February 28, 2018

LGBT Workplace Rights Boosted by You Can't Fire" Skydiving While Gay"

 What’s riskier? Jumping out of an airplane with a stranger’s life in your hands? Or admitting to working that you’re gay?

Donald Zarda could have told you. The New York skydiving instructor lost his job in 2010 after mentioning his sexuality. Now, in an important ruling, a federal appeals court has ruled that Zarda’s firing was illegal, and that federal civil rights law bans employers from discriminating based on sexual orientation.

This is disappointing news, no doubt, to U.S. Rep. Robert Pittenger of Charlotte, but encouraging to anyone who believes it’s fundamentally wrong to be able to hire, fire, promote and demote workers solely because of their sexual orientation. 

instead invented by Teads
Pittenger, a Republican, argued in 2014 that employers should be free to fire people because they are gay. He called it one of “the freedoms we enjoy” as Americans. “We don’t want to micromanage people’s lives and businesses,” Pittenger said. He added: “Government intervention is not the best solution for matters of the heart.” 

Congress had disagreed 50 years earlier, passing the 1964 Civil Rights Act. Its Title VII bars workplace discrimination based on “race, color, religion, sex or national origin.” The 2nd Circuit court in New York ruled 10-3 on Monday that Title VII also protects gay workers from discrimination based on sexual orientation.

The court had three different rationales: First, that firing people for their sexual orientation is essentially firing them for their sex, which Title VII prohibits. Zarda wouldn’t have been fired for being attracted to men had he been a different gender.

Second, the Supreme Court has ruled that people can’t be fired for failing to live up to their gender’s stereotypes, and the 2nd Circuit said Zarda was.

Finally, courts have long held that a person can’t be fired because of the race of those they associate with, such as firing a black person who associates with white people. The same holds for gender, the court ruled, and Zarda couldn’t be fired for associating with another man.

The New York court is the second federal appeals court (the other is the 7th Circuit, in Chicago, last year) to rule this way. The 11th Circuit, in Atlanta, ruled last year that Title VII does not cover sexual orientation. That disagreement among appeals courts makes it possible the U.S. Supreme Court will settle the matter sooner than later.

We hope it does. And using the 2nd Circuit’s logic, a high court ruling could make sexual orientation a protected class not only for employment but for housing, education and other areas. Polls and the Observer’s reporting have found that despite some people’s contention otherwise, discrimination against gays is not uncommon.

A strong majority of Americans believe employers should not be able to discriminate against LGBT workers. It’s a matter of time before that’s settled law, and Monday’s ruling was another big, welcome step toward that day.

Out in NJ

A federal appeals court in New York ruled that it is illegal for employers to discriminate against their workers based on sexual orientation. The decision is a blow to the Justice Department under President Trump, which had chosen to wade into a discrimination lawsuit filed by a former New York sky diving instructor. The Justice Department had argued last year that Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act did not cover sexual orientation in the workplace.
The United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit becomes the second appeals court to rule that the Civil Rights Law, which prohibits bias in the workplace based on “race, color, religion, sex or national original” should also extend to sexual orientation. An appellate court in Atlanta ruled differently. Jeff Sessions, a Trump appointee, heads the Justice Department and has made his anti-LGBT sentiments no secret.
The Second Circuit ruled 10-3 in the case of Donald Zarda, a sky diving instructor who was fired from Altitude Express in 2010. Zarda had revealed his sexuality to a female client while preparing for a tandem jump as the woman seemed to be uncomfortable with being strapped so tightly to him. Her boyfriend took exception, complaining to the school about the comment, and he was fired. He filed suit on the grounds that Altitude Express violated Title VII and initially had two courts in New York rule against him, including a three-judge panel of the Second Circuit.

GA. Would Rather Get Rid of Marriage Than Obey The Law of The Land

Georgians Fight Fellow Georgians on Gay Marriage
Politicians in Georgia would rather get rid of Marriage than accept the Law of the Land and marry gay and lesbians

Couples – gay or straight — looking for a marriage license in Pike County, Ala. won't get one from local probate judge Wes Allen.

"We have not issued any marriage licenses since Feb. 9, 2015," Allen says.

That's when a federal judge struck down Alabama's ban on same-sex marriage. The state's then-Chief Justice Roy Moore told local officials they weren't bound by the federal court ruling. That threw Alabama's marriage license system into chaos. Some offices closed altogether.

For Allen, the decision came down to his religious beliefs.

"I believe marriage is between a man and a woman and firmly believe that biblical world view," he says. "And I couldn't put my signature on a marriage license that I knew not to be marriage."

