More People Now Support Allowing Businesses To Refuse LGBTQ Customers: Survey

Americans are conflicted over whether Christians like Colorado baker Jack Phillips should have the right to refuse service to queer customers.

In handing a narrow victory to a Christian baker who refused to make cakes for a gay wedding, the U.S. Supreme Court decided to punt a bigger question down the road: whether Americans can use religion to justify discrimination against LGBTQ people.

A new survey from the Public Religion Research Institute suggests that for many Americans, the jury is also still out on this issue.

PRRI completed the survey shortly after the Supreme Court’s June decision on Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission. It found that Americans were conflicted over whether Christians with conservative religious beliefs, like Colorado baker Jack Phillips, should have the right to refuse service to queer customers.

The survey of 2,008 adults between June 27 and July 8, 2018, showed evidence of an America still divided over how to treat LGBTQ citizens.

Nearly half of Americans surveyed (46 percent) said that owners of wedding-based businesses, such as caterers, florists and bakers, should be allowed to refuse to serve same-sex couples if doing so violates their religious beliefs. Roughly the same number (48 percent) disagreed, saying that these types of businesses should be required to serve queer couples.   

That’s a slight shift from how Americans felt about the issue last year, PRRI reports. In 2017, only 41 percent of Americans said wedding-based businesses should be allowed to refuse service to LGBTQ people, while a majority of Americans (53 percent) said these businesses should be required to serve gay and lesbian couples.

Gay Couple Stabbed While Holding Hands Outside Denver Nightclub

“We were just holding hands minding our business,” one of the men said.

Two gay men were holding hands while walking home from a nightclub early Sunday morning in Denver when a man attacked the couple, stabbing them multiple times. 

“We were just walking and I guess he didn’t like what he saw … that we were holding hands,” Chris Huizar, 19, told local outlet 9News on Sunday. 

Huizar and his boyfriend, Gabriel Roman, 23, were walking home from a dance club called The Church just after midnight when the two said they heard a man yell “fuckin’ faggots” before he attacked the couple with a folding knife. Huizar was stabbed in the neck and Roman was stabbed in the hand and back before they were able to escape.

The couple called the police and were taken to the hospital immediately where, according to Gay Star News, Roman received 30 internal stitches and 52 stitches on his hand. The wounds were not life-threatening, Denver police spokesman Sgt. John White told The Denver Post.

By Alanna Vagianos Huffingtonpost.com, May 29, 2018

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Pope Francis tells gay man: ‘God made you like this’

Juan Carlos Cruz, who was sexually abused, says Pope Francis told him God did not mind that he was gay

A survivor of clerical sexual abuse has said Pope Francis told him that God had made him gay and loved him, in arguably the most strikingly accepting comments about homosexuality to be uttered by the leader of the Roman Catholic church.Pope Francis

Juan Carlos Cruz, who spoke privately with the pope two weeks ago about the abuse he suffered at the hands of one of Chile’s most notorious paedophiles, said the issue of his sexuality had arisen because some of the Latin American country’s bishops had sought to depict him as a pervert as they accused him of lying about the abuse.

“He told me, ‘Juan Carlos, that you are gay does not matter. God made you like this and loves you like this and I don’t care. The pope loves you like this. You have to be happy with who you are,’” Cruz told Spanish newspaper El País.

Now 87, Fernando Karadima, the man who abused Cruz, was found guilty of abuse by the Vatican in 2011.

Greg Burke, the Vatican’s chief spokesman, did not respond to questions about whether Cruz’s statement accurately reflected his conversation with the pope.

It is not the first time it has been suggested Francis has an open and tolerant attitude toward homosexuality, despite the Catholic church’s teaching that gay sex – and all sex outside of heterosexual marriage – is a sin. In July 2013, in response to a reporter’s question about the existence of an alleged “gay lobby” within the Vatican, Francis said: “Who am I to judge?”

The new remarks appear to go much further in embracing homosexuality as a sexual orientation that is designed and bestowed by God. It suggests that Francis does not believe that individuals choose to be gay or lesbian, as some religious conservatives argue.

The Guardian – May 20, 2018

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Arizona Governor Signs New Human Embryo Law

When a couple is unable to conceive naturally or medical treatments — like chemotherapy — make future pregnancies unlikely, there are a variety of fertility options available, including harvesting a woman’s eggs, freezing them and using them at a later date.

