Sunday, May 5, 2013

Rally At Saskatoon Bridal Shop That Refused Service To Transgender Female, New Zealand Human Rights Tribunal Hears Case Against Anglican Bishop Of Auckland After Man In Committed Same Sex Relationship Rejected For Priesthood, Despite Having Only One Month Of Middle School Left Bayli Silberstein Prepares To Finally Form Gay-Straight Alliance, CNN’s Howard Kurtz Offers Public Apology For Erroneous Story On Gay NBA Player Jason Collins, Josh Hutcherson

In Saskatchewan, dozens of people gathered in front of Jenny's Bridal in downtown Saskatoon to show their support for a woman who says she was refused service at the store because she is transgender. The crowd cheered as Rohit Singh and her husband approached Saturday afternoon. "I am damn happier than the day of my wedding," said Singh. "I never thought this kind of crowd would come to support me here in Saskatoon," she said. Many people at the peaceful protest brought signs. One read "transgender rights are human rights," another read "support transgender rights." The protesters also circulated a petition to the provincial government that calls for more human rights protection for transgender people, reports CBC News. According to transgender people like Miki Mappin, who was at the protest, the current language used in Saskatchewan's human rights law to protect the transgendered is too ambivalent. Mappin feels it needs to be tailored to address the specific discrimination the gender minority faces and hopes the 150 signatures they got Saturday is a step towards preventing others from being discriminated against in the future. "I lost my job," said Mappin. "I wanted to go to human rights, but I was told I had to choose one of the acceptable grounds to file a human rights complaint — I didn't want to accuse my colleagues of sexual harassment because that is not what they had been doing," Mappin added. Other protesters were demanding a boycott of the bridal shop. Peter Garden was there holding a sign that read "let's leave this bride at the altar — boycott Jenny's Bridal." Garden owns Turning The Tide bookstore in Saskatoon. He said as a business owner he was offended by the way Singh was treated because she was transgender, and he hopes a boycott will teach the store owner a lesson. "You know, I think that people make mistakes," said Garden. "I think they have a chance to recognize them and apologize for them. I don't think that is what the owner of this business has done." Protesters remained in front of Jenny's Bridal for over an hour.

In New Zealand, a gay man is taking the Anglican Bishop of Auckland to the Human Rights Tribunal after being rejected for training as a priest. A hearing begins Monday following a complaint from the man, who says he feels discriminated against because of his sexuality. According to the Herald, it is understood the man (who is in a sexual relationship with his partner) has wanted to enter the church's training program for priests for years. But after applying to enter after years of study, he was rejected by the Bishop Ross Bay, who approves entrants. Bishop Bay told One News Sunday night that he was simply following the church's doctrines. The man was rejected "by reason of the defendant not being chaste in terms of canons of the Anglican Church," the bishop said. That means that anyone wanting to become ordained needs to be in what the Anglican Church deems to be a chaste relationship - a marriage between a man and a woman or committed to a life of celibacy. In a statement to the tribunal, the complainant says he "felt totally humiliated that I had spent six years of my life in study, for a process that I was not permitted to enter because I was a gay man and in a relationship. My humiliation and disappointment continue to this day." He also claims that had he been unmarried but in a heterosexual relationship, he would have been allowed to train as a priest. However, it is understood that is not the case and that Bishop Bay has rejected people in such relationships in the past. A spokesman for the Anglican diocese of Auckland, Jayson Rhodes, said he could not get into details of the case. "The best way for both sides of this to be heard is before the tribunal, rather than through the media."