As many as 12 other judges adopted similar policies after the U.S. Supreme Court legalized same-sex marriage. Some, like Allen, closed their marriage license division. Others will sign the license but quit performing marriage ceremonies.

Now Alabama and several other states are considering doing away with marriage licenses altogether. Alabama's legislation comes after the state became a flashpoint in the debate over same-sex marriage.

After counties began refusing licenses, they braced for lawsuits. But no one has sued — that could be because Alabama's marriage law says probate judges may issue marriage licenses, not shall.

"Alabama's been one of the toughest states when it comes to access to marriage equality because of our marriage code and because the way it's written for judges to choose to issue licenses or not," says Eva Kendrick, state director for the Human Rights Campaign, which advocates for LGBT rights.

She says access depends on where you live. Metropolitan areas like Birmingham and Montgomery are open for business, but remote rural areas are more of a patchwork, forcing people to travel elsewhere to get a license.

"In those counties, Alabamians did not have equal access to marriage," says Kendrick.

The state Senate has overwhelmingly approved a bill that would get rid of marriage licenses altogether. Instead, couples would submit a form affirming they've met the legal requirements for getting married and then record a marriage contract at the probate office.

"Basically we're getting Alabama out of the marriage business," says Republican Rep. Paul Beckman, who is sponsoring the bill in the Alabama House, where it has passed the Judiciary Committee.

Republican state Sen. Greg Albritton has tried for several years to change the system to a marriage contract.

"It allows the probate judge to not be the gatekeeper by order of the state of say who can marry and who can't," Albritton says.

Albritton says he's a traditionalist who believes marriage should be between one man and one woman. But he says since the U.S. Supreme Court legalized same-sex marriage, Alabama's system hasn't worked.

"I disagree with that opinion. However, they make the law," says Albritton. "I'm trying to accommodate that and trying to find a way that we can accommodate as many people and hurt no one."

But not everyone agrees that the legislation does no harm.

"I just think it cheapens the value of the most sacred relationship in the world," says Republican Phil Williams, the lone senator to vote against the bill.

"When you take marriage and you reduce it to a mere contract, it's almost like you're just doing nothing more than recording the deed to your property at the courthouse," he says. "You're just taking the contract down there and the probate judge is just the clerk."

He says probate judges have greater responsibility, for instance, they're charged with making sure that couples are old enough and able to consent to marriage.

The bill is facing more opposition in the Alabama House. Democratic state Rep. Merika Coleman says the change isn't necessary if public officials would just do their jobs.

"It's unfortunate because there are some probate judges .... that do not want to adhere to the rule of law," says Coleman. "So because of that, now some legislators in the state of Alabama want to get out of the business of marriage in the traditional sense."

She's concerned the new system might not be recognized by other states or the federal government.

"Specifically on Social Security and with military benefits they ask for a marriage license," she says. "They do not ask for a marriage contract."

But the concept of a marriage contract is being considered in other states. Similar legislation has been proposed in Oklahoma, Indiana, Kentucky, Missouri, and Montana.

The Murder of a Member of The LGBT Community in Toronto Exposed The Killer

 One was homeless, smoked crack cocaine and worked as a prostitute. Another was from a conservative Muslim family and hid the fact that he was gay from his family. Another was a recent immigrant with a drug problem.
Some of the known and suspected victims of alleged serial killer Bruce McArthur fit a pattern: people on the margins of Canadian society whose disappearance attracted little attention.
n poses in an undated photo released by the Toronto Police Service after landscaper Bruce McArthur was charged with his murder in Toronto, Ontario, Canada January 29, 2018. Handout Via Reuters

 Andrew Kinsma  

But then Andrew Kinsman vanished. The 49-year-old LGBT activist and former bartender in Toronto had many friends. When he suddenly went missing the day after Toronto's gay pride parade, his friends noticed quickly, and so did the police.
"There's a part of me that says Bruce wanted to get caught because he broke that pattern of preying on the vulnerable," said Haran Vijayanathan, a community activist and the executive director of the Alliance for South Asian AIDS Prevention in Toronto.
Police set up a special task force to look into the disappearances of men in the "Gay Village" area of Toronto shortly after Kinsman went missing. McArthur was arrested six months later.
Police have found the remains of six men, but say they believe there are more victims.

