Thursday, July 4, 2013

United States-Based Christian Preacher Arrested Then Released By London Police After Classifying Homosexuality A Sin, Teens Who Lured Gay Clackamas Oregon Man To Park With The Promise Of Sex Then Beat And Robbed Him Sentenced, Santa Rosa California Police Still Searching For Suspect Who Shot Employee Of Gay Bar After Being Removed For Homophobic Behavior, Galveston Texas Man Files Federal Suit Challenging Constitutional Validity Of Texas Provision Prohibiting Same Sex Marriage, Former Self-Professed Homophobe Tim Hardaway First To Sign Petition Seeking To Have Same Sex Marriage Constitutionally Recognized In Florida, Tom Brady Shows Off

In the United Kingdom, a Christian street preacher has been arrested and questioned about his beliefs after saying that he thinks homosexuality is a “sin.” Tony Miano, 49, a former senior police officer from the United States, was held for around six hours, had his fingerprints and DNA taken and was questioned about his faith, after delivering a sermon about “sexual immorality” on a London street. Miano, who served as a Deputy Sherriff in Los Angeles County, said his experience suggested that the term “thought police” had become a reality in the UK. He said he was amazed that it was now possible “in the country that produced the Magna Carta” for people to be arrested for what they say. Miano, who was provided with a solicitor by the Christian Legal Centre, was arrested under the controversial clause of the Public Order Act which bans “insulting” words or behaviour. The clause has recently been dropped by the House of Lords after a high-profile free speech campaign but the change has yet to come into force. The Telegraph reports that the father of three, who took early retirement from the police to become a full-time preacher two years ago, was detained after was preaching outside a shopping centre in Wimbledon, south west London, on Monday. He was speaking from a passage from Thessalonians which mentions “sexual immorality” and listed homosexuality alongside “fornication” as examples what he believed went against “God’s law.” A woman out shopping called the police to complain that she was offended, prompting two officers to be dispatched to arrest him. In a video placed on YouTube (available at the source) he can be seen explaining the changes to Section Five to the officers who said they were not aware of it. During the subsequent questioning at Wimbledon police station he was asked about his beliefs on what constitutes “sin” and about how he would treat gay people in hypothetical situations. “As the questioning started it became apparent that the interrogation was about more than the incident that took place in the street but what I believed and how I think,” he said. “I was being interrogated about my thoughts: that is the basic definition of thought police.” He said he had arrested many people in his career but never over their beliefs. “It surprised me that it is possible for a person to be taken to jail for their thoughts,” he said. “It surprised me that here in the country that produced the Magna Carta that an otherwise law abiding person could lose his freedom because one person was offended by the content of my speech.” He said he feared Britain and other countries were already on a “slippery slope” towards the erosion of free speech and has written to MPs outlining his experiences. Andrea Williams, of the Christian legal Centre, said: “We might joke about there being ‘thought police’ but this case shows that it has already become a reality. Sadly we are seeing cases like this increasingly often.” Miano said that after he was questioned he was advised by his solicitor that police had indicated that they expected to charge him with a public order offence. But after being sent back to his cell for around another hour he was informed that an inspector had decided that no further action would be taken. He was released about midnight. He added that at one point he was passed a Bible through the food port of his cell, something he said underlined the “ridiculous” situation. “I believe that every human being should have the right to speak their mind,” he said. “Homosexuals should have the right to free speech, as should atheists, Muslims, Buddhists and Hindus. All I’m asking is that we are allowed to be part of the conversation and that society stops treating itself as tolerant when the authorities are intolerant to the Christian point of view.” A spokesman for the Metropolitan Police said: “Police were called to Wimbledon Hill Road, SW19, at approximately 16.40 on Monday, July 1, following reports of a man speaking through a public address system who was alleged to have made homophobic comments. Officers attended and arrested the man, aged 49, on suspicion of offences under the Public Order Act. He was taken to a south-west London police station and spoken to by officers before being released with no further action later the same day.”

