Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Irish Gay Couple Claim Store Security Guard Subjected Them To Anti-Gay Abuse, San Francisco Archbishop Says Allowing Gays And Lesbians To Marry Akin To Legalizing Male Breastfeeding, Reuters Reports U.S. Opponents Of Same Sex Marriage In Deep Debt, Hennepin County Minnesota Lawsuit Seeking To Legalize Same Sex Marriage On Hold Until Legislature Establishes Equality, Oregon Labour Commission Officials File Discrimination Suit Against Portland Alleging It Discriminates Against Transgender Individuals, Study Reveals That Coming Out Lowers Stress

In Ireland, SPAR is investigating an alleged incident in which two men claim they were called ‘faggots’ and thrown out of a shop in Dublin. One of the men, Robbie Lawlor, tweeted that a security man approached him and his friend Emmett Daly when they kissed in the shop after going in to buy a roll. He claimed the security man told them to “take it back into the George you faggots” Lawlor said his friend asked the security man if they were straight and had kissed if he would have asked them to go back to Copper Face Jacks. He said his friend pushed the security guard away after he followed them and again told them to get out “you faggots.” SPAR Ireland said it was aware of an alleged incident in a store which is independently owned and operated. “SPAR Ireland prides itself on respect for all regardless of gender, nationality, colour, creed, or sexual orientation and abhors any action that contravenes that,” it said. “We are currently working with the independent store owner, the gardai and the private security company to establish the facts of the alleged incident.”

In an interview with the United Kingdom Catholic Herald, San Francisco Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone suggests that waging war against same sex marriage is way of winning grace. “Fighting for marriage is our way of loving God, and the struggle is the particular gift that God has given our generation. This is our particular trial, and by overcoming it we may achieve spiritual greatness. It will entail suffering if we are to oppose gay marriage, something which poses such destruction to the understanding of natural marriage, which is a child-oriented institution.” Cordileone, who was arrested August 24, 2012, driving home from a dinner party with his mother and another priest, and charged with DUI, added that cautioned must be employed against over-using the term “gay marriage,” advising that it should be used “only sparingly” because it is a natural impossibility and if we keep talking about gay marriage we might fool ourselves into thinking it is an authentic reality, which only needs government approval to make it legitimate. He compares it with another impossibility: “Legislating for the right for people of the same sex to marry is like legalising male breastfeeding.”

