ACLU To Appeal Sixth Circuit Decision Straight to the U.S. Supreme Court
November 6th, 2014
Chase Strangio, staff attorney for the ACLU Lesbian Gay Bisexual and Transgender Project, has announced that they will bypass an en banc review and appeal today’s Sixth Circuit decision directly to the U.S. Supreme Court:
“This decision is an outlier that’s incompatible with the 50 other rulings that uphold fairness for all families, as well as with the Supreme Court’s decision to let marriage equality rulings stand in Indiana, Wisconsin, Utah, Oklahoma, and Virginia. It is shameful and wrong that John Arthur’s death certificate may have to be revised to list him as single and erase his husband’s name as his surviving spouse. We believe it’s wholly unconstitutional to deny same sex couples and their families access to the rights and respect that all other families receive. We will be filing for Supreme Court review right away and hope that through this deeply disappointing ruling we will be able to bring a uniform rule of equality to the entire country.”
Meanwhile, this dissent of today’s decision, written by Sixth Circuit Judge Martha Daughtrey, caught my eye. She denounced the majority’s opinion which refused to recognize the judiciary’s responsibility for guaranteeing the rights of all Americans (PDF: 309KB/64 pages):
Today, my colleagues seem to have fallen prey to the misguided notion that the intent of the framers of the United States Constitution can be effectuated only by cleaving to the legislative will and ignoring and demonizing an independent judiciary. Of course, the framers presciently recognized that two of the three co-equal branches of government were representative in nature and necessarily would be guided by self-interest and the pull of popular opinion. To restrain those natural, human impulses, the framers crafted Article III to ensure that rights, liberties, and duties need not be held hostage by popular whims.
More than 20 years ago, when I took my oath of office to serve as a judge on the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit, I solemnly swore to “administer justice without respect to persons,” to “do equal right to the poor and to the rich,” and to “faithfully and impartially discharge and perform all the duties incumbent upon me . . . under the Constitution and laws of the United States.” See 28 U.S.C. § 453. If we in the judiciary do not have the authority, and indeed the responsibility, to right fundamental wrongs left excused by a majority of the electorate, our whole intricate, constitutional system of checks and balances, as well as the oaths to which we swore, prove to be nothing but shams
She also wonders aloud:
These four cases from our sister circuits provide a rich mine of responses to every rationale raised by the defendants in the Sixth Circuit cases as a basis for excluding same-sex couples from contracting valid marriages. Indeed, it would seem unnecessary for this court to do more than cite those cases in affirming the district courts’ decisions in the six cases now before us. Because the correct result is so obvious, one is tempted to speculate that the majority has purposefully taken the contrary position to create the circuit split regarding the legality of same-sex marriage that could prompt a grant of certiorari by the Supreme Court and an end to the uncertainty of status and the interstate chaos that the current discrepancy in state laws threatens. Perhaps that is the case, but it does not relieve the dissenting member of the panel from the obligation of a rejoinder.
Sixth Circuit upholds anti-gay marriage bans
November 6th, 2014
In a 2-1 decision, the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals has upheld the state constitutional bans on marriage of the states of Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio, and Tennessee. Writing for the majority, Judge Jeffrey Sutton said:
When the courts do not let the people resolve new social issues like this one, they perpetuate the idea that the heroes in these change events are judges and lawyers. Better in this instance, we think, to allow change through the customary political processes, in which the people, gay and straight alike, become the heroes of their own stories by meeting each other not as adversaries in a court system but as fellow citizens seeking to resolve a new social issue in a fair-minded way.
This determination ignores the fact that when animus in present, a minority cannot become the “hero of it’s own stories” as they lack the ability to win in the “customary political processes”. When confronting Goliath on the field of political battle, the only stone in David’s sling is that of judicial protection. Judge Sutton would have David face the giant with no stones at all.
This is, of course, not the end of the story.
It is likely that the plaintiffs will ask for an en banc review and, if they do not prevail in that venue, will appeal to the Supreme Court.
Is Arizona a Turning Point?
