PORTLAND, OREGON – A priest dressed in his underwear chased a boy down the street after getting him drunk and sexually abusing him, the boy’s guardian claims in court.
Sam Friedenberg, guardian for J.T., sued the Roman Catholic Archbishop of Portland and his successors, and Saint Luke Catholic Church of Woodburn, Ore., in Multnomah County Court, alleging sexual battery of a child and negligence.
The boy was 11 and 12 years old when Fr. Angel Armando Perez sexually groomed him, gave him alcohol and molested him, Friedenberg claims in the lawsuit.
Perez is not named as a defendant. He pleaded guilty on April 1, 2013 to sexually abusing the boy and giving him alcohol, the complaint states. He was sentenced to 6 years in prison, according to Oregon press reports.
After he befriended the boy, and counseling him “emotionally and spiritually,” the complaint states, “On the night of August 12-13, 2012, plaintiff was staying at Fr. Perez’s residence at the rectory of Saint Luke’s Church. Fr. Perez-through the grooming that was within the course and scope of his employment and agency, and using the authority and position of trust as a priest for defendants – engaged in various sexual activities with plaintiff.
“Around midnight on August 13, 2012, plaintiff awoke to find Perez fondling his genitals and taking pictures of his genitals with a cellular phone. Fr. Perez himself was disrobed from the waist down, exposing his own genitals to plaintiff. After recovering from the shock, plaintiff got up, hurriedly attempted to clothe himself, and fled from the church rectory on foot, running from the priest. Fr. Perez – now in his underwear – began to chase his minor parishioner down the street, screaming for the plaintiff to stop. Terrified, plaintiff sought refuge with a neighborhood family who provided him safety.”
It adds: “By the 1950s, and certainly by 2005 (after it had filed bankruptcy), the Archdiocese of Portland was aware of a systemic danger of child molestation by its priests.” (Parentheses in complaint.)
The guardian seeks $8.5 million for the child.
from Courthouse News
PORTLAND, OREGON – A priest dressed in his underwear chased a boy down the street after getting him drunk and sexually abusing him, the boy’s guardian claims in court.
Even as the United States continues its historic move toward fairness and equity for gay people, antiquated anti-sodomy laws remain on the books in a dozen states. Theoretically, these laws were rendered unenforceable by the Supreme Court’s 2003 ruling in Lawrence vs. Texas, but apparently not everyone has received that message.
In the Lawrence case, the court declared that state laws banning consensual same-sex relations were unconstitutional. Yet somehow, between 2011 and 2014, 12 men were arrested in East Baton Rouge Parish in Louisiana under the state’s remaining anti-sodomy laws.
None of the men were ultimately prosecuted, no doubt because prosecutors realized that the charges wouldn’t stand up in court. But the arrests of men who had agreed to meet privately for consensual sex with undercover officers were deeply offensive and troubling. Then, when Patricia Smith, a member of the Louisiana House of Representatives representing East Baton Rouge, responded to the arrests by introducing a bill that would remove the anti-sodomy statutes, the House rejected the bill, 66 to 27. That outrageous vote took place last week.
Smith’s bill would have removed the language from so-called crime against nature and aggravated crime against nature statutes that outlawed “unnatural carnal copulation” between two consenting people. (Although the bill would have retained the part of one statute outlawing copulation between a person and an animal.) Opponents of the bill said it went too far by striking certain provisions involving sodomy by minors. But the bill kept intact criminal prohibitions against sodomizing people against their will, by force, or when they were too incapacitated to consent. Similarly, it would have kept in place a prohibition against sodomy between someone under 17 and someone else at least three years older.
Keeping an unenforceable law on the books isn’t a terribly big issue if the police and prosecutors understand that they may not use it. But if a state continues to arrest people under an unconstitutional law, and if the state legislature opts not to repeal that law when given the opportunity, something is wrong. It’s shameful that Louisiana did not clearly put itself on the side of justice and the U.S. Constitution.
from The Los Angeles Times
Congrats to Jodie Foster and her new wife Alexandra Hedison.
I can exclusively reveal that the Oscar winner and her photographer girlfriend of almost a year got married this past weekend.
A rep for Foster confirms the happy news.
As E! News first reported, the two started dating sometime last summer.
