The bill would prohibit local government from “substantially burdening” a person’s free expression of religion with few exemptions, the Indianapolis Star reports. Opponents of the bill say it could give business owners a free pass to refuse service to customers in same-sex relationships. Supporters, however, say it protects citizens from government intrusion on their beliefs.
The bill is based on the decades-old federal Religious Freedom and Restoration Act law, which played a major part in the Supreme Court Hobby Lobby decision that allowed companies to opt out of a requirement to cover contraceptives to female employees under the Affordable Care Act for religious reasons.
Indiana Governor Mike Pence has voiced his support for the bill, which was approved in a different form by the Indiana Senate in February. Some 19 other states have similar laws in place.
Dial (317) 232-4567 now and tell Governor Pence to use his veto power to block this dangerous bill from becoming law!
Urban Outfitters Under Fire For Selling Tapestry Reminiscent Of Uniforms Worn By Gay Nazi Prisoners #UrbanOutfitters
Urban Outfitters is under fire for a product resembling the uniform forced on gay prisoners in Nazi concentration camps.
The Anti-Defamation League called on Urban Outfitters to remove a gray-and-white striped tapestry with a pink triangle from its shelves, saying it too closely resembles the uniforms gay men were forced to wear during the Holocaust.
“Whether intentional or not, this gray and white stripped pattern and pink triangle combination is deeply offensive and should not be mainstreamed into popular culture,” Abraham H. Foxman, ADL National Director and a Holocaust survivor, said in a press release. “We urge Urban Outfitters to immediately remove the product eerily reminiscent of clothing forced upon the victims of the Holocaust from their stores and online.”
The item in question is not currently listed among tapestries on urbanoutfitters.com, though Bloomberg reports an Urban Outfitters store in New York was still selling the tapestry as of Tuesday morning, on sale for $69.
Prisoners in Nazi camps were identified by color-coded inverted triangles called badges. Gay men in Germany, who were considered a hindrance to the growth of the German population and sent to concentration camps, had to wear striped uniforms emblazoned with pink triangles, according to the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum.
This is not the first time Urban Outfitters has faced outcry over an item resembling Nazi camp uniforms. In 2012, the company sold a yellow T-shirt with a star on the left breast pocket. Critics said the shirt was similar to those forced upon Jewish prisoners in the camps.
At the time, the company said the online image that caused the outcry was a prototype. They had acknowledged the resemblance and decided against including the star on the final product.
A rep for Urban Outfitters was not immediately available for comment.
Our favorite song on Sleater-Kinney’s new album No Cities to love:
January 16, the United States Supreme Court announced that this year, they will hear arguments in a case on the question of whether same-sex couples should have the freedom to marry and if anti-marriage laws nationwide should be struck down as unconstitutional. The Court granted review of an out-of-step ruling from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 6th Circuit, which ruled in November against the freedom to marry in Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio and Tennessee. In each of these cases, federal judges had ruled in favor of the freedom to marry for all, and the 6th Circuit reversed each decision.
The Court also set a briefing schedule in the cases, with the plaintiffs’ opening brief due February 27, the states’ response briefs due March 27, and final reply briefs April 17. That likely puts an oral argument in the case on track for late April, with a decision expected by late June 2015. SCOTUSBlog has reported the argument will likely be April 29.Freedom to Marry founder and president Evan Wolfson applauded the Supreme Court’s decision to hear the cases today. He said:
The Supreme Court’s decision today begins what we hope will be the last chapter in our campaign to win marriage nationwide – and it’s time. Freedom to Marry’s national strategy has been to build a critical mass of marriage states and critical mass of support for ending marriage discrimination, and after a long journey and much debate, America is ready for the freedom to marry. But couples are still discriminated against in 14 states, and the patchwork of discrimination harms families and businesses throughout the country. We will keep working hard to underscore the urgency of the Supreme Court’s bringing the country to national resolution, so that by June, all Americans share in the freedom to marry and our country stands on the right side of history.
You can meet many of the plaintiffs whose cases will be heard by the nation’s highest court.
Susan Sommer, Director of Constitutional Litigation for Lambda Legal, one of the legal teams in the Ohio case, said:
We are ready to make our case before the Supreme Court to end these discriminatory bans once and for all. The state of Ohio shouldn’t be allowed to disrespect lawful marriages of same-sex couples within its state borders and certainly shouldn’t be allowed to meddle with family matters in states that do respect the marriages of same-sex couples. In fact, no state in the country should continue this disgraceful discrimination.
