Saturday, February 2, 2013

Same Sex Couple File Complaint Against Portland Oregon Bakery After Owner Refused To Bake Wedding Cake Calling Two Women “Abominations Unto The Lord,” Alabama LGBT Advocacy Group Calls For Termination Of Anti-Gay Lauderdale County High School Coach, Tyler Clementi Center At Rutgers University Opens Monday, Harry Styles Hotness, Tom Daley Speedo Sexiness

In Oregon, the state attorney general’s office is investigating a complaint against a Gresham bakery after a Portland woman said the business refused to make a cake for her wedding to another woman. Laurel Bowman said her fiancée and her fiancée’s mother went to Sweet Cakes by Melissa, 44 N.E. Division St., for a cake testing on January 17. When the owner discovered the cake was for a same-sex marriage, he called the couple “abominations unto the lord,” according to the consumer complaint filed the next day. “We were then informed that our money was not equal,” Bowman wrote. “My fiancée was reduced to tears.” Bowman said the couple initially chose to have their cake made by Sweet Cakes because they bought a wedding cake for $250 years earlier without incident. But that was for the fiancée’s mom and her husband. Aaron Klein, who has owned the Gresham bakery with his wife, Melissa, for about five years, said Friday the business sells pastries and cakes to customers of all sexual orientations. But same-sex marriage goes against their Christian faith, he said, and they’ve turned down requests in the past to bake cakes for those occasions. “I believe marriage is a religious institution between a man and woman as stated in the Bible,” Klein said. “When someone tells me that their definition is something different, I strongly disagree. I don’t think I should be penalized for that.” Klein denies calling the couple “abominations” or saying that their money wasn’t equal. He said he told them that his business doesn’t sell cakes for same sex marriages and that he was sorry for wasting their time. State law says it is a violation for a business to deny “full and equal accommodations” for customers based on race, religion, gender, sexual orientation and other factors. Klein said he and his wife make no secret about their beliefs at the bakery, pointing to crosses on the walls of the store and its website that says they “strongly believe that when a man and woman come together to be joined as one, it is truly one of the most special days of their lives.” Bowman, her fiancée and their Portland attorney, Paul Thompson, all declined comment Friday. The attorney general’s office is waiting for Sweet Cakes’ official account of the encounter before taking action. If the agency finds cause, it has the option of filing a discrimination complaint with the state Bureau of Labor and Industries.

In Alabama, many are considering what Lauderdale County High School football coach and teacher, Bob Grisham, said in a recording -- that's now going viral -- homophobic and offensive; with many, now calling for his termination. "Every time that I listen to this recording, I become angrier and angrier," said James Robinson of GLBT Advocacy and Youth Services in Huntsville. The coach said in the recording, "I don't believe in queers, I don't like queers, I don't... I don't hate them as a person, but what they do is wrong. It's an abomination against God. I don't like being around queers." Those words did not sit well with many who heard the opinionated rant. Robinson said Grisham's comments were dangerous and irresponsible. "This is wrong, unethical, unprofessional, on so many levels, that there should be no question that if it is verified that this happened in a classroom, that this teacher should be removed from his position," Robinson said. A student recorded the comments during a class taught by the coach. Robinson considered it hate speech and said the result could be major issues for gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender students, who heard the coach's politically charged rant. Some parents we spoke with said Grisham's words were disrespectful and inappropriate. "I would be pretty offended if a teacher of my children said something like that," said Elizabeth Foster of Huntsville. Others sided with the coach, saying he didn't mean to offend anyone. One LCHS student said, "I think it's been taken overboard and people should just understand, what he meant was a joke." But for James Robinson, it's anything but a joke. "This is undoubtedly a situation of bullying. It's verbal bullying. It's emotional bullying," he said. Robinson said he has reached out to Lauderdale County Schools to offer his support to anyone who was in the class, who may have felt offended by the coach's comments. An official investigation into the incident is currently underway.

In New Jersey, Jane and Joe Clementi once considered suing Rutgers University. Their son Tyler, a freshman, had discovered that his roommate used a webcam to spy on him having sex with another man and had jumped off the George Washington Bridge a few days later, setting off wide debate about cyberbullying and the struggles of gays and lesbians coming of age. But on Monday, over two years after Mr. Clementi’s suicide, his parents will stand alongside university officials to announce that they are working together through the newly created Tyler Clementi Center at Rutgers. “It’s bittersweet,” Clementi said Thursday in an interview. “It calls up a lot of pain and sadness, but at the same time it gives me some hope that I can be part of a better future for someone else. There are other Tylers out there, but they won’t have to go through what Tyler went through.” The center will hold conferences and sponsor academic research on students making the transition from home to college. The Clementi family and university officials said the work would examine not only bullying and youth suicides, but also topics like how young people use, and abuse, new technologies. “Part of what was such an interest in Tyler’s story was that it affected so many people on so many different levels,” Ms. Clementi said. “It’s the transitional period, it’s the cyberbullying, it’s how our youth are dealing with this new technology, L.G.B.T. issues, suicide. The family and the university say they hope to identify policies and strategies that other colleges and universities can use in helping particularly vulnerable students — not only those who are gay — make the transition away from home and to adulthood.“We really see this as an opportunity to honor the memory of Tyler Clementi,” said Richard Edwards, the university’s executive vice president for academic affairs, “but to do it in a way that really enables us to have some influence on college life for students that come here, but also for other colleges and universities around the country.” Tyler Clementi was 18 when he asked his roommate, Dharun Ravi, if he could have the room alone with a man he had met on the Internet. Ravi, also 18 at the time, set up the webcam and watched from a friend’s room. He posted Twitter messages saying he had seen his roommate “making out with a dude,” and encouraging others to watch. Clementi read the messages on Twitter and disconnected the camera, then reported to a resident adviser that he had felt “violated” and uncomfortable sharing a room with someone “who would act in this wildly inappropriate manner.” After a polarizing trial, Ravi faced up to 10 years in prison when he was convicted on charges including invasion of privacy and bias intimidation. His sentence included 30 days in jail and 300 hours of community service. He served 20 days, which some criticized as too short. Shortly after Clementi’s suicide in 2010, his parents filed notices reserving a right to sue the university, saying it had failed to put in place policies that would have deterred the spying, and that it broke its agreement to protect their son. But they said in an interview on Thursday that they had done so only to keep their options open at a time when they knew little about what had happened. Early on, they said, they had felt sympathy from and a sense of common ground with the university. In 2011, the Clementis joined in a symposium Rutgers did, with a keynote speech on the moral reasoning demanded by new technologies. Conversations about the center developed from that. The center will be based in a space near Rutgers’s campus in New Brunswick, New Jersey. Two faculty members are spending “a significant amount of time” on the center, and others are seeking to affiliate with it, said Jeffrey Longhofer, a professor of social work who is the center’s director. Its first endeavors will be a lecture in March on “growing up digital” and a conference in April on transgender issues.

Friday, Harry Styles (sporting an adorable heart-print shirt) spotted at London’s Funky Buddha club, celebrating his 19th birthday.

In the United Kingdom, during Saturday evening’s live finale of Splash, Team Great Britain hotness Tom Daley thrilled us all spending the show clad solely in Speedos.

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