“It’s pretty serious,” a source told us in September. “They’re totally in love.”
Internet chatter about the two began in the summer when the two were photographed together at a technology seminar at Fox Studios in Los Angeles and out to dinner with friends a few days later. Both were at the opening of Alan Cumming’s Macbeth in NYC back about a year ago, but they weren’t photographed together.
Hedison, who dated Ellen DeGeneres for about three years before things ended in 2004, has had her photography shown in New York and Los Angeles. She also has several acting credits, including playing Dylan Moreland on Showtime’s hit lesbian drama series, The L Word, for three seasons.
In accepting the Cecil B. DeMille Lifetime Achievement Award at the Golden Globes last year, Foster thanked her ex Cydney Bernard, spoke of her need for privacy and also declared that she did her “coming out a thousands years ago, in the Stone Age.”
Foster and Bernard, who are coparents to sons Charles and Kit, called it quits after 20 years in 2008.
from E! Online
Matt Bomer may have come out publicly two years ago, but there’s one secret he’s kept until now—he’s married! The Magic Mike actor revealed in this month’s issue of Details magazine that he’s been married to partner Simon Halls for the past three years.
Discussing his latest role in Ryan Murphy’s TV movie adaptation of The Normal Heart, in which he plays a gay man dying of AIDS during the early days of the epidemic, the actor acknowledges the original play’s writer Larry Kramer for helping pave the way for gay rights.
“I wouldn’t have a lot of the rights I have today if it wasn’t for people like Larry,” Bomer told the mag. One of those rights, of course, is same sex marriage. The mag reveals Bomer, who has 6-year-old twin sons and an 8-year-old son with Halls, married the Hollywood publicist back in 2011.
Bomer, who came out in 2012 while accepting an award at the Desert AIDS Project’s Steve Chase Humanitarian Awards, said that he first read The Normal Heart when he was in high school. Upon hearing about the project, he “just wanted to be involved …in some capacity.”
“At [the time when I read it], I was clueless and obviously in a different place in relation to my sexuality,” he admitted. “I was in romantic relationships with girls—whatever that means at 14. And it completely rocked my world…It’s just an amazing call to arms.”
The Blue Collar actor had to lose a shocking 40 pounds for the role, which he accomplished with the help of doctors and a 14-day alkalized-water, juice, tea and enzyme cleanse. Bomer also sought advice from Magic Mike co-star Matthew McConaughey, who similarly shed almost 50 pounds to play AIDS activist in the Oscar-nominated drama Dallas Buyers Club.
“He called me and walked me through what he did,” Bomer recalls of the Academy Award winner’s help. “It was very generous, but I took a slightly different path.”
from US Magazine
A Kansas judge will on Wednesday consider Army Pfc. Chelsea Manning’s petition to legally change her name from Bradley, as she serves a 35-year sentence for passing classified U.S. government information to the anti-secrecy website WikiLeaks.
The former intelligence analyst, who is serving her sentence at the U.S. Disciplinary Barracks at Fort Leavenworth, said in August that she wants to be known as Chelsea Elizabeth Manning instead of Bradley Edward Manning, and to be treated as a woman.
The Army treats Manning as a man and refers to her by her male birth name. Approval of Manning’s legal name change request would clear the way for official changes to her military records, but it would not compel the military to treat her as a woman. For example, she wouldn’t be transferred from Leavenworth, which doesn’t have a women’s unit, to a military prison that does.
“This potential court action is only a name change, and will have no other effect on his current status other than the name in his records,” said George Wright, an Army spokesman at the Pentagon.
Manning, who grew up in Oklahoma, filed the court petition as the first step toward getting her Army records changed. She has been diagnosed by at least two Army behavioral health specialists with gender dysphoria, or gender identity disorder.
She was sentenced in August for six Espionage Act violations and 14 other offenses for leaking more than 700,000 secret military and State Department documents, plus battlefield video, while working as an intelligence analyst in Iraq in 2009 and 2010. An Army general upheld the convictions last week, clearing the way for appeals with the Army Court of Criminal Appeals.
Steve Crossland, administrator for the district court, said there was no opposition filed in the public court record contesting Manning’s name-change request. Crossland said Leavenworth County District Judge David King could rule on the matter Wednesday or rule at a later date.
