Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Scouts Canada Reaffirms It Has An Inclusive Policy Welcoming Gay Members, Puerto Rico Supreme Court Ruling Upholding Law Prohibiting Gay Couples From Adopting Is Appealed, Kiss-In Planned At California Mall Where Gay Couple Allegedly Asked To Leave For Display Of Public Affection, San Antonio Texas High School Removes Photograph Of Lesbian Couple Cuddling From Valentine’s Day Yearbook Page, Bill Introduced In Louisiana That Would Protect Gay State Employees From Discrimination, Rafael Nadal Down Mexico Way, Patrick Lambie Hotness

In the aftermath of Carly Rae Jepsen's cancellation of her Boy Scouts of America performance due to the group's exclusion of gays, Scouts Canada is reaffirming its stance on inclusiveness, and says Jepsen is welcome at their jamboree, reports the Canadian Press. The Canadian pop star said on Twitter that "as an artist who believes in equality for all people" she was pulling out of the BSA's jamboree in July. Rock band Train also warned that it will not appear unless the organization stops barring participation by gay scouts or adult leaders. BSA director of publicity Deron Smith said the organization appreciates "everyone's right to express an opinion" and remained focused on staging its jamboree. In May, the Boy Scouts of America's 1,400-member National Council is expected to consider a proposal to ease the ban by allowing sponsors of local Scout units to decide for themselves whether to admit gays. Meanwhile, the co-ed Scouts Canada (which is a distinct and separate entity from the BSA) clearly stipulates it "does not discriminate for reasons of gender, culture, religious belief or sexual orientation." In 2001, the organization's social justice and diversity policy reaffirmed its stance on the issue of discrimination, noted Kaylee Galipeau, national youth commissioner and chair of the national youth network for Scouts Canada. Asked if Scouts Canada is concerned that people may associate the Canadian and American scouting organizations, Galipeau, saying from Valhalla Centre, Alberta, would only state that the recent events offered a chance to reiterate that Scouts Canada is "open and inclusive and always have been,” adding, "We accept boys and girls, we accept LGBT members, we accept people of all faiths. It's really just been an opportunity for us to remind people that we're still here, we're vibrant in Canada, we're growing and we are open to everyone." Scouts Canada is preparing to host its Canadian Scout Jamboree from July 6-13 in Sylvan Lake, Alberta. Galipeau said they regularly have musical acts and performers at the gathering, and he extended an invitation to both Jepsen and Train. "We're proud to be hosting it here in Alberta and as a manager of special events for the jamboree, I'd just like to throw in there that we'd be totally welcome to having Train and Carly Rae come and play at our jamboree if they would so like to."

A lesbian whose adoption request was recently denied by Puerto Rico's Supreme Court is appealing the ruling. The woman's partner gave birth to a girl, now 12, through in vitro fertilization. According to the Associated Press, attorney Nora Vargas represents the woman and said Wednesday that it is in the child's best interest for the woman to adopt the girl as the second parent. The announcement of the appeal comes two weeks after the high court voted 5-4 to uphold a law banning gay couples from adopting children. It was the first time the court heard a case on same sex adoptions. Legislators in the U.S. territory are considering several proposals to extend more rights to gays and lesbians.

An update on a previous post: In California, after a security guard reportedly ejected a gay couple for exchanging kisses in the Westfield Galleria in Roseville, the mall management announced that it will "embrace" a "kiss-in" scheduled Saturday in support of the couple. Strong expressions of disaffection with mall management dominated the Galleria's Facebook page after Fox 40 TV news reported Monday that 21-year-old Daniel Chesmore and his boyfriend, Jose Guzman, 24, were asked to leave the Galleria on Saturday after they were observed kissing and holding hands. The two men could not be reached for comment Tuesday. The Sacramento Bee reports that a statement issued by Westfield Galleria late Tuesday did little to appease members of the gay and lesbian community. Mall management declined to speak directly with a reporter about the incident, but issued a written statement: "All of our customers are welcome, and all are welcome equally – including those displaying affection. We do have rules and occasionally our security officers approach customers, inform them of the rules, and ask them to comply. We're sorry for any misperceptions with regard to the incident reported upon yesterday. At Westfield, we celebrate the diversity of our employees, shoppers and community, and will continue to provide a safe and enjoyable environment for all." Westfield Galleria issued a revised statement Tuesday night, saying that simple displays of affection, such as kissing and hand-holding, are not an issue, but that in this case the couple violated rules that prohibit sexually explicit conduct, and the security officer asked them to stop the conduct. The statement does not specify what that conduct was but says the couple complied with the security officer's request and were not asked to leave. Similar conduct by heterosexual couples has resulted in the same request to abide by the rules, according to the statement. Beverly Kearney of Sacramento, an advocate for the gay, lesbian and transgender community, said the initial statement did not appear to be an apology. "It feels to me like it's placating," she said. "As someone said, 'you're not sorry for what happened. You're sorry you got caught.’” Kearney is organizing the "kiss-in" to begin at 11:00 am Saturday at Starbucks at the Galleria. "We're calling it a 'kiss-in' because that's why they were ejected from the mall," she said. The Sacramento Gay and Lesbian Center also issued a statement condemning the security guard's action, saying it was "unfortunately representative of the hate still harbored by many." Shara Perkins Murphy, the center's executive director, said she had tried without success to talk with the mall manager before commenting publicly on the incident. "I really hope the leadership of the Roseville Galleria will engage in real discussion and not blow this off with platitudes," Murphy said.

