The Mississippi legislature passed a religious freedom bill on Tuesday that many believe will open the door to discrimination against gays and lesbians by businesses on the basis of religion. The Washington Post reports that the bill passed the Republican-controlled House and Senate by wide margins.
The bill struggled through the legislature for months as it missed key deadlines. Lawmakers removed some controversial language to help it along. The slimmed-down version that passed earlier this week is similar to the federal Religious Freedom Restoration Act that was signed into law by President Bill Clinton, according to MSNBC.
Opponents argue that language in the bill is still problematic. The American Civil Liberties Union had pushed to have specific wording placed in the bill that would prevent it from being used to protect discrimination.
“While this is an improvement upon the language that the legislature previously contemplated, it still falls short,” Eunice Rho of the ACLU told MSNBC. “The language still exposes virtually every branch, office, and agency of the government to litigation, which will require taxpayer funds to defend.”
Similar bills have been proposed in about a dozen states. One, in Arizona, made it through the legislature and landed on Gov. Jan Brewer’s desk, but she vetoed the bill amid a huge national backlash. Opponents argued that the law would allow a baker, for example, to deny services to a gay couple wanting to purchase a wedding cake. Under the law as it was proposed, the baker could cite a religious objection as reason for opposing gay marriage and denying the production of the cake.
Lawmakers in Mississippi believe they can avoid such a backlash by closely following the RFRA.
Blake Wilson of the Mississippi Economic Council represents businesses in the state and said lawmakers had been receptive to business concerns regarding discrimination.
“We’ve been in plenty of contact with the key folks, and we’ve distributed our position extensively in both houses,” he said. “The legislature understands the need to follow the federal approach, and if they do that we’re fine, we’re not going to have a discrimination problem.”
According to a story on the Huffington Post's website, Gov. Phil Bryant, Republican, has said he will sign the bill into law.
A Texas father has been accused of murdering his daughter. The victim’s mother claims that the man carried out the crime because he was unhappy with their daughter’s lesbian lifestyle.
The man, 46-year-old James Cosby, is the prime suspect in the case of 24-year-old Britney Cosby’s murder. The bodies of both Britney and her partner, Crystal Jackson, were found near a dumpster in Port Bolivar, Texas, on March 7.
According to the New York Daily News, Britney Cosby was bludgeoned to death, and Jackson was shot. The elder Cosby, a registered sex offender who was recently released from prison after serving a two-year sentence, was arrested after he was found tampering with evidence.
The victim’s mother, Loranda McDonald, appeared certain that her former partner killed their daughter due to the woman’s sexuality.
“He said it to me a few times that he did not like the idea of her being gay,” McDonald said, according to KHOU.
Despite McDonald’s claim, police have specified that they still have not determined a motive for the murders.
“We don’t know [if homosexuality] was a contributing factor to their deaths,” said Galveston Sheriff's Office Capt. Barry Cook. "We haven’t ruled it out, but we haven’t proved it either."
Police also haven’t ruled out another suspect besides Cosby, as a surveillance camera captured a man of a different size and stature dumping the bodies.
Cosby is currently being held on a $500,000 bond. If the investigation continues, he could face capital murder charges.
A 20-year-old man in Nebraska is facing assault, terrorism and hate crime charges after allegedly attacking his own sister with a crowbar because he doesn’t approve of her being a lesbian based on their family’s Muslim beliefs.
Ahmed Mohammed Tuma was arrested on Nov. 8 along with an accomplice, 20-year-old Nathan Marks, who now faces charges of aiding and abetting terroristic threats and aiding and abetting the use of a weapon to commit a felony.
Reports allege that on Thursday evening, Tuma arrived at the home of his 22-year-old sister and her fiancée with a crowbar in hand.
“At first I didn't know who it was,” said the victim. “Then I finally realized it was my brother ... he had a crowbar in his hand, he tried to hit me with it.”
The victim and her fiancée fled as Tuma chased them with the crowbar, and the two were able to get into their car. Tuma, along with Marks, began to hit the vehicle with the crowbar and attempted to push the car into oncoming traffic, but his sister and her fiancée were able to get away.
“They were in fear for their lives,” said Officer Katie Flood. “Tuma had made some verbal threats to kill the sister.”
Tuma allegedly tried to attack his sister because she was in a lesbian relationship and it goes against their family’s Muslim beliefs. Tuma says that his sister is a disgrace to their family. He and Marks are now in police custody and face those serious charges.
