Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Family Research Council Gunman Pleads Guilty To Act Of Terrorism, Anti-Same Sex Marriage Oregon Baker Says He Will Fight For Right To Religious Freedom To The End, Coalition Including ACLU And Garden Grove Unified School District Support Right Of LGBT Group To March In Sunday’s Tet Parade, Organizers Boycott Santa Barbara Chick-Fil-A Opening, San Jose City Council To Consider Joining San Francisco In Urging Supreme Court To Uphold Ruling That Found Proposition 8 Unconstitutional, Ryan Lochte, Drake Bell Diving Practice

Reuters reports that a gunman who wounded a guard at a conservative Washington lobbying group's offices last year pleaded guilty to terrorism and other charges on Wednesday, admitting to a bizarre plan to kill people there and rub sandwiches in their faces because the group opposed gay marriage, authorities said. Floyd Corkins II, 28, of Herndon, Virginia, told investigators he sought to kill as many people as possible at the Family Research Center offices and then shove sandwiches from the Chick-fil-A restaurant chain into their faces, the Justice Department said in a statement. The 1,600-store Chick-fil-A chain made headlines in July after its president, Dan Cathy, said he opposed same sex marriage. Corkins' planned assault on the downtown Washington FRC offices was thwarted by a security guard who subdued him despite being shot in the arm. Corkins, a former volunteer at a Washington gay community center, pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court in Washington to committing an act of terrorism while armed as well as assault and weapons-transportation charges, the statement said. His conviction is the first under a local 2002 anti-terrorism law. A statement of offense signed by Corkins and prosecutors said that Corkins targeted the Family Research Council because of its views, including its stance against gay marriage. Corkins shot the guard with a 9 mm handgun he pulled from a backpack that also held 50 rounds of ammunition and 15 wrapped sandwiches from Chick-fil-A. Sentencing is set for April 29. The terrorism and assault charges each carry maximum sentences of 30 years and the weapons-related charge has a maximum of 10 years in prison.

In Oregon, opponents and proponents have been having their say about a Gresham cake-maker who refused to make a wedding cake for a same-sex couple. Baker Aaron Klein said on Tuesday that he planned to fight this to the end. Ever since reports revealed that a lesbian couple filed a complaint with the state after Klein refused to make their wedding cake, he said his business has been booming. "(We've had) a huge influx of business. I think people are really coming out and showing their support," said Klein, in between customers. "If nothing else ... just being able to stand up for what you believe in without being told that you're doing something wrong," said Klein. Customer Teresa Nowlin drove from Scappoose to the Gresham bakery "Sweet Cakes by Melissa" to show her support. "I think people should have freedom of religion and if that's the way they feel, then their choice," she said. But the state said there are laws to follow when you own a business, including laws against discrimination. The Oregon Equality Act of 2007 protects the rights of people based on their sexual orientation. So, is it against the law to deny making a wedding cake for a same-sex couple getting married? "It likely could be, because people who open up their store to the public can't discriminate when people come in to purchase their goods," said Brad Avakian, Commissioner of the Oregon Bureau of Labor and Industries. As a legislator, Avakian was the one who carried the bill on the Senate floor. "Regardless of one's religious belief, if you open up a store and you open it up to the public to sell goods, you cannot discriminate in Oregon under our civil rights laws," he said. Klein said that "The Department of Justice can fine me up to $50,000 if they feel that I've discriminated against somebody. They're going to have to make that decision," adding that he won't back down and his bakery has its share of supporters. "I'm not trying to say that I'm putting my thumb in the face of the law. I agree that there are laws for a reason, but I also believe that we should have religious freedom in this country," he said. "It's a situation where I just have to stand up for what is right and if the fine comes, the fine comes and I'll deal with that when it happens. A lot of people are coming at me and saying I'm not loving. To love somebody doesn't mean I have to participate in something that I feel is, honestly, the Bible calls it a sin, so I don't want to be a part of it. I can love them, without participating," said Klein. Customer, Josephine Myron of Portland agreed. "Go buy a cake somewhere else. Why come after these people (Klein)?" Klein said along with support, he has received hate mail. "They've attacked our business Facebook page. They've posted pictures of my kids online on the same pages that they're writing all this ridiculous stuff; foul language and all that stuff," he said. "It's kind of a funny way for people that preach tolerance to tolerate somebody, you know? It just doesn't seem to be happening." Portland resident April Fisher said the gay couple was wronged. "I don't feel that (Klein is) being respectful of rights. We've come a long ways from those days when it was okay to say 'No, you can't come into my restaurant because you're a different color,' " she said. Rebecca Tuccil of Portland agreed, saying, "He's entitled to his opinion, he's entitled to his religion, but I personally don't agree with that; Not at all." The lesbian couple released a statement Tuesday saying they're humbled by all the support they're receiving, but they're not doing interviews. Stacey Tester of Portland said she's curious to see what happens next, but opposes the business' stance. "Personally, I wouldn't support a business that stands by that practice and they would lose my business," she said. On Monday, celebrity pastry chef Duff Goldman offered to make the couple a wedding cake for free. On Tuesday, there were even more offers. Equality Southwest Washington's Wedding Expo offered to marry the couple free of charge. "Jazz It-Up Productions," a DJ company in Tigard offered free DJ services for the couple's wedding day.