February 27th, 2014
It would appear that the outcry over Arizona’s license-to-discriminate bill that was finally vetoed by Gov. Jan Brewer last night may have reached something of a high water mark. Major companies, business group, professional organizations, and major league sports all came out with strong statements denouncing the bill in the moments leading up to Brewer’s veto. Typical was this one from Yelp’s CEO Jeremy Stoppelman:
SB 1062 would serve to create an environment where consumers would not know how they would be treated – or whether they would even be served – when they patronize a business. This bill goes against the rule that every great business subscribes to, which is that the customer is always right. It will not only be bad for customers, but also bad for local business in the state. I also believe that it would be in consumers’ interests to be made aware of businesses within the state that did engage in discriminatory behavior. Since early 2010, Yelp has hired over 650 employees in Arizona. Over the next few years, we hope to hire hundreds more. It would be unconscionable for the state to encourage discrimination against any of them.
Arizona joins three other states in putting an end to their license-to-discriminate bills in just the past twenty-four hours:
- Sponsors of Ohio’s license-to-discriminate bill withdrew their support yesterday. Moments later, the chairman of the House Judiciary Committee announced that the bill was dead.
- The Mississippi House of Representatives Civil Subcommittee late yesterday voted to strike almost all of the provisions of their license-to-discriminate bill, leaving only a provision adding “In God We Trust” to the state seal. This move came after the state Senate gave its unanimous approval in January.
- Florida Gov. Rick Scott announced yesterday that he will veto a proposed license-to-discriminate bill if it reaches his desk. Earlier that day, he had refused to address the question during an interview on MSNBC.
Over the past several weeks, license-to-discriminate bills have been defeated or withdrawn in Colorado, Kansas, Maine, Tennessee, and Utah. But we’re not out of the woods yet. Similar bills are still working their way through Idaho, Missouri, South Dakota, and Georgia, where Atlanta-based Delta Airlines has announced its opposition. The Idaho bill was returned to a House committee last week, with the sponsor saying he wants to “find the right language.” In addition, there’s a push to put a similar measure on the ballot in Oregon in November.
Email of the Day
August 7th, 2012
You-know-who is crowing over his big win in Tennessee.
The Democratic Party establishment from Tennessee to Washington is in political collapse today because of Public Advocate supporter and volunteer Mark Clayton. You see, Mark has won the Democratic nomination for the U.S. Senate in TN to face establishment Senator Bob Corker in November.
This is a major blow for the Homosexual Lobby and their allies entrenched in the Democratic Party’s leadership. In the run up to the primary, Mark openly stood up for true marriage and the Family. It was not a secret or a trick. When given the opportunity to listen without the heavy-handed tactics of the party leadership, even most Democrats believe in true marriage and the Family.
Public Advocate is barred from endorsing candidates and campaigns. And if it wasn’t for recent events, I wouldn’t mention this race to you. But the Democratic leadership has now disavowed Mark and attacked him over his affiliation with your Public Advocate. As expected, they refer to your Public Advocate as a “hate group”. And they are branding anyone who stands with us as “bigots” and “hate-mongers.”
Eugene Delgaudio’s Public Advocate is, in fact, an SPLC-designated anti-gay hate group. Clayton is the organization’s vice president. He is also the Democratic nominee for Tennessee’s U.S. Senate race. The Tennessee state Democratic Party has issued a statement:
Mark Clayton is associated with a known hate group in Washington, D.C., and the Tennessee Democratic Party disavows his candidacy, will not do anything to promote or support him in any way, and urges Democrats to write-in a candidate of their choice in November.
Meanwhile, Delgaudio, naturally, closes his email with:
P.S. Please prayerfully consider chipping in with a donation of $10 or more to help Public Advocate fight for traditional values.
Far right Republican Bob Corker is your best Tennessee Senate choice
August 6th, 2012
Republican Senator Bob Corker is opposed to marriage equality. He supports a constitutional amendment to make sure that gay people cannot have equality in any state. He opposed lifting the ban on open service in the military. He is not by any means a friend to the gay community.
About the only remotely pro-gay position that Corker has ever taken was saying that he would be “open to looking at” civil unions provided that they were limited to certain rights (e.g. hospital visitation) and resembled marriage in no way at all.
In other words, just about the only way that Corker could possibly be the best choice for gay voters would be if the Democrats selected a challenger who was an anti-gay activist affiliated with an actual anti-gay hate group.
Which they just did.
Mark Clayton, the Democratic Party nominee for Corker’s senate seat, is the Vice President of Public Advocate of the United States. Public Advocate (better known as Eugene Delgaudio’s alter-ego) has been determined by the Southern Poverty Law Center to be an anti-gay hate group. (Who knew Delgaudio had a Vice President?)