Jobseekers applying for a position at Colorado College, a private college in Colorado Springs, are being asked to choose one of the following options for a question regarding gender identity: not disclosed, male, female, transgender and queer.
According to the Daily Mail, 66-year-old John Kichi, a gay man from Pennsylvania, said he found the listing at the college very offensive and filed a complaint with the state attorney general’s office about the question.
“I couldn’t believe it,” Kichi told The Denver Post. “I thought I was going to have a stroke. It’s totally from the Dark Ages.”
Kichi has lost homes and fired from jobs because of his sexual orientation, and he finds it highly insulting when someone uses the word “queer.”
“If them including it on applications isn’t against the law, it should be,” Kichi told the newspaper, sending a complaint to Colorado Attorney General John Suthers.
One student, Quinn Webb, told CBS4: “I’m a little skeptical of what that could present to potential employees.”
However, school officials say using the word “queer” on job applications is meant to recognize Colorado College’s diversity. Human rights activists say the meaning of the term has changed over time.
“It’s true that for many years lots of people were called ‘queer’ and it was a derogatory term and they find it offensive,” Rex Fuller, of Denver’s LGBT Community Center, told CBS4, “but there’s definitely a younger generation that is trying to reform the term and give it new meaning.”
“It’s important to look at context when the term is being used,” he continued. “If somebody is screaming it at you on the street ... they mean to offend you and that’s probably not a good thing.”
“But if someone is using it to identify themselves because that’s what they feel good about, then we support that.”
“I’m proud to work for a school that doesn’t just talk the talk, we walk it, too,” said Barbara Wilson, the college’s director of human resources, told The Denver Post. “In the midst of the volume of conservatism in this city, we’re almost a safe haven.”
A Human Rights Campaign organizer convinced Cindy McCain to sign a petition on the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA), which protects LGBT employees from discrimination in the workplace based on sexual orientation and gender identity, the Washington Post reports.
However, Cindy McCain’s husband, Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) still needs to decide how he will vote to support ENDA, citing landmark civil rights legislation could lead to “busing” and “reverse discrimination” as his reason.
McCain told the Huffington Post: “Whether it imposes quotas, whether it has reverse discrimination, whether it has the kinds of provisions that really preserve equal rights for all citizens or, like for example, busing. Busing was done in the name of equality. Busing was a failure. Quotas were a failure. A lot of people thought they were solutions. They weren’t. They bred problems.”
McCain added that others, specifically young people, have the same opinion as him.
“I think the young people know we do not need reverse discrimination, they don’t believe in quotas and they don't believe in some of the programs we saw in the name of racial equality implemented in the past which turned out to be counterproductive,” he said.
Tico Almeid, founder and president of Freedom to Work, told the Huffington Post that ENDA bans quotas in particular. He said his group already discussed the legislation with McCain’s office and a follow-up meeting will be held sometime this week, where they will call attention to the section of the law that bans quotas.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said Monday that the Senate will bring ENDA up for a vote during the current work period, which ends the week before Thanksgiving.
Currently, ENDA has 56 supporters in the Senate, and Senator-elect Cory Booker (D-N.J.) will make 57 once he takes office this week, putting it just below the 60-vote threshold needed to clear the Senate.
Texas may be known as a politically conservative state, but that doesn’t mean it’s like that everywhere.
C.C. Winn High School in Eagle Pass proved that this week when they voted two girls, who aren’t actually a couple, as this year’s homecoming queens. Plus, there was no king crowned. This was totally a double victory for both LGBTs and feminists everywhere. Take that, Michele Bachmann.
The two queens, Jennifer Mijares and Eileen Hernandez, stood proudly on stage to accept their crowns. In an interview with News 4 San Antonio, they made clear that it was all a part of a grassroots effort to support gay rights.
“I’m sure a lot of little girls always dreamed of being Homecoming Queen, but to know we were making a difference as well, it’s just amazing,” said 17-year-old Hernandez.
Hernandez herself identifies as a lesbian, while Mijares identifies as straight, but both are staunch supporters of LGBT rights. They both are good friends and are active in the school’s Gay-Straight Alliance club. The girls say they ran together to raise awareness, and while they did receive a few negative responses here and there, they say the amount of support from the student body was overwhelming.