In Southern California, leaders of a coalition representing lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people denied participation in this Sunday's Tet Parade has garnered new supporters, including the ACLU and the Garden Grove Unified School District. On Tuesday night, district trustees agreed to pull out of the Tet Parade unless organizers decide by noon Friday to let in the Partnership of Viet Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Organizations. Several gay and lesbian groups marched together in the Tet Parade for the first time in 2010. A coalition representing gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender people has not been accepted, days before the parade, this year. The district had planned on sending a school bus with its school board members and some students to participate in the parade, set for 9:00 am Sunday in Little Saigon. "It's about hate. And we haven't said it ... but that's what it comes down to," said trustee Bao Nguyen, who pulled the item from the agenda and encouraged his colleagues to not send a yellow school bus to the parade. The board did not vote on the issue but withdrew the item from its agenda, in effect not approving a district bus and bus driver to participate. The exclusion of the LGBT group has been the topic of numerous Vietnamese media programs, as the group gains support from local and national organizations. Westminster officials have encouraged the Vietnamese American organizers to allow the participation of the gay partnership. Joining them in recent days have been several organizations, including: Lambda Legal, which works in support of LGBT rights; the ACLU, which works in support of civil rights issues; and the Public Law Center, a pro bono law firm in Orange County that serves low-income residents; The groups all e-mailed letters Tuesday to the parade organizing committee. Meanwhile, an attorney for the LGBT group said Wednesday morning that he still plans to seek an injunction in Orange County Superior Court to force parade organizers to include the LGBT participants. But he plans to wait until Thursday because the group has not officially gotten word from the organizing committee. Officially, the organizing committee has not taken a vote to accept or deny the application, in order to avoid having any one group pull out from the parade. The parade is days away. The decision to not accept the gay partnership's application has caused a rift among organizers. The majority oppose allowing the group in. But the Vietnamese Student Associations of Southern California said it supports the gay partnership, which will have a booth this weekend at a huge Tet Festival in Garden Grove that is sponsored by that student association. This year, a coalition of Vietnamese American organizations is putting on the parade because the city of Westminster is strapped financially and is not paying for such events. The gay partnership joined the parade in 2010, when the city was in charge. But the group met with resistance then too. The Vietnamese Interfaith Council in America called for a boycott of the parade. This year, the Interfaith Council is one of the key organizing groups of the parade. The leaders of the gay partnership said their goal is to celebrate their Vietnamese culture along with everyone else. Those who oppose them said the group does not represent Vietnamese culture and the Tet parade is about tradition. On Tuesday, students, representatives from the gay community and others spoke on behalf of the gay partnership in encouraging Garden Grove school trustees to pull out from the parade. "Use this as a teaching moment for the students," said Jeff LeTourneau, co-chair of the Democratic Party of Orange County, LGBT caucus. "You have an opportunity," said Anaheim resident D.R. Heywood, to show students "that intolerance will not be accepted or endorsed." Trustee Linda Reed said she had served on the organizing committee for years while the city ran the event and is hopeful "the committee will do the right thing,” adding that, "We have been placed in an untenable position. This board is supposed to be apolitical. I hate to see our bus withdrawn but I also don't like the idea that we in some way oppose what we teach our children every day." Trustee George West said he did not support the use of a school bus in the parade: "As a social science teacher and someone who believes wholeheartedly in public education and the rights of all people, I didn't think it's the right thing to do." Only Trustee Lan Nguyen expressed disagreement. "Our school board here should not be the forum to address this issue," Nguyen said. Nguyen also offered to pay the $400 out of his pocket for the bus and driver for the district to participate. LGBT group members and their supporters said they were encouraged by the Garden Grove board's move. "We thought it was historic," said Hieu Nguyen, a Garden Grove resident and member of the LGBT group. Laura Kanter, youth program director at The Center OC, which serves the LGBT community, said after the meeting that the school board's position to withdraw its bus from the parade is important. "It is little things like this that may seem insignificant," Kanter said, "but this is how change happens."

