Monday, March 30, 2015

Indianapolis Star To State Legislature: "Fix This Now"


Excerpts from the Indy Star's op-ed:

The consequences will only get worse if our state leaders delay in fixing the deep mess created.

Half steps will not be enough. Half steps will not undo the damage.

Only bold action — action that sends an unmistakable message to the world that our state will not tolerate discrimination against any of its citizens — will be enough to reverse the damage.

Gov. Mike Pence and the General Assembly need to enact a state law to prohibit discrimination in employment, housing, education and public accommodations on the basis of a person's sexual orientation or gender identity.

Those protections and RFRA can co-exist. They do elsewhere.

[snip]

We urge Gov. Pence and lawmakers to stop clinging to arguments about whether RFRA really does what critics fear; to stop clinging to ideology or personal preferences; to focus instead on fixing this.

Governor, Indiana is in a state of crisis. It is worse than you seem to understand.

The op-ed points to the fact that Indianapolis passed LGBT protections nearly a decade ago. To no negative results.

And the state could base passage of LGBT protections on that ordinance and get it done before the legislative session ends.

Will the leaders of Indiana's legislative bodies hear this call for equality?

A Song For Indiana By Randy Rainbow (No, not me...)

Indiana Lawmakers Scramble As "License To Discriminate" Debacle Continues to Spiral


I know I've been writing a lot about the debacle in Indiana regarding the passage of SB101 - the so-called "Religious Freedom Restoration Act."

As an interested party, it's fascinating to see how government will/will not or can/cannot react to situations like this.

I'm captivated watching this press conference today with Indiana House Speaker Brian Bosma and Senate President Pro Tem David Long where said they are prepared to urge legislative colleagues to adapt the RFRA's language to "clarify" the law.

That sounds good. At first.  But all indications seem to be that they aren't really proposing any real changes to the anti-gay legislation. The word "clarify" is all they seem to come up with here.

Don't let the 30 minute time length intimidate you. Just watch the first two minutes. Really incredible to see the two lawmakers scramble to try and get this under control.

It's of interest to me that they pretend that they didn't see this backlash coming. At one point, one of the two says that they never heard strong objections over the bill during it's passage. And yet, I know voices were raised.

Perhaps they thought it would just be a couple of LGBT advocacy groups and some bloggers? Wrong.

Trust and believe they knew EXACTLY what this law was and is. They knew it was born of anti-gay animus.

Over and over they proclaim the law does not discriminate; that it's a "mischaracterization" and a "misconception" about the law.

Asked if they would consider adding sexual orientation to the state's protected classes, they rear back saying that would be too difficult for now.

Just... watch the video. Very interesting political theater.

Anonymous Bisexual NFL Player "Offended" Michael Sam Said Others Don't Have Courage To Come Out


TMZ Sports is reporting that they have spoken to a "bisexual NFL player" who's "offended" because out NFL-er Michael Sam said other gay men in the league are less courageous because they don't want to come out.

The player -- who didn't want to be identified by name -- has played in the league for several seasons and says he's open about his sexuality with close friends.

But when the player read Sam's recent comments about gay men in the league -- he was offended.

Specifically, the player was upset when Sam said ... "I respect the players that did reach out to me and had the courage to tell me that they were also gay, but they do not have the same courage as I do to come out before I even played a down in the NFL."

The player's response -- "As a bisexual man, I just feel like Michael Sam does not speak for all gay men."

"He has his own opinion ... but DON'T say that we don't have the courage to come out. It's totally wrong. Just speak for yourself. No one else."

I think it goes without saying that if you're accused of not having the courage to come out, and then you don't while giving a news outlet an interview, you've basically proven Michael Sam right.

The unnamed player added that "the NFL isn't ready for people to be open about it. Or the General Managers for that matter."

Mr. Anonymous also threw out a final swipe at Sam, saying that he had his chance, but, "I just don't think he performed well."

Portland Mayor Suspends City-Funded Travel To Indiana Over "License To Discriminate"


Portland Mayor Charlie Hales follows other mayors across the country in suspending city-funded travel to the state of Indiana.

"Gov. Mike Pence and the Indiana Legislature have to understand that such blatant discrimination against their own citizens cannot stand. We, as a country, have moved so far from those shameful practices of the past," Hales said.

"It is regrettable that the great city of Indianapolis, led by its very effective mayor, Greg Ballard, is being dragged down by the reactionary efforts of the State Legislature and the governor."

“Indiana isn’t the first state to adopt this backward, discriminatory policy, but most states have sexual-orientation language in their civil rights statutes to protect LGBT residents,” Hales said.

“Indiana doesn’t offer these same protections. All states have to realize that government-sponsored discrimination against LGBT residents in the United States of America has to stop.”

NBC Announces THE WIZ For Live TV Telecast, Then Major Broadway Revival


NBC announced today that The Wiz (winner of 7 Tony Awards including Best Musical in 1975) will be the next Live musical production on the network with an airdate of December 3rd.