Opponents of same sex marriage are laboring to pay the tab for an epic legal case now before the U.S. Supreme Court, as the movement suffers from fundraising shortfalls that could sap its strength in future battles. Reuters is reporting that ProtectMarriage.com, the advocacy group defending a California gay marriage ban now under review by the high court, showed a $2 million deficit in its legal fund at the end of 2011 - the third year in a row that expenses exceeded donations, federal tax records show. The 2012 accounts are not yet available. ProtectMarriage.com says it has since covered the 2011 shortfall. However, it is still $700,000 short in fundraising for its Supreme Court costs, according to a ProtectMarriage.com attorney, Andrew Pugno. That message has gone out to donors, with some urgency, as the Supreme Court prepares to hear arguments in March in its first thorough review of same-sex marriage. "Unless the pace of donations starts to pick up right away, we could soon be forced over a financial cliff," ProtectMarriage.com said in an e-mail to donors earlier this month. ProtectMarriage.com's lead outside counsel, Charles Cooper, has not stopped work on the Supreme Court case, although he declined to comment on financial arrangements with clients. But gay marriage opponents' money problems go beyond legal fees for the landmark case: they were vastly outspent in four state ballot campaigns last fall, and lost all of those races. While the best case for gay marriage opponents is that it becomes a state-by-state battle, that is a potentially grueling, expensive proposition for both sides, in which fundraising would be critical. In Washington State, for instance, gay marriage opponents raised $2.8 million, compared with $12.6 million for gay marriage supporters. That's a dramatic shift from the 2008 electoral battle over California's Proposition 8 (the state's ban on gay marriage) when ProtectMarriage.com took in $40 million to nearly match its opponents, and went on to win. The fund-raising fall-off is a result of donor fatigue, the dramatic rise in public support for gay marriage and the softening of some major gay marriage opponents, including the Mormon Church, people involved with the campaigns say. Both individuals and institutions opposed to gay marriage say many are fearful of being associated with the cause. On the New York cocktail party circuit, the intensity of anger over the marriage issue has made being pro-life easy," said Sean Fieler, who runs the New York City hedge fund Equinox Partners. Fieler has donated over $1 million to gay marriage opponents such as the National Organization for Marriage. The Supreme Court will review both the Proposition 8 case and a challenge to the Defense of Marriage Act, the federal law which defines marriage as between a man and a woman. A ruling is expected by the end of June. A group of corporations opposed to DOMA has formed the Business Coalition for DOMA Repeal, including Marriott International Inc, Aetna Inc, eBay Inc, and Thomson Reuters Corp, the corporate parent of Reuters News. If the high court recognizes a constitutional right to marriage, then California's Prop 8 and other state bans would be abolished, along with DOMA's core. However, the high court could avoid addressing the fundamental issue of a constitutional right to marriage by ruling that it's a matter for states to decide. Pugno says that fundraising for ProtectMarriage.com has never been easy. However, he said he does not think changing attitudes are the problem. "I don't detect a decrease in enthusiasm," he said. "What I detect is a certain degree of fatigue after having to essentially fight this issue non-stop since 2004, when the mayor in San Francisco started issuing marriage licenses." When then-Mayor Gavin Newsom authorized gay couples to wed, the U.S. public opposed same sex marriage by 60-31-percent, according to Pew Research Center polling. California's state Supreme Court voided Newsom's unilateral action, but in the spring of 2008 ruled that the gay marriage bans on the books were unconstitutional. Thousands of same sex couples flocked to the altar. That touched off the campaign to pass Prop 8, a state constitutional amendment defining marriage as between a man and a woman. ProtectMarriage.com ran aggressive television ads and tapped into a network of religious organizations to help get out the vote - and to raise money. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints was one of the most visible Prop 8 supporters. The Prop 8 campaign garnered over 1,000 donations from the Mormon-dominated state of Utah, and the initiative passed by nearly five percentage points. But the image-conscious Mormon Church came under fierce attack from gay rights supporters nationwide. Now, Mormon leaders speak about the need to respect all individuals and established a website, www.mormonsandgays.org, to help gays stay in the church. Mormon fundraising to oppose gay marriage has plummeted. In Washington State, for example, gay marriage opponents netted just four donations from Utah, for $197.50. Utahns donated $2.7 million to back California's Prop 8 four years earlier. Church spokesman Eric Hawkins said it would be inaccurate to link the fundraising issues of other groups with any supposed softening of the Church's commitment to exclusively heterosexual marriage. "We believe that marriage is defined as between a man and a woman and that sexual activity outside of marriage is wrong," he said. "Our deep desire to be sure that all people know they are loved and valued does not define a shift in our position on marriage." The U.S. public now favors gay marriage 48-43-percent, according to Pew. Fred Sainz, a spokesman for gay advocacy group Human Rights Campaign, says there is "zero doubt" that the fundraising problems reflect a lack of momentum for gay marriage foes. After Prop 8 passed, two former adversaries in the Bush vs. Gore dispute over the 2000 presidential election, Theodore Olson and David Boies, teamed up to challenge the ban. They won a trial court order striking down Prop 8, which is on hold pending Supreme Court review. At the close of 2009, ProtectMarriage.com had a deficit of roughly $220,000, but the trial was expensive: Cooper's firm billed $4.5 million in 2010 and total expenses came to $6.1 million, for a year-end deficit of $1.8 million. ProtectMarriage.com raised $2.5 million in 2011, but it still fell more than $200,000 short of that year's expenses, leaving a cumulative deficit of $2 million. Pugno said that debt was paid by the end of last year and that grassroots donations in 2012 were down only 3 percent from 2011. By comparison, the American Foundation for Equal Rights - which sponsored Olson and Boies' challenge - reported a $2.7 million surplus at the end of March 2011. AFER outraised ProtectMarriage.com, but the gay rights group also got a much better deal from its lawyers: Olson and Boies' two law firms billed about $1.5 million during the trial year. The possibility that the Supreme Court will strike down all same sex marriage bans has created an overhang for donors who don't want to waste their money, Pugno said, but donors would be energized, he said, if ProtectMarriage.com wins the case. "I think our support would be strengthened by the assurance to donors that their vote would matter," Pugno said.