“These are hearings that are pretty straightforward,” Crossland said. Manning is not expected to attend the hearing.
She has filed a grievance with the U.S. Disciplinary Barracks commander at Fort Leavenworth over the lack of a response to her request for comprehensive treatment for her gender identity disorder, including specialized gender counseling and hormone replacement therapy.
The military has said it doesn’t provide hormone replacement therapy. Gender dysphoria generally disqualifies one for military service, but Manning can’t be discharged while serving her sentence.
from ABC News
The kisses seen around the world are coming to New York.
Spanish artist Gonzalo Orquin’s controversial series “Si, Quiero” is taking up residency in Manhattan’s Leslie-Lohman Museum of Gay and Lesbian Art on April 30.
Orquin shocked the Vatican last fall with his photos of gay, lesbian and straight couples kissing inside Catholic churches in and around Rome. The artist was forced to cover up the pieces after the Vatican threatened legal action.
It was disappointing turn of events for Orquin, who considers himself a faithful Catholic.
“The Pope Francisco said he is not one to judge others, and that (at) the church are all welcome,” Orquin told The News last year. “Then what does the church seek to do? Condemn all as usual? Or embrace everyone as Jesus did?”
The photos were taken without permission from the churches involved. A Vatican spokesman claimed the photos could “harm the religious sentiment of the faithful.”
Another exhibition from Orquin — this time showing a woman dressed like a priest — was later vandalized.
But in New York, Orquin’s work is receiving a warm welcome. It will be featured in the SoHo-based museum’s window gallery and will be visible to passersby on the street.
Museum Director Hunter O’Hanian said that he had no qualms about having the work displayed.
“These were very beautiful, simple portraits of same-sex couples in a space that they held sacred and important to them,” O’Hanian told The News. “I hope visitors leave with a wonderful feeling of compassion and humanity.”
from The New York Daily News
Gallery Vandalized Featuring Photos Of Gay Couples Kissing Inside Churches
Vatican Not Happy With Photography Of Gays Kissing Inside Churches
There is something so odd about the way that Pasadena City College handled a commencement speaker invitation to Academy Award-winning screenwriter Dustin Lance Black that the controversy seemed at first like a belated April Fool’s joke.
According to the school’s newspaper, the PCC Courier, the college’s Board of Trustees had put Black’s name on a list of eight possible commencement speakers. As a PCC graduate, Black is one of its most illustrious alumni. But something in his past seems to have knocked him out of consideration.
As PCC Courier editor in chief Christine Michaels wrote last week: “The Board of Trustees were made aware of nude pictures found on the Internet of him with a man having unprotected sex and he was dismissed as a candidate because the board thought his actions might inflame the college’s own sex scandals.”
“With the porno professor and the sex scandals we’ve had on campus this last year, it just didn’t seem like the right time for Mr. Black to be the speaker,” PCC Board of Trustees President Anthony Fellow told the Courier. “We’ll be on the radio and on television. We just don’t want to give PCC a bad name.”
Oh, dear. This is a textbook example of how to give your institution a bad name.
Black, 39, believed that he was invited to be the school’s commencement speaker when he was contacted last month by student trustee Simon Fraser, who acted at the behest of an interim associate dean in the office of student affairs. All eight potential speakers were “invited” this way.
Black considered it official, and accepted.
Later, however, on April 2, when the Pasadena Area Community College District trustees discussed commencement speakers at their regular meeting, Black’s name did not even come up.
Trustees talked about the fact that multiple invitations had been sent to individuals, including Magic Johnson and California Supreme Court Justice Joyce Kennard, neither of whom was expected to accept.
Trustee Robert Bell then announced that Dr. Eric Walsh, Pasadena’s director of public health, had accepted the board’s invitation to be the speaker at the May 9 ceremony.
This seemed to unnerve Fraser, the student trustee, who had invited Black.
“I am getting a little bit confused,” he said. “I was aware of one of the candidates from the original list who accepted weeks ago….I am very confused now as to why we have three potential speakers.”
Trustees did not specifically address his point, but it was clear from their discussion that PCC’s system for choosing commencement speakers is pretty lame. They sent out simultaneous queries, but had no plan for dealing with the possibility that multiple people might agree to speak.