In San Antonio, Texas, a Brennan High School student is gathering signatures for a petition in response to what she believes is a case of discrimination. Felicia Rivera, 16, was incensed when a fellow classmate told her last Friday that the school's yearbook supervisor, Amey Graybeal, pulled a photo depicting Felicia and her girlfriend, Lialani Hernandez, 17, cuddling at school. The photo had been included on a page featuring six couples for Valentine's Day. Felicia believes Graybeal pulled the photo because the girls are a gay couple. “On Friday, February 22, 2013, the yearbook staff refused to put a gay couple on the couple's page in the yearbook,” reads the petition. “They claimed that they have nothing against gay rights, but are scared of how much criticism the school would get and how parents of straight people would refuse to buy the yearbooks.” The San Antonio Express News reports that the petition has accumulated more than 280 names so far. Felicia hopes to start a gay-straight alliance at Brennan High, and hopes to get the picture put back in the yearbook but said her mission is more than that.“It's not really about getting the picture back in the yearbook, but about why it was pulled in the first place,” Felicia said. In response to the allegations, Northside ISD spokesman Pascual Gonzalez said the picture was pulled after Graybeal determined it depicted a public display of affection that was in violation of the school's handbook. “It's just an intimate picture; there's no eye contact, they're both looking down. It looks like a pretty intimate moment,” Gonzalez said. In the photo, Felicia is behind her girlfriend with her arms around her; Lialani's face is turned toward Felicia, who is resting her nose and lips on Lialani's forehead. Gonzalez said other pictures on the same page depict couples that are standing next to each other looking into the camera. In one, a boy has his arm around a girl's shoulders. In another, a couple appear to be holding hands. Gonzalez emphasized that Brennan High does not discriminate against students based on sexual orientation. “The Northside School District prides itself on providing the most high quality education for all students, and we welcome all students, as well as a safe and welcome environment. It's important to know that the students are safe at Brennan High School,” Gonzalez said. Felicia's father, Felix Rivera, said he is behind her 100 percent. With a total of five daughters, he calls Felicia his “buddy,” adding, “I worry about my girly daughters. This is not the one I have to worry about.” On Wednesday, Rivera met with Brennan's principal, Gerardo Marquez, to discuss his daughter's concerns, and said that he'll buy the school's yearbook when it gets published at the end of the semester and will go through it “page by page” to make sure there are no heterosexual couples depicted in a similar way. “I would be perfectly fine with this,” he said, “if you can show me a picture of another gay couple somewhere in the book.”

In Louisiana, sexual orientation and gender identification would not be factors in state employment, according to an anti-discrimination bill filed Tuesday in Baton Rouge by state Rep. Austin Badon (D-New Orleans). Similar legislation has been proposed every year since 2011 but has not successfully made it to the Legislature floor for debate. According to the Times-Picayune, House Bill 85 would prohibit discrimination in state employment based on sexual orientation, gender identity and gender expression, defined as any external characteristics or behaviors including dress and mannerisms. "It's time for the state of Louisiana to step up and make sure that people who are members of this community are protected," Badon said in a telephone interview Wednesday. "People should be judged in the workplace based on their qualifications and the quality of their work." Former Governors Edwin Edwards and Kathleen Blanco issued executive orders in 1992 and 2004 prohibiting discrimination in state employment based on sexual orientation, but both orders were allowed to lapse. Gov. Bobby Jindal did not renew the order in 2008. As it stands, current state law bans discrimination in state employment only when it comes to race, color, religion, sex, disability, national origin and genetic information. The bill, if passed, would also allow any employee who has experienced this type of discrimination to file a civil suit seeking compensatory damages, back pay, benefits, reinstatement, or if appropriate, front pay, reasonable attorney fees and court costs. State Rep. Helena Moreno and Sen. Edwin Murray introduced similar legislation in 2012, and State Sen. Jean-Paul Morrell introduced a similar bill in 2011. None of the bills introduced by the three New Orleans Democrats passed committee. Regardless of previous outcomes, Badon said Wednesday he felt confident Louisiana's lawmakers would support his bill this year. He added he would be looking for a "very capable partner" in the Senate, perhaps Morrell, to work with him on the issue. "I equate this type of legislation to the same thing women have gone through. Women in the workplace are judged differently," Badon added Wednesday. "In 2013, in America, women should not be subjected to that as well as people who are part of the LGBT community." The Louisiana Family Forum, a conservative advocacy group based in Baton Rouge, called the bill "unnecessary" and said they would weigh in on the issue as they have done in the past. "It will get its day in committee," President Gene Mills said in a phone interview Wednesday. Mills added he believes Badon's bill will "meet the same fate" as others have in the past. Badon also introduced an anti-bullying bill in 2011 which would have required public school boards around the state to redefine their code of conduct pertaining to the bullying or harassing of gay, lesbian, transgender, and disabled students. The bill was defeated in the House 43-54. So far, 110 bills have been filed for consideration at the 2013 legislative session, which begins April 8. The deadline to pre-file bills is April 17.

Rafael Nadal spotting: the 26-year-old hotness seen wandering the beaches Cozumel, Mexico last week, shirtless, naturally, the swim trunks barely able to contain Nadal’s best assets.

In Durban, South Africa, 22-year-old super sexy Sharks rugby star Patrick Lambie spotted training.

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