Over the past several years, the Salvation Army has tried to change its image, trumpeting that it doesn’t discriminate against LGBT people through its charity work (though it still does) and claiming that its history of supporting discrimination is a myth (despite being well documented). A new document obtained by Queerty demonstrates that the church’s teachings are still anti-gay.

The document is a memo circulated earlier this year by midwest Commissioner Paul Seiler that details the church’s teaching on homosexuality both internally and externally. The document does jibe with some of the Salvation Army’s public statements, such as that having a “homosexual orientation in and of itself is not a sin” and that sexual orientation is not a factor in hiring or serving.

However, the document proceeds to contradict that very point by outlining ways the church will discriminate in both its hiring and its service. The Salvation Army’s belief on marriage is that it’s still limited to a man and a woman, and anybody who isn’t in a marriage should be celibate. Anyone wishing to serve in a leadership role within the organization must abide by this tenet:

For anyone in a Salvation Army ministry position, the theological belief regarding sexuality is that God has ordained marriage to be between one man and one woman and sexual activity is restricted to one’s spouse. Non-married individuals would therefore be celibate in the expression of their sexuality. This is the long-standing expectation of all individuals in ministry roles in The Salvation Army, including lay people.

Salvation Army officials are also prohibited from officiating the marriage of a same-sex couple and can only attend a same-sex wedding if the ceremony is held at a non-Army facility and they go out of uniform. It’s unlikely such a wedding would take place at an Army facility anyway, because that is prohibited as well.

The Salvation Army told Queerty that the requirement of celibacy for non-married officers “has always been a policy in The Salvation Army.” Director of Communications Jennifer Byrd seemed to contest the incriminating details of the document, explaining, “We realize our message of service to the LGBT community and our non-discriminatory employment practices have been overlooked, misconstrued or misunderstood in recent years, and our focus the past 12-18 months has to be address these failings.”

Bill Browning, an LGBT blogger and activist who has led the campaign to challenge the Salvation Army’s anti-LGBT policies and beliefs, told ThinkProgress that Queerty’s discovery was “incredibly disappointing.” He chastized the church for employing a “‘policy of containment” instead of “taking a proactive approach of working with the LGBT community to heal old wounds.”

“Instead of ‘doing the most good,’” Browning explained, “the SA-USA opted to spin the truth and gloss over their extremely anti-LGBT past. I continue to hope that they’ll actually ‘do the most good’ some day, but that obviously isn’t their priority right now.”


Even if a court ruling declaring Florida’s ban on same-sex marriage unconstitutional takes effect next month, gay couples outside of a sparsely populated Panhandle county might not be able to get marriage licenses.


Gay Hero of Sydney Hostage Crisis Died a Second Class Citizen

Posted December 16th, 2014 by pikapp44

One man charged the terrorist. Tori Johnson was 34. He managed the Lindt Chocolate Café for two years.

Employees and customers all said he was a good man, a kind man.

He was also a gay man.


Citing a potential for “statewide confusion,” Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi on Monday asked U.S. Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas to keep in place a stay that would prevent same-sex couples in Florida from marrying on Jan. 6.

“When the United States District Court for the Northern District of Florida ordered the Washington County Clerk of Court to issue a marriage license to a same-sex couple, it temporarily stayed the order. That stay is now set to expire at the end of the day on Jan. 5, 2015,” according to a news release from Bondi’s office. “The recent decision denying a longer stay has created statewide confusion about the effect of the injunction, which is directed to only one of Florida’s sixty-seven clerks of court.”

The “statewide confusion” rests with a July 1 memo from top law firm Greenberg Traurig, which represents the Florida Association of Court Clerks.

In the memo to the clerk’s association, Greenberg Traurig advised that only the clerk in Washington County, in rural North Florida — named in Florida’s federal gay-marriage lawsuit — would be bound by a ruling by U.S. District Judge Robert L. Hinkle of Tallahassee. All other Florida clerks who are not parties in the lawsuit, could face “a misdemeanor of the first degree, punishable by imprisonment of not more than one year and a fine of not more than $1,000” if they went ahead and married same-sex couples, according to Greenberg Traurig.

