Bobby Jindal: I’m really, really against gay marriage

Posted April 23rd, 2015 by pikapp44

Gov. Bobby Jindal doubled down on his stance opposing gay marriage on Thursday, writing in an op-ed for The New York Times that the country must protect his and others’ religious liberty to do so.

Recent and controversial religious freedom bills in Indiana and Arkansas – which say religious freedom can be used as a defense against discrimination suits, but critics say promotes discrimination – have become a rallying cry for Christian conservatives, the very voting block the Republican governor seems determined to woo ahead of a likely 2016 presidential bid.

“Why shouldn’t an individual or business have the right to cite, in a court proceeding, religious liberty as a reason for not participating in a same-sex marriage ceremony that violates a sincerely held religious belief? That is what Indiana and Arkansas sought to do,” he wrote in the op-ed. “That political leaders in both states quickly cowered amid the shrieks of big business and the radical left should alarm us all.”

Back home in Louisiana, he’s advocating for a more restrictive bill: one that gives broad protections against state action to those who oppose gay marriage.

“Given the changing positions of politicians, judges and the public in favor of same-sex marriage, along with the potential for discrimination against Christian individuals and businesses that comes with these shifts, I plan in this legislative session to fight for passage of the Marriage and Conscience Act,” Jindal wrote in the op-ed, referring to the bill.

Jindal’s opposition to gay marriage may help him attract social conservatives, but Republicans – and particularly young Republicans – have begun softening on the issue in recent years.

Share

With the launch of a new campaign from BBDO, Wells Fargo is leaning into the advertising—and societal—trend of embracing same-sex couples.

A year after Droga5 featured a male couple with a baby in an ad for Honey Maid, the second largest U.S. bank by number of branches depicts two women practicing sign language before they meet the deaf girl they plan to adopt.

It’s unclear at the beginning of the ad why the women, individually, are learning how to sign. That becomes apparent when, together, they meet the girl, and one of the women signs, “We’re going to be your new mommies.”

A mom prepares for parenthood, as same-sex couple adopts a deaf child.

With the launch of a new campaign from BBDO, Wells Fargo is leaning into the advertising—and societal—trend of embracing same-sex couples.

A year after Droga5 featured a male couple with a baby in an ad for Honey Maid, the second largest U.S. bank by number of branches depicts two women practicing sign language before they meet the deaf girl they plan to adopt.

It’s unclear at the beginning of the ad why the women, individually, are learning how to sign. That becomes apparent when, together, they meet the girl, and one of the women signs, “We’re going to be your new mommies.”

The ad ends with a female voice saying, “Everyone works hard for a reason. Working together, we can help you prepare financially for when two becomes three.” The tagline remains, “Together we’ll go far.”

“Learning Sign Language” is the first of nine TV ads in a broader push that breaks Monday and runs throughout the year. The effort—the first big campaign since BBDO became lead creative agency last spring—also includes social media marketing and print, outdoor, digital and radio ads. Wells Fargo did not reveal the cost of the ads, but the bank spends about $175 million on media annually, according to Kantar Media.

Other TV ads tell the stories of small-business owners managing sales calls, a truck driver collecting momentos for his daughter and a retired woman taking her older friend to a hair salon. And as in “Sign Language,” the characters are diverse. One small business, for example, is run by an Hispanic family and the retired woman is black.

For Wells Fargo, the goal is to reflect the diversity of its customers and get beyond products and services to tell emotional stories that illustrate universal truths, according to chief marketing officer Jamie Moldafsky. The ad with the lesbian couple, for instance, captures emotions that any couple feels when adopting a child.

Moldafsky acknowledged the likehood of backlash for the ad’s portrayal of a same-sex couple, but she noted that Wells Fargo is a longtime supporter of the LGBT community and, since 2009, has had a unit that specializes in financial advice for same-sex couples.

“We really felt that this is a great way to both represent the notion of family and adoption—which is obviously a very important part of our community and many of our customers’ lives—and we do it in a way that felt very true to our perspective about diversity and inclusion,” Moldafsky told Adweek.