Shannon Minter, Legal Director of National Center for Lesbian Rights, counsel in the Tennessee case, said:
Currently, same-sex couples in many states face a constitutionally intolerable situation because their home states treat them as legal strangers. Even legally married couples can instantly lose the protections of marriage if they travel or move to a state that does not recognize their marriages. We hope the Supreme Court will finally bring an end to the harms that same-sex couples and their children face when they are treated unequally and excluded from marriage.
James Esseks, Director of the ACLU Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender & AIDS Project, a legal team member in the Ohio and Kentucky cases, added:
We are thrilled the Court will finally decide this issue. The country is ready for a national solution that treats lesbian and gay couples fairly. Every single day we wait means more Americans are harmed by the denial of full marriage rights – more people die before they have a chance to marry, more children are born without proper protections, more people face medical emergencies without being able to count on recognition of their spouses. It is time for the American values of freedom and equality to apply to all couples.
Daniel Canon of Clay Daniel Walton & Adams, counsel in the Kentucky case, along with the American Civil Liberties Union and Fauver Law Office, said:
We appreciate the opportunity to present the stories of our clients, some of whom have been in loving, committed relationships for decades. They, like other couples in Kentucky and elsewhere, have been denied their fundamental rights for far too long. We are hopeful the Court will fully and finally invalidate the discriminatory anti-marriage laws of Kentucky and other states.
Dana Nessel, counsel in the Michigan case, along with Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders, said:
By choosing to hear the DeBoer case, the Court now has the opportunity to end the injustices facing gay families in Michigan and so many other states, and to ensure that same-sex couples nationwide are free to move for work, school, or to care for elderly parents without jeopardizing their family’s security.
Earlier this year, in October, the Supreme Court denied review in five other marriage cases, which all had pro-marriage decisions from federal appellate courts. With the 6th Circuit’s out-of-step ruling causing a split in the circuits, the Supreme Court’s decision to grant review today could at last bring the country to national resolution.
Since June 2013, when the U.S. Supreme Court struck down the core of the so-called Defense of Marriage Act, a momentous chorus of nearly 60 rulings in state and federal court have held that denying the freedom to marry to same-sex couples is unconstitutional. Read all about the rulings here. In just five decisions – the 6th Circuit ruling, federal decisions from Louisiana and Puerto Rico, and state court divorce cases from Tennessee and Florida – have anti-marriage laws been upheld.
Today’s decision from the U.S. Supreme Court is a signal that many members of the Court understand that it’s time for national resolution on this fundamental question of fairness.
In the coming months, supporters of the freedom to marry must continue to raise their voices in support of ending the denial of marriage to same-sex couples. By amplifying the voices of a bipartisan, multigenerational, geographically diverse array of messengers, we can make the case that America – all of America – is ready for the freedom to marry, and that every day of denial is a day of indignity and injustice for real American families.
FDA Panel Endorses Lifetime Ban on Gay Blood Donation, Suggests Gay Men Are Diseased Liars #GayBlood
Last week, the Food and Drug Administration’s Blood Products Advisory Panel met to discuss lifting the government’s 31-year-old ban on blood donations from men who have sex with men. Currently, any man who has had sexual contact with another man since 1977—even once, even using condoms—is barred for life from donating blood. The ban was instituted in 1983 in the early days of the AIDS crisis, when HIV testing was still rudimentary. It hasn’t been altered since.
There was some hope that the panel might support a policy recently endorsed by a nearly unanimous Department of Health and Human Services panel, which would allow gay men to donate blood if they’d been celibate for one year. But even that half-measure appeared to be too much for the panel, which closed its discussion without taking a formal vote. (The panel itself can’t make rules, but the FDA takes its suggestions very seriously when issuing guidelines.)
The panel’s refusal to advise replacing the lifetime ban with a one-year deferral—twinned with its craven refusal to go on the record as opposing it—is deeply irritating. Even more galling is its reasoning, or lack thereof: It’s clear that the advisers on the panel saw the campaign to lift the blood ban as more a political crusade than a scientific appeal. (Apparently, they haven’t checked in with American Red Cross, America’s Blood Centers, the American Association of Blood Banks, and the American Medical Association, all of which oppose the ban.) “It sounds to me like we’re talking about policy and civil rights” rather than safety and science, one adviser scoffed. Another anxiously described lowering the ban as “a leap of faith.”