Also in Southern California, while customers are already camping out for free chicken, gay rights advocates say they will boycott the new Chick-Fil-A franchise opening in Santa Barbara. The city of Santa Barbara supported the restaurant to open on State Street last year. But when the president of Chick-Fil-A openly opposed same sex marriage, architectural review board members opposed the restaurant opening in the city abstaining from approving the final requirements for the project. Board members had to sign an agreement to separate political views and personal decisions from their board decisions and go through ethic training in order to keep Chick-Fil-A from filing a lawsuit against the city. "Tax returns show from 2003 to 2010, (Chick-Fil-A) not only donated to anti-gay organization but the most extreme of which," says Pacific Pride Foundation Advocate Lauren Gunther. The Pacific Pride Foundation is boycotting the restaurant and when Central Coast News asked the company about its donations and tax returns. "I'm not a corporate employee so it's not, you know, I'm not the best person to talk to about corporate giving," says Franchise Owner Carol Ruiz. "You'd have to talk to someone from corporate about that. However, there was a press release last week that stated all of the 2011 tax returns show no funding was given to hate groups." Despite the controversy, more than 85 people are camped outside the new franchise for the grand opening on Thursday and many say they don't take into account political view while choosing their food. "I just don't tend to hold it against any business, I mean, I eat Indian food restaurants, I've eaten at Vietnamese, Chinese, all different religious beliefs," says customer Ryan Ellis. "But when I got to eat food, I go to eat food. I don't try to pick a fight." But for gay rights advocates, it's a fight they won't give up on. "We would love to see and are hopefully that they would end theses sort of donations," says Gunther. "But until then, it's a matter of waiting and hoping that this is something they will do." The owner of the new franchise, Carol Ruiz told Central Coast News she reached out to Pacific Pride to schedule a meeting but the group canceled due to scheduling issues.

In Northern California, The San Jose City Council Tuesday voted to consider joining San Francisco in urging the U.S. Supreme Court to rule that state ballot measure Proposition 8 banning gay marriage is unconstitutional, a spokesperson said. The council agreed to poll members at its February 12 meeting on whether San Jose should lend its name to San Francisco's friend-of-the-court brief to be argued at a Supreme Court hearing in March, said Michelle McGurk, spokesperson for Mayor Chuck Reed. The plea came in a memorandum sent Friday to the council from members Ash Kalra, Xavier Campos, Kansen Chu and Don Rocha, who said that banning marriages by gay and lesbian couples violates their civil rights under the U.S. constitution. "It goes without saying that these are landmark civil rights issues for both local and national concern," the members said. "The City of San Jose must not be silent when it comes to these fundamental issues of equal rights," they said. The members want the city to sign onto San Francisco's amicus brief arguing that the high court should strike down as unconstitutional California's Proposition 8 that prohibits same sex marriages. A majority of California voters passed Proposition 8 in 2008 and its ban on gay marriages became part of the state constitution. The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals decided in February 2012 that Proposition 8 is unconstitutional and the Supreme Court has agreed to review that verdict in Washington, D.C. on March 26, Kalra said in a prepared statement. San Francisco, a leader in the cause for marriage equality, will present its legal arguments against the proposition before the court that day, Kalra said. The four members said that San Francisco has given the city a deadline of February 14 to decide to sign the amicus brief, so the council must act by its February 12 meeting. Joining San Francisco's Supreme Court brief, which itself must be filed by February 28, would save San Jose the expense of drawing up its own brief, they said. The vote to consider linking the city to San Francisco's brief was 10-0 with council member Rose Herrera absent, McGurk said.

Ryan Lochte recreates Nirvana’s iconic Nevermind cover for ESPN magazine, but unlike the original Lochte is not naked, sadly sporting a Speedo.

Drake Bell spotted diving in preparation for his participation in the United States’ version of Splash, called Celebrity Diving.

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