 In this combo of file photos provided by the Toronto police shows five men who Toronto landscaper Bruce McArthur is accused of killing, from left: Selim Essen, 44, Sorush Mahmudi, 50, Dean Lisowick, Andrew Kinsman, 49, and Majeed Kayhan, 58. Toronto Police Via AP

McArthur, a 66-year-old landscaper, was arrested on Jan. 18 and charged with murdering Kinsman and Selim Esen, 44, who was last seen in the Gay Village last year. Esen, an immigrant from Turkey, came to Canada to be with a partner he'd met in Turkey, but the relationship didn't work out. He was unemployed and struggled with drugs, friend Richard Harrop wrote on Facebook.
Not long after the January arrest, McArthur was charged with the murders of three more men, including Dean Lisowick, a homeless prostitute who struggled with drugs, and Majeed Kayhan, a 58-year-old Afghan immigrant with a family and children, who was reported missing by his son in 2012. Friends said Kayhan had a sexual relationship with McArthur. The third was Soroush Marmoudi, a 50-year-old immigrant from Iran who was reported missing by his wife in 2015. His remains were found during the search for other alleged victims, but his relationship to McArthur is unknown.
 Released by Toronto Police shows Skandaraj Navaratnam, a Sri Lankan refugee known as "Skanda" to his friends, who was reported missing in 2010. Toronto Police Via AP


Just this past Friday, police announced McArthur is charged with the murder of Skandaraj Navaratnam, a refugee from Sri Lanka. Friends said McArthur employed and had a sexual relationship with Navaratnam, who was last seen in 2010 leaving Zipperz, a now-closed gay bar.  
McArthur's Facebook profile also showed he was friends with Navaratnam.
Lisowick, who was in his mid-40s, hadn't even been reported missing when police announced he was one of the victims.
"He was pretty much a loner most of the time," said Jeff Tunney, a friend who rented the common area of his apartment to Lisowick for two months. "He really didn't know too many people. He had a hard time trusting people, which I can understand now why." 
Kinsman, on the other hand, had search parties and scores of friends looking for him when he went missing in late June. Kinsman was a superintendent and a long-term volunteer at the Toronto People With AIDS Foundation. Friends and family figured he must have been dead after they gained access to his apartment two days after he went missing.
"He would never leave his cat. He would never shirk his duties. He was a superintendent and he didn't take the garbage out on Wednesday so I knew at that point," his sister Patricia Kinsman said.

 In this Feb. 13, 2018 photo, people hold a candlelight vigil to remember the victims of alleged serial killer Bruce McArthur in Toronto, Canada. Rob Gillies / AP

Todd Healey, a former roommate and co-worker of Kinsman's, described Kinsman as salty, and grumpy if you rubbed him the wrong way, but a loyal friend to many.
"He was well known. When we saw his face on missing posters we were like 'What is going on here?'" said Charles Cuschieri, another friend.
Police said Kinsman and McArthur had a sexual relationship.
"It baffles me to think that Bruce could think he could get away with it," Healey said. "If Bruce is predominantly attacking marginalized people, then Andrew is obviously a mistake or he is tripping up because he wants to get caught."
 File photo, crime scene tape surrounds a property where police say they recovered the remains of at least six people from planters on the property which is connected to alleged serial killer Bruce McArthur, in Toronto, Canada. Rob Gillies / AP

 In this Feb. 3, 2

Police found the remains of at least six men inside planters found at a home McArthur used as storage for his landscaping business. Authorities have also checked at least 30 other places he was known to have worked, including in some of Toronto's wealthiest neighborhoods, but did not find remains in the planters taken from those homes.
McArthur has not entered a plea. He is under suicide watch and is due back in court Wednesday. Edward Royle, a lawyer for McArthur, has previously declined to comment on the case and didn't respond to messages for comment this weekend.
Police set up a task force, Project Houston, in 2012 after Navaratnam, Kayhan and Abdulbasir Faizi, an Afghan who immigrated to Canada from Iran, went missing. The three are South Asian or Middle Eastern and frequented gay bars in Toronto's Gay Village. A relative said Faizi hid that he was gay from his family.
An assistant machine operator at a printing company, Faizi went missing on Dec. 29, 2010. Trying to determine why, his Muslim family accessed his computer and was shocked to discover he had been secretly going to bathhouses in the Gay Village and was on gay dating apps for older and large men with names such as "SilverDaddies" and "Bear411" — sites police later linked to McArthur as well. 
When they then went to police, officers suggested he had probably just left, the relative said. Faizi's wife divorced him, thinking he abandoned her and their two young daughters.
"Police were so convinced that he just decided to leave and start another life. It made the family pretty convinced that that was the case as well," said the relative, who spoke on condition of anonymity due to a lack of permission from the family to speak publicly.
"Nobody really looked for him."
Vijayanathan, the community activist, believes the police didn't get anywhere in their investigations until Kinsman, a prominent white man in the community, went missing.
"Until that point, all the South Asian men that went missing kind of fell by the wayside and nobody paid attention until something happened in the white community," Vijayanathan said.
Story obtained through Associated Press and NBC News

February 27, 2018

LGBT Community Worried About GA.'s "Keep Faith in Adoption Foster Care Act"

Georgia’s Senate has passed a bill that could enable child welfare organizations to stop same-sex parents from adopting on grounds of religious beliefs, in what rights advocates have called a “dangerous step backward.”