C.C. Winn’s Principal Jesus Diaz-Wever praised the student body for their choice in homecoming queens, saying that, “it is important for all persons to be respected and treated with dignity, and the students at C.C. Winn High School certainly understand that all persons are equal.”
Even though one is straight and one is gay, Hernandez and Mijares don’t mind being called partners. They both say they are allies and are proud of their win.
11'Do Not Buy Girl Scout Cookies' That Support Abortion, Lesbians, Begs Pastor Kevin Swanson (Audio)
While conservative activism against the Boy Scouts of America is new this year, attacks against the Girl Scouts of America by conservatives have been going on for some time.
Indiana State Rep. Bob Morris (R) claimed in 2012 that the Girl Scouts supported abortions and lesbians, according to research that he conducted on the Internet, noted the Associated Press.
However, the Girl Scouts denied Rep. Morris' claims and Planned Parenthood of Indiana called his statements "woefully inaccurate."
Now, according to RightWingWatch.org, Pastor Kevin Swanson recently warned his "Generations Radio" listeners not to buy Girl Scout cookies because the group is allegedly promoting lesbianism and abortion (audio below).
"I’d say you ought to say 'no' the Girl Scout cookies too. I don’t want to support lesbianism, I don’t want to support Planned Parenthood and I don’t want to support abortion, and if that be the case I’m not buying Girl Scout cookies," stated Pastor Swanson.
Co-host Pastor Dave Buehner added, "Those are some pretty expensive cookies you’re eating though. At some point a Christian has to say, ‘the earth is the Lord’s and the fullness thereof,’ and where you spend your money does count."
Pastor Swanson then claimed, "It does and I don’t want to promote a wicked organization that according to its own website doesn’t promote godly womanhood, it just doesn’t, I don’t see anything that promotes godly womanhood. The vision of the Girl Scouts of America is antithetical to a biblical vision for womanhood, it’s antithetical to it."
However, the Girl Scouts' website actually promotes numerous positive attributes that can be found in the Bible:
Girl Scouting builds girls of courage, confidence, and character, who make the world a better place. Girl Scouting helps girls develop their full individual potential; relate to others with increasing understanding, skill, and respect; develop values to guide their actions and provide the foundation for sound decision-making; and contribute to the improvement of society through their abilities, leadership skills, and cooperation with others.
Undaunted by the facts, Pastor Swanson issued his dramatic warning.
"Please, I beg of you, do not buy Girl Scout cookies. Please, I beg of you, stop buying Girl Scout cookies. And if you do, take a big black magic marker and cross out all of the references to Girl Scouts of America on all of the signs and all of the boxes because we do not want to promote that organization," begged Pastor Swanson.
People in the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) community who are on the lookout for citizenship, visas, green cards, refuge and asylum in the U.S. have also been impacted by the government shutdown.
The delay of the Senate’s immigration bill by House Republicans did not stop California lawmakers from passing a law to give new driver’s licenses to undocumented immigrants.
“When a million people without their documents drive legally and with respect in the state of California, the rest of this country will have to stand up and take notice,” Governor Brown said. “No longer are undocumented people in the shadows. They are alive and well and respected in the state of California.”
Even though the federal shutdown has overshadowed immigration reform efforts, it is still an important subject for same-sex couples who are raising children. According to a report released in March 2013 from the William Institute, an estimated 41,000 children are being raised by same-sex couples that include a foreign-born spouse or partner.
- An estimated 33,500 foreign-born men and women who are part of a same-sex couple are raising children under age 18. Among noncitizens in same-sex couples, 41 percent have children, compared to 19 percent of naturalized citizens in same-sex couples.
- Same-sex couples with two foreign-born partners are most likely to be raising children. Nearly six in 10 same-sex couples in which both spouses or partners are noncitizens are raising children, and the number of children is estimated at 12,400.
Writing in the San Francisco Chronicle on Oct. 1, Kate Kendell, executive director of the National Center for Lesbian Rights, discussed the significance for comprehensive immigration reform, and how stonewalling the reform causes problems for LGBT people.
“We won’t live in the shadows in fear of being deported or detained,” she wrote. “As a lesbian, I’ll be there to say to the 267,000 of us who are undocumented and lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender that the country we love shouldn’t make us live in two closets anymore.”
One essential part of Kendell’s message to members of the House is to “improve conditions for people held in detention, limit use of solitary confinement, and prohibit its use based solely on a detainee’s sexual orientation or gender identity.”