Up until now, reproductive fertility law specialists in Arizona would help couples navigate any tricky ethical issues that might arise in the future, like what happens if you split up or divorce before you decide to use the eggs.Arizona Embryo

But, a new law signed Tuesday by Gov. Doug Ducey has the potential to upend any contractual agreements written between husbands and wives or domestic partners, and dictates who is allowed to keep frozen eggs after a breakup.

Cathi Herrod, President of Center for Arizona Policy, said the new human embryo law helps make the law clearer and it is a positive step for Arizona.

“Just like a judge will decide when there are disputes over property, disputes over who gets the family dog — now who gets the family embryos will also be decided by a judge according to the law,” Herrod said.

by Lauren Gilger, KJZZ.com, April 4, 2018

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National Organization for Marriage Announces International Anti-LGBT Group

Brian Brown, director of the anti-LGBT National Organization for Marriage and president of the anti-LGBT hate group World Congress of Families (WCF), has announced the launch of the International Organization for the Family (IOF).

IOF is the new name of the Illinois-based Howard Center for Family, Religion and Society, which is the parent organization of WCF. The name and mission of the Howard Center have been re-tooled for an international arena, though WCF, which will remain a project of the IOF, according to Brown’s announcement, has always been extremely active internationally. Its world conferences serve as a key nexusfor religious right leaders and activists and the formulation of policies that are detrimental to LGBT people and reproductive health, and they provide a platform for anti-LGBT rhetoric and conspiracy theories

The IOF, which was ironically announced on Dec. 10, International Human Rights Day, has been in the works for a while.gay hate

In August of this year, the Howard Center sent out a letter to supporters signed by President Emeritus Allan Carlson, in which he stated that the Center’s board of trustees resolved to “sharpen the focus” of the organization “on international family questions” which reflect the reality “that key family policy battles now occur more frequently at the transnational level in bodies such as the U.N., the Organization of American States, and the European Union.” To that end, the board of directors of the Center resolved to change the organization’s name to IOF.  

The name of the Center’s policy journal is also changing from The Family in America: A Journal of Public Policy to The Natural Family: An International Journal of Research and Policy, but senior editing staff remains the same.

In keeping with the mission of the Howard Center and WCF to dictate the so-called “natural family” –– that marriage is only for one man and one woman –– as the only correct way to be a family, IOF’s first order of business was to release the “Cape Town Declaration” at a WCF regional conference at the Westin Hotel in Cape Town, South Africa.

The declaration purports to affirm marriage as only between a man and a woman, and “the patrimony of all mankind” to secure for children the “birthright of all men: to know the faithful love of the man and woman whose union gave them life.” The declaration goes on to assert that a “thriving culture will therefore serve marriage — and all society —by promoting purity outside it and fidelity within.” These “thriving cultures” will also discourage pornography, adultery and divorce, and will resist attempts to “redefine marriage” to include “same-sex or group bonds, or sexually open or temporary ones.”

Southern Poverty Law Center – December 19, 20165

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Supreme Court Blocks Order Allowing Transgender Student Restroom Choice

WASHINGTON — The Supreme Court on Wednesday temporarily blocked a court order that had allowed a transgender boy to use the boys’ bathroom in a Virginia high school.

The vote was 5 to 3, with Justice Stephen G. Breyer joining the court’s more conservative members “as a courtesy.” He said that this would preserve the status quo until the court decided whether to hear the case. Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan dissented.

The court’s order has no effect on any other case.

new york probate process

The gavel of a judge in court

The move came amid a national debate over transgender rights. A North Carolina law that requires transgender people to use bathrooms in government buildings that correspond with the gender listed on their birth certificates has drawn protests, boycotts and lawsuits. A directive from the Obama administration threatening schools with the loss of federal money for discrimination based on gender identity has been challenged in court by more than 20 states.

The case in the Supreme Court concerns Gavin Grimm, who was born female but identifies as a male and will soon start his senior year at Gloucester High School in southeastern Virginia. For a time, school administrators allowed Mr. Grimm to use the boys’ bathroom, but the local school board adopted a policy that required students to use the bathrooms and locker rooms for their “corresponding biological genders.” The board added that “students with gender identity issues” would be allowed to use private bathrooms.