In the latest chapter of the debate on religious freedom and freedom from discrimination, Georgia’s Senate passed the Keep Faith in Adoption and Foster Care Act on Friday.

If it passes through the Georgia House, it could allow child-placing agencies, such as adoption organizations and foster care providers, to refuse referrals that are deemed to violate “sincerely held religious beliefs.” Its sponsors argue it will encourage adoption agencies to open and match children with parents. 

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But LGBT civil rights advocacy group The Human Rights Campaign raised concerns that the bill could not only be used to discriminate against same-sex parents but also interfaith couples, single parents, divorcees and other parents to whom an agency might have a religious objection.

Marty Rouse, national field director for the Human Rights Campaign, said in a statement that Senate Bill (SB) 375 “is discrimination dressed up as a ‘solution’ to a fake problem.

“It creates an unnecessary hardship for potential LGBTQ adoptive or foster parents in Georgia and primarily harms the children looking for a loving home," said Rouse. "It’s unfortunate that leaders are focusing on this bill instead of concrete ways to improve the child welfare system in Georgia. We ask the Georgia House of Representatives to reject this bill."

Sarah Kate Ellis, president, and CEO of GLAAD, called SB 375 “a dangerous step backward that would codify permission to discriminate against the LGBTQ community under Georgia state law.

“This bill is not about freedom of religion, which is one of our nation’s fundamental values, but rather about imposing one’s personal religious beliefs on others to discriminate against loving foster or adoptive parents simply because of their identity and deny services to LGBTQ youth," Ellis said.

Amna Khaliq, partner and head of the international surrogacy and adoption team at London-based Wilson Solicitors, told Newsweek that the adoption bill would significantly reduce the number of adopting families, thus leaving vulnerable children to languish in foster care for far longer, if not permanently. 

"It is concerning that child welfare organizations, including adoption and foster care agencies, are being given the power to decide whether children can be placed with prospective adopters based on their religious views and sexual preferences, when the only consideration should be whether the adopting family is able to meet the ongoing welfare needs of the child," said Khaliq.

"[Georgia State Senator] William Ligon insists that this bill will not prevent anyone from adopting, explaining that the concerned agencies 'want to have the assurance that [adoptees] will be able to exercise their fundamental right to practice their faith.' This, however, appears not to be the case, as, under the new bill, the doors will be closed to the Georgian LGBT community as well as to those who hold certain religious beliefs," Khaliq elaborated. 

Read more: Amazon's 2nd HQ: Does a lack of LGBT anti-discrimination laws put these states at a disadvantage? 

The vote comes after Georgia Governor Nathan Deal vetoed a controversial religious liberties bill in 2016 that would have allowed organizations and individuals to act according to religious or moral convictions, The Washington Post reported. Prior to the veto, the National Football League threatened to dismiss Atlanta in future Super Bowls. Disney, Marvel and high-profile Hollywood figures, including Anne Hathaway and Seth MacFarlane, also threatened to boycott the state if it passed the law.

SB 375 could be met with similar protests. CNBC reported that Amazon could strike Atlanta from the list of cities it is considering for its second U.S. headquarters.

An Amazon spokesperson declined to comment to CNBC but pointed toward its Request for Proposal for cultural community fit, which requires “the presence and support of a diverse population.” Atlanta achieved a perfect city rating by the HRC Municipal Equality index for the fifth year running in 2017 but was the only city in Georgia to do so.

A spokesperson for the city of Atlanta's mayor's office said it could not comment on the Amazon bid. Amazon and the sponsors of the State of Georgia Senate bill did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Monday. 


Weinstein Company Will File for Bankruptcy-What Does it Mean for The Victims?

 The men in this picture have many women claiming they were assaulted  by them

The Weinstein Company says it will file for bankruptcy after a deal for the sale of the company fell apart.

The film and television studio had been in talks with a group led by Maria Contreras-Sweet, who was in charge of the Small Business Administration under President Obama and backed by billionaire Ron Burkle. The deal was said to be worth $500 million — "roughly $275 million for the Weinstein Company, plus the assumption of $225 million in debt," The New York Times reports.

According to a letter from the Weinstein Company to Contreras-Sweet and Burkle, talks broke down in part over the issue of interim funding, which the studio needed to stay operational and paying its employees.

"[W]e must conclude that your plan to buy this company was illusory and would only leave this Company hobbling toward its demise to the detriment of all constituents," the company said in a letter. "Despite your previous statements, it is simply impossible to avoid the conclusion that you have no intention to sign an agreement — much less to close one — and no desire to save valuable assets and jobs." 

"While we recognize that this is an extremely unfortunate outcome for our employees, our creditors, and any victims, the board has no choice," the company said in a statement to the Times. "Over the coming days, the company will prepare its bankruptcy filing with the goal of achieving maximum value in court." 

Harvey Weinstein, His Brother And Their Company Hit With Civil Rights Lawsuit
Two weeks ago, New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman filed a civil rights lawsuit against the Weinstein Company and its founding brothers, stating that the studio "repeatedly broke New York law by failing to protect its employees from pervasive sexual harassment, intimidation, and discrimination."

"Any sale of The Weinstein Company must ensure that victims will be compensated, employees will be protected going forward, and that neither perpetrators nor enablers will be unjustly enriched," Schneiderman said in a statement announcing the suit.

The suit appears to have played a role in scuttling the sale. If there is no sale of the Weinstein Company, it's not clear how such victim compensation would be funded.

Gloria Allred, the attorney representing many of Harvey Weinstein's alleged victims, "was angry with the timing of the New York Attorney General's lawsuit precisely because she feared it would kill the deal and lead to bankruptcy ... which would hurt the victims' chances for compensation," as NPR's Elizabeth Blair told Morning Edition.

Another aspect in the deal's collapse likely was the role of David Glasser, whom the investors wanted to make the new CEO.

"Glasser was a top executive under Harvey Weinstein," Blair explained. "The Attorney General was adamant that no perpetrators or enablers to Weinstein's misconduct be part of the sale — and he believed Glasser was one of them. The Weinstein Company board then fired Glasser. And Schneiderman met with both sides of the sale and appeared to approve the conditions of the sale."

But the letter from the Weinstein Company makes clear that the contingencies related to Glasser were a problem. An attorney for Glasser has said he plans to sue for wrongful termination.

The bid from Contreras-Sweet was seen as a way for the company to survive and retain its employees. Other bidders were primarily interested in certain of the company's assets, especially its library of films, and most of the other bids would have required a sale through Chapter 11 bankruptcy, according to the Los Angeles Times. 

The fall of the Weinstein Company has been swift in the four-and-a-half months since The New York Times reported allegations of sexual misconduct by Weinstein over decades, ranging from harassment to rape. The New Yorker soon published further allegations. Weinstein was fired from the company three days after the Times story came out.

He has apologized for some of his behavior, but "denies many of the accusations as patently false," Lisa Bloom, then Weinstein's lawyer, said in October.

Fed Appeals Court Rules Gay Rights are Protected by Current Law

 Federal District Court, NY

A federal appeals court on Monday ruled that a 1964 civil rights law bans anti-gay workplace discrimination. The decision rebukes the Trump administration — which had argued against a gay worker in the case — and hands progressives a win in their strategy to protect LGBT employees with a drumbeat of lawsuits.

The dispute hinges on whether Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which bans discrimination on the basis of sex, also bans workplace discrimination due to sexual orientation.

The Court of Appeals for the 2nd Circuit ruled Monday, “We now hold that sexual orientation discrimination constitutes a form of discrimination ‘because of . . . sex,’ in violation of Title VII.” In doing so, the court overruled a lower court — and a precedent from two previous court cases — and remanded the case to be litigated in light of their reading of Title VII.

The decision holds national implications due to its high tier in the judicial system, and because it’s seen as a litmus test of the Trump administration’s ability — or inability — to curb LGBT rights through court activism. The Justice Department had injected itself into the case even though it wasn’t a party to the lawsuit and doesn’t normally involve itself in private employment disputes.

The case was heard in New York City by all 13 judges in the 2nd Circuit, known as an en banc hearing, which leaves the Supreme Court as the only avenue for a potential appeal.

The ruling comes soon after another major gay-rights ruling in 2017, thereby giving momentum to the argument that anti-gay discrimination is prohibited even without a federal law that explicitly says so.

"Sexual orientation is a function of sex and, by extension, sexual orientation discrimination is a subset of sex discrimination," the majority wrote. 
In reaching its decision Monday, the court pointed out that anti-gay discrimination would not exist "but for" a person's sex. That is to say, gays, lesbians, and bisexuals would not face their unequal treatment if they had been born a different gender, or were attracted to a different sex.

