Showing posts with label Families. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Families. Show all posts

December 20, 2016

Relatives of the Pulse Shooting Victims Suing Facebook, Twitter, Google

Relatives of three people killed in the June shooting attack at an Orlando nightclub sued Facebook, Twitter, and Google's YouTube Monday, accusing the social media sites of recklessly allowing ISIS to use them for recruiting terrorists.

Without them, "the explosive growth if ISIS over the last few years into the most feared terrorist group in the world would not have been possible," said their lawyer, Keith Altman of Southfield, Michigan.

The lawsuit was filed in federal court by family members of Tevin Crosby, Javier Jorge-Reyes, and Juan Guerrero. They were among 49 people killed when Omar Mateen opened fire inside Orlando's pulse nightclub on June 12. Mateen was killed by responding police.

The relatives say the social media companies have for years provided ISIS with accounts to use their networks "as a tool for spreading extremist propaganda, raising funds, and attracting new recruits."

The companies are well aware of the problem, the lawsuit says, but have done little to stop it.

Their complaint, filed in federal court in Michigan where some of the family members live, quotes Twitter founder Biz Stone says saying "if you want to create a platform that allows for the freedom of expression for hundreds of millions of people around the world, you really have to take the good with the bad."

They claim the companies could easily block known ISIS recruiters from simply opening new accounts after they are discovered and shut down. It also says the companies place ads on the ISIS postings, profiting from terrorist messages.
The FBI has said that Mateen was radicalized in part through the Internet, and he pledged allegiance to ISIS during a lull in the shooting spree.

But investigators have said he also praised other terror groups, claimed his had family connections to al Qaeda, and said he was a member of Hezbollah, a bitter enemy of ISIS.

Altman filed a similar lawsuit in June on behalf of the family of an American student killed during the November 2015 terror attack in Paris.

But in January, a lawsuit against Twitter brought the widow of an American killed in Jordan in an ISIS attack on a police training center was dismissed. The judge said such lawsuits are barred by a federal law, the Communications Decency Act, which provides that web sites cannot be held legally responsible for the content posted by their users.

Legal experts said the latest lawsuit will face a similar hurdle.

In response to the earlier lawsuits, the companies said their rules make clear that violent threats and the promotion of terrorism deserve no place on their platforms and said the suits were without merit.


July 25, 2016

Family of North Korea’s Kim Jong Un Living Large Right in NYC

Wandering through Times Square, past the Naked Cowboy and the ticket touts, she could be any immigrant trying to live the American dream.

A 60-year-old Korean woman with a soft perm and conservative clothes, she's taking a weekend off from pressing shirts and hemming pants at the dry-cleaning business she runs with her husband.

But she's not just any immigrant. She's an aunt to Kim Jong Un, the young North Korean leader who has threatened to wipe out New York City with a hydrogen bomb. And for the past 18 years, since defecting from North Korea into the waiting arms of the CIA, she has been living an anonymous life here in the United States, with her husband and three children.

"My friends here tell me I'm so lucky, that I have everything," Ko Yong Suk, as she was known when she was part of North Korea's royal family, said on a recent weekend. "My kids went to great schools and they're successful, and I have my husband, who can fix anything. There's nothing we can envy."

Her husband, previously known as Ri Gang, chimes in, laughing: "I think we have achieved the American dream."

Breaking their silence in the U.S., Ko and Ri spent almost 20 hours talking to two Washington Post reporters in New York and then at their home several hours' drive away. They were nervous about emerging from their anonymity; after all, there are Americans who analyze North Korea for a living and do not even know that the couple are here. They asked that the names they use in the U.S. and their address not be published, mainly to protect their three grown children, who live normal lives.

Ko bears a striking resemblance to her sister, Ko Yong Hui, who was one of Kim Jong Il's wives and the mother of Kim Jong Un, the third-generation leader of North Korea. And she had a particularly close relationship with the man now considered one of the United States' top enemies: She took care of Kim Jong Un while he was at school in Switzerland.

But in 1998, when Kim Jong Un was 14, and his older brother Kim Jong Chol was 17, Ko and Ri decided to defect. Ko's sister, their link to the regime, was sick with terminal breast cancer — although she did not die until 2004 — and the boys were getting older. The couple apparently realized that they would not be needed by the regime much longer and were concerned about losing their privileged status.

The Kim family has ruled North Korea for 70 years, through a repressive system built on patronage and fear. They and the top cadres in the Workers' Party benefit from this system — and have the most to lose if it collapses, or if they run afoul of the regime. So the couple decided to flee — not to South Korea, as many North Koreans do, but to the United States.

They live in a large two-story house with two cars in the driveway, a huge TV in the living room, a grill on a rear deck. They've been to Las Vegas on vacation, and two years ago went to South Korea, where Ko enjoyed visiting the palaces she had seen in TV dramas.