“Sign Language” has been in the works since the fall and was tested at different stages of its development, from the initial concept to the produced ad, according to the CMO. And although the concept evolved during development—an earlier version revolved around an international adoption—the basic scenario of a lesbian couple adopting a child never changed. Also, to better reflect reality, BBDO cast a real lesbian couple and a girl who is actually deaf.

“We thought it was really important that it be very real and authentic and true,” Moldafsky said.

Share

The divisions within the Bay Area’s Catholic community over gay rights hit Marin Catholic High School full force the other day, when a group of nuns walked out of their classes to protest the sponsors of a program intended to protect gay and lesbian teens from bullying.

The five members of the Dominican Sisters of Mary order exited their classrooms Friday as students began handing out flyers at the Kentfield school promoting a nationwide Day of Silence.

Their walkout came one day after 100 prominent local Catholics attracted national attention by taking out a full-page ad in The Chronicle calling on the pope to oust Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone, in part for trying to get teachers at Catholic schools to sign off on a morality clause that characterizes homosexual relations as “gravely evil.”

Marin Catholic High President Tim Navone and Principal Chris Valdez tried to put out the latest brushfire with a letter to parents about “a challenging day on our campus resulting in both students and faculty feeling confused about our mission.”

Prominent Catholics call on pope to oust S.F. archbishop

At issue was Friday’s annual Day of Silence, promoted by the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network — whose corporate sponsors include McDonald’s, Target, Disney/ABC, Wells Fargo, Morgan Stanley, Google and the NBA. It bills itself as a group of “students, parents, and teachers that tries to effect positive change in schools,” but the nuns at Marin Catholic High see it as anti-Catholic.

The school declined to participate in the Day of Silence. Instead, a morning prayer was read over the school’s PA system “to acknowledge and pray for students everywhere who have the experience of being ostracized, marginalized or silenced by bullying,” school officials wrote in their letter.

“Our intention was not to take part in a Day of Silence, but rather take a moment in the morning to pray together as a school community,” the letter to parents said.

Unfortunately, the administrators said, the school’s message was “compromised and misinterpreted” the night before when it was linked on Facebook to the campaign by the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network, “an activist group with which we are not affiliated.’’

When some Marin Catholic High students began handing out Day of Silence-related stickers and flyers on campus Friday morning, the five nuns felt “felt compromised, offended and uncomfortable,” Sister Clare Marie, one of the teachers, later wrote in a lengthy e-mail to her students.

She said the sisters “do not support bigotry or any kind of prejudice,” but that they were compelled to act out against an event promoted by a group that “believes actively in promoting homosexuality in all classrooms, K-12.”

Her e-mail also accused the group’s members of speaking out “against Christians who do not share their views” and handing out materials that “say that any church which teaches homosexuality is sinful is an ‘oppressor’ and should be opposed.”

Valdez told us in an interview that the sisters — who make up a small portion of the school’s 60 teachers — stayed away from the campus for the rest of the day, but had informed him of their intentions before they left.

Kari Hudnell, a spokeswoman for the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network, denied that the group “actively promoted” homosexuality in the classroom.

“We are not trying to convert anyone,” she said. “We are just trying to make sure schools are a safe environment for all kids.”

Hudnell pointed out that the group has pushed for antibullying and antidiscrimination laws that apply to religious beliefs, as well as race, gender and sexual orientation.

School officials told parents that the walkout by the five nuns “further confused the students and created some false rumors about the sisters not caring for students who feel bullied, ostracized or marginalized.”

Valdez told us that the school is working hard to cut through the politically charged atmosphere to “bring authentic dialogue to the campus” in hopes of healing any rifts between the students and sisters.

Share

A Pennsylvania high school has come under media scrutiny after a group of students organized an “Anti-Gay Day” in response to the nationally-observed Day of Silence.

The Day of Silence, which has been officially organized by GLSEN (or the Gay, Lesbian & Straight Education Network) since 2001, encourages students and young adults to take a vow of silence in an effort to prompt officials to address the problem of anti-lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) bullying and harassment in their schools.