“We realize that it may seem to many that Judge Hinkle’s federal district court ruling that Florida’s same-sex marriage ban is unconstitutional and violates fundamental rights would permit all Florida clerks of court to lawfully issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples,” according to a revised Greenberg Traurig memo released Monday. “However … our review of the law indicates that an order and injunction issued at the federal trial level is not binding on any person, including a clerk of court, who is not a named party in the action. Nor does such a ruling bind any other court.”

Greenberg Traurig continues to advise Florida clerks that until the case is settled once and for all, they “remain exposed to Florida’s apparently unique criminalization of the issuance of marriage licenses to same-sex couples.”

Bondi filed her application to Thomas, the justice who presides over the 11th Circuit Court of Appeal in Atlanta.

“The Eleventh Circuit’s recent decision denying a longer stay has created statewide confusion, with news reports now suggesting that the end of the stay will lead to statewide issuance of same-sex marriage licenses, even though only one of Florida’s 67 clerks of court is a party below,” Bondi wrote to the Supreme Court. “Some clerks who are not parties to this litigation have announced that, absent a stay, they will begin issuing licenses on January 6.”

On Dec. 3, a three-judge panel of the 11th Circuit Court denied Bondi’s request to keep in place a stay ordered through Jan. 5 by Hinkle, who in August declared Florida’s 2008 gay-marriage ban unconstitutional.

After Hinkle’s ruling, Bondi immediately appealed to the 11th Circuit Court, which has jurisdiction over Florida, Georgia and Alabama. The attorney general has also appealed similar rulings by circuit court judges in Monroe and Miami-Dade counties.

“It is unsurprising, given how hard [Gov. Rick] Scott, his appointees, and Attorney General Bondi have fought to keep loving and committed couples from getting married and having their marriages recognized in Florida, that they would keep up this dead-end fight. But with just weeks until the ruling is scheduled to go into effect, it is disappointing,” ACLU of Florida attorney Daniel Tilley said Monday in a statement. “Florida families have waited long enough for the end of a ban that a federal court has declared unconstitutional. Since October, the Supreme Court has refused all requests to stay rulings striking down the exclusion of same-sex couples from marriage in other states. We are hopeful they will do the same here so that loving couples and their children can get the protections for which they have waited so long.”

The ACLU, ACLU of Florida and attorney Stephen F. Rosenthal of Podhurst Orseck in Miami represent LGBT-rights group SAVE and eight same-sex couples who are suing Florida to recognize their out-of-state marriages.

James Esseks, director of the LGBT Project for the ACLU in New York and an attorney in the Florida case, said it’s possible Justice Thomas would accept Bondi’s stay request, but more likely that he would refer it to the full court.

Esseks said that since October, when the Supreme Court denied hearing appeals of federal court decisions allowing same-sex marriages in Utah, Oklahoma, Virginia, Wisconsin and Indiana, justices have denied similar state requests for stays four times.

“It denied stays by Idaho, Kansas, Alaska and South Carolina,” Esseks said. “Same-sex couples are marrying in all four of those states.”


DC Principal Who Came Out As Gay Losing Job

Posted December 15th, 2014 by pikapp44

The principal of Wilson High School in Washington who made national headlines when he came out as gay this year is losing his job.

The Washington Post reports Peter Cahall was notified his contract will not be renewed after six years at the school because of test scores. He notified parents and students of his impending departure Friday.

In a letter to the D.C. Council first published by the Washington City Paper, Cahall called his dismissal “arbitrary and capricious.” He says he wants D.C. Public Schools to be successful but that success may not be possible because of the administration’s “adversarial relationship” with school leaders.

Principals work under one-year contracts, creating turnover each year.

Cahall noted gains in test scores. He also oversaw a $120 million school modernization.


Study Might Explain How To Change Minds On Same-Sex Marriage

Posted December 12th, 2014 by pikapp44

Some anti-gay voters in California changed their minds five time faster than their neighbors on gay rights, according to the new study. The secret? Openly gay activists went door to door, engaging these conservative opponents in “heartfelt, reciprocal and vulnerable conversations” about what marriage meant to them, according to a press release about the study. The activists didn’t just push gay marriage, they made a point of listening to their opponents’ concerns and experiences, the release said.

“In an era where the constant talk is of implacable differences and polarization, what’s interesting here is that you have an honest, open, two-way conversation, and opinions do change,” said Columbia University professor Donald P Green, a co-author on the study.

Green has researched and written about public opinion and prejudice for more than two decades. He had reached a fairly bleak conclusion about voters, he told The Huffington Post this week. “I used to think that attitudes were stable,” he said. In 2009, he published an exhaustive review of the existing studies on reducing prejudice and found that most methods, including TV ads, mail, phone calls and even door-to-door canvassing have minimal effect, and what slight change in attitude may occur typically disappears within a few days.

The groundbreaking news in Thursday’s study, “When Contact Changes Minds: An Experiment on Transmission of Support for Gay Equality,” is that the change in attitude these California voters experienced after talking about gay rights with an openly gay person persisted steadily throughout the year that the study was conducted.

“The findings always seemed to be that you could produce short-term change in, say a controlled environment, but when people go back to their normal social milieu the change dissipates,” Green said. “Now I think part of the reason our attitudes are so steady over time is that we almost never have a conversation akin to the conversations” activists had in this study.

The study examined the work of a group of gay and straight canvassers from the Los Angeles LGBT Center. In the wake of the passage of California’s gay marriage ban in 2008, the activists had more than 12,000 one-on-one conversations in Los Angeles neighborhoods that overwhelmingly supported the ban.

Michael J. LaCour, a Ph.D. candidate in political science at the University of California Los Angeles who co-authored the Science paper with Green, said he became interested in these canvassers because of the purity of their mission: They weren’t collecting signatures, asking for money or trying to turn out the vote. Rather, the sole purpose of their conversations was changing minds on gay rights.

In 2013, LaCour and Green began the year-long scientific assessment of the LGBT center’s work, comparing the successes of the gay canvassers with their straight counterparts, along with a placebo group consisting of openly gay canvassers who talked about the value of recycling instead of gay marriage. The conservative voters answered questions in online surveys before and periodically after the canvassing. (The voters did not know the surveys were related to the canvassing, and the canvassers did not know the voters were taking the online surveys.)

Initially, gay and straight canvassers had a similar effect on voters, the study found. But those who spoke with the straight canvassers seemed to snap back to their original opinion after a couple of weeks, and those who spoke with gay canvassers maintained their new view throughout a year of surveys. Perhaps even more intriguing, those who lived in the same household as the voters who spoke with gay canvassers also reported changing views on gay rights — not so with the households of those who spoke with straight canvassers.

“It’s a subtle hint that what’s going on here has to do with conversations in the household and maybe even the mental images that are conjured,” Green said. “Perhaps the conversation was something like, ‘Honey I met a gay man and he was nothing like the gay man I thought I would meet.”

The study’s findings line up with polling that shows that Americans who know someone who is gay are more likely to support gay rights. Over the past few decades, the number of people who are openly gay has skyrocketed. Naturally, so has the number of Americans who say they know someone who is gay.

LaCour is now conducting a similar study involving reproductive rights, and expects to find similar results. He paraphrased Harvey Milk: “It’s harder to deny people rights if those people have names and faces.”


Protesters gathered to stage a gay kiss-in at a Burger King franchise in Spain Saturday after a same-sex couple was reportedly kicked out of the restaurant for kissing.

A security guard asked two gay men, ages 18 and 19, to leave the Burger King in Madrid’s Plaza de los Cubos last month after a patron who was eating there with his kids complained about them kissing, according to El Pais.

“He said to us that we couldn’t do things like that. That there were children around,” one of the men told the publication, adding that the pair ultimately left the restaurant because they did not want to cause trouble.

Arcópli, a Madrid-based LGBT rights group, contacted the couple about the incident, offering them legal support and demanding an explanation from Burger King. The group also organized a gay kiss-in for Saturday, during which about 100 people showed up in protest of the chain’s discriminatory act.

“This type of behavior is unacceptable in our city and we hope that the ‘Burger King’ chain will take sufficiently forceful measures to make sure it doesn’t happen again,” Amanda Rodríguez, Coordinator of Acrópoli, said in a Facebook post.

Burger King employees applauded as protestors locked lips, according to El Huffington Post.

The restaurant’s manager told The Local that he supports diversity and that the security guard acted without permission. He said he would like the couple to return to the establishment so he could apologize to them in person.

A Burger King corporate spokesperson was not immediately available for further comment. However, Arcópli received a statement from the company, reading:

BKC has a long history of dedication to diversity, including support for the LGBT community. Diversity is a a driving force for our innovation and to develop an inclusive environment for everyone: employees, franchises, providers, and customers of BURGER KING(r) restaurants. The franchise that operates this BURGER KING restaurant has a zero tolerance police for any type of discrimination and, upon learning of these events, has taken immediate measures to address the incident.

Spain was listed as the country most accepting of homosexuality in an April Pew Research poll on global views on morality. However, El Pais noted there were 38 reported homophobic assaults in Madrid last year.


Over the weekend, Republicans in the Michigan Statehouse passed a “license to discriminate” bill that would give just about anyone the right to refuse service to LGBT people if it conflicted with their religious beliefs.

The broadly written Religious Freedom Restoration Act would allow, for example, an EMT to refuse emergency treatment to a gay person or a pharmacist to refuse to refill HIV medication, because God decreed gays and lesbians should be put to death.

The measure is similar to one in Arizona that even right-wing governor Jan Brewer thought went too far and vetoed.

As The New Civil Rights Movement points out, the act is so broad it would let a Catholic high school refuse to hire a Muslim janitor, and a DMV clerk deny a new driver’s license to someone who is divorced.

Michigan religious bill Michigan Speaker Bolger fast tracked the bill, which passed 59-50 along party lines. “I support individual liberty and I support religious freedom,” Bolger said. “I have been horrified as some have claimed that a person’s faith should only be practiced while hiding in their home or in their church.”

If it passes in the Michigan Senate and is signed by Governor Rick Snyder, a Republican, the Religious Freedom Restoration Act will become law.

“The idea that we need to ‘restore’ religious freedom — rights that are already enshrined in the U.S. Constitution — is a farce created by conservative lawmakers for the sole purpose of appeasing their far-right donors and the religious right,” said Lonnie Scott of Progress Michigan.

In a supreme bit of irony, the Michigan House over the weekend to pass a non-discrimination bill that protects the LGBT community.

“No one from the LGBT community has ever had fire hoses turned on them by the police department, they have never had to drink out of an LGBT water fountain,” pastor Stacy Swimp told the House committee that considered the measure. “There is no record of LGBT — homosexuals, lesbians—being forced to sit at the back of the bus in an LGBT section.”


Broward Circuit Judge Dale Cohen rules Monday that Florida’s ban on marriage for same-sex couples is unconstitutional.

Cohen also ruled Monday that out-of state gay marriages should be recognized. The judge had ruled August 4th that Florida’s gay marriage ban was unconstitutional and he vacated his own order in September.

Cohen is the third judge to declare the ban unconstitutional. Florida voters passed the ban in 2008.


Gay Marriage Advocate’s Widow Gets Social Security

Posted December 6th, 2014 by pikapp44

An advocacy group says the widow of a woman who pushed to legalize gay marriage in Rhode Island before she died of cancer will now be entitled to her Social Security benefits.

Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders made the announcement Thursday.

Patricia Baker testified at a legislative hearing a few months before she died in 2011 that she worried without her Social Security benefits, her wife, Deborah Tevyaw, would lose their home.

The Social Security Administration refused her benefits because gay marriage was not legal in Rhode Island until two years after Baker died.

Tevyaw was forced to sell the home, but ultimately won the fight.

GLAD says the administration has now agreed to recognize marriages made since 2007 and paid Tevyaw more than $30,000 in back benefits.