Black would have been a great choice.
Who better to inspire students than a 1994 PCC graduate who graduated from UCLA’s School of Theater, Film and Television in 1996 before going on to extraordinary success and fame?
Black won a 2008 Oscar for his original screenplay “Milk,” the biopic that starred Sean Penn as the slain San Francisco supervisor and gay rights pioneer.
Raised a Mormon, Black was also a writer, story editor and producer on the acclaimed HBO series about a polygamous Mormon family, “Big Love.”
He is an LGBT activist who is on the board of Americans for Equal Rights, the nonprofit created to fight California’s anti-gay marriage Proposition 8, as well as the author of the play “8,” a reenactment of the Perry vs. Schwarzenegger trial, which culminated with a federal judge striking down the ban.
Had Fellow done even a cursory investigation, he would have discovered that Black was in fact the victim in that sex photo “scandal.”
Months after he won the Oscar, photos and video of Black having sex with an old boyfriend in 2006 were peddled to websites by someone who had stolen the images from the computer of his former lover. Black believed they had been destroyed.
It was a grotesque invasion of privacy, Black sued, and in May 2010 he was awarded $100,000 by a federal judge.
“For too long now I’ve sat silent on this issue,” Black wrote in an impassioned open letter to PCC students. “That ends here and now and with this sentence: I did nothing wrong and I refuse to be shamed for this any longer.”
I won’t quibble with his understandable feelings of disappointment and outrage, but open letters and lawsuits are hardly the same as sitting in silence. Black’s renown has given him a powerful megaphone, and he has shown he is unafraid to use it. In his letter to students, Black urges them to speak out for LGBT rights while he deals with “the legal and financial ramifications of this injury.” That sounds like a veiled lawsuit threat to me.
Early Monday evening, the college released a statement that was an apology, an explanation — and pretty unsatisfying.
Turns out, the school’s policy requires that commencement speakers be approved by the Board of Trustees, and only the college president can extend an official invitation. Fraser’s invitation to Black was “an honest error.”
“Mr. Black could have reasonably concluded that he had been officially invited to speak,” the statement said, “But at no time did a recommendation to invite Mr. Black ever reach the college president or the Board.”
Fellow, who does not deny telling the Courier that Black would give the school a “bad name,” is quoted as saying that “details of Mr. Black’s personal life have no place in public discussion, especially if Mr. Black has been the victim of recrimination and revenge.”
In an email to me, Fellow said that despite having spent 10 years as a political reporter, he did not think his conversation with the Courier about Black giving the college a “bad name” was for publication.
“I am certainly not homophobic,” he told me, “but have been a champion of gay and women’s rights most of my life.” He is, he added, a “big fan” of Black.
I pressed him about why he did not bother to investigate the “sex scandal” that worried him, but did not receive a response.
Robert Bell, the school’s assistant superintendent and senior vice president for academic and student affairs, apologized to both Black and Walsh, and took the blame for the fiasco.
“We have embarrassed our esteemed alumnus Dustin Lance Black … and we owe the public an apology for involving Pasadena City College in a confusing situation that has unfortunately spilled over into public comment on homophobia.”
Even if an invitation was delivered by mistake, it would have been classy for the college not just to apologize to Black, but to include him in the ceremony. Keeping him out does nothing to repair the school’s self-inflicted black eye.
from The Los Angeles Times
FINLAND – For the cost of mailing a letter, you can be the proud owner of a piece of miniature homoerotica.
If you’re in Finland, that is.
That’s because Itella, the Finnish postal service, is releasing commemorative stamps featuring the art of Tom of Finland, or Touko Laaksonen (1920-1991). Laaksonen remains a towering and iconic figure in the gay art scene. His sketches, often explicit, were unapologetic depictions of gay sex and relationships. Laaksonen’s subjects were almost always muscle-bound, handsome figures, often bursting out of their clothes. His work, a meditation on masculinity, was also heavy on leather fetish imagery. It’s a pretty risque sheet of stamps, which will feature 33 different designs based on Laaksonen’s work. They even include a little exposed booty, but nothing hardcore.