Although the Day of Silence was observed April 17 nationally, McGuffey High School in Claysville scheduled their related activities for Wednesday, April 15 because of a planned field trip, BuzzFeed is reporting. This prompted the group of students to ask classmates to wear flannel shirts and write “anti-gay” on their hands on Thursday, April 16, in protest, according to WPXI-TV.

In addition, participants posted Bible verses on the lockers of students who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender (LGBT), the news station noted. Meanwhile, some encounters between students who participated and those who didn’t even got physical, The Advocate pointed out, and snapshots of the flannel-clad group appeared on social media.

“We came into school on Thursday and found a lot of people wearing flannel and we couldn’t figure out why,” Zoe Johnson, a 16-year-old McGuffey High School who identifies as bisexual, told BuzzFeed’s David Mack. “People started getting pushed and notes were left on people’s lockers. …I got called a dyke, a faggot. They were calling us every horrible name you can think of.”

More troubling still was an alleged “lynch list,” which the group was reported to have circulated around the school, according to WPXI-TV.

Sue Kerr, who is the editor-in-chief of Pittsburgh Lesbian Correspondents, slammed the event in a lengthy blog post.

“These kids didn’t just spontaneously pull a homophobic move. They have a plan,” she wrote. “They have coordinated outfits. They live and attend school in a county with no discrimination protections based on sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression.”

School officials have been mostly tight-lipped about the incident, but McGuffey High School Superintendent Erica Kolat released a statement to local station WPXI, noting that “allegations of harassment were brought to the attention of our administration.”

“We resolve to ensure that all children can grow and learn in a safe, supportive environment free from discrimination,” she noted.

Last week, the American Family Association’s Tim Wildmon, who has been outspoken in his opposition to LGBT causes, was also critical of the Day of Silence, calling it a “hijacking of the classroom for political purposes.”

Share

Oklahoma bill on Uber deletes protection for gay riders

Posted April 16th, 2015 by pikapp44

A bill that sets up a regulatory framework in Oklahoma for ridesharing programs such as Uber and Lyft passed the state Senate on Wednesday, but not before a provision protecting gay and transgender passengers from discrimination was removed.

The version of the “Oklahoma Transportation Network Company Services Act” that passed the Republican-controlled Senate on a 35-11 vote defines such companies as those that use a digital network or software application to connect passengers and drivers.

The House-passed version of the bill included language that prohibited the companies from discriminating against customers based on sexual orientation or gender identity. But Sen. Jason Smalley said he rewrote the bill to eliminate that language and allow private businesses to establish their own policies regarding discrimination.

“I believe if a private business owner wants to serve or not serve an individual, they have that purview right now,” said Smalley, a Republican.

The new version of the bill faced fierce criticism from Sen. John Sparks, a Norman Democrat who tried unsuccessfully to amend the measure requiring any driver who wishes to discriminate against a customer based on sexual orientation or gender identity to post notice of such intent in a visible place on his or her vehicle and on the company’s website.

“Why should you be able to discriminate?” Sparks said. “We’re talking about a level of civil conduct in the marketplace. Society has figured out that when you enter the marketplace, you should have an expectation of being treated fairly.”

Uber and Lyft, among the most popular ridesharing programs, already have policies in place that prohibit discrimination against customers based on sexual orientation or gender identity.

“Uber’s policy is to serve every neighborhood, every driver and every person who needs a ride,” company spokeswoman Jennifer Mullin said. The company will continue to enforce its current terms of service, “which make clear that discrimination in any form is not tolerated and will result in removal from the platform,” she said.

Troy Stevenson, executive director of Freedom of Oklahoma, said in a statement that the group does not “understand why a member of the Oklahoma Legislature wants to remove protections for (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) Oklahomans from a bill that is specific to an industry that already protects them, in their corporate policies. Oklahomans do not believe in discrimination, and it is time for ideological law makers to quit trying to distract from the real problems of our state by attacking the LGBT community.”

Share

Vivien “Vicky” Keller, a longtime South Florida social activist, has fallen on hard financial times and needs help. Keller, who championed many causes ranging from AIDS services, lesbian choruses, domestic partnerships and housing for gay teens rejected by their parents, is now 89 and simply cannot live on her total monthly resources, said her lawyer, Jodi A. Fischer.

