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Federal Judge Denies Family Medical Leave for Married Gay Spouses

March 27th, 2015 Comments off
Image via Passport.

Image via Passport.

US District Judge Reed O’Connor blocked a recent rule change to the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) from the Department of Labor (DOL), preventing legally married same-sex couples in Texas from exercising their FMLA rights. Because of the Supreme Court of the United States’ decision in United States v. Windsor, DOL made a policy change from a “state of residence” rule to a “place of celebration” rule regarding marriage recognition. This change allows legally married same-sex couples access to their FMLA benefits no matter what state they live in. The DOL announcement stated: “The Final Rule amends the regulatory definition of spouse under the FMLA so that eligible employees in legal same-sex marriages will be able to take FMLA leave to care for their spouse or family member, regardless of where they live. This will ensure that the FMLA will give spouses in same-sex marriages the same ability as all spouses to fully exercise their FMLA rights.” [HRC]

Governor Mike Pence of Indiana Stands on the WRONG Side of History by Signing Anti-Gay Bill into Law

March 26th, 2015 Comments off
Image via Facebook

Image via Facebook

Despite angering people in his own party (like the mayor of Indianapolis), business owners who have threatened to move from the state, and convention planners (like GenCom), Indiana’s governor, Mike Pence, has signed the “Religious Freedom Restoration Act” into law, which will legally allow businesses to discriminate against the LGBT community.

He wrote in a statement today:

Today I signed the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, because I support the freedom of religion for every Hoosier of every faith.

“The Constitution of the United States and the Indiana Constitution both provide strong recognition of the freedom of religion but today, many people of faith feel their religious liberty is under attack by government action.

“One need look no further than the recent litigation concerning the Affordable Care Act. A private business and our own University of Notre Dame had to file lawsuits challenging provisions that required them to offer insurance coverage in violation of their religious views.

“Fortunately, in the 1990s Congress passed, and President Clinton signed, the Religious Freedom Restoration Act—limiting government action that would infringe upon religion to only those that did not substantially burden free exercise of religion absent a compelling state interest and in the least restrictive means.

“Last year the Supreme Court of the United States upheld religious liberty in the Hobby Lobby case based on the federal Religious Freedom Restoration Act, but that act does not apply to individual states or local government action. At present, nineteen states—including our neighbors in Illinois and Kentucky—have adopted Religious Freedom Restoration statutes. And in eleven additional states, the courts have interpreted their constitutions to provide a heightened standard for reviewing government action.

“In order to ensure that religious liberty is fully protected under Indiana law, this year our General Assembly joined those 30 states and the federal government to enshrine these principles in Indiana law, and I fully support that action.

“This bill is not about discrimination, and if I thought it legalized discrimination in any way in Indiana, I would have vetoed it. In fact, it does not even apply to disputes between private parties unless government action is involved. For more than twenty years, the federal Religious Freedom Restoration Act has never undermined our nation’s anti-discrimination laws, and it will not in Indiana.

“Indiana is rightly celebrated for the hospitality, generosity, tolerance, and values of our people, and that will never change. Faith and religion are important values to millions of Hoosiers and with the passage of this legislation, we ensure that Indiana will continue to be a place where we respect freedom of religion and make certain that government action will always be subject to the highest level of scrutiny that respects the religious beliefs of every Hoosier of every faith.”

Read more: http://www.towleroad.com/#ixzz3VVHQnhLj

Indiana’s Governor: ‘I Look Forward to Signing…’ Anti-Gay Religious Freedom Bill

March 24th, 2015 Comments off

 

Image via Facebook

Image via Facebook

Yesterday, Indiana’s legislature approved a “religious freedom” that will legally allow businesses to discriminate against anyone (including gays and lesbians) based on their religious freedom. This can result in something as little as refusing to take same-sex wedding photos to refusing a life-saving medical procedure. The only hope held by many yesterday was the GOP Governor Mike Pence would refuse to sign the bill. Unfortunately his latest statement says otherwise:

The legislation, SB 101, is about respecting and reassuring Hoosiers that their religious freedoms are intact.  I strongly support the legislation and applaud the members of the General Assembly for their work on this important issue.  I look forward to signing the bill when it reaches my desk.

Contact the governor here and tell him he’s on the wrong side of history. 

 

Gay Travel: World Eats in Nova Scotia, Canada

March 23rd, 2015 Comments off
Image via Morris East

Image via Morris East

The best part of the “eat local” trend is discovering a city with incredible regional ingredients. In Halifax, Nova Scotia, diners enjoy an embarrassment of riches, thanks to the region’s especially fertile and productive growing season, and the bold restaurateurs who take full advantage of Atlantic Canada’s best.
In this island province, seafood is of course the star attraction. It’s often so fresh that your fish, lobster, oyster, or other marine delicacy may have been pulled from the bay just hours before. Local chefs complement their prized seafood with well-suited herbs, vegetables, grains, as well as wines and craft brews unique to Nova Scotia. They also excel at making old-favorite dishes their own. Who knew there could be so many delicious versions of poutine or chowder?