They look like a normal family. But look closer. That photo of her eldest son on a Jet Ski? It's at Wonsan, where the Kim family has its summer residence. That girl in the photo album? It's Kim Yo Jong, Kim Jong Un's younger sister, who runs the propaganda division of the Workers' Party.

And the house? It was bought partly with a one-time payment of $200,000 that the CIA gave the couple on their arrival, they said.

Even though Ko and Ri have not seen Kim Jong Un in almost 20 years and do not appear to have held official positions, U.S. intelligence on North Korea is so thin that this couple still represents a valuable source of information on the family court.

They can reveal, for example, that Kim Jong Un was born in 1984 — not 1982 or 1983, as widely believed. The reason they're certain? It was the same year that their first son was born. "He and my son were playmates from birth. I changed both of their diapers," Ko said with a laugh.

Sometimes, operatives from the CIA's national clandestine service come to town to show Ko and Ri photos of North Koreans and ask who the people are.

The CIA declined to confirm or comment on any of Ko and Ri's claims. Some parts of the couple's history can be verified, but other parts cannot, or seem incomplete.

Even today, Ri in particular is sympathetic toward the North Korean regime and is trying to get approval to visit Pyongyang. And both are careful in what they say about their powerful nephew, repeatedly referring to him as "Marshal Kim Jong Un." But what they will say about their former charge paints a picture of a man who was raised knowing that he would one day be king.

In 1992, Ko Yong Suk arrived in Bern, Switzerland, with Kim Jong Chol, the first son of Ko's sister and Kim Jong Il, who in two years would become the leader of North Korea. Kim Jong Un arrived in 1996, when he was 12.

"We lived in a normal house and acted like a normal family. I acted like their mother," Ko said. "I encouraged him to bring his friends home, because we wanted them to live a normal life."

Traveling on a diplomatic passport, Ri went back and forth between North Korea and Switzerland. The family spoke Korean at home and ate Korean food but also enjoyed the benefits of an expatriate family in an exotic locale. Ko took the Kim children to Euro Disney, now Disneyland Paris. Kim Jong Un had been to Tokyo Disneyland with his mother some years before — and Ko's photo albums are full of pictures of them skiing in the Swiss Alps, swimming on the French Riviera, eating at al fresco restaurants in Italy.

Kim Jong Un loved games and machinery and trying to figure out how ships float and planes fly. He was already showing personality traits that would later become much more evident. "He wasn't a troublemaker, but he was short-tempered," Ko recalled. "When his mother tried to tell him off for not studying enough, he wouldn't talk back, but he would protest in other ways, like going on a hunger strike."

Kim loved going home for the summer, spending time in Wonsan, where the family has a huge beachfront compound, or at their main residence in Pyongyang, with its movie theater and plenty of room to hang out. "He started playing basketball, and he became obsessed with it," his aunt said of the young Kim, who was a Michael Jordan fan. "He used to sleep with his basketball." He was shorter than his friends, and his mother told him that if he played basketball, he would become taller, Ko said.

The world did not know that Kim had been anointed his father's successor until October 2010, when his status was made official at a Workers' Party conference in Pyongyang. But Kim had known since 1992 that he would one day inherit North Korea.

The signal was sent at his eighth birthday party, attended by North Korea's top brass, the couple said. Kim was given a general's uniform decorated with stars, and real generals with real stars bowed to him and paid their respects to him from that moment on. "It was impossible for him to grow up as a normal person when the people around him were treating him like that," Ko said.

From a humble background, Ko was catapulted into the top echelons of North Korean society in 1975, when her sister, a performer, caught the eye of the princeling Kim Jong Il and became his third partner. "I was very close to my sister, and it was a tough job to be the wife, so she asked me to help her. She could trust me because I was her own blood," Ko said.

Kim Jong Il personally selected Ri to marry his sister-in-law. They all lived in a compound in Pyongyang, with Ko looking after her sister's and her own children for years.

"We lived the good life," Ko said. Over a sushi lunch in New York, she reminisced about drinking cognac with sparkling water and eating caviar in Pyongyang, about riding with Kim Jong Il in his Mercedes-Benz. Then came the charmed years in Europe. But in 1998, Ko's sister discovered she had breast cancer and underwent treatment in Switzerland and France.

This is where Ko and Ri's version of events starts to become opaque. Given that Ri is trying get back into Kim Jong Un's good graces, he has reason to present their defection as nothing but altruistic.

As Ri and Ko tell it, the cancer treatment in Europe was not working, so they decided they should travel to the United States to try to secure treatment for Ko's dying sister. Their defection was all about trying to save Kim Jong Un's mother, they say.

