of any kind in city government, and even though Mr. Okino stated he would not discriminate if he was appointed as a member of the Ethics Board of Appeals, I find his position on the gay community to be a problem. Gary Okino was nominated by the former administration. As Mayor of the current administration, it is within my authority to withdraw the nomination. After discussing the matter with Council Chair Ernest Martin, and based on the concerns expressed by members of the City Council, I concur with his recommendation to withdraw Mr. Okino's nomination."
In New York City, police released sketches on Friday of two men wanted for the murder of gay activist Lou Rispoli, who was beaten to death on a Sunnyside street in October. The first suspect is described as a white male in his 20s, and the second as a Hispanic male in his 30s, police said. A $22,000 reward has been offered for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the men, according to the NYPD. The 62-year-old Rispoli was attacked just after 2:00 am near the corner of 42nd Street and Queens Boulevard, police said. Witnesses told Queens City Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer at the time that they saw two men approach Rispoli, and strike up a brief conversation, then hit him in the head with a blunt object. A third man was seen keeping watch. Rispoli died five days after the attack, when his family took him off life support. He was a longtime Sunnyside resident who lived in the neighborhood for more than 30 years, and he worked as an administrator at Greenwich House Music School in Greenwich Village. He had recently married his partner of 32 years. Van Bramer was a close personal friend of the victim's, and organized a march and candlelight vigil in Rispoli's honor a month after his death. "Lou was a very proud gay man and someone who worked for equality," Van Bramer said at the time, calling Rispoli a “pillar of the gay community in Queens.”
In Daytona Beach, Florida, three men accused of beating a man because he was gay pleaded not guilty on Wednesday to hate crime charges, which greatly increase the time they could be locked up if convicted. Ryan Adkins, 26, Cortez Johnson, 22, and Bradley Griffin-Hadley, 25, were accused of beating a man on January 2 and yelling slurs about him being gay. All three pleaded not guilty in the beating of Errol Pendarvis, 40, who said he had moved to Daytona Beach less than a day before the attack. Adkins was first before Circuit Judge Frank Marriott, who said the charge was a new one to him. “The charge here is what I never saw before: ‘evidence of prejudice battery,' ” Marriott said. “That's basically a hate crime,” said Assistant Public Defender Scott Swain. The hate crime charge means that instead of facing up to one year in jail if convicted of what otherwise would have been first-degree misdemeanor battery in the beating, the men will each face up to five years in prison if convicted of the third-degree felony hate crime. According to the Florida Attorney General's Hate Crime Report, there were five reported hate crimes in Volusia County and five in Flagler County in 2011. The report released in December states that 139 hate crimes were reported statewide. Sexual orientation allegedly motivated 20.1 percent of the hate crimes statewide, according to the report. Pendarvis walked out of the Streamline Motel just before 2:30 am January 2, then was attacked and suffered bruises on his back, chest and arms and injuries to his left foot, according to a police report. “I'm doing okay, just fine,” Pendarvis said in a phone interview on Wednesday. “My sores and bruises are gone. I'm okay; Other than the fact of being terrorized.” He said he was walking with two other gay men that night when a group started following them. A woman in the group recognized they were gay and started screaming gay slurs, he said. The other two men with Pendarvis kept quiet, but he spoke up. “I spoke up, ‘Yeah, and so what,' something like that,” Pendarvis said. The three men caught up to Pendarvis as he ran for help to a 7-Eleven store at 35 S. Atlantic Ave. They repeatedly punched and kicked him while yelling slurs, according to a police report. The three fled when a store clerk said he had called police. All three men are from out of state: Johnson of Colorado, Adkins of Kansas and Griffin-Hadley of Oregon. Griffin-Hadley is being held on $3,000 bail at the Volusia County Branch Jail. Johnson and Adkins are being held each on $2,000 bail. Pendarvis said he had been the target of hateful slurs based on his sexual orientation back when he was in his 20s but this was the first physical attack. He added that it has not made him fearful of going outside. “Not really,” he said. “I'm just a little more alert now.”
In San Francisco, former Square Inc Chief Operating Officer Keith Rabois left the company amid accusations of sexual harassment, the mobile payment company said on Friday. "We took these allegations very seriously and we immediately launched a full investigation to ascertain the facts," Square spokesman Ricardo Reyes said in a statement on Friday. The company said it has not found any evidence to support any of the claims, but said "Keith exercised poor judgment that ultimately undermined his ability to remain an effective leader at Square." Rabois said the relationship, with an unidentified male employee of Square, was consensual and began before the person joined Square. "I realize that continuing any physical relationship after he began working at Square was poor judgment on my part," he wrote in a blog post on Friday. Rabois said that the recent events were "the toughest, saddest, most frightening, and emotionally draining of my life." Rabois, a former executive at eBay-owned PayPal who has a law degree from Harvard Law School, joined Square in 2010.