Gay-friendly Halifax enthusiastically celebrates its Pride every July, but the rest of the year this midsize city is awash in its pride of food sourced from farms, fisheries, foragers, and small-batch producers. While you’re here, you’ll happily devour some of the tastiest food and creatively prepared dishes that we had the pleasure of experiencing during a recent visit.

Keep reading over at Passport magazine online…

West Virginia’s Anti-Gay Bills Defeated!

March 17th, 2015 Comments off
Image via Passport

Image via Passport

This weekend, the West Virginia legislative session ended, effectively killing three anti-gay bills: a bill to abolish local liberty (HB 2881) and two so-called “religious freedom” bills (HB 2508 and SB 487). Fairness West Virginia together with the Human Rights Campaign worked to prevent these bills from being voted upon. The “West Virginia Intrastate Commerce Improvement Act” (HB 2881) would have created uniformity among non-discrimination laws but actually would have invalidated existing LGBT non-discrimination ordinances in the state’s cities and towns, undoing decades of work and abolishing local liberty. While the “religious freedom” bills, HB 2508 and SB 487 were part of a wave of anti-LGBT legislation emerging across the country that threatens to undermine all existing state civil rights laws, unleash a wave of litigation, and damage the economic climate and reputation of the states in which they are being considered.

Sam Smith and John Legend Release Song for Charity

March 10th, 2015 Comments off
Screen Cap via YouTube

Screen Cap via YouTube

Grammy Award–winner Sam Smith and recently Acadamy Award–winner John Legend released a version of Smith’s song “Lay Me Down.” The single will serve as the official song for Red Nose Day, a British day of action that supports the work of Comic Relief, an organization fighting to end poverty. On Red Nose Day (the 13th of March), Smith and Legend will perform the duet live (and the only time) during the event Comic Relief—Face the Funny at London’s Palladium. “‘Lay Me Down’ holds a very special place in my heart. Not only did I perform it at the Brits, I’m now going to perform it live on the Red Nose Day show with the extremely talented John Legend, which is so exciting,” Smith said in a statement. “I recently visited a Comic Relief funded project in my hometown, which supports the young LGBT community in London. I’m extremely proud that my single will help raise money for projects like this and many others in the U.K. and across Africa.”

Video after the jump…

Read more…

Irish Couple of 50 Years Supports Gay Marriage in Ireland in New Video

March 9th, 2015 Comments off
Screen Cap via YouTube

Screen Cap via YouTube

Citing the Northern Ireland’s civil rights movement in the 60s, this lovely couple who has been married for over 50 years, is urging Irish people to vote “Yes” on the country’s upcoming marriage referendum video. As part of the #VoteWithUs campaign, Brighid and Paddy from Dundalk tells the Irish population that they hope that their grandchildren, from the playground to the law, are “protected and treated as equals.” The two also say that voting yes is the Christian thing to do.  “Twenty years ago I probably would have voted no. But now that I know gay people and see the love and joy they can bring to life, I will be voting yes,” Paddy says. “We worked hard for civil rights in Northern Ireland in the Sixties. Now it is time to support civil rights in the South,” he adds.

Check it out after the jump…

Read more…

Student-Run Petition Demands NYC Department of Education Unblock Gay Websites

March 9th, 2015 Comments off
Image via Passport

Image via Passport

A new petition on Change.org is targeting New York City’s Department of Education for blocking gay LGBT websites. Many websites are allegedly blocked from schools’ computers simply for containing LGBT. The student cites that the Wikipedia page for “LGBT Rights in Egypt” is blocked by the school.

From the Change.org petition:

The official DOE “Internet Acceptable Use and Safety Policy (IAUSP)” states that it protects minors from content including “pornography, obscene material, and other material that may be harmful to minors. The Department may also block or filter other content deemed to be inappropriate, lacking educational or work-related content or that pose a threat to the network.” Information about LGBTQ+ rights, people, or culture is in no way obscene or dangerous for minors. By definition, to be LGBTQ+ is not to be obscene – it is to love someone or identify as someone. Therefore, this content blockage is a gross violation of students’ rights to information and an example of the bigotry that fuels the anti-LGBTQ+ rights movement. LGBTQ+ rights are human rights.

We have already collected 200+ signatures during our school’s Global Conflict Awareness Day, but we’d like to expand the petition. We’ll be sending the signature count to the NYC DOE, Schools Chancellor Farina, and the Federal Communications Commission to make this change.

Click here to sign.

More than 300 Republican Leaders Sign-Up in Support of Gay Marriage

March 6th, 2015 Comments off
Photo by Randy Miramontez

Photo by Randy Miramontez

In an historic move, more than 300 Republican lawmakers, operatives, and consultants have filed a friend of the court brief in support of marriage equality, according to TIMEThe brief was signed by the likes of Rudy Giuliani, Sens. Susan Collins and Mark Kirk, and Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker and will be delivered to the Court. The unlikely support comes from former Republican National Committee Chairman Ken Mehlman.

The Supreme Court will decide the fate of gay marriage on April 28th.

 

Georgia Senate Passes Law to Legally Discriminate Against Gay People

March 5th, 2015 Comments off
Image via Passport

Image via Passport

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.

This is one of many in the US that legally allow people to discriminate against LGBT people. Currently, Michigan is debating a similar bill.