Stories about the couple in the South Korean news media have suggested that they sought asylum because they were concerned about what could happen to them after Kim Jong Un's parents died. This was their link to the royal family, and without that link, what would happen to them?

Ko seemed to imply that this had been a concern. "In history, you often see people close to a leader getting into unintended trouble because of other people," she said. "I thought it would be better if we stayed out of that kind of trouble."

The dangers persist today. Just look at the case of Jang Song Thaek, the uncle who also lived in the Pyongyang compound with Ko and Ri. He apparently built up too much power. In 2013, Kim had him executed.

So one day in 1998, Ri and Ko and their three children took a taxi to the U.S. Embassy in Bern. They said they were North Korean diplomats and wanted asylum. After several days, they were taken to a U.S. military base near Frankfurt.

They stayed in a house on the base for several months while they were questioned. It was then that Ri and Ko disclosed their family connections. "The American government didn't know who Kim Jong Un was, that he would become the leader," Ri said.

When they landed in the United States, the family spent a few days in the Washington area — not far from CIA headquarters — before moving to a small city where a South Korean church had offered to help them, as it had done for others who escaped the North.

"The people at the church kept asking us questions," Ko said. So the family moved to a different city with few other Koreans, or even other Asians. "Life was hard at the beginning. We had no relatives and we worked for 12 hours every day," Ri said. He worked as a builder, then did maintenance, jobs that were easy to do without English.

Ko was frustrated at not being able to work. "The only thing I could do without speaking the language was dry cleaning," she said in Korean. Ri speaks reasonable English today, but Ko's is still basic. So they opened a small store and began working long hours, Ri at the machines and Ko doing alterations. They soon hit their stride.

Their children have no interest in Korea, North or South, she said. Their oldest son is a mathematician. Their second son helps out in the business, while their daughter works in computer science.

They have a comfortable existence but do not appear to be living large. Stopping at a gas station for lunch on the way back to their home, Ko was disappointed that the Dunkin' Donuts was out of burritos. It's a long way from cognac and caviar.

So why are they breaking their silence now? Ri says he wants to visit North Korea and has come out of their deep cover to dispel what he calls "lies" being peddled about their wider family in North Korea by regime critics. He is particularly careful around reporters not to speak ill of the regime.

"My ultimate goal is to go back to North Korea. I understand America and I understand North Korea, so I think I can be a negotiator between the two," he said. "If Kim Jong Un is how I remember he used to be, I would be able to talk to him."

Ko said she misses her hometown — the pull of home cannot be underestimated in Korean culture — but does not want to go back. Nor does she want Ri to visit. “But how can I change my stubborn husband's mind?"


Excerpted from an article that originally appeared in The Washington Post

June 18, 2016

Muslim Views on Gays are Complex but Their Teachings Have to Change

 The new american-muslim family
As one of a tiny number of openly gay imams in the world, Daayiee Abdullah has felt the sting of rebuke from fellow Muslims. No good Muslim can be gay, they say. And traditional schools of Islamic law consider homosexuality a grave sin.

But Abdullah, a Washington, D.C. lawyer who studied Islam in the Middle East, says that mainstream Islamic teaching on gays must change.

“It has to or it will die from its harshness or rigidity,” Abdullah said. “The way it is presently understood, it rots the heart and decays the brain.”

In the days since last’s week massacre at an Orlando gay nightclub, in which a Muslim man killed 49 people, attention has focused on homophobia among Muslims. And gay Muslims have talked about living between that rock of anti-gay anger and the hard place of Islamophobia that only increased after the Orlando attacks.

Investigators are considering whether Omar Mateen was at least partially motivated by his inability to accept that he was gay. Mateen’s father said his son was disgusted by two men he saw kissing days before the rampage, and that it was up to God to deal with gays — not his son.

Two afghanis find refuge on love and each other
Attitudes towards LBGT people in Muslim communities are complex, and far from universally anti-gay.

Some Muslims, like Abdullah, are welcoming what they see as an opening within their communities to address anti-gay attitudes. Several groups supportive of gay Muslims have sprung up within the U.S. in past years, including Muslims for Progressive Values and the Muslim Alliance for Sexual and Gender Diversity.

And young Muslims who often feel differently about homosexuality than their elders are increasingly speaking out in support of gay rights, as religion scholar Reza Aslan and comedian Hasan Minaj did in an open letter to American Muslims after last year’s Supreme Court decision legalizing gay marriage.

Others are pointing toward the Quran and a history of relative tolerance.

“In 1858 the Ottoman Empire decriminalized homosexuality, 100 years before they did so in the West,” said Abdullah, referring to the empire that ruled over Turkey and much of the present-day Middle East in the 15th and 16th centuries. Its official religion was Islam.