In the United Kingdom, legislation to enable same sex marriages to take place in England and Wales has been published. Culture Secretary Maria Miller told BBC Radio 4: "We feel that marriage is a good thing and we should be supporting more couples to marry." There would be adequate protection for religious freedoms, she said. The bill has divided Conservatives, with former Defence Secretary Liam Fox recently describing it as "ill thought through and constitutionally wrong.” Conservative MPs will get a free vote on the legislation when it is debated in the Commons on Tuesday, February 5, meaning they will face no repercussions if they decide to defy government policy. More than 100 Tory MPs are thought to be against the idea, but the bill is likely to pass through the Commons with the support of Labour and Liberal Democrat MPs. Same sex couples have been able to enter into civil partnerships since 2005, entitling them to the same legal rights as married couples across a range of matters, such as inheritance, pensions provision, life assurance, child maintenance, next of kin and immigration rights. The new law, the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Bill, will enable same sex couples to get married in both civil and religious ceremonies - where a religious institution has formally consented. It will also allow couples who have previously entered into civil partnerships to convert their relationship into a marriage. Miller said the government recognized that "some churches won't want to participate in same sex marriages,” adding, "We are trying to make sure that there are the protections there for churches who feel that this isn't appropriate for their particular beliefs.” However, the government also wanted any religious institution that did want to carry out same sex marriages to be able to do so, she said. The Church of England and Roman Catholics, among other denominations, have voiced opposition to the plans and are expected to oppose the bill, even with its caveats. But some religious groups, including Quakers, Unitarians and Liberal Judaism, are in favour. The culture secretary set out the legal position of the Church of England and the Church in Wales in some detail in a blog post in December. "The Church of England, as the established church, is a special case. It has a duty in law to marry any person in their local parish church, regardless of their religious affiliation," she wrote. The legislation would ensure this duty did not apply to same sex couples, she said. But she added that it could put forward a change to the law "of its own accord" if its governing body, the Synod, changed its policy: "Put simply, should the Church of England decide to carry out same sex marriage in the future, it can itself amend legislation to effect this with the approval of Parliament." Miller told the Commons in December that no religious organisation "will ever be forced to conduct marriages for same sex couples.” Fox has said the proposals will put the established church in an "anomalous and absurd" position. In a letter to constituents that was made public earlier this month, Fox said same sex relationships should be treated "with tolerance and respect", but he did not believe there was much demand for them to be recognized as marriages. "The legislation looks as though it was made on the hoof to deal with the political problem du jour," he wrote. The government was in danger of "further weakening and splintering Britain's traditional religion at a time when many Christians feel that they are under threat", he said. "To fail to understand this is to risk an affront to a large stabilizing and normally acquiescent section of this country which will sow completely unnecessary seeds of dissent." The Bishop of Leicester, the Right Reverend Tim Stevens, said marriage should continue to be "a union between one man and one woman. It is a social institution that predates both church and state and has been part of the glue that has bound countless successive societies together." The "absence of an overwhelming public consensus for change ought at least to give pause for thought", he said. But John Wadham, general counsel at the Equality and Human Rights Commission, welcomed the move: "We agree that couples who wish to marry should be permitted to marry in church if their church also wishes to marry them." For Labour, shadow home secretary Yvette Cooper said: "Marriage as an institution has undergone repeated reform and modernization over hundreds of years and needs to again now to reflect the equal value we place on long-term loving relationships for same sex couples too."
The writers of the legendary lawman Judge Dredd have caused a stir among fans by suggesting he might be gay. The latest edition of the comic 2000 AD is titled Closet and deals with the issue of a teenager coming out. The first page has been released on the internet and apparently shows Dredd - a judge/policeman form the future - kissing the youth in a gay club. Reaction to the teaser, which was released online last month, has been mixed, with some fans so hostile to the idea they have threatened to burn the comic. A spokesperson said: "We have had quite an extreme reaction. Dredd has always been satirical, while touching on serious issues. This is another example of this." There is a twist in the tale, with all not being as it seems, the spokesperson said. Writer Rob Williams said Dredd's sexuality - whatever it is - was buried beneath his love for the law. He said: "Although, can you imagine what would happen if that repression ever fell away, just for an instant? Sure, Dredd could be gay. You can't look at the original costume design of leather and chains and not see a fetishistic edge there. But Dredd's feeling are so deeply hidden, he is extremely unlikely to ever let them show." The writer said comics were a "great" place to deal with issues such as homophobia. He said: "As long as you stay true to the character throughout - which I think 'Closet' does - you can deal with all sorts of issues in a story. And if they push people's buttons, fine. I'd rather a story be provocative than just, 'and they have a fight'. Plus, putting Dredd in a gay club filled with men dressed as him is a pretty funny image. It's worth it for that alone." Dredd is a Street Judge in the American metropolis Mega-City One, with the power to enforce law and impose an instant sentence, including even execution. The strip, illustrated by CLiNT magazine's Mike Dowling, will be available on Wednesday.
Chris and Liam – the brothers Hemsworth – spotted shirtless along the shores of Costa Rico surfing, Chris grabbing his crotch, flashing crack.