That will be followed by a major Broadway revival to be co-produced with Cirque du Soleil for the 2016-17 season.

Craig Zadan and Neil Meron, who produced the previous "The Sound of Music Live" and "Peter Pan Live" telecasts, are back at the helm for this third live, musical presentation.

Tony Award-winning director Kenny Leon will stage both the television production and Broadway revival of "The Wiz" in collaboration with Tony winner and Broadway icon Harvey Fierstein, who will contribute new material to the original Broadway book by William F. Brown.

"We love this yearly tradition and we're more excited than ever to not only bring another Broadway musical to America's living rooms, but also see it land on Broadway as well," said Greenblatt. "It's a natural next step for our live musical events and we're so pleased to be in business with this award-winning creative team and Scott Zeiger, President and Managing Director of Cirque du Soleil's new theatrical division. Cirque's incredible imagination will help bring the fantasy world of Oz vividly to life and give this great show a modern spin on the age-old story we all love."

"We are delighted that NBC and Cirque du Soleil will present 'The Wiz,'" said Zeiger. "It's a musical I have wanted to produce for years and it's the perfect show to present under the new Cirque du Soleil Theatrical banner."

Additional creative staff and casting are to be announced at a later date.

I've had mixed feelings about the first two Live musical telecasts, but love the idea of Cirque being involved here.

The Wiz is a terrific score, but as a book musical it remains a bit dated today. With both Cirque and Harvey Fierstein onboard, it sounds promising that the contemporary musical can be brought current again, with new magic added.

The musical made a star out of Stephanie Mills, who went on to a successful recording career after the run of The Wiz on Broadway.

In 1989 she revisited the song "Home," that made her famous. Watch below.

Georgia: House Judiciary Committee Cancels Meeting For "Religious Liberty" Bill


A Georgia state House Judiciary committee meeting scheduled for Monday morning to further consider a “Religious Freedom Restoration Act” (RFRA) was abruptly cancelled last night.

With only two more days left in Georgia's legislative session, it's possible the cancellation was due, in part, to a disastrous appearance by Indiana Gov. Mike Pence on ABC's This Week.

From the Atlanta Journal-Constitution:

The back-and-forth on the bill comes as Indiana deals with the backlash from adopting a similar law that has led to calls of boycotts and the potential loss of tens of millions of dollars in tourism and economic development. Indiana Gov. Mike Spence on Sunday told ABC News the law is not about discrimination but refused to say whether it would permit a business owner to refuse service to someone with whom they disagree.

In Georgia this past Thursday, in a surprise 9-8 vote, the Judiciary Committee voted to amend Senate Bill 129 to add language making clear the bill could not be used to discriminate against anyone already protected by any local, state or federal law. It was quickly tabled by supporters who said adding anti-discrimination language “gutted” the bill.
The amendment was sponsored by Rep. Mike Jacobs, R-Brookhaven, who said at the time, "I take at face value the statements of the proponents that they do not intend discrimination with this bill but I also believe that if that is the case, we should state that expressly in the bill itself. That is what the amendment does."

Perhaps Georgia doesn't want to be the next Indiana.

RFRA legislation has become the new means to attack the LGBT community by conservatives who see the writing on the wall with the impending decision coming soon from SCOTUS on marriage equality.

Fox News' Bret Baier Debunks Indiana's "Religious Freedom" Law


When even Fox News anchors can see a law doesn't work, you know the jig is up.

Bret Baier, appearing on Happening Now today, told host Eric Shawn that the law is NOT like the federal version, and that it will "have to be tweaked, if not changed."

Check this transcript from the segment:

ERIC SHAWN: You know, the law was intended to protect personal religious liberties against government overreach and intrusion. So what happened?

BAIER: Well, Indiana's law is written a little differently. It is more broad. It is different than the federal law that it's close to, but different than, and also different than 19 other states and how the law is written. In specific terms, Indiana's law deals with a person who can claim religious persecution but that includes corporations, for profit entities and it could also be used as a defense in a civil suit that does not involve the government. That is broader than the other laws. This is where it's a little different in Indiana's case. You saw governor Mike Pence try to defend the law and say it's just like the 1993 federal law where it's just like 19 other states, but as you look in the fine print, it's not really, and it may be something that Indiana deals with in specifics to line up with the others.

[snip]

SHAWN: Obviously, it had good intentions. What do you think happened to make it kind of go off the rails this way?

BAIER: Well, how it was structured, Eric. And I think that, you know, there may be good intentions behind it but how it's being interpreted is being a little bit more forward leaning than any other Religious Freedom Restoration Act on the books. What this does politically, obviously Mike Pence has been talked about as a governor thinking about a 2016 run. We don't know if he's going to do it or not. But that interview with Stephanopoulos over the weekend was obviously not a great back and forth in defense of this law that likely is going to have to be at least tweaked, if not changed. [emphasis added]

Further discussions about SB101 continue to circle back to the federal law with conservative Hoosier lawmakers saying their law is "exactly" like.