But Abdullah is under no illusions about the strength of homophobia within modern Muslim cultures.

In the U.S., a 2014 Pew Research Center study shows, Muslim Americans are less accepting of homosexuality than Americans as a whole: 47 percent of U.S. Muslims said it should be discouraged and 45 percent said it should be accepted.

But they were not the religious group that was most disapproving: Evangelical Christians, Jehovah’s Witnesses and Mormons oppose homosexuality by larger margins.

Abroad the picture is starker. And a 2013 Pew global study of Muslims showed overwhelming disapproval of homosexuality. In only three of the nearly 40 countries surveyed do as many as one-in-ten Muslims say that homosexuality is morally acceptable: Uganda (12%), Mozambique (11%) and Bangladesh (10%).

And almost all of the 10 countries that allow the death penalty for same-sex sexual relations are Muslim-majority nations. The president of one of those nations, Iran, has denied that gay people exist in his country.

“In Iran we don’t have homosexuals like in your country,” Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said at Columbia University in 2007. “ I do not know who has told you we have it.”

The gay capital of the Middle East is in the Jewish state of Israel: Tel Aviv advertises itself as a safe, vibrant destination for LGBT tourists, and attracts gays from the Palestinian territories and other societies where it is unthinkable to be openly gay. But even in Israel, a Jewish teenage girl died after an ultra-Orthodox Jewish man went on a stabbing spree last year at Jerusalem’s gay pride parade.

While Muslim nations such as Iran and Saudi Arabia have legislated violent punishment for gays, there are no laws against gay sex in either Jordan and Lebanon.You can find gay-friendly bars in Beirut, Amman and Istanbul.

And because socialization between unmarried men and women is unacceptable in conservative Muslim society, same-sex social gatherings are the norm, and may present opportunities for gay people to follow their hearts, Abdullah said.

That doesn’t mean that gays don’t suffer beatings and worse in these somewhat more tolerant countries, or that their families accept them. But even in places like Egypt, where the government has jailed and tortured its gay citizens, some LGBT people are still organizing, carefully, to improve their situations.

Those Muslims who reject gay relationships often point to sacred writings, as is the case with like-minded Christians.

For example, Adbdullah has often heard Muslims invoke the story of Lut in the Quran (comparable to the story of Lot in the Bible) to argue that Islam condemns men who love men. Like many other gay Muslims, he reads the same verses and comes to a different conclusion: that the story condemns cruelty, not any particular sexual act.

In the Quran, he finds nothing to condemn his sexual orientation. The word “homosexuality” is not used in the text, he notes. “The Prophet was not prejudiced.”

Pointing to the Quran or any religion’s sacred writings to explain current day moral stances also makes little sense, said Aisha Geissinger, who teaches about Islam at Ottawa’s Carleton University.

“Nobody takes all of their sexual morality nowadays from an old text. Christians don’t do it. Muslims don’t do it,” Geissinger said. “Otherwise, we’d have slavery.”

And like Abdullah, she offers an example from history that counters the idea that Muslim societies are monolithic and have always been hostile to same-sex desires.

In “Before Homosexuality in the Arab-Islamic World, 1500-1800,” author Khaled El-Rouayheb points out that much of the poetry in the Arab world prior to the 19th century was written by men about a male beloved, or a person whose gender is ambiguous.

“It is difficult to imagine that this type of poetry was so popular if it didn’t reflect something about what people were seeing as normative,” Geissinger said.

Lauren Markoe,

February 2, 2016

Do Charges Against Planned Parenthood Stack Up? How Much $ do they get from Gov?

How 3 Planned Parenthood Critiques Stack Up to the Numbers

Jim Mone / AP

A grand jury on Monday in Harris County, Texas indicted two members of an anti-abortion group that made undercover videos of Planned Parenthood, which was under investigation for alleged misconduct. The videos suggested Planned Parenthood had attempted to illegally profit from the sale of fetal tissue, reigniting the debate about the organization’s operations and bringing reproductive rights to the forefront of political debate.

With roots dating back to 1916, Planned Parenthood has been under fire for providing reproductive health services and distributing contraceptives. Now, many opponents of the organization cite these services along with excessive government funding as reasons why it should be defunded, or potentially shut down. Using data from the Planned Parenthood 2014-2015 annual report and the Guttmacher Institute, InsideGov tested the validity of the three common attacks on Planned Parenthood. Do the common critiques of the health organization hold up?

Opponents of Planned Parenthood Focus on its Abortion Services

In an article on, the national director of Priests for Life said the presence of a Planned Parenthood business so close to Catholic campuses is “a threat to the lives of the children carried in the wombs of pregnant students, and a threat to the health of any student who purchases Planned Parenthood services.” Though many believe that the organization promotes getting an abortion, how often are they performed?