“Of course, the choice was discussed, but we wanted to live in the year 2014,” Itella development director Markku Penttinen told the Finnish newspaper Helsingin Sanomat.
Laaksonen’s art is part of a number of public collections, including the Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles, the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art and the Art Institute of Chicago.
“The sheet (of stamps) portrays a sensual life force and being proud of oneself,” said graphic designer Timo Berry, who selected the work that will be printed on stamps released this fall. “There is never too much of that in this northern country.”
The announcement of the Tom of Finland stamp follows news that the U.S. Postal Service is honoring gay rights icon Harvey Milk with a postage stamp that will be released on May 22, Harvey Milk Day. Milk, the San Francisco supervisor whose story was the basis for Gus Van Sant’s film “Milk,” was killed by a former city supervisor in 1978. Milk will be the first openly gay person person to grace a U.S. postage stamp, which features Milk’s picture and the LGBT pride flag.
from The Washington Post
UNITED KINGDOM – A teenager has been found not guilty of the attempted murder of a gay man on Chester’s historic City Walls.
But the jury sitting at Chester Crown Court took more than three hours to decide that Floyd Evans, 19, did intend to wound 35-year-old Francisco Nascimento on October 21 last year, by stabbing him in the chest.
The attack left Mr Nascimento, originally from Brazil, fighting for his life and was believed by police to have been a homophobic assault because it happened at the top of the City Walls steps on Frodsham Street, a known meeting point for gay men in the city.
In a trial that lasted five days, the jury was told in detail the events leading up to the night of October 21. They heard that on that evening, Mr Nascimento, a cleaner who has lived in the UK since 2005, had been shopping at Tesco on Frodsham Street before making his way along the City Walls, in the hope of finding ‘someone to talk to’.
The court was told that he led a fairly solitary life, had few friends and did not frequent pubs or bars.
That night on the City Walls he encountered a friend, Gareth Davies, whom he chatted to for 40 minutes before they both noticed a ‘skinny, young male’ approaching them.
The man appeared to stop for a few minutes before turning round and coming back up the steps, which Mr Nascimento said was a signal commonly used by gay men at that spot.
The young man was wearing a hat and hoodie that covered that covered much of his face, and the victim said he felt ‘apprehensive’ about him the moment he saw him.
At one point he moved to show the side of his face, and Mr Nascimento was able to make direct eye contact with him.
He had thought the man was about to walk away when he was suddenly struck in the chest before the other man ran off in the direction of Northgate Street.
Gareth Davies called for help and in the meantime, applied pressure to Mr Nascimento’s wound, which doctors later said may have played a part in saving his life.
Evans, who had recently secured work with Cheshire West and Chester Council’s highways department, was arrested on November 11 after PC Lisa Smith, who had encountered him before, identified him from CCTV footage.
Although Mr Nascimento and Mr Davies were unable to pick out Evans from the first identity parade they saw, they later both identified him as the attacker in a second line-up.
During his testimony to the court, Evans accepted he had been out in the city centre on the night of October 21, saying he had visited pubs, was drunk on lager and spirits and had taken some drugs.
He said he then went to Tesco to do some shopping, and claimed he had no recollection of anything that happened after walking through the store entrance until he woke up the next morning.
When shown CCTV images of a man fitting his description walking on the City Walls around the time of the attack, he admitted ‘it could have been me’ but denied knowledge of attacking someone, saying: “I’m sure I’d remember plunging a knife into someone.”
When Peter Moss, defending, asked Evans what he thought about the possibility it had been a homophobic attack, Evans replied: “I have no anti-gay views. Everyone is equal. My brother is gay and I’m perfectly happy with that” – a statement later backed up by his brother who testified in court.
The jury was also told of a 999 call made by Evans months before the incident, in which he threatened to stab police officers and set them alight.
When asked by Mr Moss why he did that, Evans said he’d had an argument with his brother about living arrangements and thought it would be easier to get himself arrested and find a bed that way by making ‘empty threats’.
In his summary, Judge Elgan Edwards told the court that Mr Nascimento was still recovering from his injuries, which had punctuated his body 10-15cm.
He had been left ‘mentally distraught’ by the events of that night, and were it not for the paramedics and skilled doctors at the Royal Liverpool Hospital, it is likely he would not be alive today.
