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    National News Briefs

    Compiled by Dennis McMillan 

    Seattle, WA – Gay Scouts Ask Amazon to Cut Funding as National Group Convenes – 5.22

    The Boy Scouts of America (BSA) is kicking off its national meeting in Nashville, Tennessee, after a difficult year in which the organization took flak from all sides for its decision to welcome openly gay children, but not openly gay adults. Membership has shrunk, businesses have dropped funding, and religious sponsors have condemned the popular youth organization for enacting a halfway policy of inclusion that offends practically everyone—whether you’re for or against LGBTQ equality.

    Rather than descending on the national meeting, however, gay rights advocates decided to march over 2,000 miles away on Amazon’s headquarters in Seattle, Washington. The e-commerce giant includes the BSA in a list of nearly one million organizations that consumers can choose to donate to through the company’s charitable giving program, AmazonSmile.

    Members of the gay rights groups Scouts for Equality and GLAAD hand-delivered a peti­tion with over 125,000 signatures asking Amazon to cut ties with the BSA for as long as it continued to discriminate against openly gay adults. That Amazon hasn’t already is somewhat surprising, given the company’s reputation as a strong ally to the LGBTQ community.

    “Obviously, they’re known (at Amazon) for being very progressive and having great policies regarding LGBT employees,” said Pascal Tessier, considered the first openly gay Eagle Scout approved under the BSA’s new protocol. “We’re asking them to change this one little thing; we’re not asking them to change who they are and what they represent.”

    In the Human Rights Campaign’s most recent Corporate Equality Index, which measures companies’ commitment to inclusivity, Amazon netted a high score of 90. Yet AmazonSmile is currently sticking by the BSA and other anti-LGBTQ equality groups, such as the National Organization for Marriage (NOM,) which campaigns against same-sex nuptials. Let’s just hope Amazon eventually refuses to smile on BSA!


    NYC, NY – Fox News Helps Homophobes Hijack Christianity – 5.20

    Fox News is witnessing the nasty byproducts of its endless campaign to depict extreme, virulent homophobia as a normal part of mainstream Christianity.

    It’s long been standard practice at Fox News to conflate anti-gay bigotry with Christianity. For instance, the network rushed to defend Duck Dynasty star Phil Robertson after he compared homosexuality with bestiality and equated gay people with “drunks” and “terrorists,” with Sean Hannity describing his comments as “old fashioned traditional Christian sentiment and values,” and Fox News commentator Todd Starnes defending Robertson as upholding “the teachings of the Bible.”

    Meanwhile, Fox has repeatedly touted business owners who refuse service to gay couples, taking up their mantle in regular “Fight for Faith” segments. Fox has championed some of the country’s most extreme anti-gay hate groups as mainstream Christian organizations. When New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio declined to attend his city’s St. Patrick’s Day Parade over its ban on LGBTQ groups, Fox attacked him as a “religious bigot.” And the network regularly describes even basic legal protections for LGBTQ people as “anti-Christian.”

    Now, a new anti-gay controversy has once again provided fodder for Fox to depict extreme anti-gay big­otry as grounded in mainstream Christianity. HGTV cancelled a forthcoming reality show to be hosted by brothers Jason and David Benham. The cancellation came after Right Wing Watch unearthed the brothers’ history of extreme anti-gay activism, including condemning homosexuality as “demonic” and “destructive.”

    Anchor Megyn Kelly asserted, “gay rights are more and more protected in this country,” while the same didn’t hold for “Christian beliefs and Christian rights.” Right-wing radio commentator Dana Loesch and Democratic strategist Jessica Ehrlich discussed the Benham brothers controversy. Perfectly encapsulating the right’s bogus homophobia-as-Christianity narrative, Loesch dubbed Ehrlich an “anti-Christian bigot” for criticizing the brothers’ extreme anti-gay views. Methinks Fox is too damned foxy!


    Salt Lake City, UT – Utah Governor Says Failure to Defend Marriage Bans Courts An­archy – 5.23

    Utah Governor Gary Herbert says public officials who refuse to defend their states’ bans on same-sex marriage are shirking their duty and courting anarchy.

    “For elected officials, governors, and attorneys general, to say pick and choose which laws they will enforce, I think, is a tragedy and the next step toward anarchy,” Herbert said at his monthly press conference.

    Herbert was referring to decisions in states such as Oregon and Pennsylvania, where governors and attorneys general have either not defended marriage bans in court at all or declined to appeal judicial decisions striking them down. Both states saw their bans voided by federal judges last week.