"A woman who is subject to an adverse employment action because she is attracted to women would have been treated differently if she had been a man who was attracted to women," the majority wrote in an opinion led by Judge Robert Katzman. "We can, therefore, conclude that sexual orientation is a function of sex and, by extension, sexual orientation discrimination is a subset of sex discrimination."

Although no federal law directly bans anti-LGBT discrimination in workplaces, in 2010, Donald Zarda sued his employer, Altitude Express, Inc., alleging the company terminated him for his sexual orientation in violation of Title VII.

Zarda’s lawyers deployed an emerging legal argument that contends Title VII’s ban on sex discrimination applies to gay workers. Since courts have found in the past that the law prohibits sex stereotyping discrimination, his lawyers said, the law, therefore, bans discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation.

That position has been adopted by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, a largely autonomous federal agency that handles civil rights disputes in the workplace and supported Zarda in court.

“Sex stereotyping says that if you are a man attracted to a man or a woman attracted to a woman, you’re not behaving the way those genders are supposed to behave,” an EEOC lawyer told the judges at a September hearing in Manhattan.

But the Justice Department took opposite stance, thereby pitting the federal government against itself.

“There is a common-sense difference between sex discrimination and sexual orientation discrimination,” a Justice Department attorney told the court in September, arguing that Congress could have clarified the law but didn’t.

The discord between agencies stems from the Trump administration turning away from the Obama administration’s LGBT-friendly trajectory, thereby letting lawyers under US Attorney General Jeff Sessions clash with more autonomous corners of the federal bureaucracy.

Under Sessions, the Justice Department has tried to roll-back several LGBT gains, rescinding the Obama-era policy that protects transgender students and reversing a policy that said Title VII protects transgender workers. Sessions also filed a brief at the Supreme Court in favor of a Christian baker who refused a wedding cake to a gay couple, and in Zarda’s case, argued Title VII also doesn’t encompass sexual orientation.

 A dissenting judge countered that Congress "did not then prohibit, and alas has not since prohibited, discrimination based on sexual orientation."
The Obama administration had tried to skirt the issue of whether Title VII covered gay workers. In 2012, the administration sought to dismiss a sexual orientation lawsuit based on Title VII by saying a plaintiff failed to prove the facts to support the sex-stereotyping claim. In 2016, the Obama administration arguably dialed back its position when it didn’t even try to dismiss a similar lawsuit.

On Monday, the 2nd Circuit found that "sexual orientation is doubly delineated by sex because it is a function of both a person’s sex and the sex of those to whom he or she is attracted. Logically, because sexual orientation is a function of sex and sex is a protected characteristic under Title VII, it follows that sexual orientation is also protected."

But in a 74-page dissent, Judge Gerard Lynch wrote argued that Congress had not intended to outlaw anti-gay discrimination when it approved Title VII's language in 1974. And in contrast to dozens of states have explicitly passed laws banning anti-LGBT workplace discrimination, he argued Congress "has not done so yet."

Lynch writes that Title VII "was intended to secure the rights of women to equal protection in employment" and that Congress "did not then prohibit, and alas has not since prohibited, discrimination based on sexual orientation."

However, Judge Raymond Lohier rebutted that thinking in a concurring opinion, saying that Judge Lynch was misguided to speculate on Congress's intent.

"Time and time again," Lohier writes, "the Supreme Court has told us that the cart of legislative history is pulled by the plain text, not the other way around. The text here pulls in one direction, namely, that sex includes sexual orientation."

Courts seem a ways off from resolving Title VII’s scope on LGBT issues. In April 2017, the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in favor of a lesbian who made the same claim that she was protected by Title VII. But in December, the Supreme Court declined to hear a challenge from 11th Circuit, which said Title VII does not cover gay workers.

Dominic Holden
Dominic Holden

February 26, 2018

Olympian Gus Kenworthy Came to The Incredible Site of Dog Farming for Human Consumption


 Gus, gay and wiht my kind of heart (gold)