The Pioneer Press reports that if there is to be any action on same sex marriage in Minnesota in the next few months, it appears as though it is officially up to the Legislature. A lawsuit in Hennepin County seeking to legalize same sex marriage, regarded by many as a long shot, is now officially a nonfactor until at least the end of the legislative session after an agreement struck this week between the county and the attorney for the plaintiffs. "We're putting the ball in the Legislature's court to establish marriage equality," said Peter Nickitas, who represents same sex couples who sued the county over its failure to issue them marriage licenses. The case, Benson vs. Chapin, contends state law limiting marriage to opposite-sex couples violates the rights of same-sex couples under the state constitution. Chuck Laszewski, spokesman for the county attorney's office, declined to discuss the county's motivation for delaying the case, but he said, "We're happy that this has happened, and that we were able to get to this stipulation." The agreement says both sides believe "a short stay of the proceedings in this case is appropriate to allow the parties to determine whether they can resolve this matter without further litigation" and that "a stay will conserve scarce judicial resources and the resources of both parties." It cancels a plaintiffs' summary judgment hearing that had been scheduled for February 22 and puts off all action until June 1. The Legislature's scheduled adjournment is May If the DFL-controlled House and Senate pass a gay-marriage bill and DFL Gov. Mark Dayton signs it -- as he has said he would -- the plaintiffs' case would become moot, Nickitas said. But if the Legislature goes home without changing the law, the plaintiffs could proceed, he said. Sen. Scott Dibble (DFL-Minneapolis) who plans to lead the gay-marriage effort in the Senate, said the delay in the case "takes away a pretext for the Legislature not acting" but otherwise has little practical effect on his plans. He said he doesn't think the Benson plaintiffs have a winning case. "There's just a lot stacked against it," Dibble said. Autumn Leva, spokeswoman for Minnesota for Marriage, which is leading a coalition of opponents of legalized gay marriage, said that not having the court case to fall back on will put some lawmakers in a tough spot. "I think some of the legislators that want to redefine marriage but are nervous about a vote, I think they were hoping that the opposite would happen: that the court would take care of it, and that they wouldn't have to," Leva said. Teresa Collett, a law professor at the University of St. Thomas in St. Paul and an advocate for traditional marriage, said she agrees in principle with the courts backing off to let the Legislature take a crack at the issue. However, she said she favors much more conversation before any action is taken. "The courts should be the last word, not the first word," Collett said. The Benson case was cited repeatedly over the past year by advocates of a Republican-backed amendment that would have added a definition of marriage as a man-woman union to the state constitution. They warned that without such an amendment, the state risked having gay marriage legalized through the court system or through the Legislature. Leva said that at least in the lower courts, she believes the Benson case "is a very likely threat to marriage." It is seen by many as facing long odds in the state's Supreme Court. Voters rejected the marriage amendment in November, and same-sex marriage advocates announced in late December that they would push to change the state law this legislative session. Both the pro- and anti- gay-marriage campaigns are expected to kick off in earnest in mid-February.

Labor commission officials filed discrimination charges against Portland’s Twilight Room Annex following a lengthy investigation that revealed the bar discriminated against transgender patrons. Commissioner Brad Avakian on Tuesday filed the formal charges against the bar, formerly known as the P Club. The charges follow a highly publicized investigation that found bar owner Chris Penner had left phone messages asking a group of transgender patrons to stop visiting the bar because he didn’t want the P Club to be known as a “tranny bar.” The charges were filed because the commission and bar did not reach a settlement, according to a press release from the Oregon Bureau of Labor & Industries. Penner had contended the group, known as the Rose City T-Girls, disrupted business; however, labor investigators found no evidence to support that. Investigators found Penner did not notify the group of any complaints about their behavior and, instead, blocked them from coming to the bar. Oregon state law protects anyone from discrimination because of sexual orientation, but that it is not just about sexual preference. It also covers gender identity. The charges are the first commissioner’s complaint filed under the landmark 2007 Oregon Equality Act, a law to protect the rights of gays, lesbians, bisexual and transgender Oregonians in employment, housing and public places. Reached Tuesday afternoon by telephone, Penner declined comment to KATU.

Gays and lesbians who come out about their sexual orientation are less stressed than those who remain in the closet, and often more relaxed than heterosexuals, according to a new study. Researchers at Louis H Lafontaine Hospital, affiliated with the University of Montreal, tested the levels of cortisol - a stress hormone - and other indicators of strain in homosexuals, bisexuals and heterosexuals. "Contrary to our expectations, gay and bisexual men had lower depressive symptoms and allostatic load levels (a measure of body stress) than heterosexual men," lead author Robert-Paul Juster said. "Lesbians, gay men, and bisexuals who were out to family and friends had lower levels of psychiatric symptoms and lower morning cortisol levels than those who were still in the closet," he added. The researchers tested 87 men and women, all around age 25, administering psychological questionnaires and taking blood, saliva and urine samples to measure stress. The findings, published Tuesday in Psychosomatic Medicine, could lend support to gay rights advocates. The mostly French-speaking province of Quebec has long been a haven for French homosexuals who say they face intolerance in their native country, which is now locked in a heated debate over legalizing gay marriage and adoption. "As the participants of this study enjoy progressive Canadian rights, they may be inherently healthier and hardier," Juster said. "Coming out is no longer a matter of popular debate but a matter of public health. Internationally, societies must endeavor to facilitate this self-acceptance by promoting tolerance, progressing policy, and dispelling stigma for all minorities." When asked about the small sample size, Juster told AFP that given the cost of the study - with each participant getting $500 - the number of people surveyed was "respectable." He added that neurological studies often seek out more detailed information from a smaller pool of subjects, compared to epidemiological research.

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