Evans will be sentenced on the wounding with intent charge during the week commencing May 12.
from The Chester Chronicle
Something new is coming to the parade of food festivals that has sprung up around the country – CookOUT/RockOUT, a food and music event celebrating LGBT chefs and other food luminaries.
“It’s a way to showcase, in a positive, fun light, diversity within the food world,” festival founder Bruce Seidel says of the event, which launches in Los Angeles in the fall. The goal is to show “people that, `Hey, gay people are everywhere and this is a way to celebrate that whether you’re gay or not.’”
Seidel is a former Food Network executive who developed hit shows including “Iron Chef America” and “Next Food Network Star.” These days he runs Hot Lemon Productions, a consulting and production company he created with a focus on food. CookOUT is one of several projects the company is working on.
He first thought of creating a television program built around mentoring people in the food profession who were struggling with coming out or other issues. But then he began thinking about creating something new on the food festival front and the two ideas jelled.
The festival won’t be as big as some, aiming for 400 to 500 people rather than thousands, and the plan is to hold it at an LA estate built by a silent film star in the 1920s. Music will range from rock to classical violin and the culinary events will emphasize food experiences as opposed to “you eat 300 things, but you have no idea what you’ve tasted in the end,” says Seidel.
The roster of performers and chefs still is being put together, but among those from the LGBT community who already have signed up for the event are Big Gay Ice Cream, the New York-based frozen treats shop which also has a branch in Los Angeles, and Art Smith, Oprah’s former personal chef. Straight chefs also will be in the lineup.
Smith is looking forward to an event celebrating “the vast diversity within the food world of openly gay chefs,” noting that “there are many who still cannot be openly gay in their chosen careers.”
from The Associated Press
LAGRANGE, GEORGIA — A sign with a gay slur on it is upsetting some customers at a LaGrange convenience store.
The owner said he put it up because he was sick of customers coming in with saggy pants. The sign calls customers a gay slur if they choose to wear saggy pants.
“I came up with that sign, nobody else did,” said Anil Patel, who owns PCA Food Store on Hogansville Road. “Since that sign went up there, I don’t see no pants down in my store, because they read the sign and they decide what they want to be.”
“I couldn’t believe they put something like that up,” said customer Joshua Southern, who said he plans to no longer shop at the store.
“It doesn’t bother me, not a bit. I have a girlfriend and I am gay,” said Kerrie Williams, a clerk at the store
Other customers also supported the owner.
“Ain’t nobody want to see all that. I don’t want to see no grown man with they pants down,” a customer told Channel 2’s Rachel Stockman.
“It really offends me by them coming in, pants down. So it is not that I’m against them, gay people or anything like that, but just trying to prove a point. If you are going to come in my store, make sure you have your pants on,” Patel told Channel 2’s Rachel Stockman.
“There is other ways to deal with it. You could say, ‘Pull your pants up. Nobody wants to see your butt,’” Southern said.
Late Thursday night, the owner’s father pulled the signs down but Patel, who is out of town, plans to come back first thing Friday morning to put the sign back up.
In the early 2000s, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints’ stance on same-sex marriage aligned with the opinions of most Americans: Gays and lesbians shouldn’t be allowed to marry.
Since then, popular opposition to same-sex marriage has collapsed across much of the country, with 17 states and the District of Columbia allowing the practice.
Shifting public opinion may explain the message that Neil L. Andersen, an elder in the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles – the second-highest governing body in the Mormon Church – had for listeners at the semiannual General Conference in Salt Lake City on Saturday.
“While many governments and well-meaning individuals have redefined marriage, the Lord has not,” Andersen said in his remarks, which warned of “whirlwinds” that would test Mormons’ adherence to the church’s socially conservative theology.
The church has not been immune to doctrinal changes throughout its history. It halted plural marriage among its members in 1890 so Utah could become a state, and announced in 1978 that black men could become ordained priests. (Women are still not allowed into the priesthood, which has caused division among church members.)
With the church now seeing public opinion diverge with its position on same-sex marriage, Andersen urged Mormons – especially the youth – to hold firm to the belief that marriage is between one man and one woman.