An update on a previous post: In Oregon, five masked teens who lured a 24-year-old gay man to a Gresham park -- where they beat him, robbed him and called him homophobic names -- have been sentenced to terms ranging from probation to 2 ½ years in prison. A 16-year-old boy was the last of the defendants -- ages 14 to 19 -- to be sentenced Tuesday. Justin Carey Simms, the only adult in the group, was sentenced to 1 ½ years in prison last month. The Oregonian is not naming the other defendants because they are juveniles. The victim, a Clackamas man, said he went to Vance Park off Southeast 182nd Avenue on February 15 with the intention of having a sexual encounter with another man whose profile he’d seen in an online forum. When he got there, however, the group of teens hit him on the head and repeatedly kicked him after he fell to the ground. They pointed what later were determined to be realistic airsoft guns at him and called him homophobic names, before running off into the darkness. On a 10-point scale, the victim said the pain he felt was an 8, according to a probable cause affidavit filed in Multnomah County Circuit Court. The teens made off with his cell phone, keys, wallet, and shoes. At least one of the teens told police the group attacked the man, in part, because he is gay. With the exception of the 14-year-old, the defendants were charged in adult court with assault, robbery and intimidation -- for targeting the victim because he is gay. They pleaded guilty to attempted second-degree robbery and were sentenced during separate hearings in recent weeks. At the time of the attack, Gresham police were looking for victims of other similar attacks. But no other victims have come forward. Other gay-related hate crimes in recent months and years have spurred criminal charges in the Portland area. In March, Hillsboro police said a man attacked a 26-year-old man who was walking with his boyfriend and pink poodle. Two men who stopped a gay man in Old Town Portland in 2011 for directions -- then called him derogatory names and beat up a Good Samaritan who intervened -- were sentenced last year to jail or probation.

In California, a man who shot and injured a Santa Rosa night club worker who was escorting him out the door of the bar near downtown early Wednesday morning remained at large a day later, police said. According to the Press Democrat, detectives had little description to work from in their investigation of the shooting outside the Epic Social Club on Mendocino Avenue but were continuing to follow up in hopes of developing leads, Santa Rosa Police Sgt. Dave Linscomb said Thursday. The unidentified, 23-year-old victim of the 1:15 am shooting was expected to survive despite serious enough wounds that he required surgery, police have said. The incident occurred after club management asked the unruly suspect to leave for making rude comments to gay and lesbian patrons gathered for a special Pride Night celebration. The victim had escorted him outside when the suspect pulled out a handgun, shot the employee once in the torso at close range and then ran off, police said. The shooter has been described as a Latino man in his 20s with long hair. Anyone with information about the case is asked to call police at (707) 543-3590.

In Texas, a Galveston man filed a federal lawsuit Tuesday challenging a provision of the state Constitution defining marriage as a union of a man and a woman. Domenico Nuckols, 60, said he believes he will prevail because of last week's U.S. Supreme Court ruling striking down the federal Defense of Marriage Act, which included the same definition of marriage. "It's going to be an uphill battle, but I fired the first shot," Nuckols said. The Houston Chronicle reports that the gay rights group Equality Texas was unaware of any similar lawsuits since the Supreme Court Decision, said Chuck Smith, executive director. A section of the state constitution's Bill of Rights reads, "Marriage in this state shall consist only of the union of one man and woman." A ballot measure adding the clause passed in 2005 with 75-percent of the vote. Lambda Legal, the national gay rights legal organization, did not respond to a request for comment. The office of Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott, who is named in the lawsuit along with Gov. Rick Perry, declined comment, but Abbott's office has opposed gay marriage in other cases.

An organization called Equal Marriage Florida is launching a petition to get same sex marriage constitutionally recognized by the state of Florida in 2014. The petition needs at least 680,000 signatures for the measure to make the ballot. And the group has already lined up a high-profile first signer: former Miami Heat star Tim Hardaway. USA Today reports that this is profound for one reason: Hardaway used to be one of the most vocally homophobic professional athletes in the country. “I hate gay people, so let it be known,” Hardaway said in a radio interview in 2007. “I don’t like gay people and I don’t like to be around gay people. I am homophobic. It should not be in the world or in the United States.” The comments caused a firestorm at the time, with Hardaway being blacklisted from many league-sanctioned events. Since then, he has made a genuine effort to re-evaluate his views. “I opened my eyes and went to counseling,” he told the El Paso Times in 2011. Since then, he has been an active participant in the gay-rights movement, becoming involved in with the Trevor Project and offering support to Jason Collins after he became the first active NBA player to come out in April. Now, he is going to help launch a campaign to legalize same sex marriage in Florida, the state where he played many of his best years as a member of the Heat from 1996 to 2001. Many times, athletes and celebrities apologizing for controversial comments come off as cynical, insincere PR moves. Hardaway’s transformation from an outspoken homophobe to a high-profile LGBT-rights supporter appears to be the real deal.

Tom Brady (and that ass) spotted practicing July 4 in Los Angeles at the UCLA campus.

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