11Kaitlyn Hunt, The Florida Teen Arrested For Same-Sex Relationship with Underage Girlfriend, Accepts New Plea Deal
Kaitlyn Hunt, the Florida teenager who was arrested for having sex with her underage girlfriend, has just accepted a plea deal.
Nineteen-year-old Hunt, who was 18 at the time she was charged, was in a sexual relationship with another girl at her high school, who was 14 at the time. The 14-year-old’s parents found out about the relationship and had Hunt expelled from school and arrested. After many months of legal drama, Hunt has now accepted a proposed plea deal that Opposing Views reported on back in August.
The deal will consist of a number of different factors. Hunt will plead no contest to five charges, including two counts of misdemeanor battery, misdemeanor contributing to the dependency of a child, and two counts of felony interference with child custody. Hunt will serve four months in jail, followed by two years of house arrest, and finally nine months of probation. After losing her last plea deal in August by violating a court order not to be in contact with the victim, Hunt has been in jail attempting to get a new deal.
Prosecutor Brian Workman says that the deal is as fair as it’s going to be, considering all the circumstances.
“I believe this is a fair and balanced offer that protects the victim,” said Workman, “while giving Ms. Hunt the ability to avoid the most severe consequences of her crimes by demonstrating that no further punishment is necessary.”
The case garnered national media attention after Hunt’s parents and lawyers claimed that the only reason the 14-year-old girl’s parents pressed charges was because they believed Hunt turned their daughter into a lesbian. Hunt’s parents and lawyers believe that had Hunt have been a male, this would never have happened.
“They are out to destroy my daughter, because they feel like she ‘made’ their daughter gay,” said Hunt’s mother back in May. “They see being gay as wrong and they blame my daughter. Of course, I see it 100 percent differently. I don’t see or label these girls as gay. They are teenagers in high school experimenting with their sexuality — with mutual consent. And even if their daughter is gay, who cares? She is still their daughter.”
Still, the court maintains that it has nothing to do with the fact that Hunt is gay, but everything to do with the fact that the victim was only 14-years-old, and Hunt was 18.
Hunt’s attorney Julia Graves released a statement announcing the acceptance of the plea deal. That statement is below.
Kaitlyn Hunt is accepting the plea deal in her best interest as well as that of her family, the “victim” and the “victim’s” family. It is time to enter a plea given the current state of the law and get back to living a somewhat normal life without fear of the unknown for everyone involved. There is too much risk in trying the case when the State, particularly Mr. Workman has willingly worked with defense counsel to obtain this negotiated plea. Kaitlyn is giving up many rights by entering the plea. Not only does she relinquish her legal rights to a trial and requiring the State to prove their case, but she also gives up the opportunity for her supporters as well as her detractors to see and hear any testimony or evidence.
We are hoping to put the litigation behind. We are concerned about the civil litigation continuing with the attorneys for the “victim’s” family for monetary damages but nothing in a civil suit affects the plea we are accepting or causes any violations. Nonetheless, Kaitlyn is going to move on with her life and follow the conditions of her community control and probation imposed by the Court. The next task upon her release from incarceration is to work with supporters and lawmakers toward a change in the law for teenagers attending the same school, no matter what their sexual orientation is. Together, we intend to be available to help educate the students attending our schools and their parents, as well as the teachers and administration that are unaware of these laws and the severe consequences they can carry. Kaitlyn, her family, friends and supporters never want to see another teenager in this kind of situation. Kaitlyn is particularly grateful to her entire family for their nonstop love and support as well as the many well-wishers and supporters around the globe.
NatWest Bank, a bank in the UK, recently aired a commercial featuring twin sisters, one of whom is straight and the other gay.
The sisters are seen embracing and declaring their love for their respective husband and girlfriend.
A YouTube user who goes by the handle of "Gavin Rolph" uploaded the video (below) and slammed it as "Blatant NWO Homosexual Social Programming." The NWO apparently stands for "New World Order."
Rolph adds several of his own anti-gay derogatory comments in texts above the ad, notes GoodAsYou.org.
After declaring "The Media is of the Devil," Rolph added a strange clip that compares Prince William and President Obama to the actor who played the devil in "The Bible" miniseries.
Ironically, anti-gay proponents often use the example of identical twins who share the same DNA, but do not share the same sexual orientation, as proof that homosexuals are not "born gay."
However, it appears that Rolph missed his opportunity.