Nelson Piquet Jr. fined, on probation for gay slur
Nelson Piquet Jr. has been fined $10,000 and ordered to attend sensitivity training after posting an Instagram comment with a gay slur.
In response to fellow Nationwide Series driver Parker Kligerman's selfie after a workout, Piquet wrote a comment with a three-letter slur. Kligerman appeared to laugh it off with a comment of his own, but a fan snapped a screen shot and it caught NASCAR's attention.
In a Twitter exchange with @MatthewBreuer, Piquet said the comment was teasing between friends.
"Don't act like if u have never called your friends names," Piquet said in a now-deleted tweet. "Were (sic) not living in the 50s anymore bud.. jokes are jokes."
In a statement Tuesday, Piquet said: "I sincerely apologize to everyone for my poor choice of words last week. I did not mean to hurt or offend anyone. This has been a cultural learning experience that will make me a more sensitive person moving forward."
Kligerman didn't immediately respond to a request for comment from USA TODAY Sports.
Piquet also was placed on indefinite probation.
Earlier this season, Nationwide driver Jeremy Clements was suspended for two races after he made a racial slur toward African-Americans.
"Nelson Piquet Jr. recently communicated an offensive and derogatory term that cannot be tolerated in our sport," NASCAR senior vice president of racing operations Steve O'Donnell said. "NASCAR's Code of Conduct explicitly spells out in the 2013 rule book our position regarding the use of disparaging terms. We expect our entire industry to abide by this code."
The Code of Conduct in the rule book says a driver "shall not make or cause to be made a public statement and/or communication that criticizes, ridicules or otherwise disparages another person based upon that person's race, color, creed, national origin, gender, sexual orientation, marital status, religion, age, or handicapping condition.''
In a separate statement from Turner Scott Motorsports, the team said it had spoken to Piquet about his "insensitive comment" and the driver "understands that such remarks will not be tolerated."
"TSM expects those associated with the team to uphold professional standards that we can all be proud of," the statement said. "Nelson has assured the team that he has learned his lesson and he knows what it means to represent TSM."
This isn't the first time Piquet has found controversy in 2013.
After on-track fireworks in May's Nationwide race at Richmond International Raceway, the ex-Formula One driver argued with Brian Scott and kicked him below the belt.
On the way out of the track, Piquet and a friend were then confronted by two crew members from Scott's Richard Childress Racing team. The crew members were arrested and charged with assault.
Also Tuesday evening, NASCAR issued a six-point penalty to Joey Logano's Nationwide team.
The front of Logano's No. 22 car was found to be too low in post-race inspection after his win at Dover International Speedway.
Logano and the team get to keep the win, but crew chief Jeremy Bullins was fined $10,000 in addition to the loss of six owner points for team owner Roger Penske.
Logano does not run for points in the Nationwide Series.
In a statement, Penske said it had a spring retaining screw "back out" during the race. The front end was too low by 1/16 of an inch, the team said.
"The problem is being addressed internally to prevent it from happening again and the team is not planning to appeal the penalty," the statement said.
Why are we leaving it to athletes to stand up to Putin?
Sidney Crosby disagrees with Russia’s anti-gay laws. So does Dan Boyle. Steve Stamkos is “a little uneasy with what’s going on over there.” But hey, he says, we’re still five months from the lighting of the cauldron in Sochi: “I think things can change.”
Let’s hope that’s not as näive as it sounds.
While Russia’s Olympic organizers probably aren’t aghast at the mild comments of Canadian hockey players, surely they foresee the inevitable. At some point during the Games, athletes and/or fans will exercise some form of protest against Russia’s notorious anti-gay laws—be it handwritten signs held aloft on the podium; forests of rainbow flags in a crowd; or full-on Pride marches through the Olympic Park.
Then what? Jail the perps?
53 percent of Americans now support gay marriage, poll finds
As the Supreme Court debates the constitutionality of gay marriage issues and politician after politician comes out in support of same-sex marriage, a new poll (pdf) finds that a majority of Americans—53 percent—believe same sex couples should be able to marry and increasing numbers say they know someone who is gay.
Forty-two percent of respondents in the NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll said they oppose gay marriage, and support and opposition largely broke along partisan lines, according to NBC's analysis. Some 73 percent of Democrats said they support same-sex nuptials, while 66 percent of Republicans were opposed. Fifty-four percent of independents were in support.
Seventy-nine percent of adults surveyed said they know or work with someone who is gay or lesbian—a sharp increase from December poll figures that showed 65 percent of respondents knew someone who was gay or lesbian.
But the adults surveyed said that a personal connection doesn't influence their viewpoint. Fifty-eight percent of those surveyed who said they know someone who was gay or lesbian said it doesn't influence their support or opposition to gay marriage. Fifteen percent said it did make them more likely to support it, and 4 percent said it made them less likely to support it.
More...The poll was somewhat split on who should have the final word on the issue. Sixty-three percent of respondents said the federal government should recognize marriages in states where it is legalized (34 percent opposed that prospect). And 56 percent of those surveyed think that issue of permitting gay marriage should be left to the federal government.
Other social issues were tackled in the April 5-8 survey, including:
-Abortion: A majority—52 percent—said it should be illegal either most or all the time, while 45 percent said it should be legal most or all the time.
-Guns: 55 percent said laws related to the sale of firearms should be more strict; 34 percent disagree.
-Sequester: A majority, 58 percent, said the across-the-board federal spending cuts impact them "not much"; 6 percent said "not at all"; 17 percent said "just some"; 7 percent said "quite a bit"; and 9 percent said "a great deal."
Cyndi Lauper: ‘I Am a Drag Queen.’
Cyndi Lauper, the woman your fourth grade teacher told you was a bad role model because girls want to do so much more than just have fun, is back at it. This time, she's writing songs for new Broadway musicalKinky Boots. Based on the 2005 British comedy, and written by Harvey Fierstein, it's the story of a man who's struggling shoe business gets a boost creating coquettish kitten heels and sexy stilettos for drag queens.
Drag queens are something Lauper can relate to.
"Sometimes a man doesn't dress up like a woman because he wants to be a woman," says Lauper of the fetishistic footwear. "He dresses like a woman to make him feel more like a man."
Lauper's crossover to Broadway is a natural for a pop star who once featured 50 drag queens in a video of her biggest hit, "Girls Just Want to Have Fun," and who has been a longtime activist for gay rights.
"I am a drag queen," she asserts as she settles into a banquette at Sardi's.
As far as what it means to be a drag queen, Lauper has some very definite ideas.
"It's performance art. You think I'm putting on a corset, changing the color of my hair, and not thinking about what star from what movie I'm emulating in a photograph?" says Lauper.
"You don't put makeup on to enhance what you got. You draw the mouth you always wanted, the eyes you always wanted. Find out who was very glamorous who had your shape face even if your shape face isn't very popular right now. Create yourself! That's another way that I'm a drag queen."
The conservative case for gay marriage
In the past week, more than 100 prominent Republicans and conservatives have added their names to a legal brief advising the Supreme Court to grant gay people the right to marry.
Spearheaded by Ken Mehlman, the former chairman of the Republican National Committee who came out as gay three years ago, signatories include figures ranging from Beth Myers (Mitt Romney’s 2008 campaign manager) to Paul Wolfowitz (former World Bank Chairman and deputy Secretary of Defense) to Stephen Hadley (former National Security Advisor to President George W. Bush). The friend-of-the-court brief was filed in support of a lawsuit to overturn California’s Proposition 8, the 2008 ballot initiative that added a clause to the state’s constitution defining marriage as a union of one man and one woman. Later this month, the Supreme Court will hear the case alongside another which seeks to overturn the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act, a law prohibiting federal recognition of gay marriage.