Abortion only makes up 3.4 percent of the total services Planned Parenthood offers. The most frequent medical services include testing and treatment of sexually transmitted diseases and infections (44.6 percent) and contraception (31.1 percent). In fact, the number of abortions performed decreased in 2014 from the year prior, according to the Planned Parenthood annual report. Planned Parenthood performed 323,999 abortions nationwide in 2014, compared to 327,653 abortions in 2013, according to the report.

Opponents of Planned Parenthood Argue That Taxpayers’ Money Should Not Fund the Organization

Opponents feel that government funding for the organization equates to federally-funded abortion services. (The government only funds abortions in unfortunate cases of rape, incest and the endangerment of a mother's life.) This assertion was the fire behind the conservative push to defund Planned Parenthood completely. The House of Representatives successfully passed legislation at the end of 2015 that would cut funding to the organization, though it is under veto threat from President Obama.

If the House bill goes through, about 48 percent of Planned Parenthood funding would be cut, causing a significant decrease in reach and in services offered. It would be difficult for the other 52 percent — consisting of non-government health services revenue, private contributions and affiliate support — to keep the organization afloat alone. Since the data shows Planned Parenthood’s primary services involve STD testing and treatment, these suggested cuts would predominantly impact those services. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently warned certain STDs, like gonorrhea, chlamydia and syphilis, are on the rise, meaning that cuts to programs related to testing and treatment would likely put more men and women at risk for infection.

Opponents of Planned Parenthood Argue that We Would do Better Without It

Both sides go back and forth on the nitty-gritty of the numbers, like services rendered or finances. But at the core of the debate is the question of whether women and men need Planned Parenthood at all. Even with the help of Planned Parenthood health centers, there is still a shortage of clinics. Can other clinics do the job on their own?

Toggle the drop-down menu to see percent of female contraceptive needs met, number of females in need of publicly funded contraceptive services and female contraceptive clients served at publicly funded clinics.

Overall, many women across the country who need publicly funded contraceptive services aren’t seeing their needs met by publicly funded clinics. In Texas, where the indictment of the two pro-life videographers took place, 1,774,240 women sought contraceptive care, but only 16 percent are getting it. In California, however, 2,660,280 women are in need, and 54 percent see those needs met. If 2.7 million women and men in the United States annually visit Planned Parenthood’s 650 affiliate health centers around the country, where will women go if it closes?

While the data indicates that Planned Parenthood can help fill a need for more women’s health care across the nation, opponents remain steadfast against the practice of abortion. The fiery debate is sure to continue.

Posted on January 29, 2016 by Natalie Morin

Learn More About Political Issues on InsideGov

October 14, 2013

Memorial For Dad Killed Walking For Bullied, Dead Gay Son

Memorial set for father killed during walk for son

LA GRANDE, Ore. -- A memorial service will be held Thursday for Joseph Bell of La Grande, Ore. who was killed last week while walking across the country to raise awareness after his son committed suicide in January.
Bud Hill, Bell's close friend, was shaken by the tragic loss. He said offers have been pouring in from people wanting to help continue Bell's legacy with Faces For Change, one of the organizations Bell was walking for.
Bell, 48, was pronounced dead Wednesday on a highway in eastern Colorado when a semi-driver from Texas fell asleep at the wheel, striking and killing him.
In August, Bell began his national trek across the country to raise awareness about bullying and suicide prevention after his gay son, Jadin Bell, hanged himself at a La Grande grade school. Jadin died two weeks later in a Portland hospital.
"Joe had a lot of influence in the time he was out there," Hill said. "I honestly believe, between him and Jadin, there are people who changed their mind."
Joe and Jadin's story already stopped one young man from committing suicide, and he is scheduled to speak at the memorial service at the Gilbert Event Center at Eastern Oregon University, Hill said.
For now, Hill is taking time to reflect on the influence his friend had on young people around the county. He is determined to keep his vision and legacy going. He just has to figure out how.
"We just have to keep it going. We Will keep it going," he said.
Thursday's service in La Grande is open to the public.

