Florida Court Rejects AG Bondi’s Request To Delay Same-Sex Marriage Appeals….

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A Miami-based appeals court has rejected Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi’s request that two same-sex marriage cases be delayed until the U.S. Supreme Court decides the issue nationally.

The 3rd District Court of Appeal ruled Thursday that the cases from Miami-Dade and Monroe counties will move forward.

Bondi’s office appealed rulings from judges in the two counties that declared Florida’s ban on same-sex marriage is unconstitutional.

The decision comes one day after another court, the 2nd District Court of Appeal, asked the Florida Supreme Court to decide the issue statewide.

Judges in Broward and Palm Beach counties have also found the same-sex marriage ban approved by voters in 2008 to be unconstitutional.

A Tallahassee-based federal judge issued a similar ruling but also stayed its effect pending the outcome of appeals.

Follow these cases: Huntsman v. Heavilin (Monroe) and Pareto v. Ruvin (Miami-Dade)

Associated Press

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Minnesota Hunting Lodge To Pay For Same-Sex Wedding And Reception After Turning Couple Away….

Cole Frey and Adam Block

The owners of a hunting lodge in Little Falls, Minnesota have agreed to pay for a couple’s wedding and reception after refusing them the use of their facilities after finding out it would be a same-sex ceremony, according to the Star-Tribune.

Cole Frey, 20, had initially secured a date for his wedding at LeBlanc’s Rice Creek Lodge only to have the lodge’s management reject him when he went to sign the paperwork and provide a security deposit.

“That’s when they found out it would be between two males,” Frey explained. “They told us they don’t condone same-sex marriage, and they wouldn’t be marrying us on their property.”

Frey is engaged to Adam Block, 18, whom he met last October.

The couple took their complaint to the Minnesota Department of Human Rights who investigated; having a staffer contact the lodge seeking to rent it for a same-sex wedding. The investigator was also refused the use of the premises.

Discrimination based on sexual orientation is illegal in Minnesota and, when the state Legislature legalized gay marriage in 2013, it only exempted religious entities from the law. Businesses such as the lodge are not exempt from nondiscrimination laws based upon religious beliefs regarding same-sex marriage.

Following negotiations with the Department of Human Rights, the owners of LeBlanc’s agreed to pay for the couple’s wedding at a different location, as well as for their reception and travel costs and lodging for their wedding guests, estimated to be about $8,500. The date originally requested by Frey and Block at LeBlanc’s was no longer available.

Frey was fine with moving the wedding to a different location.

“We kind of came to the conclusion, anyway, that we didn’t want to have it there because we didn’t want to be associated with them in that way,” he explained.

The attorney for the lodge’s owners, Paul Rogosheske, said that his clients misunderstood the law.

“They made a mistake and we did everything in our power to correct it,” Rogosheske explained. “This couple is going to have a great wedding and I can assure you LeBlanc’s is going to be open to everybody.”

Tom Boggioni – The Raw Story

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Trans Teen Commits Suicide, Says He’s “Prisoner Of My Own Body”….

Riley Matthew Moscatel  17

On Monday, August 18, a transgender teen from the Bucks County, Pennsylvania area apparently committed suicide by stepping in front of a fast-moving train. The Daily Mail reports that 17-year-old Riley Matthew Moscatel, who decided to drop his birth name ‘Jessica’ in favor of ‘Riley’ in the spring, explained in a lengthy letter on Instagram that he was “a prisoner of my own body.”

Surveillance cameras recorded the high school senior stepping in front of an Amtrak train near his home in Croydon, PA. He was killed.

“My mirror reflects Jessica, my heart and mind say Riley,” he posted in an Instagram picture with a backdrop of train tracks, just before ending his life. “You see me as the happiest person in school, I’m a prisoner of my own body.”

In the lengthy message, Riley apologized to his parents for not being the daughter they wanted, saying, “I just let go of the balloon I’ve been holding for so long called ‘hope.’ With that being said, I love you. I’m sorry I’m not the daughter you wanted.”

Before he killed himself on Monday, Riley posted this message to Instagram detailing his pain

His mother, Kristine Moscatel, told the Trentonian they were 100 percent supportive of their child’s struggle, but sometimes slipped up on the pronouns. They said that they had bought him a breast binder, and researched hormone treatments to begin when he turned 18.

“We knew that it was important to her,” said father Rich Moscatel. “If it was important to her, it was important to us whether we understood it or not.”

“We went from her thinking she was a lesbian, to bisexual, to finally transgender,” said mother Kristine Moscatel. “She didn’t know what she wanted to try and fit into.” The Philadelphia Inquirer reported that although Riley’s fellow students at Bucks Country Technical High School were happy to call him by his chosen name, friends knew that he was “super-frustrated with his body… and more and more frustrated every single day,” said Carley Foss.