    “I find it very disappointing,” he said of these officials’ actions. “Voices here in our community, me­dia and others, ought to, in fact, call them on the carpet and say, ‘You have a responsibility to defend the law that’s been put on the books by the people.’”

    Utah’s ban on same-sex marriage was struck down by a federal court in December, but the state is appealing the ruling. “My job is to represent the people of Utah and follow the law on the books,” Herbert said. “It’s very clear to me. I’ve sworn allegiance to the constitution of Utah and the constitu­tion of the U.S.”

    Utah voters approved a constitutional amendment prohibiting same-sex marriage in 2004. How­ever, some state laws, even state constitutional amendments, may violate the U.S. Constitution, and the latter document is the final word on the matter, law professor and Equality Utah Board Member Clifford Rosky pointed out.

    Also at the press conference, Herbert was asked if he thinks sexual orientation is innate or a matter of choice; at first he said it was a choice but then he backtracked. “I think it’s unclear.” No, Governor, you are unclear about equality!


    Bismarck, ND – North Dakota To Be Nation’s Last Un­challenged Same-sex Marriage Ban State – 5.2

    The nation’s last unchallenged state same-sex marriage ban is about to lose that status.

    “There will be a case filed challenging North Dakota’s same-sex marriage ban,” says Joshua Newville, a Minneapolis-based civil rights attorney who filed a suit against South Dakota’s ban on behalf of same-sex couples there.

    Newville is in talks with advocates and attorneys in North Dakota and confirmed that either he or another attorney will bring a lawsuit against that state’s ban within six to eight weeks. Until last Wednes­day, just three of the 33 states that ban same-sex marriage had not been sued over those policies. But same-sex couples sued Montana that day and South Dakota on Thursday, leaving only North Da­kota’s unchallenged.

    The same-sex marriage movement has enjoyed a streak of more than a dozen victories in federal courts since a pivotal Supreme Court decision last summer, striking down a central part of the De­fense of Marriage Act and granting federal recognition to same-sex married couples. Since then, no state ban has survived a court chal­lenge, according to the Human Rights Campaign, which advocates for same-sex marriage.

    The latest two federal decisions, overturning bans in Oregon and Pennsylvania, were delivered last week with officials in both states saying they would not appeal those decisions. Same-sex couples are now allowed to legally marry in 19 states. More than two in five Americans live in such states, according to HRC.

    North Dakota similarly lacks explicit protections from discrimina­tion based on sexual orientation, a reality Newville has made clear to couples expressing interest in taking on that state’s constitutional ban on same-sex marriage, passed in 2004 in a 73% to 27% vote. Much has changed since DOMA was enacted in 1996. It’s only a matter of time when all America will be truly equal on the mar­riage front.


    Drexel Hill, PA – Ellen DeGeneres Is a ‘Poor Role Model’ Says Catholic School Principal – 5.21

    The principal of a Catholic elementary school in suburban Philadelphia is apolo­gizing to parents for having used a photo of celebrity Ellen DeGeneres on an invitation to an Oscars-themed graduation dance.

    St. Andrew Elementary School principal Nancy Matteo wrote in an email to par­ents that using the photo was “completely wrong” because DeGeneres “lives her life outside the teachings of the Catholic Church,” reported.

    The site said it obtained the text of the email, which doesn’t specifically mention DeGeneres’ sexual orientation but calls her a “poor role model.” DeGeneres came out as gay in 1997 and married actress Portia de Rossi in 2008. “A role model, as defined by Webster’s Dictionary, is a person who is unusually effective or inspiring in some social role, job, position, etc.,” Matteo said. “This does not describe her at all. We work so hard to be good role models, and then I go and do something stupid!”

    DeGeneres hosted the Oscars in 2007 and 2014. The image on the invitation shows her holding an Oscar statue accompanied by the phrase “Live from the red carpet.” Matteo said in the email that she was “obviously NOT thinking” when she included the photo. She asked that the invitations be returned so she can destroy them and distribute new ones.

    Spokesman Ken Gavin of the Archdiocese of Philadelphia said the Bucks County principal apologized of her own accord after parents questioned the photo. He said Catholic schools are “firmly rooted in Gospel-based values and the teach­ings of the Church” and any promotional materials developed by the schools are expected to “feature images and themes that correspond with their core mission and identity.”

    No, Ms. Matteo, you did nothing stupid—that is until you and other homophobes were “not thinking” and decided to destroy the invitations!