In Florida, Bayli Silberstein will wrap up her final year at Leesburg's Carver Middle School in a month, but she's excited about finally moving ahead with a club to combat bullying, discrimination and harassment based on students' sexual orientation. The bisexual eighth-grader had been trying to establish the Gay-Straight Alliance at the Leesburg middle school since last school year. Now that the school district has given her permission to temporarily form the club, Bayli is looking forward to holding the first club meeting later this week, said her mother, Erica Silberstein, 36. "I'm really happy that it's finally happened," the mother said. "It shows kids that they can make a difference." The Sentinel reports that the decision to allow the group to meet until the end of the school year — in a month — came Thursday, a day after the American Civil Liberties Union filed suit against Lake schools. The suit accused school leaders of violating a federal law prohibiting schools from discriminating against student clubs. District officials said they're trying to resolve the federal suit and that the decision to allow the club to form based on "current laws and guidelines" and is a result of a consent order. But it's not certain whether the club will be allowed to meet on campus next school year. School Board members are scheduled to meet at 3:30 pm Sunday to look at how to revise the policy governing clubs. A district spokesman said anyone wishing to comment on the issue will be heard at the meeting in the auditorium at Lake Minneola High, 101 N. Hancock Road, Minneola. About 300 came to a meeting two weeks ago expecting to be heard but were turned away. It's unclear what changes the School Board may make to the district's club policy, said Daniel Tilley, the ACLU attorney who filed the lawsuit in federal court Wednesday on behalf of Bayli, 14. But Tilley said he'll continue to work to ensure the club continues to meet at Carver in the future. "You can't say what the school district will do," he said. "We will have to wait and see. And we'll act accordingly." Changes at the state level have muddled the situation. Current state law defines middle schools as "secondary schools," which are protected under the federal Equal Access Act. The act bans discrimination against non-academic clubs. But new legislation removes the definition of "secondary" schools, so it's unclear whether such clubs at middle schools would be protected. Tilley said the fight isn't over, arguing the First Amendment protects such clubs and requires schools to recognize them, regardless whether middle schools are considered secondary. Erica Silberstein said her daughter will continue to support the club at Carver, although she'll be a freshman at Leesburg High School next year. "I'm hoping that the other kids in the middle school will see it's something that's needed," she said. "If they really want it [club], there are people that'll back them, even if the School Board is against it."

Media critic Howard Kurtz used his CNN show on Sunday to point a finger at himself, apologizing for a story on gay basketball player Jason Collins that he said was riddled with errors and shouldn't have been written in the first place. The extraordinary edition of CNN's Reliable Sources contained not only his apology but also a session with two other media critics who sharply questioned Kurtz's credibility, reports the Associated Press. Kurtz wrote in The Daily Beast that Collins, the NBA center who made headlines last week by being the first active player in one of the four major U.S. pro sports leagues to come out as gay, had hidden a previous engagement to a woman in his announcement. In fact, Collins revealed the engagement in his first-person Sports Illustrated story and in a subsequent interview with ABC's George Stephanopoulos. Kurtz said Sunday that he had read the Sports Illustrated story too quickly and missed the reference to a fiancee there and elsewhere. He said he was wrong to rush the story without seeking comment from Collins, was too slow to correct himself when it became clear he was wrong and made an inappropriate comment (about playing "both sides of the court") in a video report. Besides his "sloppy and inexcusable" errors, Kurtz said, the story itself was insensitive and shouldn't have been written. "I apologize to readers, to viewers and, most importantly, to Jason Collins and his fiancee," said Kurtz, who spent many years as a media writer for the Washington Post. "I hope this very candid response can help me earn back your trust over time. It is something I am very committed to doing." The Daily Beast and Kurtz announced they were "parting ways" on the same day the mistake came to light. Kurtz said it was amicable and had been in the works before the Collins story. His public mea culpa included questioning from media writers David Folkenflik of NPR and Dylan Byers of Politico, who both dug deeper into Kurtz's work history and business relationships. They questioned why Kurtz, with time-consuming jobs at CNN and as Washington bureau chief for The Daily Beast, was doing regular video commentaries for Daily Download, a media website. Kurtz said he was paid on a freelance basis by the website and had no financial stake in its operation, though he did offer advice to the people who started it. Kurtz said, "I'll leave it to others to judge if I've taken on too much." They also discussed other Kurtz mistakes from the past few years: a supposed interview with Rep. Darrell Issa that was instead conducted with the congressman's aide, wrongly attributed quotes from former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and wrongly suggesting that Fox News Channel's Greta Van Susteren had questioned the seriousness of an injury to Hillary Clinton. Given the other mistakes, Byers wondered whether viewers should believe Kurtz had learned from the Collins error. Folkenflik asked why the audience should still trust Kurtz as a media critic. Kurtz pointed to his track record over many years and said he would recommit himself to being more careful.

Hunger Games hotness Josh Hutcherson spotted in New York City Sunday.

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