Although friend Kate Cimono said, “Everyone loved Riley. He was everyone’s best friend,” she also noted that he “still really wasn’t a guy physically. Even though everyone showed support and called him Riley, it didn’t match up to what he felt of himself.”

Winnie McCroy – Edge: New England

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Atlanta Man Receives 10 Years In Prison For Defending Himself In Anti-Gay Attack….

Luke O’Donovan

The victim of an anti-gay attack in Atlanta has been sentenced to 10 years in prison on charges that he assaulted his attackers.

Luke O’Donovan was attacked on 13 December 2012 at a New Year’s Eve party after dancing with and kissing men throughout the evening.

He was beaten and stabbed by at least five men who shouted homophobic slurs at him during the altercation.

O’Donavan defended himself with a pocketknife, and escaped the incident. He received treatment for stab wounds and injuries to his head and body at the Atlanta Medical Center.

He was arrested by police hours later while receiving treatment and charged with attempted murder and five counts of felony aggravated assault with a deadly weapon.

The Luke O’Donovan Support Committee issued a statement about O’Donovan’s sentencing, saying: “This is the epitome of a hate crime. Witnesses report seeing between five and 12 men attacking O’Donovan, stomping on his head and body, and stabbing him in the back while calling him a ‘faggot.’

“The demonization of O’Donovan’s actions is a part of a growing trend: criminalizing those who successfully defend themselves from hate crimes.”

The committee added: “O’Donovan’s defense team was only able to negotiate the 10-year sentence after video footage surfaced of one of O’Donovan’s assailants participating in an attack of a transgender woman on July 3.”

In May, two trans women in Georgia were assaulted and stripped, while a crowd of onlookers filmed and cheered the attackers on.

In June, an Atlanta man has turned himself in to police after attacking a cyclist and branding him a “faggot”.

In July, video of a violent attack involving a transgender woman in Atlanta has surfaced on the video sharing app Vine.

Pink News

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LGBT Noise March For Marriage….

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Nonprofit Aims For LGBT Friendly Corporate Workplaces….

PG&E sponsored its first float in this year's LGBT Pride Parade;

A new nonprofit aims to make corporate offices friendlier to LGBT employees by boosting the visibility of straight allies.

Based in San Francisco, the two-year-old Friendfactor is using a competition template to engage both Fortune 500 companies and leading business schools from across the country. By challenging participants to engage allies on campus or in the workplace, the nonprofit hopes to foster greater LGBT awareness and acceptance in the business community.

“The main premise for why we work with these two communities is in the modern world we spend most of our time with the communities we develop in the workplace,” said Friendfactor CEO Joanne Sprague, 32, who identifies as a straight ally. “There is a high opportunity for a locust of change there when people identify as allies in the workplace. It impacts the rest of their lives in their community and church.”

The nonprofit’s competitions come as increased attention is being paid toward LGBT workplace policies. This week President Barack Obama signed an executive order barring federal contractors from discriminating against LGBT workers.

A New York Times analysis in May explored why there are no openly LGBT chief executives at America’s leading businesses. It referenced a recent report from the Human Rights Campaign that found many LGBT people, no matter their job title, remain closeted at work.

“The HRC report said the workplace is the last closet,” noted Sprague.

Initially a New York-based organization focused on advocacy work, Friendfactor re-launched on the West Coast in July 2012 under Sprague’s leadership. During the 2012-2013 school year it organized its first MBA Ally Challenge, crowning the Columbia Business School the inaugural winner.

“If we can educate and engage people while they are at school why being an ally and standing up as ally is important, it has an impact when they became a manager and move up the ranks,” said Sprague.

This past school year, with 12 business schools competing, Columbia won for a second time. The Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University and the Ross School of Business at the University of Michigan earned second and third, respectively. The Darden School of Business at the University of Virginia received the Most Improved award.

“I chose Columbia, in part, because of its visible LGBT community. I knew that for the first time in my life, this part of my identity would not be hidden,” said Dyanna Salcedo, an out lesbian and co-president of the school’s LGBT group known as Cluster Q. “Columbia delivered, and the MBA Ally Challenge has only helped boost that visibility even more.”

According to Friendfactor, 60 percent of the student body at Columbia was engaged to be LGBT allies as part of the friendly competition.

“It is a validation for the student body creating a very accepting MBA program,” said Ted Kirby, 28, who graduated in May and is the outgoing co-president of Cluster Q. “We had 750 people sign up as allies.”

A gay man who will join Deloitte Consulting in the fall, Kirby said the contest serves the dual purpose of making Columbia a more welcoming place for LGBT students while also educating straight students about how they can be advocates in the workplace after they graduate.

“A lot of corporations have the right policies in place and have those LGBTQ resource groups people can join. They do outreach to show LGBT students they can be out and flourish,” said Kirby, who purposefully chose to be out on his resume when applying for jobs. “That being said, I think there are a lot of places in this country where it is still not okay to be out. A lot of states don’t have equal protections under the law.”