PYEONGCHANG, South Korea - Gus Kenworthy, a British-born, U.S. Winter Olympic skier wrote a detailed post on Instagram about his recent trip to a South Korean dog farm Friday.
The farm is being shut down due to efforts on behalf of Humane Society International.
Eating dog meat is a common practice in Asia — specifically in China, South Korea, the Philippines, Thailand, Laos, Viet Nam, Cambodia and northern India. 
In South Korea, an estimated 2.5 million dogs are slaughtered for the meat trade annually, according to Humane Society International. 
“While I don't personally agree with it, I do agree that it's not my place to impose western ideals on the people here. The way these animals are being treated, however, is completely inhumane and culture should never be a scapegoat for cruelty,” Kenworthy wrote.
He goes on to explain that some of the dogs at the farm were once pets, whether stolen or found on the street and sold into the dog meat trade.
The good news is the farm he visited is being shut down "thanks to the hard work of the Humane Society International and the cooperation of a farmer who's seen the error of his ways.”
 Kenworthy and his boyfriend, actor Matt Wilkas, adopted an aww-worthy puppy they’re naming Beemo. 
All 90 of the dogs at that particular dog farm will be flown to the U.S. and Canada to find permanent homes, the post said.

  • guskenworthyThis morning Matt and I had a heart-wrenching visit to one of the 17,000 dog farms here in South Korea. Across the country there are 2.5 million dogs being raised for food in some of the most disturbing conditions imaginable. Yes, there is an argument to be made that eating dogs is a part of Korean culture. And, while don't personally agree with it, I do agree that it's not my place to impose western ideals on the people here. The way these animals are being treated, however, is completely inhumane and culture should never be a scapegoat for cruelty. I was told that the dogs on this particular farm were kept in "good conditions" by comparison to other farms. The dogs here are malnourished and physically abused, crammed into tiny wire-floored pens, and exposed to the freezing winter elements and scorching summer conditions. When it comes time to put one down it is done so in front of the other dogs by means of electrocution sometimes taking up to 20 agonizing minutes. Despite the beliefs of some, these dogs are no different from the ones we call pets back home. Some of them were even pets at one time and were stolen or found and sold into the dog meat trade. Luckily, this particular farm (thanks to the hard work of the Humane Society International and the cooperation of a farmer who's seen the error of his ways) is being permanently shut down and all 90 of the dogs here will be brought to the US and Canada where they'll find their fur-ever homes. I adopted the sweet baby in the first pic (we named her Beemo) and she'll be coming to the US to live with me as soon as she's through with her vaccinations in a short couple of weeks. I cannot wait to give her the best life possible! There are still millions of dogs here in need of help though (like the Great Pyrenees in the 2nd pic who was truly the sweetest dog ever). I'm hoping to use this visit as an opportunity to raise awareness to the inhumanity of the dog meat trade and the plight of dogs everywhere, including back home in the US where millions of dogs are in need of loving homes! Go to @hsiglobal's page to see how you can help. #dogsarefriendsnotfood#adoptdontshop ❤️🐶 
  • US Olympic freestyle skier Gus Kenworthy has won over the hearts of the world thanks to his incredibly touching gesture at the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics.
    Gus and his boyfriend, Matt, made a visit to a dog farm in South Korea during their time in the country and the visit had a profound impact on the pair.
    Shocked by the conditions which the puppies were living in, the pair decided to rescue a one. However, he didn’t stop there.
    Sharing a snap of the newest member of the family, Gus said:
    “This morning Matt and I had a heart-wrenching visit to one of the 17,000 dog farms here in South Korea. Across the country, there are 2.5 million dogs being raised for food in some of the most disturbing conditions imaginable.
    “Yes, there is an argument to be made that eating dogs is a part of Korean culture. And, while don't personally agree with it, I do agree that it's not my place to impose western ideals on the people here.”
    Several news sites in Korea and US were used.

Billy Graham Opposed Civil Right Laws Instead Followed Politics in Place of Christ

Very few News orgs will tell you the bad side of Billy Graham. Why? His followers happen to be the followers of Trump and they are vocal if anything else. The closest to god an individual might be, the closes to the truth as per the gospels  he is but that truth preached in the New Testament does not appy to Republicans and even some Democrats in the 30-45% of voters who have supported Trump at one time or another. If a guy talks their thruth then there is no more truth even if it opposes their blible.  Reverend Greer with NBC and myself will exxplain why such a statement is true. Adam