October 10, 2013

A Couple That Went Door to Door Preaching Mormonism and Homophobia Found Out They Have a Gay Son

  Wendy and Tom Montgomery went door-to-door in their California neighborhood in 2008 campaigning for the passage of an anti-gay marriage proposition. They were among thousands of faithful Mormons following the direction of a church that spent millions on the cause.
Then they learned last year that their 15-year-old son is gay — a revelation that rocked their belief system.
Now, Wendy Montgomery is leading a growing movement among Mormons to push The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to teach that homosexuality isn't a sin.
They are hopeful. The Utah-based church's stance on homosexuality has softened considerably since it was one of the leading forces behind California's Proposition 8. A new website launched this year encourages more compassion toward gays, implores them to stay in the faith and clarifies that church leaders no longer "necessarily advise" gays to marry people of the opposite sex in what used to be a widely practiced Mormon workaround for homosexuality. In May, church leaders backed the Boy Scouts' policy allowing gays in the ranks. Some gay Mormons who left or were forced out of the church say they are now being welcomed back — even though they remain in same-sex relationships.
It may seem like negligible progress to outsiders, but Mormon scholars say 2013 has been a landmark year for the religion on gay and lesbian issues.
"For those who have been around as long as I have, to have Mormons and gays in the same sentence is quite something," said Bob Rees, a visiting professor of Mormon Studies at the Graduate Theological Union and the University of California, Berkeley.
Still, the church has only gone so far. Church apostle Dallin H. Oaks reiterated this past weekend during a biannual conference that human laws cannot "make moral what God has declared immoral." The church website, launched in December, reinforced that while same-sex attraction itself isn't a sin, succumbing to it is.
The contrasting messages from the church have left many Mormons struggling to figure out where they stand.
Wendy Montgomery is among them. Her world changed after she read her son's journal in early 2012 and learned he was gay.
"It made me question everything," said Montgomery, 37, of Bakersfield, Calif. "I'm looking at this 13-year-old boy who is totally innocent and pure and an amazing kid and I think, 'Either everything I know about homosexuality is wrong, or my son is not really gay. And, he's obviously gay.' I kind of had to unlearn everything I had learned."
Wendy and Tom Montgomery set out on a grueling six-month spiritual journey as they reconciled their love for their son, Jordan, with the teachings of their lifelong faith. They let family, friends and church mates know he was gay and established that they wouldn't tolerate any harsh treatment of their son.
They remain faithful Mormons, but have switched congregations after enduring ridicule from friends and fellow church members.
One woman told Montgomery her children should be taken away from her and given to somebody who follows the teachings of the prophet. Montgomery and her husband had to step down from their church positions — he was the assistant bishop and she was a Sunday school teacher to teens — after parents flooded the bishop's office with complaints that they were teaching homosexual propaganda that would turn other kids gay.
Their story is featured in a documentary made by the Family Acceptance Project at San Francisco State University. The Montgomerys found the organization after getting frustrated with church therapists who told them Jordan was just going through a phase. The organization works with conservative religious families to help them navigate their doctrines while also accepting their gay children.
Caitlin Ryan, the project director, has written a pamphlet specifically designed for Mormons that has been distributed throughout LDS churches in Utah. She said she believes the church is now paying attention to research that shows suicide has been a major issue with LGBT Mormon youth for decades.
Jordan Montgomery says in the documentary he had suicidal thoughts and was mortified of his parents disowning him.
Wendy Montgomery said she doesn't know how long her son will remain in the church, but steps taken in the past year have given her hope that church leaders will one day reverse their stance that homosexuality is a sin.
"There are so many that grew up in my situation, in conservative, religious homes that are being taught this," Montgomery said. "It's just not accurate. It's not right. And it's so damaging to the kids."
Follow Brady McCombs at
The trailer for a documentary about Wendy Montgomery's family:

April 17, 2013

Dem State Senator Had to Correct His GOP Counterpart on Gays and the Family

During the opening to today’s State Senate session in Iowa, GOP Senator Dennis Guth volunteered some unusual and rarely heard thoughts on homosexuality. His remarks, which implied that gay people hurt he and his family in “multiple ways,” were later called “ignorant” by Guth’s Democratic colleague Sen. Matt McCoy.
Guth began be attacking the media for its portrayal of the gay lifestyle. “The media, for the most part, has bamboozled us into thinking that having a relationship outside of the boundaries of monogamous, heterosexual marriage is positive, happy and fulfilling,” Guth said. “Movies, television shows, articles and magazines abound with this theme, giving partial information to vulnerable audience: our children.”
To answer the question of how same-sex marriages “hurt” the rest of society, Guth drew a parallel with smoking. “Just as there are multiple ways that your smoking hurts me, such as second-hand smoke,” he said, “so it is with same-sex relationships.” He continued, “There are health risks that my family incurs because of the increase of sexually transmitted infections that this lifestyle invites. For example, there are more and more medical tests required before giving blood or giving birth.” Guth did not elaborate on exactly how those two facts are connected.
Later in the session, Senator McCoy, who is openly gay, expressed his distaste with Guth’s comments. ”I was frankly just a little bit taken aback by some of the things that I heard today,” McCoy said, “as I know some of my colleagues were as well.” He added, “Much of what you heard today on the floor of the senate is warmed over rhetoric that has been invented by the Christian right, extreme groups.”
After refuting the specifics of many of Guth’s claims, McCoy concluded, “While somebody can not choose to be gay, you certainly can choose not to be ignorant. What I heard today was ignorant and I know where it came from. I am not gay by choice, but I choose not to be ignorant.”
Listen to Sen. Guth’s remarks, followed by Sen. McCoy’s response below:

