Thousands are backing a petition calling for the cancellation of the TLC series “19 Kids and Counting” over the stars’ discriminatory sentiments against the LGBT community.

A petition on Change.org launched by Jim Wissick of San Jose, California, states that “19 Kids and Counting,” starring conservative Baptists Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar and their children, should be axed because of the LGBT fearmongering promoted by the family.

“The Duggars have been using their fame to promote discrimination, hate, and fear-mongering against gays and transgendered people,” Wissick wrote in a letter to TLC which was posted on the Change.org petition page. “You need to take a stand on the side of justice and cancel their show.”

His petition currently has more than 12,500 signatures with a goal of 100,000.

Wissick highlights Michelle Duggar’s involvement in a robocall against an anti-discrimination housing law affecting the transgender community in Arkansas. In the call, which was made to state residents in August, Michelle said transgender women should not be able to use the proper restroom and dubbed them “males with past child predator convictions that claim they are female.”

The Duggars’ Facebook page has also been embroiled in controversy. Last week, the couple posted a Facebook photo of themselves kissing and encouraged other married couples to share their own shots. John Becker, of LGBT blog The Bilerico Project, posted a photo of him kissing his husband, along with a message about marriage equality; he says his photo was later taken down and that he was banned from the Duggar’s page, E! News reports.

Homophobic ties extend to the Duggar children, too. Eldest son Josh Duggar is the executive director of the anti-gay Family Research Council’s legislative group, FRC Action, which is notorious for outrageous claims linking homosexuality with pedophilia and promoting the discredited theory of ex-gay therapy.

The Duggars became TLC network regulars when their show, at the time titled “17 Kids and Counting,” debuted in 2008. Season 9 of the series, now titled “19 Kids and Counting,” premiered in September and is currently airing.

A spokesperson for TLC was not immediately available for comment.

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The U.S. Supreme Court on Thursday denied a request to block gay marriage from proceeding in South Carolina, clearing the way for it to become the 35th U.S. state where same-sex marriage is legal.

The order was another victory for gay marriage advocates after a federal judge in Montana on Wednesday struck down that state’s ban on same-sex marriage.

A federal judge on Wednesday overturned the state gay marriage ban in Montana, one of the last states to continue defending its ban despite rulings in favor of same-sex marriage from appeals courts that oversee them.

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Just because he has a reputation for being somewhat of a bad boy off-screen, doesn’t mean Colin Farrell isn’t up for the task of doing some good when it comes to a cause he believes in. At this moment, that cause is gay rights, and he believes in it because he has a gay brother.

Farrell called upon the power of the pen to express his views and urge the Irish people to vote in favor of gay marriage rights. Writing in the Sunday World, the True Detective Season 2 star recounted how his older brother, Eamon, was bullied for being different while growing up and calls out the Irish government for barring Eamon from getting married even now.

“I think I found out my brother wasn’t groveling in heterosexual mud like most boys our age when I was around 12,” the 38-year-old actor began. “I remember feeling surprised. Intrigued. Curious. Not bi curious before you start getting ideas.”

He went on to explain that though the concept of his brother’s sexuality was foreign to him, he didn’t feel it was innately wrong.

“I was curious because it was different from anything I’d known or heard of and yet it didn’t seem unnatural to me. I had no reference for the existence of homosexuality. I had seen, by that age, no gay couples together. I just knew my brother liked men and, I repeat, it didn’t seem unnatural to me,” he revealed. But, not everyone felt that way.

“My brother Eamon didn’t choose to be gay,” Farrell asserted before conceding, “Yes, he chose to wear eyeliner to school and that probably wasn’t the most pragmatic response to the daily torture he experienced at the hands of school bullies.” He quickly added, “He was always proud of who he was. Proud and defiant and, of course, provocative.”

He then took aim at the government, citing the fact that Eamon had to travel to Canada (where same-sex marriage is recognized) in order to wed.

“That’s why this is personal to me,” he lamented. “The fact that my brother had to leave Ireland to have his dream of being married become real is insane. INSANE.”

He went on to say that this referendum is important. “It’s about giving our lesbian and gay sisters and brothers back a right that should never have been stolen from them in the first place,” he asserted. “Speaking out in support of equality in all its forms is a moral necessity if we’re to have a society where peace, compassion and kindness become the ruling class. Only love in action can stamp out the wilting toxicity of the intolerant among us.”

The father of two closed with a direct call to action for the Irish people.

“How often do we get to make history in our lives? Not just personal history. Familial. Social. Communal. Global. The world will be watching. We will lead by example. Let’s lead toward light.”

No matter how this turns out, we’re certain the world feels a bit brighter for many Irish citizens thanks to Farrell’s article already.

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Shelter In Kansas City Won’t House Gay Couples

Posted November 17th, 2014 by pikapp44

The City Union Mission in Kansas City says it will not allow legally married same-sex couples who are homeless to stay at the shelter.

Executive director Dan Doty says shelter officials believe that the Bible prohibits same-sex marriage. He says married same-sex couples will be referred to other shelters.

The Kansas City Star reports the mission is a private nonprofit that receives no governmental funding, meaning it is not bound by anti-discrimination rules. Officials at the Topeka Rescue Mission say they haven’t decided if the couples will be allowed to stay.

But other Kansas City-area shelters say same-sex married couples already are welcome to stay. That includes Salvation Army shelters in Kansas and Missouri, Catholic Charities of Kansas City-St. Joseph shelters and the Lawrence Community Shelter.

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Founder of Mark’s List Killed in Car Accident

Posted November 16th, 2014 by pikapp44

Mark Haines, founder and executive editor of Mark’s List, died this weekend after being hit by car during his participation in this year’s Smart Ride.

Mark Haines, the founder and owner of Mark’s List, and a long-time leader in the Florida GLBT community, was killed last night. He was participating in the Smart Ride with hundreds of others,” wrote Matthew Haines. “He died instantly, hit by a car while walking home from dinner after the best day and the best ride of his life.

As soon as the community learned of Haines’ sudden loss messages of grief and support filled his Facebook wall.

“Shocked to hear of the passing of Mark Haines, tragically killed while participating in The Smart Ride last night. RIP Mark, you were always a true gentleman.”
— Hilton Wolman

“I learned a couple of hours ago, that we lost a huge supporter of our community – Mark Haines. His wonderful soul got taken from his family last night. He was such a vivid & important supporter of our community and loved life! Words can not express how I feel right now. My condolences are going out to his family and his extended family. Be well Mark.”
— Michael Faerbe

“As a community leader, journalist, and friend, Mark’s loss will be felt by everybody. It’s a very sad moment for us all,” said Norm Kent, publisher of SFGN. “With Mark’s List he created an online photographic record showing the best and the brightest of the LGBT community here in South Florida. His website showed us all in a loving and positive light and that’s how Mark — rider number 548 in this year’s Smart Ride — should always be remembered.”

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The incoming chairman of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee has been outspoken about his plans to cut federal employees’ pay and pensions. Besides his previous proposal, Sen. Ron Johnson of Wisconsin spoke with the Washington Post this week and discussed what he wants to do when he takes over the committee in January. On his chopping block are federal employees’ pay, health insurance, pensions, and the right to join a union.

“I think it’s unrealistic for public-service employees to believe they are immune from modifications to their pay and benefit packages,” said Sen. Johnson, who was elected to the U.S. Senate in 2010. He went on to say “those things in the private sector have been modified dramatically.”

It’s important to note that a pension is delayed payment for work already done, a condition for taking a job. It’s the employee’s money withheld and invested by the employer to be paid at the employee’s retirement when he/she can no longer work. If the employer cuts the employee’s pension, that means the employer has either embezzled or misspent the employee’s money. The employer is engaging in theft. The same is true for health care.

Obviously inspired by Walmart, Johnson also takes aim at federal employees’ worker protections and the freedom of association. He told the Post, “I really don’t think that the public-sector employees should be unionized.” So the senator wants federal employees to take whatever compensation their employer offers, most likely with ever changing work schedules, no guaranteed overtime pay, and little or no medical care and pension. He appears to oppose the idea of fairness, justice, equality, opportunity, and prosperity. Without a union, employees are basically slaves to their employer.

Meanwhile, Johnson supports massive tax giveaways for corporations and blocked a bill that would end tax breaks for companies that send jobs overseas. But he voted against a bill that would end the government shutdown, blocked a bill that would help veterans find good jobs and get the health care they need, voted against reauthorizing the Violence Against Women Act, voted against a bill that would provide employment protections to gay and transgender workers, and voted to repeal the healthcare law that provides coverage to the uninsured and those with pre-existing conditions

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Kentucky Baptists Kick Out Gay-Friendly Church

Posted November 12th, 2014 by pikapp44

Kentucky Baptists on Tuesday chose to sever ties with a Louisville church that is open to performing same-sex marriages.

Baptist leaders from around the state gathering in Bowling Green for the Kentucky Baptist Convention’s annual meeting voted overwhelmingly to end their longstanding relationship with Crescent Hill Baptist Church. The church’s pastor, the Rev. Jason Crosby, has said the church is open to performing same-sex marriages and ordaining gay, lesbian, transgender and bisexual members.

Greg Faulls, vice chairman of the convention’s Committee on Credentials, said Kentucky Baptist churches consider same-sex relationships a sin. The committee voted last month to recommend the action against Crescent Hill.

“To give approval to what the Bible clearly states is sin is not only an offense to the scripture, it is an unloving act toward sinners, an act that leaves them in danger of God’s judgment,” Faulls said.

Crosby spoke out against the motion to sever ties with his church.

“We are Bible-led, Kentucky Baptists to whom God has revealed a different perspective on (gay and lesbian) individuals to us, rather than to you I suspect, yet we still want to be with you,” he told the gathering of church leaders.

The 106-year-old Louisville church’s 800-member congregation voted in 2013 to open its hiring, ordination and wedding services to gay, lesbian, transgender and bisexual people.

Only a few hands went up in support of Crescent Hill during the vote.

The move came a year after convention members issued a no confidence vote in the leadership of the president of Sunrise Children’s Services, who had asked to open the center’s hiring to gays. Bill Smithwick later resigned after 16 years at the helm of Sunrise, which is the state’s largest privately-owned child care provider.

Church leaders also approved a resolution Tuesday that welcomes people who identify as transgender, but opposes their “efforts to refashion the body to conform with a person’s perceived gender identity.”

Also Tuesday, Baptist Convention President Chip Hutcheson gave an update on Campbellsville University, which has moved to end its covenant agreement with Kentucky Baptists. He said the school is no longer affiliated with the Baptist Convention.

Last month, the central Kentucky university appointed a board of trustees without the Baptist Convention’s approval, which is against the covenant agreement.

Hutcheson said university President Michael Carter had planned to attend the annual meeting but was not there on Tuesday.

The university’s board of trustees earlier this year voted to phase out the $977,000 it receives annually from Baptist churches, and it has adopted a revised set of bylaws that would allow it to select its own trustees and maintain academic freedom.

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Texas businesses would be allowed to fire LGBT employees and turn away LGBT customers under a new proposal issued Monday by state Sen. Donna Campbell (R).

Campbell’s proposal would strengthen existing protections in Texas for the “right to act or refuse to act in a manner motivated by a sincerely held religious belief,” a legal maneuver that critics have described as a “license to discriminate.” This year, many state legislatures have considered putting the religious rights of business owners over the civil rights of would-be customers. Similar proposals in Kansas, North Carolina, South Dakota, Arizona, and Oregon ultimately failed this year, while a number of other states have held that the law protects LGBT folks from discrimination even if that discrimination is based in scripture.

Mississippi signed a license to discriminate into law, and Kentucky lawmakers overrode the governor’s veto to put their own religious freedom law into effect. In Pennsylvania, lawmakers who are trying to extend non-discrimination protections to LGBT couples have so far been stymied.

These laws have come into vogue after numerous anti-LGBT small business owners have refused service to LGBT clients in Kentucky, Hawaii, Oregon, Vermont, New Mexico, Iowa, Colorado, and other states in recent years. Many of these disputes involve bakeries and other vendors who refuse to contract for services at same-sex weddings, but some businesses have refused to print Pride t-shirts or put rainbow frosting on an order of cookies.

Conservative political forces have leaped to these companies’ aid, arguing that their religious convictions about sexuality trump everyone else’s civil rights against discrimination. Those calls grew louder after this summer’s Supreme Court decision that a retailer called Hobby Lobby did not have to provide health insurance that covers birth control due to the company’s religious views, a ruling that reversed decades of precedent whereby legal protections tied to religious faith were limited to actions that did not impede other people’s rights.

Sen. Campbell’s new proposal in Texas is her second bite at the license-to-discriminate apple. Her first, in 2013, didn’t go very well. Critics pointed out that by amending the state constitution as she proposes, lawmakers would empower Westboro Baptist Church protesters to attend military funerals rather than protesting them from afar. One commentator applauded Campbell’s intentions but warned that the way her proposal was written might some day allow a person to claim a sincere religious belief in the right to an abortion, effectively legalizing abortion in Texas.

Her new proposal is “nearly identical” to the 2013 version, according to the Lone Star Q, which also notes that Texas already has a statute on the books that “provides strong protections for religious freedom.” Campbell’s proposal removes a key adverb from the legislative language, which a lawmaker who helped pass the existing religious freedom law says would render the protections far too expansive.

While many conservatives are convinced that the religious liberty to discriminate against LGBT coworkers and clients is under attack, there are still 29 states where it is completely legal to fire someone for their sexual orientation. Workplace discrimination against transgendered people remains legal in 32 states. The federal Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA)passed the Senate last year, but never had a chance of advancing in Speaker John Boehner’s (R-OH) House of Representatives.

Even before Republicans retook the Senate earlier this month, ENDA already lost significant support from progressive LGBT groups who feel that the laws carve-outs for religious employers are too broad. With ENDA politically dead for the time being, President Obama has used executive authority to provide workplace discrimination protections to federal workers and anyone employed by a business that contracts with the government, and has not provided religious carve-outs in those executive orders.

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NFL veteran Deion Sanders is making headlines for comments he made about Michael Sam in an interview with Larry King, Deadspin and Outsports are reporting.

“I’m not saying I condone it, but I don’t condemn it,” the Pro Football Hall of Famer said of Sam, who became the first openly gay player to be drafted by the NFL earlier this year. Noting that he’d personally reached out to Sam, he added, “I don’t love what he do, but I love him as a man. And I just wanted him to understand the burden and the weight he’s carrying.”

When King asked Sanders if he thought Sam’s sexuality could be a choice, the retired NFL player noted, “It could be.”

Explaining further, he added, “The God I know don’t make mistakes.”

Sanders’ comments echoed those he made in an interview with Arsenio Hall earlier this year. Although he said that homosexuality was something he could neither “condone nor condemn,” Sanders said there were gay players on each of the five different franchises he played for during his 14-year career.

“He’s not the first gay guy in the NFL, he’s the first one to come out,” he said of Sam at the time. “Let’s get that straight.”

Meanwhile, Sam is currently looking for another opportunity to prove he can play in the NFL after the Dallas Cowboys cut him from their practice squad in October.
The 2013 SEC Co-Defensive Player of the Year and former All-American at the University of Missouri was initially selected by the St. Louis Rams with the 249th pick in the seventh round of the 2014 draft, but didn’t end up making the team’s 53-man roster or their 10-man practice squad.

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It’s only been a week since the 2014 elections, but the National Organization for Marriage is already vowing to defeat Sen. Rob Portman (R-Ohio) in 2016 over his support for same-sex marriage.

Portman, who is up for re-election in 2016 and whose name has been floated as a potential presidential contender, announced his support for marriage equality in 2013 after his son told him he was gay. Whatever Portman’s plans for the next election cycle, NOM president Brian Brown says the group will be trying to sink him.

“Rob Portman can forget about getting elected President of the United States,” Brown said in a statement. “If he runs we will make sure that GOP primary voters are aware of his desire to redefine marriage and his willingness to see federal judges set aside the votes of 50 million Americans who enacted marriage amendments across the country because his son is gay.”

“Rob Portman’s son has a right to live as he chooses, but that does not give his father the right to redefine marriage,” he added.

A Portman spokeswoman did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The Ohio senator isn’t likely to be scared off by NOM. In an interview last week with ABC News, Portman said it’s time for his party to come around on marriage equality.
“[I] thought about it more deeply … the fact that this is not a choice and that my son deserves to have the same happiness Jane and I have had, and the joy and stability that comes with marriage. We want to encourage that as Republicans,” he said. “It’s a position that I feel very comfortable with, and I’m glad I made it.”

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