While the Rev. Graham’s message often spoke of love, acceptance, and mercy, its reach must be felt far beyond an individual human heart, a single race of people and particular sexual orientation or gender identity... Or else you’re hardly giving your life to Jesus Christ as much as to a partisan worldview parading around as Christian piety.
From an early age, I was drawn to the glamour and excitement of the religious venues and personalities that dotted the area of Texas in which I grew up — in the shadow of Bishop T.D. Jakes’s Potter’s House, Jan and Paul Crouch’s TBN studios, and Benny Hinn’s annual healing crusades — which makes me wonder why I didn’t attend Billy Graham’s “Metroplex Mission” in October 2002 when I was 12.
Graham had held a crusade at the same Dallas Cowboys stadium 31 years prior (one of its earliest and most sought after names) My mother, who was 12 at the time and living in the area, didn’t attend that one either. At that time, de facto segregation was the rule of schools, churches, and businesses throughout much of the land, so it wouldn’t have occurred to her to attend.
Much of Graham’s preaching focused not on the pressing issues of his time — other than mentioning from time to time the Cold War — but on personal conversion and salvation. This homiletical orientation represented the logic of Southern Baptist ministers and lay people of his generation: Social transformation only comes through individuals “giving their life to Jesus Christ.”
This posture exposes one of white evangelical Protestantism’s sharp edges: The elevation of individual religious experience trumps concern for systemic injustices. This led Graham, at the height of the civil rights movement, to accuse “some extreme Negro leaders [of] going too far and too fast.” That logic was an inevitable result of Southern Baptists and other evangelical Protestants losing their cultural battles against evolution, integration and reproductive justice throughout the 20th century. And, for a generation, white evangelical Protestants were told by their leaders to withdraw from the broader American culture — a tightrope Graham walked carefully. While his message was one of individual salvation instead of societal power, his personal relationship with every U.S. president from Eisenhower to Obama showed that not even he was exempt from the allure of American politics.
Then, during the late 1970s, emboldened by President Carter’s threat to strip “segregation academies” of federal subsidies, white evangelical Protestants across the South began expanding their pulpits from local churches to national platforms like television, political action committees and groups like Moral Majority and Focus on the Family. Through their vast political and ecclesial networks, they delivered their congregants into the hands of Republican politicians like Ronald Reagan, departing from the cultural withdrawal of their evangelical forebears.
Graham’s sermons and columns at the time reflected that same shift, as he took an increasingly hostile stance against the rights of LGBTQ persons. (The elder’s Graham’s shift eventually opened the way for his son, Franklin, to join forces with other members of the Religious Right to support and elect Donald Trump as president of the United States in 2016.) 
Graham’s selective withdrawal from and engagement with politics reflected the general trends of the white evangelical cultures of his time, especially their understanding of the connections between personal salvation and social transformation.
Historically, Christianity has held in tension various approaches to cultural domination, withdrawal and transformation. Some Christians have sought holiness through withdrawal (nuns, monks, the Amish), others through domination (the Inquisition, the Crusades, colonization, settlement schools) and yet others through progressive social transformation (Quakers advocating for abolition, black southern Christians fighting for civil rights, the Moral Mondays movement). Those preoccupied with personal salvation have often found themselves unconcerned by systemic evil; those preoccupied with social transformation have often found themselves unconcerned with personal evil; and those preoccupied with domination have found themselves concerned with painting those not in their camp as evil and deserving of a sort of heavy-handed spiritual domestication.
Graham was definitely in  His opposition to the civil rights movement’s tactics of transformative disruption, his alignment with the political Religious Right and his failure to preach against the horrors of church-based homophobia and sexism demonstrate the limitations of relegating the gospel of Jesus Christ to little more than eternal fire insurance. Over Graham’s lengthy public ministry, white evangelical Protestants adjusted, wedding themselves socially and politically to a form of religion that theologian Dorothee Sölle referred to as “Christofascism”: The perpetuation of a societal status quo in which Christians maintain power, frame the aim of Christianity as a “personal relationship with Jesus Christ” and retain all the ills of white Christian society like patriarchy, colonization, and heterosexism.
Under Graham and other evangelical leaders’ watch, white evangelical Protestantism has evolved into a hyper-nationalistic, militaristic and xenophobic corner of American Christianity. That is unfortunately one of the byproducts of his ministry: It is less about his followers’ personal relationship with Jesus Christ, and more the domination they try to extend in His name.
Because of this, Christians of all churches and people of goodwill throughout the U.S. and the world must be vigilant about the power that evangelicals continue to accrue, how our national policies in places like Palestine and Israel might be impacted by their nihilistic eschatological visions informed by Tim LeHaye’s “Left Behind” book series and how the educational, economic and political well-being of black communities and other communities of color is habitually attacked by centrist and right-leaning policies.
While the Rev. Graham’s message often spoke of love, acceptance, and mercy, its reach must be felt far beyond an individual human heart, a single race of people and particular sexual orientation or gender identity. Or else you’re hardly giving your life to Jesus Christ as much as to a partisan worldview parading around as Christian piety.
ByThe Reverend Broderick Greer a priest on staff at Saint John's Cathedral in Denver, where he oversees liturgy and young adult ministry.

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