This language is quite curious. The advisers were not considering abolishing the gay blood ban altogether; they were simply considering replacing it with a new ban that forces gay men to be celibate for a year before donating. Their stated opposition to gay blood donation is a fear that HIV-positive men will donate. But every blood donation is tested for HIV, and the virus can now be detected within weeks of infection. If gay men were celibate for a year before their donation, how could they possibly carry an increased risk for HIV? If they were already HIV-negative prior to a year of celibacy, how could they even have HIV at all?
Parse this chain of reasoning, and the Blood Products Advisory Panel’s true fear is obvious: It is afraid gay men will lie. The advisers won’t support a one-year deferral because they believe gay men will lie about how long they’ve been celibate in order to donate blood. There’s just no other way to justify opposition to a one-year deferral.
The panel’s skepticism might make sense if the FDA took a generally wary approach toward blood donation. But it doesn’t, to an almost comical degree. Under the current policies, a straight person who had sex with a prostitute of the opposite sex can give blood one year later. So can a straight person who had sex with an HIV-positive opposite-sex partner. Straight people who frequently have unprotected sex with multiple anonymous opposite-sex partners face no deferral at all. The FDA doesn’t seem concerned that any of these people will lie about their sexual behaviors.
Now, what do all of these lucky folks have in common that might make the FDA trust them? Ah, yes: They’re all straight. Ask a straight man whether he’s had sex with a prostitute in the last 12 months, and you can take his answer as the gospel truth. Ask a gay man if he’s had sex with anyone in the last 12 months—even his husband—and, well, you really just can’t take those people at their word, can you?
This treatment is very much in line with the FDA’s general attitude toward gay men, which is that they are diseased, irresponsible, and untrustworthy. Last August, a 16-year-old gay kid who committed suicide was forbidden from donating his eyeballs under FDA guidelines; the organization bars tissue donation from men who had sex with men less than five years before death, and the teen’s mom couldn’t prove he was celibate. When I heard the news of that horrific indignity, I didn’t think the organization could be any more dismissively disdainful of gay men. As it turns out, I was dead wrong.
This song has been stuck in our head all month!
Russian Official Says Apple CEO Should Be Banned From Russia After Saying He Is Gay
Russia should give Apple CEO Tim Cook a lifetime entry ban for announcing that he identifies as gay, a prominent Russian anti-LGBT lawmaker has said.“What could he bring us? The Ebola virus, AIDS, gonorrhea?
They all have unseemly ties over there,” St. Petersburg city council member Vitaly Milonov told the FlashNord website on Thursday. “Ban him for life.”Apple is very popular among Russian politicians, including Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev, but holds just 8% of the smartphone market in the country, according to Bloomberg, owing largely to the iPhone’s high cost. Now Apple may see ramifications from Cook’s decision to publicly say he identifies as gay in an essay for Bloomberg Businessweek. The country’s government has used LGBT rights as a wedge issue to underline its backlash against what it sees as Western liberal hegemony. Milonov, an MP in St. Petersburg whose local “gay propaganda” ban became the basis for the controversial federal law passed last year, is an iPhone and iPad owner but recently declared that an iPhone 6 his “European homophobe friends” gave him was too vulnerable to U.S. spying for Russian officials to use.
Elena Mizulina, the author of the federal ban, said in July that iPhones were a key tool for pedophiles to film child pornography, but has herself been photographed using an iPad. Kremlin propaganda chief Dmitry Kiselyov, who once called for burning the hearts of gay people who die in car crashes “as unfit for life,” has a pink iPhone.
Click the link below to sign HRC’s pledge to come out for equality:
By Adam Polaski
Today, October 6, the U.S. Supreme Court denied review of five cases seeking the freedom to marry, leaving standing marriage victories in three federal circuits and opening the door to the freedom to marry in many more states. It’s a joyous day, and soon, same-sex couples will have the freedom to marry not only in 24 states and the District of Columbia, including today’s new additions of Indiana, Utah, Oklahoma, Wisconsin, and Virginia – but the path to marriage in 6 other states (Colorado, Kansas, North Carolina, South Carolina, West Virginia, and Wyoming) is now paved. Despite the amazing momentum and wins today, the U.S. Supreme Court chose to defer for another day the national resolution that Freedom to Marry, businesses, elected officials, and families across the country have urged now.
Click the link below for full story: