Former Pittsburgh Steeler defensive coordinator, NFL head coach, and NBC analyst Tony Dungy is making headlines after saying he wouldn’t have drafted Michael Sam because he is gay, and wouldn’t want to “deal with it.”

Dungy told the Tampa Tribune that he wouldn’t have taken Sam, “Not because I don’t believe Michael Sam should have a chance to play, but I wouldn’t want to deal with all of it.”

Michael Sam is a former Missouri linebacker, SEC player of the year, and openly gay.

He was drafted in the 7th round of the NFL draft by the St. Louis Rams.

Dungy told the paper, “It’s not going to be totally smooth … things will happen.”

Tony Dungy was the first African-American coach to ever win a Super Bowl.

Dungy was the defensive coordinator with the Steelers from 1984 to 1988.

Current Steelers coach Mike Tomlin was a defensive backs coach under Dungy.

The NFL Shop says that Michael Sam’s jersey is the 6th most popular selling jersey since April 1st.

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Ban on gay marriage struck down in Monroe County

Posted July 17th, 2014 by pikapp44

The ruling comes in response to a lawsuit by Aaron Huntsman and William Lee Jones, who sued Monroe County Clerk Amy Heavilin after the clerk refused to grant the couple a marriage license.

Circuit judge Luis Garcia’s ruling applies only to Monroe County, and does not take affect until Tuesday. If his ruling is enacted, Florida will become the 20th state to allow same-sex marriage.

State attorney general Pam Bondi filed an appeal later in the day. The case will now go to the Third District Court of Appeal.

According to Mary Meeks and Elizabeth Schwartz, two of the attorneys involved in a similar case in Miami-Dade, the attorney general’s appeal means that there will be an automatic stay of the judge’s ruling, which will have to be lifted by the court of appeals or the Florida Supreme Court for gay marriages to occur.

Bernadette Restivo, one of the lawyers for Huntsman and Jones in Key West, said that her team was moving forward.

“We’ll be conferring with attorneys from Equality Florida and finding how to proceed,” she said as she drove to a planned celebration on Duval Street in Key West.

Restivo said that she had a sense her side would win when Garcia asked “a couple of pointed questions of our opponents, and they weren’t explaining their side very well. Florida allows homosexuals to adopt, Florida allows homosexuals to use assisted reproduction to conceive, but it wasn’t allowing these children to be in an intact family. We argued there was no rational relationship there.”

Garcia heard arguments in the case July 7. Weighing on his mind, he wrote, was a 2008 election in which 62 percent of Florida voters approved a statewide ban on gay marriage.

Wrote Garcia, “This court is aware that the majority of voters oppose same-sex marriage, but it is our country’s proud history to protect the rights of the individual, the rights of the unpopular and the rights of the powerless, even at the cost of offending the majority.

“Whether it’s the NRA protecting our right to bear arms when the City of Chicago attempted to ban handguns within its city limits; or when Nazi supremacists won the right to march in Skokie, Illinois, a predominantly Jewish neighborhood; or when a black woman wanted to marry a white man in Virginia; or when black children wanted to go to an all-white school, the Constitution guarantees and protects ALL of its citizens from government interference with those rights. All laws passed whether by the legislature or by popular support must pass the scrutiny of the United States Constitution, to do otherwise diminishes the Constitution to just a historic piece of paper.”

Today’s decision is just the first of what may become a cascade or Florida court rulings in favor of gay marriage in the coming days.

Miami-Dade Circuit Judge Sarah Zabel heard argument July 2 on the same issue – but involving six same-sex couples who live in that county and want to get married. Her ruling is expected any day.

The same is true in federal court in Tallahassee, where U.S. District Judge Robert Hinkle is mulling whether to order Washington County’s clerk of courts to issue two men a marriage license and whether to require Florida to grant the same rights that married couples have to same-sex couples who were wed in other states and Canada.