God’s law, Andersen said, is clear. Then he quoted from a church statement after a federal judge struck down Utah’s same-sex marriage ban in December: “Sexual relations are proper only between a man and a woman who are legally and lawfully wedded as husband and wife.”
He added that church members who “struggle with same-sex attraction” were of “special concern,” and expressed support for those conflicted about their sexuality. He urged kindness in all cases.
The conservative bastion of Utah is one of several states fighting recent court rulings that have struck down bans on same-sex marriage. Oral arguments before the U.S. 10th Circuit Court of Appeals are set for Thursday. A week later, the 10th Circuit will hear arguments in a similar Oklahoma case.
One of the most prominent Mormons in the public sphere, Tyler Glenn, the lead singer for the pop group Neon Trees, recently came out as openly gay.
“It is a whirlwind of enormous velocity,” Andersen said of same-sex attraction. “I want to express my love and admiration for those who courageously confront this trial of faith and stay true to the commandments of God. But everyone independent of his and her decisions and belief deserve our kindness and consideration.”
from The Los Angeles Times
The Supreme Court declined on Monday to consider whether a New Mexico photographer had a right to refuse service to a same-sex couple who wanted her to record their commitment ceremony.
Without comment, the court said it would not review a decision by the New Mexico Supreme Court that the denial of service violated the state’s public accommodations law, which bans discrimination by those offering their services to the public.
The justices Monday turned aside several requests that they hear controversial issues. Also among them: the manner in which executions are carried out and the National Security Agency’s collection of bulk telephone records. Last week, the court fueled a national debate on campaign finance laws with a contentious ruling that struck down the overall limit on how much a donor can contribute to political candidates and parties.
The New Mexico case prompted some states, such as Arizona, to propose laws that would protect companies and individuals who say providing some services to same-sex couples would violate their religious beliefs.
The case at the court came from Elaine and Jonathan Huguenin, whose company, Elane Photography, refused service for the 2007 commitment ceremony of a lesbian couple, Vanessa Willock and Misti Collinsworth.
he Huguenins said that they would “gladly serve gays and lesbians” by taking portraits. But photographing same-sex marriages or commitment ceremonies would “require them to create expression conveying messages that conflict with their religious beliefs,” according to their petition to the court.
The state human rights commission found that the Huguenins violated the New Mexico Human Rights Act, and the state Supreme Court unanimously upheld the decision.
“When Elane Photography refused to photograph a same-sex commitment ceremony, it violated the NMHRA in the same way as if it had refused to photograph a wedding between people of different races,” the court said.
In their petition, the Huguenins and lawyer Jordan W. Lorence of the Alliance Defending Freedom mentioned religion frequently. But their plea did not cite constitutional protection of their right to freely exercise their religion. Instead, they relied on another part of the First Amendment: their right to free speech.
Elaine Huguenin’s work is artistic expression, the petition said, and she cannot be forced to “communicate messages antithethical to her religious beliefs through government coercion.”
Tobias B. Wolff, a University of Pennsylvania law professor representing Willock, pointed out in his brief that the Huguenins acknowledged that courts were not split on the questions they raised, normally a prerequisite for Supreme Court action. He said the issue was a simple one: “Whatever service you provide, you must not discriminate against customers when you engage in public commerce.”
At the time of Willock’s attempt to hire Huguenin, same-sex marriage was not available in New Mexico. The state is now one of 17 where it is legal.
Since the Supreme Court’s ruling in U.S. v. Windsor , striking down a part of the Defense of Marriage Act that defined marriage as a union between only a man and a woman, federal judges across the country have ruled against similar bans at the state level.
As a result, some states have proposed or enacted legislation aimed at protecting those who do not want to offer their marriage services to same-sex couples because they say it would violate their religious beliefs. The controversy came to a head in Arizona, where Gov. Jan Brewer (R) vetoed legislation that the state’s business community and others said was seen as a license to discriminate.
from The Washington Post
It’s the Truvada conundrum: A drug hailed as a lifesaver for many people infected by HIV is at the heart of a rancorous debate among gay men, AIDS activists and health professionals over its potential for protecting uninfected men who engage in gay sex without using condoms.