Workplace challenge:

This year Friendfactor launched its Workplace Ally Challenge to bring its campus-based competition into the workplace. Eight Fortune 500 companies from around the country competed between January and June to engage as many allies as possible in building inclusive workplaces.

In a sign of how embracing LGBT issues in corporate boardrooms can still be controversial, however, three of the participating companies asked not to be identified publicly.

“It was something we offered,” explained Sprague. “We are a nonprofit and the goal is to advance the mission. Telling companies they can’t participate if their compliance department or CEO is risk averse goes against the vision of the organization.”

Of the other five competing companies, Pacific Gas and Electric Company, headquartered in San Francisco, won the contest. The second-place finisher was ConAgra Foods, based in Omaha, Nebraska, and Southern California Edison took third place honors. The other two public companies that competed were Bank of America and Pfizer.

“In communities with small LGBT populations, there are usually plenty of people supportive but they don’t have a way to step up and show that,” said Elizabeth Liedel, 32, a senior specialist in community relations at PG&E who is a straight ally.

A classmate of Sprague’s at Duke University’s business school, Liedel served on Friendfactor’s board for a year beginning in September 2012. When the nonprofit launched its workplace contest, she sought permission from PG&E executives to take part.

The company has long embraced LGBT issues, signing on as San Francisco Pride’s first corporate sponsor in 1986 and creating one of the oldest LGBT employee resource groups. It routinely scores 100 percent on HRC’s Corporate Equality Index.

Yet within its corporate offices there was very little visibility promoting its pro-gay policies and culture, noted Liedel.

Working with the company’s PrideNetwork Employee Resource Group, Liedel helped coordinate a number of activities to engage LGBT allies among the 4,000 employees working in the downtown San Francisco offices. Roughly 15 percent of the local workforce was engaged by the campaign.

“My motivation was not external attention for PG&E but cultivating the right environment internally,” said Liedel.

As part of the competition, employees were given “I’m an ally” cards they could post in their workstations. The company also sponsored its first float in the Pride parade that featured the PG&E mascot Helmet, modeled after its workers’ requisite safety gear.

“We have talked about honoring an ally of the month to keep that awareness going so people don’t think June is the end of it all,” said Gabe Trevino, 38, a gay man who lives in Concord and has worked for the company a dozen years, currently as a business operations analyst.

President of PG&E’s 400-member LGBT employee group, Trevino estimated that 25 percent are straight allies.

“We love our allies. We love that word. And we want to create that environment,” he said.

Collectively, the eight companies that participated in the inaugural workplace challenge reached nearly 2,000 professionals through 69 ally engagement activities, according to Friendfactor. In the space of just six months, LGBT awareness and the inclusiveness of workplace culture at the organizations increased by 18 percent and 10 percent, respectively, said the nonprofit.

Other than recognition at an awards ceremony, set to be held from 6:30 to 11 p.m. this Saturday, July 26 at the Hyatt Regency in San Francisco, there are no cash prizes handed out to the winners.

“The point is to show your company cares about LGBT equality and having an LGBT inclusive workplace. It is not about money or an award,” said Sprague, who is running Friendfactor with an annual budget of $100,000.

Matthew S. Bajko – Bay Area Reporter
Rick Gerharter – Photo

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Deceased Teen’s Tissue Donation Rejected Because He Was Gay….

AJ-Betts

A deceased teen’s organs have been partially rejected for donation because he was gay.

Sixteen-year-old A.J. Betts from Iowa committed suicide about a year ago after experiencing severe bullying.

Months before his death, he had volunteered to become an organ and tissue donor.

A Food and Drug Administration policy prohibiting men who have sex with men from donating certain tissue, however, barred some of Betts’ tissue from being donated.

Betts’ mother, Sheryl Moore, only learned her son’s tissue had not been donated after receiving a letter detailing the status of the donation.

Betts’ liver, lungs, kidneys, and heart had been accepted. His eyes, however, were rejected.

Moore could not confirm whether her gay son had been sexually active with a man in the five years prior to his death, leading to the rejection of the tissue.

The regulations barring tissue donations of men who have sex with men were established during the early days of the AIDS epidemic in the US to prevent transmission of the disease.

Moore told news station KCCI: “My initial feeling was just very angry because I couldn’t understand why my 16-year-old son’s eyes couldn’t be donated just because he was gay.

“This is archaic, and it is just silly that people wouldn’t get the lifesaving assistance they need because of regulations that are 30 years old.”

A Pittsburgh man who died earlier this year was also deemed not suitable as a tissue donor because he was gay.

A bill which could eventually allow the donation of HIV positive organs to HIV positive recipients passed the House in July 2013.

Recently, The Welsh Government encouraged those attending this weekend’s Pride Cymru to talk about organ donation.

Pink News

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