By a vote of 37-15, the Georgia Senate passed a bill allowing people to use their religion to challenge or opt out of various laws—including local laws in Atlanta and other cities—that protect LGBT people and other minorities from discrimination in employment, housing, and public accommodations. In practical terms, S.B. 129 could allow businesses to refuse service to same-sex couples, a paramedic to refuse to provide life-saving services to an LGBT person, or a school counselor to refuse services to an LGBT teenager. The bill puts minority groups at risk of being denied service everywhere from the convenience store to the doctor’s office.
The Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus will finally phase out the use of elephants during its shows by 2018. While the elephants have played an iconic role in “The Greatest Show on Earth” since its inception in 1909, growing concern about the safety and treatment of the elephants has cast a negative shadow over their use for entertainment purposes. Some states have even passed laws prohibiting the use of elephants in circuses for entertainment. “There’s been somewhat of a mood shift among our consumers,” said Alana Feld, the company’s executive vice president. “A lot of people aren’t comfortable with us touring with our elephants.”
“For 35 years PETA has protested Ringling Bros.’ cruelty to elephants,” Ingrid E. Newkirk, president of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, wrote in a statement. “We know extreme abuse to these majestic animals occurs every single day, so if Ringling is really telling the truth about ending this horror, it will be a day to pop the champagne corks, and rejoice.”
Only 13 elephants will tour with the company through 2018, while the other 30 will remain at the company’s 200-acre Center for Elephant Conservation in Florida. [WSJ]
Doctors and EMT workers will be allowed to legally refuse life-saving services to gay and lesbian persons if a new bill, the Michigan Religious Freedom Restoration Act, is approved in the Michigan legislature. How is it possible that those out there who took an oath to save all people could refuse to help the LGBT community? Religion. The Republican-led house has already approved the Michigan Religious Freedom Restoration Act—a piece of legislation that is modeled after other states’ Supreme Court–justified laws—but opponents say in extreme cases, the new piece of legislation could prevent people in the LGBT from their basic human rights. “For example, a Christian doctor who does not believe in a gay lifestyle would not have to treat a gay patient,” CBS Detroit legal analyst Charlie Langton said. “Or perhaps, a Jewish butcher would not have to handle non-Kosher meat.”
State senators have until next week to act on the bill as the legislative session is over, if it is not voted upon it will ultimately die. Let’s hope Michigan’s Senate can respect all human life.
George Takei and his massive social-media following are taking Alabama to task for their hateful and discriminatory court ruling to block same-sex marriage by launching an in-your-face online campaign. Give Alabama the “wedding finger” has users photographing themselves holding up their wedding finger (obviously it appears to be a big FU), and hashtagging it #LuvUAlabama.
Alabama just gave SCOTUS the finger by halting marriage equality there despite federal orders. Couples, let’s respond! Whether gay or straight, post a photo on FB or Twitter giving AL the “wedding finger” and tagging #LuvUAlabama. Tag your state (e.g. #NY) to join our nationwide map! — with Brad Takei.
The Supreme Court of the United States today finally released their much-anticipated calendar listing their upcoming hearings. As expected, the court will hear arguments on April 28.
Tuesday, April 28, 2015 (2) 14-556) 14-562) 14-571) 14-574) OBERGEFELL V. HODGES
TANCO V. HASLAM DEBOER V. SNYDER
BOURKE V. BESHEAR
(Consolidated – 2 ½ hours for argument)
Have you ever wondered what was happening during the year you were born? Click on the link below and find out some of the amazing things that were happening during your birthday week and year. Discover the top songs, Academy Award winning movies, what was hot on TV, and the number one books. If you’re interested in what things cost back them, you can take a look at what a house, car, and gasoline cost, as well as annual salaries and more!
Last year, the United Nations’ Secretary-General, Ban Ki-moon, issued a ruling that would have offered marital benefits for the first time in the organization’s history to gay and lesbian employees in domestic partnerships. Unfortunately, Russia has said no. At a budget meeting, diplomat Sergey Khalizov from Russia said that the policy must be reversed. According to Foreign Policy, Russia said that “[the] U.N. chief’s action violated a U.N. General Assembly resolution that left it to U.N. employees’ governments to determine whether they are eligible for spousal benefits. Moscow has been weighing whether to force a vote in the budget committee, known as the Fifth Committee, to halt funding such benefits, a vote that it likely could win. Unlike the U.N. Security Council, the United States and other big powers don’t have the power to veto votes in the Fifth Committee. While its decisions are generally made by consensus, states can call for a vote.”
Egyptian police have arrested seven young men in the country’s newest crackdown on LGBT people. Inciting “debauchery,” a pro-Egyptian regime television outlet, Youm7, aired the arrest of the seven by declaring it the arrest of “perverts” and “transsexuals.” The network described the entrapment used by the police to arrest the men. The police allegedly used fake Web sites and arranged to meet the seven at a venue in Giza to then go to an apartment. Instead, they were arrested. [StarObserver]
You can watch the actual Egyptian news report after the jump, though there is no currently available translation…
Step aside New York City Firemen, rowers, and this season’s Iowa-farmer Bachelor, we’ve found new poster boys to make us swoon. These real-life Irish farmers show us that farmer tans are sexy as hell (especially when holding a baby goat, are we right?). You can purchase this year’s by clicking here—you still have ten months of hot fir. Sleep better knowing that money goes to Bothar, an organization that sends livestock to the developing world since 1991.
A ruling by the Alabama state Supreme Court ordered a halt to same-sex marriages in the state. In the ruling, the Court granted an emergency petition by two anti-LGBT groups, the Alabama Policy Institute and Alabama Citizens Action Program, who sought to stop probate judges from issuing marriage licenses across the state. The order, which has no foundation in constitutional law, flies in the face a prevailing federal ruling by Judge Callie V.S.Granade issued weeks ago. “In the bizarre, rambling 150 page opinion, the majority on the state Supreme Court steps far beyond the complaint before it, arguing, ‘Throughout the entirety of its history, Alabama has chosen the traditional definition of marriage. […] Alabama probate judges have a ministerial duty not to issue any marriage license contrary to this law,'” according to the HRC.