It seems that Clayton used that title to lobby for Tennessee’s “Don’t Say Gay” bill last year. (Who knew that Public Advocate actually advocated for anything?)
Of course Tennessee Democrats didn’t intend to select an anti-gay activist to represent their party. They really didn’t set out to elect anyone in particular to that nominal task. Clayton was just listed first on the ballot.
And now they are trying to figure out how to get rid of him. So far, there doesn’t seem to be any way to do so and it’s pretty much a foregone conclusion that Corker will win reelection regardless of who the Democrats nominated.
But until such time as there is some other option at the ballot box (I don’t know if Tennessee allows write in votes) gay voters are best served by voting for Bob Corker. The fewer votes for Eugene Delgaudio’s side-kick, the better.
Tennessee’s “Don’t Say Gay” Bill Dies
May 1st, 2012
Rep. Joey Hensley (R-Hohenwald) has pulled the proposed “Don’t Say Gay” education bill from consideration before the Tennessee General Assembly. But while the bill dies with the end of the legislative session, it’s effects will continue on. Hensley has told reporters that he received assurances that the Department of Education and the State Board of Education will send a letter to all Tennessee school districts “telling them they cannot teach this subject in grades kindergarten through eight.”
Tennessee Backs Away From “Don’t Say Gay” Bill
March 13th, 2012
If it’s possible to die of embarrassment, then the nationwide uproar over Tennessee’s proposed “Don’t Say Gay” bill may well kill the bill. The (Nashville) Tennessean reports that the bill’s sponsors have agreed to put off debating the bill until the end of the legislative session, using a procedural move often used when sponsors decide not to push a bill:
Sponsors had been under pressure to amend the original bill, which would have banned any teaching about homosexuality apart from “natural human reproduction” before eighth grade. The measure was meant to keep schools and teachers from initiating discussions about gays and lesbians, but even its backers conceded Tuesday that it might have brought unintended consequences. “We found out there really is not sex education curriculum in K-8 right now,” said state Rep. Bill Dunn, R-Knoxville, the bill’s original sponsor.
After slapping his forehead an exclaiming a Homer-esque “Doh!”, backers say they will instead shift their focus towards abstinence-only education.Another Sponsor, Rep. Hoey Hensley (R-Hohenwald), said that he would push for the bill again if the abstinence-ed bill fails. Gob. Bill Haslam criticized the “Don’t Say Gay” bill earlier this week, saying it was an unnecessary distraction that could cause more problems than it allegedly solves.
Battered and Bruised
March 7th, 2012
Romney hangs in there again like a punch-drunk fighter staggering toward the finish of the sixth round (ooh look at me, I’m using a sports metaphor), picking up wins in six of the states up for grabs yesterday including a very hotly contested Ohio, where Santorum very nearly pulled off an upset. Romney did best in his home state of Massachusetts, and he did well in neighboring Vermont. He also did very well in the Idaho caucuses, where 23% of spudsters are fellow Mormons. There were no exit polls in Idaho, but in Arizona where Mormons made up 14% of the vote, they broke 96-4 for Romney on Feb 28.
Romney also did very well where he had very little actual competitors (Virginia, where Santorum and Gingrich weren’t on the ballot). Which is to say that he has done very well where he had the home field advantage (as did Gingrich) or where his most potent opponent was missing. Or Alaska.
Which goes to day that Romney is still having trouble closing the deal with Santorum racking up rack up wins in the more conservative middle bits of the continent. In Oklahoma, Santorum’s first place finish came in spite of Sen. Tom Coburn’s endorsement of Romney, while Romney actually came in third in North Dakota and just barely avoided that same fate in Oklahoma. And in Ohio, where Romney poured massive amounts of dollars into the race, he only managed to pull out a 1% win over Santorum in the bellwether state. But even there, he he lost among Evangelical, blue collar and rural voters, but won among those who were 50 and older.
But here’s the stat I find most telling: When Ohio voters were asked whether they’d support Romney in the general election regardless of who they voted for in the primary, 36% said they would not be satisfied with a Romney candidacy, versus 33% who said they’d reject a Santorum candidacy. In other words, Ohio Republicans are less willing to settle for Romney than Santorum.
But this is a race for delegates, not popular votes. And whatever weaknesses that exist in Romney’s popular support within the GOP, he’s still by far the frontrunner in the delegate race according to CNN’s count, with more delegates than his opponents combined. But at only about half way through the primaries, Romney’s still a long way from the 1,144 needed to secure the nomination. Kansas, US Virgin Islands and Guam hold caucuses next week, followed by primaries in Alabama, Mississippi and Hawaii the week after that. Which means that for Romney, the long slog continues. But for the other candidates in the field, the slog is even longer.
The idea behind Super Tuesday was to bring the nomination process into clearer focus. The only thing made clear yesterday is that GOP voters would still prefer another candidates. But that’s not the choice available to them. Which means that Romney will almost certainly be the nominee when all is said and done, but what is said and done before then will continue to be the story. As Ezra Klein at the Washington Post put it, “For three guys who profess to not like the media very much, Mitt Romney, Rick Santorum, and Newt Gingrich are really making all our dreams of a long, unpredictable primary come true.”
Tennessee’s “Don’t Say Gay” Bill is Back
February 16th, 2012
A Tennessee House Education Committee approved the so-called “Don’t Say Gay” bill on a voice vote yesterday, sending it to the House Education Committee, which could take up the measure next week. Observers say it is on track for passage in the full house by the time the legislature adjourns in the spring.
The bill (PDF: 36KB/1 page), which would prohibit elementary or middle school teachers from discussing any sexual orientation other than heterosexuality, which opponents fear would prohibit discussions of bullying against gay students. It reads:
SECTION 1. Tennessee Code Annotated, Section 49-6-1005, is amended by adding the following as new subsection (c) and by relettering the existing subsection (c) accordingly:
(1) The general assembly recognizes the sensitivity of particular subjects that are best explained and discussed in the home. Human sexuality is a complex subject with societal, scientific, psychological, and historical implications; those implications are best understood by children with sufficient maturity to grasp their complexity.
(2) Notwithstanding any other law to the contrary, no public elementary or middle school shall provide any instruction or material that discusses sexual orientation other than heterosexuality.
SECTION 2. This act shall take effect upon becoming a law, the public welfare requiring it.
The state Senate has already passed a version last year with an amendment which they claim narrows the scope of the bill. That amendment changed section 2 to read (PDF: 44KB/ 1 page):
Notwithstanding any other law to the contrary, any instruction or materials made available or provided at or to a public elementary or middle school shall be limited exclusively to natural human reproduction science. The provisions of this subdivision shall also apply to a group or organization that provides instruction in natural human reproduction science in public elementary or middle schools.
So far, the bill in the house appears not to have been updated to reflect the Senate’s change.
No crispy chicken livers for Stacey Campfield
January 30th, 2012
In Tennessee, there are no protections against discrimination based on sexual orientation. There also are no protections against discrimination based on stupidity, ignorance, and unvarnished bigotry – as State Senator Stacey Campfield (R – Dist. 7) discovered.
Campfield, a 43 year old confirmed bachelor, has a very special interest in homosexuality. For several years he unsuccessfully attempted to pass anti-gay legislation in the House of Representatives. And, as the good people of Knoxville seemed to be in the mood to reward buffoonery and ineptitude, in 2010 he was promoted to the state Senate, where his Fight Teh Ghey campaign found more fertile ground.
In May of last year, Campfield’s “Don’t Say Gay” bill passed the Senate 19-10, ensuring Tennessee’s reputation as a being, ahem, less attune with the realities and sensibilities of the twenty-first century. The bill is currently in the Education subcommittee of the House (as HB 229) along with an accompanying bill requiring all residents to drop out of school after the sixth grade, smoke corn-cob pipes, play the banjo and the marry their cousin. (Okay, maybe that last bill is not actually up for debate.)
In addition to his legislative contributions on the subject, Campfield is quick to offer his intellectual analysis on this and related subjects. On a recent interview with Michelangelo Signorile, Campfield asserted that “average lifespan of a homosexual” is “very short” and that that HIV came about when a homosexual airline pilot had sex with a monkey. Perhaps Campfield was attempting to garner support for the bill by illustrating the extent to which his own education had been blighted due to obsession over Teh Ghey.
But despite the efforts of their legislators to live up to stereotype, Tennessee has a good many decent, educated, and cultured people. And some residents are greatly offended when elected officials proudly display their ignorance and animus and make the state look like a haven for redneck bigots.
Martha Boggs, the owner of the Bistro, decided that as a business owner she had the right to refuse service and so on Sunday when Stacey Campfield showed up for brunch she told him that he was not welcome.
Campfield, no doubt, was delighted. From what I’ve seen over the years, the man dotes on publicity of any kind. But if he decides to try and play the martyr and decry the evil Left, I don’t think it will play well. Boggs seems like just some lady who’d had enough and I don’t think Stacey will do well in comparison.
The Daily Agenda for Wednesday, January 18
January 18th, 2012
SOPA/PIPA Protests: Online. Today, thousands of web sites, including Reddit and Wikipedia, will go black in protest of two bills that are now before Congress. The Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA, in the House) and the Protect Intellectual Property Act (PIPA, in the Senate) were proposed to tackle the problem of internet copyright infringement. The bills originally required US Internet service providers to block access to foreign web sites found guilty of “piracy”, but that provision has been removed from the House version following outcry among opponents likening it to tactics used by China and Iran to block access to sites their governments don’t like. But at last report, it remains in the Senate version, which the Senate is expected to vote on next week. Both bills would also require search engines to block those web sites from search results, and would prohibit advertiser networks, payment processors and ISPs from doing business with the alleged copyright infringers.
Here at BTB, we take seriously the problem of copyright protections. We have acted against web sites that have copied posts from BTB without permission. However I find this action to be deeply concerning. These bills mark the first step toward the U.S. government dictating to internet users, providers, and publishers what they can and cannot publish. First steps like these often carry with them a host of unintended consequences. But the most worrisome aspect of the bill in terms of immediate impact is a provision granting copyright holders the right to seek a court order to shut down any web site which “enables or facilitates” piracy by merely linking to a suspect site, even if the linking site is unaware that the site being linked to contains pirated material.
Opponents say that the bills make it too easy to shut down web sites without sufficient due process. Herein lies the danger. BTB links to thousands of web sites. It would be impossible for us to examine an entire web site to determine if it met muster and was safe to link to. For example, we link to a lot of sites carrying Associated Press articles. How can we know if a site we link to is not paying for AP content?
As we have already seen with the Righthaven controversy, the extent to which laws like this can be abused are unpredictable, but what is predictable is that this law will be exploited to its maximum potential. Of that there can be no doubt, particularly in the murky, ill-defined area of “fair use,” which is an important aspect to all online reporting and blogging. We’ve already seen plenty of examples where allegations of “copyright infringement” against web sites who are operating in good faith under “fair use” have resulted in expensive lawsuits.
A number of web sites are joining a blackout protest. While I fully support the goals of the protest, we will not be conducting a blackout ourselves. Part of the reason is technical; bringing the site down and back up in a safe manner without inadvertently losing content is more risk than I’m willing to take. But there is something that I would ask you to do. Call your Congressional representative and both Senators, and register your opposition to these two bills. The Capitol switchboard is 202-224-3121.
Tennessee Subcommittee to Consider “Don’t Say Gay” Bill: Nashville, TN. The “Don’t Say Gay” bill (HB0229/SB0049) will be discussed this afternoon by the General Assembly’s Education Subcommittee. The bill, if passed, “prohibits the teaching of or furnishing of materials on human sexuality other than heterosexuality in public school grades.” LGBT advocates fear it would close the door on effective anti-bullying efforts and prevent the formation of GSA’s in junior high schools. The Tennessee Equality Project is organizing a protest at the hearing, asking people to attend the meeting while wearing purple. “The very existence of this bill sends a bad message about Tennessee at a time when we should look at constructive proposals to make schools safe, welcoming places for all students,” TEP Nashville Committee Chair Chris Sanders told Out and About. “The fact that this is the one of the first bills debated this year makes the citizens of Tennessee wonder how serious our Legislature is about improving our schools.”
TODAY IN HISTORY:
Transgender Man In the News: 1894. The following item appeared in the Badger State Banner, published in Black River Falls, Wisconsin. It’s interesting that what would have been a normal news item about a larceny case instead focused on the nature of the defendant and his wife.