Many doctors and activists see immense promise for such preventive use of Truvada, and are campaigning hard to raise awareness of it as a crucial step toward reducing new HIV infections, which now total about 50,000 a year in the U.S. Recent efforts range from think-tank forums and informational websites to a festive event at a New York City bar featuring popular drag queens.
Yet others – despite mounting evidence of Truvada’s effectiveness – say such efforts are reckless, tempting some condom users to abandon that layer of protection and exposing them to an array of other sexually transmitted infections aside from HIV.
“If something comes along that’s better than condoms, I’m all for it, but Truvada is not that,” said Michael Weinstein, president of the AIDS Healthcare Foundation. “Let’s be honest: It’s a party drug.”
Even as gay-rights organizations celebrate collective progress in the fight to legalize same-sex marriage, the less-publicized Truvada debate has fueled bitter divisions within the gay community. Some who use the drug say they’ve felt shamed by some who don’t, and there’s now a lively backlash by users and their allies, including promotion of a “Truvada Whore” T-shirt.
“The discussion can torch emotions like a flame-thrower on a fuel depot,” wrote Steve Ramos of the Dallas Voice as the gay-oriented publication reported on the debate in March.
Truvada, produced by California-based Gilead Sciences, has been around for a decade, serving as one of the key drugs used in combination with others as the basic treatment for people who have the AIDS-causing virus HIV. However, the drug took on a more contentious aspect in 2012 when the Food and Drug Administration approved it for pre-exposure prophylaxis, or PrEP – in other words, for use to prevent people from getting sexually transmitted HIV in the first place.
Since then, critics have warned that many gay men won’t heed Truvada’s once-a-day regimen and complained of its high cost – roughly $13,000 a year. Truvada’s proponents say most insurance plans – including Medicaid programs – now cover prescriptions for it, and they cite studies showing that the blue pill, if taken diligently, can reduce the risk of getting HIV by more than 90 percent.
Dr. Demetre Daskalakis, medical director of the ambulatory HIV program at New York’s Mount Sinai Hospital, served on the FDA panel that recommended approving Truvada for preventive purposes and is among many doctors who hope that doubts about it fade.
“For folks who are having a significant amount of unprotected sex, it’s a slam dunk – not only giving them protective medicine, but engaging them in testing, a whole package of regular health care,” he said.
Yet Daskalakis says that out of his large clientele, only about 25 men are taking Truvada for prevention.
“There’s some interesting social pushback,” he said. “I’ve spoken to some of my patients who’d totally be candidates but are hesitant to do it. They don’t want to be labeled as people on the drug because there’s a social stigma.”
Daskalakis is dismayed by groups like the Los Angeles-based AIDS Healthcare Foundation – one of the country’s leading HIV/AIDS service providers – which suggest that prescribing Truvada for prevention means condoning condomless sex.
“I find some of that opposition irresponsible,” Daskalakis said. “If some men don’t want to use condoms, they won’t. You have to deal with it by acknowledging that sometimes unprotected sex happens, and you can still prevent HIV infections.”
To date, preventive use of Truvada appears to be limited, due partly to misgivings among some gay men and partly to lack of awareness.
According to Gilead, 1,774 people starting using Truvada for prevention between January 2011 and March 2013 – nearly half of them women. The company said more recent figures aren’t available, but health officials in several cities said they see no signs of a major surge in usage.
“Out of our thousands of patients, we have about 20 on PrEP,” said Dr. Robert Winn, medical director at Philadelphia’s Mazzoni Center, which serves many gay clients.
“Many ask about it, few take it,” Winn said. “The number one reason for that gap is the commitment of having to take it every day.”
Weinstein, the AIDS Healthcare Foundation leader, takes heart from the low usage figures, saying they bear out his reservations about Truvada. He says he’s undeterred by criticism of his insistence that condomless sex – even in the Truvada era – should be discouraged among gay men with multiple partners.
“There’s an element in the gay community that espouses `anything goes,’ that is for sexual freedom and not giving an inch,” he said. “But demonizing me or AHF isn’t going to shut us up.”
Another Truvada skeptic is Richard Weinmeyer, a research associate with the American Medical Association’s Ethics Group. In an article in February in Bioethics Forum, Weinmeyer – expressing his personal views – argued that preventive use of Truvada could encourage sexual irresponsibility.
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