February 20, 2013

Gat Uncle Make the Best } Honey Boo’s Unc.Poodle Looks like the Exception

 Honey Boo Boo's openly gay 'Uncle Poodle' has been accused of sending naked pictures of himself via the gay social networking app Grindr in a bid to attract potential suitors.
Positive: Honey Boo Boo's Uncle Poodle (real name Lee Thompson) has revealed that he is HIV-positive
According to TMZ an unnamed man from Georgia is now trying to sell images of the reality star posing unclothed in a shower to media outlets.
The seller said that he never met Poodle, whose real name is Lee Thompson, but during chat sessions he dropped the name of his famous niece into conversation 'almost immediately'.
Mr Thompson, who is the brother of Honey Boo Boo's father Sugar Bear and frequently stars on the hit TLC show Here Comes Honey Boo yet to respond to requests for comment.
The pictures were supposedly sent last week.
Last month, during an interview with Atlanta gay magazine Fenuxe, Mr Thompson revealed that he is HIV-positive.
'I was adamant about getting my HIV status checked on a regular basis,' he explained. 'On March 16, 2012, I tested negative.'
Mr Thompson, who says he regularly get STD tests, then revealed that a later test came up positive.
'Then, in May of 2012 my test results came back positive. I knew it had been my boyfriend who infected me,' he said.  
'I later learned he had been HIV positive and was not taking medication and had not bothered to tell me about it.
'I was advised that I should press charges and, hesitantly, I did. It was the right thing to do.'
 They are damn fools! They are playing Russian roulette; they are playing with their lives and that of their sexual partners,' he said.
In his brave interview, Mr Thompson reiterated how irresponsible people are who don't practise safe sex.
Mr Thompson has spoken out before about his sexuality, explaining what it is like to be gay in the South and shared his harrowing memories in a video for GLAAD's Spirit Day in October last year.

Her favourite: Uncle 'Poodle' is seven-year-old Honey Boo Boo's undisputed favourite and is often seen going to pageants with the reality star
Her favourite: Uncle 'Poodle' is seven-year-old Honey Boo Boo's undisputed favourite family member and the couple are often seen going to pageants together
He said he had fallen victim to some horrible attacks at the hand of ignorant thugs, which had left him with broken ribs and a dislocated jaw.
'Being gay in the South... people don't like it,' he explained in the reel.
'Growing up as a kid, I was bullied day in and day out ... broke ribs, dislocated jaw, cars vandalized ... I've had cars vandalized to this day.'
Supportive: Boo Boo is wise beyond her years and fully supports her lovely uncle
Supportive: Uncle Poodle is Honey Boo Boo's undisputed favourite family member
But Mr Thompson said he was able to get through it all because of his family and friends who stood by him.
'But I have a family that stands by me, supports me,' he said. Adding, 'I'm wearing purple today to let every youngster and every teen know it is okay to be who you are. Don't let nobody change that.'
Honey Boo Boo herself, real name Alana Thompson, supports her uncle wholeheartedly.
On the season finale of her hit TV show, Alana voiced her pro-LGBT stance, saying 'ain't nothin' wrong with bein' a little gay.'
Uncle 'Poodle,' is the seven-year-old's undisputed favourite.
Mr Thompson explained to the Georgia Voice how Alana came up with the Poodle nickname.
'We were at practice one day, getting ready for a pageant. Her coach was talking about her gay friends, and she said, ‘I love all my poodles,’' he told the Georgia Voice.
'Alana thought she was really talking about dogs. She wanted to know how many poodles she had, and what were their names. And I said, ‘No, Alana, she’s talking about gay people.’ Well, that did it. All gay people are poodles to her now, and I’m her number one poodle.
Pics and edited content from  DAILY MAIL REPORTER