The Corrosive Politics That Threaten L.G.B.T. Americans

As families began planning funerals for the victims of Sunday’s rampage at a gay nightclub in Orlando, Fla., gay Americans mourned a loss that extended beyond the lives cut short.

Omar Mateen shattered the tenuous, hard-fought sense of personal safety that many gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender Americans have begun to feel as the movement for equality has made significant gains in recent years. His bullets and the blood he left behind that early morning were a reminder that in many corners of the country, gay and transgender people are still regarded as sinners and second-class citizens who should be scorned.

While the precise motivation for the rampage remains unclear, it is evident that Mr. Mateen was driven by hatred toward gays and lesbians. Hate crimes don’t happen in a vacuum. They occur where bigotry is allowed to fester, where minorities are vilified and where people are scapegoated for political gain. Tragically, this is the state of American politics, driven too often by Republican politicians who see prejudice as something to exploit, not extinguish.LGBTQ

Since the 1990s, gay, bisexual and transgender Americans have made considerable progress in the fight for equality under the law. By living openly and proudly, they have changed society’s attitudes about sexual orientation and gender identity. That shift has prompted politicians who were once wary about embracing equal rights for L.G.B.T. Americans — including President Obama and Hillary Clinton, the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee — to become resolute allies. The 2015 Supreme Court ruling that legalized same-sex marriage was celebrated by many in the gay community as the crowning achievement of a decades-long quest for respect and dignity.

Yet, that fight remains far from over. Since the marriage ruling, several Republican-led state legislatures and Republican governors and federal lawmakers have redoubled their fight against legal protections for people on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity. So far this year, more than 200 anti-L.G.B.T. bills have been introduced in 34 states.

Donald Trump, unlike some other prominent Republicans, called the Orlando massacre what it was: an attack on gay people. Mitch McConnell, the Senate majority leader, could not even offer that recognition to a community in pain.

Yet, Mr. Trump has vowed to choose Supreme Court justices who would overturn marriage equality, and he supports the deceptively named First Amendment Defense Act, an effort to approve discrimination against gay and transgender people nationwide under the guise of religious freedom. And Mr. Trump backtracked from his statement that transgender people should be able to use the restroom consistent with their gender identity after Senator Ted Cruz used his words to attack him during the nomination fight.

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by The Editorial Board – New York Times – June 15, 2016

Conversion Therapy Banned by Governor Cuomo Through Executive Actions Banning Coverage By Private Insurers

Multi-agency regulations announced today ban public and private health care insurers from covering conversion therapy in New York State

Governor Cuomo: “We will not allow the misguided and the intolerant to punish LGBT young people for simply being who they are.”

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced a series of comprehensive regulations to prevent the practice of so-called lesbian, gay, bi-sexual and transgender “conversion therapy,” which has been deemed harmful to patients by a wide variety of leading medical and mental health professionals. Multi-agency regulations announced today ban public and private health care insurers from covering the practice in New York State, and also prohibit various mental health facilities across the state from conducting the practice on minors.

“Conversion therapy is a hateful and fundamentally flawed practice that is counter to everything this state stands for,” said Governor Cuomo. “New York has been at the forefront of acceptance and equality for the LGBT community for decades – and today we are continuing that legacy and leading by example. We will not allow the misguided and the intolerant to punish LGBT young people for simply being who they are.”

CONVERSION

The New York State Department of Financial Services is issuing regulations barring New York insurers from providing coverage for conversion therapy given to an individual under the age of 18. Additionally, the New York State Department of Health is prohibiting coverage of conversion therapy under New York’s Medicaid program and the New York State Office of Mental Health is issuing regulations prohibiting facilities under its jurisdiction from providing conversion therapy treatment to minors.

Conversion therapy – which refers to therapy intended to change an individual’s sexual orientation or gender identity – has been repudiated by many medical and professional organizations, including: the American Academy of Pediatrics; the American Counseling Association; the American Psychiatric Association; the American Psychological Association; the American School Counselor Association; the National Association of School Psychologists; and the National Association of Social Workers.

“Governor Cuomo and the State of New York are commended for taking a principled and scientific stand,” said American Psychiatric Association President Renee Binder, M.D. “APA has long recognized that so-called reparative therapy is not a scientifically validated treatment and can, in fact, undermine self-esteem and be hazardous.”