Anna Morris Given One Year
Anna Morris, alias Frank Blunt, the woman who has tried to be a man for the last fifteen years, was sentenced to the penitentiary for one year by Judge Gibson at Fond du Lac. She was arrested several months ago in Milwaukee charged with stealing $175 in Fond du Lac. It was then discovered that the prisoner was a woman, although she had worn masculine attire nearly all her life. A jury convict her of larceny and a motion for a new trial was overruled. After the sentenced had been passed Gertrude Field, a woman who claimed to have been married to the prisoner in Eau Claire, fell upon the neck of the prison and wept for half an hour. This woman had furnished all the money for Blunt’s defense, and now proposes to carry the case to the Supreme Court.
[From Jonathan Katz’s, Gay American History: Lesbians and Gay Men in the U.S.A. (New York: Thomas Y. Crowell, 1976): pp 231-232.]
A Simple Home Device for Aversion Therapy: 1964. On this date, the British Medical Journal published this article by R.J. McGuire and M. Vallance:
Aversion Therapy by Electric Shock: a Simple Technique
Aversion therapy has been used for many years in the treatment of alcoholism. Apomorphine and emetine are the usual drugs used as the unconditioned stimuli for nausea and vomiting, with alcohol as the conditioned stimulus. More recently the same procedure has been used in the treatment of sexual perversions — for example, fetishism, transvestism and homosexuality.
There are several disadvantages to the use of drugs in conditioning procedures. The time between the stimulus being presented and the nausea being produced is uncertain. The patient may not even feel nausea; and, further, the cerebral depressant effect of the drug may interfere with the patient’s ability to form conditioned responses. In addition, the treatment may have to be terminated prematurely because of its dangerous side-effects.
Alternative unpleasant responses can be used to produce aversion. In experimental psychology electric shock has been widely used both in animals and in humans. In clinical treatment, however, it has been less often used. The technique is simpler, more accurately controlled, and more certain in producing an unpleasant effect than drugs. This article describes a simple apparatus designed by one of us (R. J. McG.) and its use in the aversive treatment of sexual perversions, alcoholism, smoking, and neurotic symptoms.
Apparatus. — The components are cheap (under £1) and fit into a box approximately 6 in. (15 cm.) square and 2 in. (5 cm.) deep (Figs. 1 and 2). It is powered by a 9-volt battery and is therefore completely portable. The shock is administered through electrodes on a cuff around the patient’s forearm. To construct the apparatus requires no special skill, and the technical details are given at the end of the article.
…After initial instruction he can treat himself and may take the apparatus home to continue the treatment there. Besides saving the therapist’s time and making frequent treatment possible, this arrangement is to be preferred when the symptom is one usually indulged in alone-for example, masturbation to perverse fantasies. While the patient can use the apparatus whenever he is tempted to masturbate, he should also each day deliberately carry out the treatment at a time when the desire to masturbate is not strong.
This isn’t the first time a device for administering electric shock has been described in the medical literature for treating homosexuality. Electric Shock Aversion Therapy has been discussed since at least 1935 (see Sep 6). But as modern science entered the space age, a few therapists got the idea that there was a demand for an inexpensive home version.
If you know of something that belongs on the agenda, please send it here. Don’t forget to include the basics: who, what, when, where, and URL (if available).
And feel free to consider this your open thread for the day. What’s happening in your world?
Another Teen Takes His Life
December 8th, 2011
The bullying got so bad, friends say, that Jacob Rogers dropped out at Cheatham County Central High School in Ashland City, Tennessee, just a few miles northwest of Nashville. He took his own life Wednesday:
“He started coming home his senior year saying ‘I don’t want to go back. Everyone is so mean. They call me a f****, they call me gay, a queer,'” friend Kaelynn Mooningham said.
Kaelynn said her friend Jacob felt ignored.
“Jacob told me no one was helping him. He constantly was going to guidance,” she said.
The school says they were only aware of one bullying incident, and said they intervened. But the fact that Jacob quit going to school around Thanksgiving should have been a red flag. Jacob’s grandmother, who was his primary guardian, found some notes Jacob let behind which included passwords to his email and phone to allow investigators to determine why he killed himself.
For more information on suicide prevention, research and help-seeking resources, see the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP). If you or someone you know needs help, see The Trevor Project’s web site or call the Trevor Lifeline: 866-4-U-TREVOR (866-488-7386).