One of the lawyers involved in that case, Daniel Tilley of the Americal Civil Liberties Union of Florida, issued a statement today that read, “This is the beginning of the end of the marriage ban and of marriage discrimination in Florida.”

Additionally, a lawsuit against Florida Atlantic University in Palm Beach Couty asking the state to recognize same-sex marriages performed in other states is already in the appeals stage.

“County courts aren’t statewide. We need one of these appellate decisions, either mine or this one, to come forward and create a statewide effect,” George Castrataro, the lawyer in that case, said. “I think that’s the most important next step.”

Reaction from national pro-gay-marriage organizations came swiftly.

“Judge Garcia did the right thing in affirming that committed same-sex couples share in the precious constitutional freedom to marry the person we love,” wrote Evan Wolfson, president of Freedom to Marry.

“Today’s court ruling in Florida is further proof that America is ready for marriage equality nationwide, “said Human Rights Campaign legal director Sarah Warbelow.

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A regional accrediting agency has placed Gordon College, a Christian school in Boston, under review as the institution seeks the legal ability to discriminate in hiring against members of the LGBT community, the Boston Business Journal reported.

D. Michael Lindsay made Gordon the lone higher education institution to sign onto a letter from roughly a dozen faith-based organizations petitioning the Obama administration for exemptions on the basis of religion from an executive order banning discrimination in hiring on the basis of sexual orientation. The order would apply to Gordon as an institution taking federal funding.

The New England Association of Schools and Colleges’ Commission on Institutions of Higher Education will review whether the college is violating a policy requiring its members to adhere to “non-discriminatory policies and practices in recruitment, admissions, employment, evaluation, disciplinary action, and advancement,” and whether it has an atmosphere respecting and supporting “people of diverse characteristics and backgrounds.”

“There’s considerable publicity about the whole issue, and it’s been getting a lot of attention,” commission director Barbara E. Brittingham told the Boston Globe. “It’s a matter of looking at the information we have and deciding if the institution is meeting our standards.”

The ultimate punishment — though rare — would be for the commission to revoke Gordon’s accreditation, which would set off challenges with the school’s access to federal funding and potential downgrades by credit rating agencies.

The move by Gordon’s administration sparked a backlash among its own students and alumni, with some 3,500 people signing an online petition calling on Lindsay to rescind his request.

Lindsay responded earlier this month in a letter to the community stating that although it wants the legal freedom on the basis of religion to not hire someone because they are gay or lesbian, “We have never barred categories of individuals from our campus and have no intention to do so now.”

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When openly gay police chief Crystal Moore was fired by a mayor who condemned her lifestyle as “questionable,” she feared her two decade career in law enforcement in this town was over.

Then, this conservative, small town rebelled.

The people of Latta, who voted overwhelmingly for a state amendment banning gay marriage eight years ago, turned against the mayor, stripped him of his powers and the town council rehired Moore. They said her dedication to the town mattered more than her sexual orientation.

Residents remembered Moore’s civic spirit from as far back as 1989, when Hurricane Hugo tore through Latta. She was a high school student working part time as a police dispatcher, and helped cut downed tree limbs to clean up the debris. This February, when an ice storm crippled the town and left it without power for days, Moore piled her officers in her SUV and checked on as many people as she could.

“That’s Crystal. All she does is help people. I don’t get why he fired her. Maybe it’s the ignorant people who talk the loudest. She was the same great Crystal yesterday as she is today, and she’ll be the same person tomorrow,” said lifelong Latta resident Dottie Walters.

Mayor Earl Bullard vehemently denied that he fired Moore because she was gay. Instead, he said she was dismissed for “sheer insubordination” during the three months he was her boss.

Moore said she hadn’t received a single reprimand during her career until Bullard presented her with seven the day she was fired in April. Word of her termination spread fast in this tobacco hub of about 1,400 people, just off Interstate 95. About two dozen people gathered at her office in support on the day she was let go.

The support for Moore grew when Town Councilman Jarett Taylor started secretly recording his conversations with the mayor, which is legal in South Carolina. Taylor said he learned not to trust the mayor because he would tell him something, and later deny he ever said it.

In a conversation released to reporters after Moore was fired, the mayor said: “I’d much rather have somebody who drank and drank too much taking care of my child than I had somebody whose lifestyle is questionable around children, because that ain’t the damn way it’s supposed to be.”

Bullard, who has avoided reporters for much of the past three months, told The Associated Press that was him on the tape. He offered no apologies.

“I don’t like the homosexual ways portrayed in front of children,” Bullard told AP by telephone Thursday. “You can’t explain to a 5-year-old why another child has two mommies or two daddies.”

Since the story made headlines, Bullard said he had received a stack of hate mail that was “probably an inch-and-a-half thick.”

Within days of Moore’s termination, the town council passed a vote of confidence in her. They also set up an election that would strip the mayor of his power and give them more authority, including the ability to hire the police chief.

Moore, who played softball at Latta High School, walked up and down the streets for days before the vote, explaining her side of the story and calling for change. Last month, 69 percent of 475 voters approved of taking the mayor’s power away. Now essentially a figurehead, it’s not clear what he is going to do next. He ran unopposed in 2013 and still has three years left on his term.

When Moore returned to work June 30, people honked their car horns and gave her thumbs up as she drove around in her police SUV, according to television reports. When an AP reporter rode around with her recently, nearly everyone waved as she drove by.

“Crystal is a good chief and she loves this town,” said Taylor, the councilman. “It made me proud of my town to see everybody come out for her the way they did.”

Latta is a blink-and-you-miss-it town that started as a train depot and grew into a tobacco hub. Many people pass it on their way to Myrtle Beach, which is about 50 miles away. The only rainbow in town is on the Carolina Kidz daycare center.

Moore’s firing turned her into an unlikely activist. Before, she would bring her partner to civic festivals, but avoided gay pride events because she didn’t want to draw attention to herself.

Now she travels about once a week to talk to gay groups and encourage laws to stop discrimination against homosexuals. South Carolina does not have a statewide ban on firing people because of their sexual orientation.

“I think things are going to change, like they did in the civil rights movement,” Moore said.

State unemployment officials sided with Moore, voting she was fired without cause and eligible for back pay and benefits for the two months she didn’t have a job.

The fight left Moore with nearly $20,000 in legal bills. About $8,000 has been pledged from people through a Facebook site, but that still leaves a lot of debt for someone who makes less than $40,000 a year running a 10-officer department.

So the town is arranging a yet-to-be determined fundraiser, Moore said.

“It’s just remarkable,” she said. “I can’t ever thank this place enough.”

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A pair of Ohio-based moms are crying foul after reportedly being turned down for a family swimming pool pass in their community.

WBNS Channel 10 reports that Melody Mohn and her partner, Hela Young, attempted to buy a family pass at Galion’s Heise Park that included Young, she was told that a city ordinance defined a family as a mother, father and up to three children.

“We’re not the only same-sex couple, and we’re not the only non-traditional family, either,” Mohn, who said she had purchased a family pass for herself and her three children for the past nine years, told NBC 4.

Without the family pass, Mohn noted, she and her children will not be able to visit the pool as often as they’d like. “It costs about $16 each time and that adds up quick,” she told the Coshocton Tribune.

Meanwhile, members of the Galion City Council have vowed to update the ordinance and re-evaluate the wording surrounding the definition of “family,” but since the pool closes next month, it’s likely Mohn and Young won’t be able to obtain a family pass until 2015.

“We certainly don’t want to do anything to prevent children and parents to go swimming in our pool,” Carl Watt, Galion City Council president, told NBC 4.

He went on to add, “I mean, 20 years ago, it probably fit the scene, but not today. Not today’s lifestyle.”

In 2012, a Virginia-based fitness club began offering “household” memberships in lieu of “family” memberships after two gay men were stripped of the latter when management discovered they were a same-sex couple. In the meantime, the couple’s two-year-old son was reportedly denied access to a swimming pool.

At the time, Will Trinkle described to ABC 13 as being akin to “someone [punching] us in the stomach.”

“It’s from a place we couldn’t imagine that there would be this kind of discrimination and this kind of attack,” he added. “We have come a long way but this shows we still have a long way to go.”

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A Boulder County clerk who has been issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples in defiance of Colorado’s gay-marriage ban can continue, a judge ruled Thursday.

Boulder County Judge Andrew Hartman decided county clerk Hillary Hall can ignore a federal stay on a ruling from the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Denver that states cannot set gender requirements for marriage.

The judge said gay marriage is still technically illegal in Colorado but that Hall’s behavior was not harming anyone. But he said all who receive a license should be warned that they could still be invalid if a judge finds after trial that Hall didn’t have the authority to issue them.

Hartman also noted that every judge — including one in Colorado the previous afternoon — in the past year has ruled that gay marriage bans are unconstitutional and that Colorado’s prohibition is “hanging by a thread.”

Hall has issued more than 100 same-sex marriage licenses since that ruling on June 25. Republican state Attorney General John Suthers sued Hall, the only clerk in Colorado who defied the federal stay.

Hall argued that despite the stay, Colorado’s gay-marriage ban violates the U.S. Constitution.

Suthers said Hall’s behavior was causing “legal chaos” while the issue works its way through the courts.

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When discussing gay rights on Fox News, who better to consult than the network’s reliable source Dr. Keith Ablow?

“Fox & Friends” asked Ablow on Wednesday for his thoughts on a new California bill that replaces the words “husband” and “wife” with “spouse” under state laws. The new bill has been described as a “milestone in the journey towards full equality” and an end to the last barrier to same-sex marriage in California.

“Nuts,” Ablow said of the new bill. “There’s no way that the state of California can deny a marriage license to four spouses now. Eight spouses, or I would say three human spouses and the canine they absolutely love because if love is the foundation of marriage, they can love their dog, too.”

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A gay veteran who was denied her wish to be buried one day with her late lesbian spouse in an Idaho military cemetery filed a lawsuit on Monday accusing the state of violating her constitutional right to equal protection by not recognizing her same-sex union.

A request by U.S. Navy veteran Madelynn Taylor, 74, to have her ashes interred after she dies with those of a woman she married in California was rejected earlier this year by the Idaho Division of Veterans Services. The state’s constitution defines marriage as between a man and a woman.

A federal judge’s ruling in May overturned Idaho’s prohibition on gay nuptials, but that decision was put on hold pending an appeal by the state to be argued before a U.S. appeals court in September.

Taylor’s spouse, Jean Mixner, was not a military veteran. She died in 2012, and Taylor has her ashes.

The push to share a burial site comes as lawsuits seeking to overturn state bans on same-sex marriage move toward likely hearings in the U.S. Supreme Court next year. Same-sex unions are legal in 19 states and the District of Columbia.

In the lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court in Boise, attorneys for Taylor argued that Idaho’s refusal to acknowledge her marriage and allow her ashes to be buried in the Idaho State Veterans Cemetery alongside Mixner’s denied Taylor the rights afforded other veterans in Idaho.

The cemetery allows spouses of veterans to be buried with them on request, even if spouses have not themselves served. Veterans must show “valid” marriage licenses to gain that privilege.

“This case is a vivid illustration of why the time has come for courts to strike down these discriminatory laws,” said Shannon Minter, legal director for the National Center for Lesbian Rights.

“There is no justification for denying Madelynn the simple dignity and respect of being buried with her spouse.”

David Brasuell, head of the Idaho Division of Veterans Services, said in a statement that Idaho’s constitution and statutes did not recognize same-sex marriages, including those carried out in other states.

“Until the matter is finally resolved by the U.S. Supreme Court, we are not able to make any further comment,” he said.

Taylor said she had expected her burial request to be turned down by Idaho, a Western state known for its conservative social policies and politics.