Warren Seigel, MD, FAAP, Chair of the New York State Academy of Pediatrics, said: “Being lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender is not a disease, disorder, illness, deficiency, or shortcoming. The American Academy of Pediatrics, as well as all major professional associations of health and mental health practitioners and child and adolescent development specialists in the United State have recognized this fact for nearly 40 years. We are very pleased by the actions announced today to help protect vulnerable gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender and questioning youth from discredited, sham and dangerous interventions. We applaud Governor Cuomo for his bold leadership on this issue.”

Same sex marriage is a constitutional right?

same sex marriage

Federal lawsuit challenges anti-gay North Carolina law allowing magistrates to opt out of same sex marriage

A North Carolina law allowing magistrates with religious objections to stop performing all marriages in order to avoid performing a same sex marriage is unconstitutional, according to a federal lawsuit filed today.

The suit, brought by two same-sex couples and an interracial couple, alleges that Senate Bill 2, passed earlier this year, violates the establishment clause of the First Amendment, and the equal protection and due process clauses of the 14th Amendment.

At least 32 court magistrates in North Carolina have stopped performing marriages under the law, including all four in McDowell County, forcing the state to bring in officials from other areas to serve residents.

“This law distorts the true meaning of religious freedom,” the Rev. Jasmine Beach-Ferrara, executive director of the Campaign for Southern Equality, said in a release announcing the lawsuit. “From the day it was proposed, it is clear that SB2 is about one thing and one thing only — finding a new way to discriminate against same sex marriage.”

The plaintiffs include Carol Ann Person and Thomas Person (above), who were denied the ability to marry in 1976 by magistrates who said it would violate their religious beliefs against interracial marriage. A federal judge later ordered the magistrates to comply with the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling in Loving v. Virginia, but the lawsuit alleges that Senate Bill 2 could allow magistrates to opt out of performing interracial marriages.

Lawmaker approved SB 2, part of a wave of anti-LGBT “religious freedom” legislation across the country, by overriding the veto of Gov. Pat McRory in June. The lawsuit was filed in the same court that struck down North Carolina’s same-sex marriage ban in 2014.

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by John Wright at towleroad.com, December 9, 2015

Mormons in Same Sex Marriages & Children Banned

Same Sex Marriages & Children Banned

Children of same sex marriages will not be able to join the Mormon Church until they turn 18 — and only if they move out of their parents’ homes, disavow all same-sex relationships and receive approval from the church’s top leadership as part of a new policy adopted by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

In addition, Mormons in Mormons in same sex marriages will be considered apostates and subject to excommunication, a more rigid approach than the church has taken in the past.

The new policies were contained in a handbook for lay leaders that was disseminated on Thursday to those who administer the church’s 30,000 congregations around the world. The church made no public announcement of the change, but it was leaked to the news media and confirmed by a church spokesman.

Mormons in same sex marriages will be considered apostates and subject to excommunication

“The church has long been on record as opposing same-sex marriages,” the spokesman, Eric Hawkins, said in a statement. “While it respects the law of the land, and acknowledges the right of others to think and act differently, it does not perform or accept same-sex marriage within its membership.”

Before the handbook change, bishops and congregational leaders had more discretion in whether or how far to discipline Mormons in same-sex marriages. Now same-sex marriage has been added to a list of conditions considered apostasy, which means Mormons in same-sex marriages will be subject to disciplinary hearings that result in excommunication.

Some liberal Mormons expressed outrage online at the new policies. Jana Riess, a columnist with Religion News Service, said she was livid that children born to those living out of wedlock, as well as rapists and murderers, can be baptized and blessed, but not children of monogamous same-sex couples.

“It’s heartbreaking for me to see my church drawing this line in the sand, which leaves faithful L.G.B.T. members with an impossible choice: They can either be excluded from lifelong love and companionship, or excluded from the blessings of the church,” she said.

The church has actively lobbied against laws legalizing same-sex unions, but has also in recent years supported laws intended to protect gay people from discrimination. In March of this year, leaders at the church’s headquarters in Salt Lake City helped to pass a bill known as the “Utah compromise,” which bans discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people in housing and employment but protects religious institutions that do not condone gay relationships.

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New York Times, by Laurie Goldstein, November 6, 2015