Tenn High School Principal Allegedly Threatens Student Over Pro-Gay Tee-shirt
October 5th, 2011
A seventeen-year-old senior at Sequoyah High School in Madisonville, Tennessee, was reportedly shoved, bumped in the chest and verbally harassed by the school’s principal for wearing a tee-shirt supporting students’ efforts to launch a gay-straight alliance. In response, the ACLU of Tennessee is calling on the school district to protect the students’ rights to free speech in the classroom.
According to a press release from the ACLU of Tennessee:
[Chris] Sigler wore a homemade T-shirt to school last Tuesday that said “GSA: We’ve Got Your Back.” A teacher ordered Sigler to cover up the shirt in the future. Sigler, knowing he had a right to wear the shirt, wore it again Friday, and resisted an order to remove the shirt. Sigler says that [Principal Maurice] Moser then ordered all students out of the classroom, except for Sigler’s sister Jessica, who refused to leave. According to both students, Moser then grabbed Sigler’s arm, shoved him, and chest-bumped him repeatedly while asking “Who’s the big man now?” Sigler’s mother reported that when she arrived at the school, she saw her son seated in a desk with Moser leaning over him and shouting in Sigler’s face. The Siglers filed a report about the incident that afternoon with the Monroe County Sheriff’s Department.
Students at Sequoyah have been trying to start a GSA during the school year, but have been blocked and threatened with suspension by the school’s principal.
The ACLU says that if the school doesn’t receive an satisfactory answer by October 11, they will explore legal options, including filing a complaint in federal court. Assistant Director of Schools Tim Blankenship responded:
“The Monroe County School System is aware of the alleged accusations. We have received written statements from all eyewitnesses. Our documentation clearly indicated that there are always two sides to every story. We’ll gladly provide more information as it becomes available.”
Gay Couple Assaulted — At Church
October 4th, 2011
Jerry Pittman, Jr., and his boyfriend, Dustin Lee, were attacked when they tried to go to church at Grace Fellowship in Fruitland, Tennessee:
I went over to take the keys out of the ignition and all the sudden I hear someone say ‘sick’em,'” said Gibson County resident, Jerry Pittman Jr.
Pittman said the attacked was prompted by the pastor of the church, Jerry Pittman, his father.
“My uncle and two other deacons came over to the car per my dad’s request. My uncle smash me in the door as the other deacon knocked my boyfriend back so he couldn’t help me, punching him in his face and his chest. The other deacon came and hit me through my car window in my back,” said Pittman. He said bystanders did not offer assistance. He said the deacon yelled derogatory homosexual slurs, even after officers arrived. He said the officers never intervened to stop the deacons from yelling the slurs.
The younger Pittman says that there were about twenty people standing around the front of the church when the assault took place, but no one intervened to stop the assault or call the police. He also says that the sheriff’s deputy refused to take a statement from the victims or allow them to press charges. Gibson County Sheriff Chuck Arnold said, “If I was on the scene I would not have allowed that. The deputy should not have allowed it if he did,… I haven’t talk to him but that would be out of character for my deputy to say unless they were causing a problem themselves.”
The couple later filed assault charges against Deacons Billy Sims and Eugene McCoy. The younger Pittman is also pressing charges against his father and Deacon Patrick Flatt. They are due in court today. The pastor and his wife are also going through a divorce.
Nashville Paramedic Suspended for Anti-Gay Postings
September 22nd, 2011
A twenty-year veteran paramedic for the Nashville Fire Department was suspended after making anti-gay comments on his own Facebook page, as well as on the Nashville Fire Department Emergency Medical Services’ web page. Paramedic Keven Kennedy wrote that homosexuality was a perversion and that two gay EMS workers should “crawl back into the closet.” According to The Tennessean:
“We have a diverse group of employees in the fire department who respond to the needs of a diverse community,” (Deputy Chief Kim) Lawson said. “This disrupts the order of discipline. We have an important job. These actions in no way are tolerated.”
Kennedy, who lives in Shelbyville, had no prior disciplinary record and earned “acceptable” performance evaluations over his career with the department, said Robin Brown, Metro Human Resources spokeswoman.
He will be required to pay for and show proof of his participation in an anger management program and diversity training before he returns to work, Lawson said. Before the suspension, Kennedy was charged with five counts of misconduct, including participation in a pattern of harassment toward a Metro employee and using threat of violence or intimidation toward others, according to his charge sheet.