“What’s the harm of two old lesbians being buried in the veterans cemetery? I’m sure we won’t be recruiting anybody there,” she told Reuters on Monday.

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David and Jason Benham — the twin “Flip It Forward” hosts HGTV parted ways with in May after discovering their anti-gay views — are rallying Christians to step up the fight against gay marriage, and went as far as to say those dedicated to the cause must be “willing to die” for it.

“If people remain silent, then it’s gonna to continue to get worse. But when folks step up, and speak boldly the truth, then it can actually be pushed back …You have to be willing to die,” David said during an interview with the Christian Post (above). “I mean Jason and I had to be willing to lose our show. We had to be willing to lose a book deal, I mean whatever it may be – endorsements. We had to be willing to lose it all.”

Benham Brothers Speak Out on HGTV Show Being Canned: We’re Committed to Biblical Principles

The Benham brothers, whose father is controversial evangelical minister Flip Benham, were interviewed ahead of a speaking engagement at the Faith & Freedom Coalition’s Road to Majority Conference in June.

“We have to be willing to let go of what we have, whether it’s a job, an elected position, a big ‘ole church, whatever it may be,” David added. “We have to be willing to let it go, and when that happens, then absolutely we’re back on the right track in America.”

Benham Brothers Blame HGTV Cancellation on Anti-Faith Agenda: ‘We Love Homosexuals’

The real estate experts’ reality series, “Flip It Forward,” was scheduled to premiere in October, but HGTV decided not to pursue it after facing backlash from viewers who discovered the Benham’s strong views on marriage, abortion and divorce.

“If our faith costs us a television show then so be it,” the brothers said in a statement in response to HGTV’s decision to pull the plug on their show.

David previously said he and his brother “love homosexuals,” and that “there’s a difference between the people and the agenda.”

“The real issue at hand here is there is an agenda that seeks to silence men and women of faith who, if we want to voice our beliefs or voice our views, then we shouldn’t be afraid of losing our livelihood,” David said.

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Posted July 4th, 2014 by pikapp44

A divided Supreme Court on Thursday allowed, at least for now, an evangelical college in Illinois that objects to paying for contraceptives in its health plan to avoid filling out a government document that the college says would violate its religious beliefs.

The justices said that Wheaton College does not have to fill out the contested form while its case is on appeal but can instead write the Department of Health and Human Services declaring that it is a religious nonprofit organization and making its objection to emergency contraception. The college does provide coverage for other birth control.

Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Elena Kagan and Sonia Sotomayor said they would have denied Wheaton’s request and made the college fill out a form that enables their insurers or third-party administrators to take on the responsibility of paying for the birth control.

The order follows the high court’s decision on Monday giving Hobby Lobby Inc. and other businesses with religious objections the ability to opt out of paying for birth control for women covered by their employee health plans.

The Obama administration had already offered a way out of paying for the contraceptives to faith-affiliated charities, colleges and hospitals. They must fill out the document known as Form 700 that enables their insurers or third-party administrators to take on the responsibility of paying for the birth control. The employer does not have to arrange the coverage or pay for it. Insurers get reimbursed by the government through credits against fees owed under other provisions of the health care law.

Wheaton and dozens of other nonprofits have sued over the form, which they say violates their religious beliefs because it forces them to participate in a system to subsidize and distribute the contraception.

The court said it was not ultimately deciding the issue Thursday and noted that it is likely to take up the nonprofits’ cases at some point.

For now, though, it said in an unsigned opinion that the letter to HHS is sufficient and that the government can rely on the letter to ensure that women covered by Wheaton’s insurance can obtain emergency contraception at no cost.

In a 16-page dissent, Sotomayor said the procedure outlined by the court is clumsy and unnecessary. “I disagree strongly with what the court has done,” she said, joined by Ginsburg and Kagan.

Houses of worship and other religious institutions whose primary purpose is to spread the faith are exempt from the requirement to offer birth control.

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