But as Bret Baier and many others can now attest to upon closer evaluation, there is a major difference between Indiana's version of the law and the federal government's version.

From Media Matters:

Indiana's RFRA is categorically different from other "religious freedom" laws, because it includes for-profit businesses under its definition of "persons" capable of religious expression.

The Indiana law also allows private individuals and businesses to claim a religious exemption in court "regardless of whether the state or any other governmental entity is a party to the proceeding."

Those differences -- which the ACLU has called "virtually without precedent" -- expand the scope of Indiana's RFRA and provide a legal defense for businesses and individuals who refuse service to LGBT residents.

North Carolina: Gov. McCrory Speaks Out Against "Religious Freedom" Legislation


Speaking on WFAE’s Charlotte Talks with Mike Collins, North Carolina Governor Pat McCrory (R) spoke out against a bill in his state's legislature that would mimic the controversial "Religious Freedom" laws in Indiana, which could allow for legalized discrimination against LGBT folks.

“What is the problem they’re trying to solve?” McCrory said during a radio interview. “I haven’t seen it at this point in time.”

McCrory also denounced a bill approved in the state Senate that would allow magistrates to "opt-out" of performing same-sex marriages if they were so inclined.

“I don’t think you should have an exemption when you took an oath to uphold … the constitution of North Carolina,” he said.

(via Charlotte Observer)

Connecticut: Governor Dan Malloy Bans State-Funded Travel To Indiana



First, San Francisco's mayor issued a ban on city-funded travel to the state of Indiana over the recently passed (and highly controversial) "license to discriminate" legislation SB101.

Then, Seattle's mayor followed suit.

Today, the governor of Connecticut has now issued his own executive order banning state-funded travel to the Hoosier state.

Malloy's communications director, Mark Bergman, followed up with tweets pointing out that Connecticut's religious freedom laws only pertain to religious institutions - not private organizations.

And, unlike other states Connecticut doesn't permit discrimination on sexual orientation in any private establishment or institution.

FRC's Peter Sprigg Gets Schooled By CNN's Chris Cuomo On Indiana "License To Discriminate"


CNN's Chris Cuomo delivers an epic take-down of virulently anti-gay Peter Sprigg of the Family Research Council over Indiana's "License To Discriminate" legislation - SB101.

Excerpt via Mediaite:

“There is a picture that’s circulating around of the governor as he signed [the bill],” Cuomo said. “Several of the people in the picture are outspoken critics of gay existence. Now, that’s not a coincidence. It’s not a coincidence why you’re against it. Let me ask you, why do so many Christians these days believe that the exercise of their faith requires exclusion and judgment of others?”

“Some people have a sincere, conscientious belief that marriage is defined as the union between a man and a woman,” Sprigg replied. “In fact the majority of Americans believe that.”

“Popularity is not the ultimate arbiter of what is right and wrong if protecting rights under the Constitution,” Cuomo said. “The question then goes to: why do you need this? What is it about someone being gay or someone wanting to marry someone of the same sex — what is there in that that is keeping you from being the Christian you want to be?…If I said, Mr. Sprigg, you must go marry a man right now, you can say, no, that’s a violation of my faith. Maybe that, you would be able clear this burden. But how is wanting to judge others somehow stopping you from practicing your faith?”

The upshot? We're not crazy here, kids. Everyone sees this. The haters just don't want to say it out loud.

Forward.

Madonna & Taylor Swift Perform "Ghosttown" At IHeartRadio Awards


Hottest pop star of the moment Taylor Swift accompanied biggest pop star of all time Madonna at the 2015 iHeartRadio Awards last night on Madge's current single "Ghosttown" from Rebel Heart.

Madonna returned the favor by presenting Taylor with "Song of the Year" honors for "Shake It Off."



Marriage News Watch - March 30, 2015


From the American Foundation for Equal Rights:

Texas has won the right to have gays and lesbians fired for taking medical leave.

The state's also working on a sneaky work-around to stop marriage equality, just in case the Supreme Court overturns the state's ban.

And Alabama officials says that maybe gays and lesbians don't want to get married after all.

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Music Video: Steve Grand "Time"


Singer-songwriter Steve Grand's new music video explores the arc of a gay relationship in the video for his new single “Time.”

The piano-driven pop ballad is from his brand new album All-American Boy available now.


GLAAD Names Names And Points Fingers At Indiana SB101 Signing

(Click pic to enlarge)
Life is funny. Folks may think they can hate, and then get away without being identified.

Until, they can't.

Boom.

It's cool guys. If you wanna hate, go for it. My only request - be proud of what you stand for.

Graphic via GLAAD.
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