“She lives incredibly meager,” Fischer told SFGN. “The sad fact is she can no longer stay alive.”

Friends of Keller have set up a GoFundMe.com page in hopes of helping her financial situation. Keller lives in a modest trailer in Oakland Park. Her lot rent was recently raised by $225 and the price hike has left Fischer searching for answers.

“What do I do with her?” Fischer asked. “I do not have an extra bedroom in my house or else I would move her in with me.”

Because of her age, Keller has circulation problems and walks with a cane. Keller, Fischer said, has named no one as her healthcare surrogate, a disturbing trend in the elderly South Florida community.

“She is not alone,” Fischer said.

Keller served on the Pride Committee for 38 years as a vocal straight ally. Among her progressive credentials, include music director for Church of Our Savior MCC in Boca Raton, founder of AIDS Center One (1986-1989), Member of Sage since 1993 and as a notary of the public, notarized the first gay domestic partnership in Broward County in 1999.

To make a donation to the Miss Vicky Eviction Fund, visit www.GoFundMe.com/HelpMissVicky

Share

Ted Cruz has officially had his hat in the ring for the 2016 GOP presidential nomination for less than three weeks, and no, his campaign has not ended yet. But perhaps it should, given that the Texas senator seems to think he can get elected by unflinchingly demonizing the LGBT community. It’s an interesting strategy.

At a presidential candidate forum in Iowa on Thursday, Cruz doubled down on his support for controversial “religious freedom” laws in states such as Indiana and Arkansas, from which other potential GOP nominees Jeb Bush and Rand Paul have already attempted to distance themselves. The laws are widely considered to sanction discrimination, particularly against LGBT individuals, but Cruz seems to think that’s just fine — because the gay community has launched a “jihad” against Christians.

Flanked by former Republican presidential candidate Mike Huckabee, the GOP hopeful told a crowd of homeschooling activists to beware “the jihad that is being waged right now in Indiana and Arkansas, going after people of faith who respect the biblical teaching that marriage is the union of one man and one woman.”

“We need to bring people together,” Cruz said, adding that Republicans and Democrats used to be in agreement about religious liberty and, he implies, condoning discrimination. “This election needs to be about bringing together that consensus again, and that’s got to come from the people.”

Share

The Florida House of Representatives voted 75-38 to pass a bill (HB 7111) that would allow the state’s adoption agencies to engage in any kind of discrimination if serving a particular family violates its “religious or moral convictions or policies.” The state contracts with several private agencies to manage its child-placement services, some of which are religiously affiliated. Under the bill, the state could not revoke a license nor refuse any funding to these agencies based on their decision not to place children with certain families.

Unlike how the “religious freedom” bills played out in Arkansas and Indiana, proponents of Florida’s legislation were quite open during this week’s debates about the bill’s discriminatory intentions.

Rep. David Richardson (D) spearheaded efforts to undermine the bill with various amendments that would have carved out nondiscrimination exemptions. His first amendment would have prevented the state from funding organizations that discriminate; the bill’s sponsor, Rep. Jason Brodeur (R) responded, “This amendment does the exact opposite of the entire bill. I was ask that you vote it down.” It was, in fact, voted down 38-78.
From there, other members introduced separate amendments carving out discrimination exemptions for specific classes: one for race, one for marital status, one for sexual orientation, one for gender, etc.

Among the amendment sponsors was Rep. Janet Cruz (D), who explained, “I have a daughter who’s gay and I want to make sure she’s never discriminated against if she decides to adopt a child.” In each case, Brodeur offered a substitute amendment — each of which was identical — adding instead only the words, “An act by a private child-placing agency under this subsection does not constitute discrimination.” The substitute amendments passed every time as the House essentially voted in favor of discrimination based on all of those classes.