February 8, 2013

Would It Surprise You Immigrants Kids Are More Democratic Than Their Folks

U.S.-born children of Hispanic immigrants are more likely than their parents to identify themselves as Democrats as they integrate into American life, maintaining strong ties to their cultural heritage while casting themselves as liberal on social issues.
A wide-ranging study released Thursday by the Pew Research Center lays bare some of the difficulties for the Republican Party following elections last November, when President Obama won with support from 80 percent of nonwhite and ethnic voters. The report tracks the socioeconomic progress and views of second-generation Americans, the bulk of them Latinos and Asians who were born in the U.S. after a 1965 immigration law opened U.S. borders to millions of non-Europeans.
"What's striking over the past several decades is that the two groups at the heart of the modern immigration wave — Hispanics and Asian-Americans — have both been trending Democratic over time, as they sink their roots deeper into American society," Paul Taylor, Pew's executive vice president, said in an interview.
"Many decades ago, Ronald Reagan is said to have described Hispanics as 'Republicans who don't know it yet.' Well, it's 2013, and they apparently still haven't figured it out," he said.
The report says adult children of immigrants as a group are integrating into U.S. society and doing generally better than newly arrived immigrants in median income, educational attainment and English fluency. The second-generation group also reports increased social ties, including intermarriage, with other racial and ethnic groups.
About 60 percent of Hispanics and Asians in the second generation consider themselves to be a "typical American," roughly double the share of first-generation immigrants who think so. At the same time, however, the second-generation groups maintain strong ties to their ancestral roots in an increasingly multicultural U.S., with majorities identifying themselves by their family's country of origin, such as Mexican-American, or by a pan-ethnic label such as Asian-American.
The study is based on Pew's analysis of census data as of March 2012, as well as prior years, supplemented with data from Pew polls including the 2011 and 2012 National Survey of Latinos and the 2012 Asian-American Survey. It uses commonly accepted demographic methods and models to track the population of different generations over time.
In a sign of challenges for the GOP, the generation that includes U.S.-born adult children of more recent Latino immigrants moved politically to the left of those in their parents' generation.
Among Hispanics, 71 percent who are second-generation are Democrats or lean that way, compared to 63 percent in the first generation. Among Asians, the ratio also edged higher, 52 to 49, although not enough to be considered statistically significant.
In the broader public, 49 percent reported that they are Democrats or lean that way.
On social issues such as gay rights and abortion, the adult children of immigrants are more liberal. While 53 percent of first-generation Hispanics say that homosexuality should be accepted by society, 68 percent in the second generation said so. The disparity is even wider among Asians expressing support: 46 percent (first-generation) compared to 78 percent (second-generation). Among the general public, support for gay rights stood at roughly 56 percent.
For abortion, where support and opposition among the overall public is evenly divided, the share of Hispanics who said abortion should be legal in all or most cases grew from one generation to the next, from 33 percent to 55 percent. Among Asians, the share rose from 51 percent to 66 percent.
The study said the relative youth of the second-generation group contributes to, but does not fully account for, their leftward shift on social issues.
But not all issues strictly followed that pattern.
When asked if they preferred a big government offering more services or a smaller government providing less, second-generation Hispanics were less likely than the first generation to support a big government, 71 percent to 83 percent. The same trend of declining support applied to second-generation Asians, 47 percent to 57 percent. Still, support among second-generation Americans for big government was higher than that of the general public, which stood at 39 percent.
The study's findings come as a fiscally conservative GOP is seeking ways to expand its shrinking base of aging white voters. Some Republicans, including Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida, are now urging their party to embrace an overhaul of immigration laws, including a path to citizenship for 11 million illegal immigrants, to prevent Democrats from using the issue as a wedge in future elections.
Due to immigration and high births, particularly among Hispanics, first- and second-generation immigrants now make up 1 in 4 U.S. residents. They are projected to rise to more than 1 in 3 by 2050. The two groups will represent as much as 93 percent of the growth in the U.S. working age-population between now and midcentury.
Since President Reagan garnered 37 percent of the Hispanic vote in 1980, Hispanic support for Republican presidential nominees has generally fallen, reaching 27 percent last November, according to exit polling conducted for the television networks and The Associated Press. The exceptions: 2000 and 2004, when an immigration-friendly Republican, George W. Bush, won after capturing 35 percent and 44 percent of the Latino vote, respectively. Among Asian-Americans, GOP support has steadily dropped from 55 percent in 1992 to 26 percent last November.
Among the report's findings:
—Better off: Adults in the second generation as a whole do better than those in the first generation in median household income ($58,000 vs. $46,000); college degrees (36 percent vs. 29 percent); and homeownership (64 percent vs. 51 percent). They are also less likely to be in poverty.
—Group relations: About 52 percent of Hispanics and 64 percent of Asian-Americans from the second generation say their group gets along well with all other racial and ethnic groups. That's compared to 26 percent of Latinos and 49 percent of Asians from the first generation. In terms of marriage, about 26 percent of Hispanics and 23 percent of Asian Americans in the second generation have a spouse of a different race or ethnicity, significantly higher than in the first generation.
—Language use: About 9 in 10 second-generation Hispanic and Asian-Americans can speak English "well" or "very well," substantially more than the immigrant generations.
(AP polling director Jennifer Agiesta and news survey specialist Dennis Junius contributed)

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