When Brodeur was repeatedly asked to confirm that his bill would allow the various types of discrimination addressed by the proposed amendments, he usually demurred. Most times, he rejected the premise of the questions, insisting that he was simply protecting “religious freedom.” On at least one occasion, Brodeur did, however, admit the discriminatory intentions of his legislation. Richardson asked him, “If a child-placing agency decided that they had a moral objection to having single moms adopt, would they be permitted under your bill to have that policy and then reject all single mothers from adopting in the state of Florida?” Brodeur responded with a simple, “Yes.” Watch it:

Share

A majority of Americans believe businesses should not be allowed to refuse services based on their religious beliefs in the wake of controversies in Indiana and Arkansas over gay rights and religious freedom, a Reuters/Ipsos poll found on Thursday.

The poll, conducted April 6 to 8, also found that 52 percent of Americans support allowing same-sex couples to marry, far more than the 32 percent who oppose it.

The survey results suggest a split over the issue between Americans and some of the politicians who represent them.

Indiana’s Republican governor, Mike Pence, triggered a firestorm in his state this month by signing a law that would allow businesses to refuse services to certain groups or people based on their religious beliefs.

Gay rights activists saw the law as discriminatory and the resulting backlash forced Indiana’s state legislature to make changes to the law.

Days later, Arkansas’s Republican governor, Asa Hutchinson, forced his state legislature to change a similar law in order to avoid having it blow up into a controversy in his state.

The poll found solid opposition to allowing businesses to refuse services or refuse to hire people or groups based on religious beliefs.

Fifty-four percent said it was wrong for businesses to refuse services, while 28 percent said they should have that right. And 55 percent said businesses should not have the right to refuse to hire certain people or groups based on the employer’s religious beliefs, while 27 percent said businesses should have the right.

The Reuters-Ipsos poll found divisions among Americans on where same-sex marriage laws should be made.

The largest grouping, 34 percent, believes same-sex marriage laws should be made by the U.S. Supreme Court declaring a nationwide constitutional right.

Another 22 percent said same-sex marriage laws should be made at the state level by voter referendum. Eleven percent said laws should be made by state legislators and 8 percent would leave it up to Congress. The poll found 24 percent did not know how best to handle it.

The poll said 55 percent want to see all states – even those that do not permit same-sex marriages – recognize such unions from states where same-sex marriage is legal.

For the survey, 892 people aged 18 years old and over were interviewed online. The Reuters/Ipsos online poll was measured using a credibility interval. It has a credibility interval of plus or minus 3.7 percentage points.

Share

For the first time, companies that have contracts with the federal government are now prohibited from firing or discriminating against employees based on their sexual orientation or gender identity, thanks to an executive order that takes effect Wednesday.

President Barack Obama signed the order in June 2014 banning workplace discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender employees of federal contractors and the federal government. The administration took the last six months to provide rules to contractors, and to give companies time to put processes in place. The change affects 24,000 companies employing roughly 28 million workers, or about one-fifth of the nation’s workforce.

Chad Griffin, president of the Human Rights Campaign, called the change “historic” in a Wednesday tweet.

It is still legal in 29 states to harass someone at work or fire them for being LGBT. Democrats in Congress have tried to remedy that with the federal Employment Non-Discrimination Act, which passed the Senate in 2013 but went nowhere in the House. They are likely to put forward a more comprehensive bill this year, banning LGBT discrimination in employment, housing, public accommodations, federal programs and education.

Obama had been pressing Congress for years to pass legislation addressing LGBT workplace discrimination, but finally took action himself when legislators did nothing. Top administration officials took pride Wednesday, so to speak, in the president’s record on strengthening protections for the LGBT community.

“This will effectively prevent any company that does business with the government from firing an employee based on who they are or who they love,” White House senior advisor Valerie Jarrett wrote in an op-ed.

Labor Secretary Tom Perez said the bottom line is that federal contractors receive billions in taxpayer dollars to do government work, so in return, they are held to standards that they may not discriminate in hiring, firing and pay.

“Until today, it was discrimination based on sex, race, color, religion, national origin, disability and status as a protected veteran that was prohibited,” Perez wrote in a blog post. “Now, in the first expansion since 1974, LGBT Americans enjoy these same protections.”

Share