In making the argument that any and all state-level bans on same-sex unions are unconstitutional, the conservatives’ brief actually goes further than the one filed by the Obama administration, which only argues that bans in states which offer lesser forms of legal recognition (like domestic partnerships or civil unions) ought be struck down. In addition to California, there are seven other states that maintain such separate-but-equal laws on the books.
Given the conservative movement’s long-time opposition to gay rights (most recently manifested in the Conservative Political Action Committee's small-minded opposition to allowing the gay conservative group GOProud a place at its annual confab later this month), the news that so many influential Republicans would lend their names to a cause long-derided by their political brethren as an attempt to "undermine the family" has come as something of a surprise.
But it shouldn't. And that's because contrary to the right-wingers who view it as "radical" and the left-wingers who similarly champion it as a uniquely "progressive" achievement, same-sex marriage has always been a conservative cause.
At least in theory. As the divorce rate rises, the proportion of single households increases and young people, beset by economic uncertainty, are putting off marriage until later in life (that is, if they get married at all), the movement for same-sex marriage ought to be seen as a last-ditch effort to save a dying institution, not destroy it. Heterosexuals are already doing a terrific job of that.
Extending marriage rights to gay people is just that: broadening an ancient institution to a population long denied access to it, not transforming it from without. If conservatism is predicated on the belief that tradition is worth conserving, then there are few better ways of doing that then letting gay people marry — and strengthen — the convention.
As the amicus brief argues, "marriage promotes the conservative values of stability, mutual support and mutual obligation," and gays should be encouraged for seeking access to it. What could be more "conservative" than encouraging monogamy and stability among gays, and gay men in particular, a demographic that, thanks to the absence of women, is inherently more promiscuous?
Supreme Court Asked To Strike Down All Same-sex Marriage Laws In The US
WASHINGTON, Feb. 22, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- As the Obama Administration is expected to urge the Supreme Court of the United States to support a constitutional right for gay men and lesbians to marry, a member of the bar has filed papers requesting the nation's highest court strike down all the same-sex marriage laws in the U.S. as a violation of the Constitution's protection of free speech and association.
Turning the tables on advocates for same-sex marriage who brought the court challenge to the Defense of Marriage Act, which defines marriage for Federal purposes as a union of a man and a woman, the amicus curiae brief filed by Dovid Z. Schwartz argues that the act of forming and maintaining a marriage is essentially an act of free speech warranting Constitutional protection.
The Supreme Court has frequently found that the right to freely associate trumps the government's interest in promoting "equality." Most famous for this principle was the case of Boy Scouts of America v. Dale, where the Court held that the group was not required by New Jersey's public accommodations law to install a gay man as a scoutmaster. The brief argues that marriage declares to the world that a man and a woman have dedicated themselves to each other, and sends the message, with public announcements and wedding rings, that the married partners are not available to others.
Laws that create same-sex marriage do more than expand the class of people entitled to government benefits and protections, argues Dovid Z. Schwartz , the Supreme Court lawyer who submitted the amicus curiae brief in support of the Defense of Marriage Act. Same-sex marriage laws change the message of what marriage means entirely.
A key aspect of the First Amendment defense of marriage as free speech rests on an understanding that marriage stands for an exclusive relationship, fidelity, where the partners declare themselves off-limits to third parties. But according to numerous social science studies, even "long-term" relationships between same-sex partners more often than not remain "open" to third parties. In addition to sending nearly an opposite message about the meaning of marriage as sexual morality, same-sex relationships have been correlated with increased susceptibility to sexually-transmitted diseases due to their open-ended nature.
The argument over California's constitutional amendment, Proposition 8, highlights the centrality of the term "marriage" as being more about speech than simply government benefits. In the Proposition 8 case, same-sex couples were entitled to virtually every single benefit available married couples by California law, except for the word "marriage." This shows that the government itself lacks the moral authority to confer the recognition that same-sex couples seek, the brief argues, without co-opting the term that owes its potency as a cultural symbol to its association and link to religious institutions.
The brief explains that there is a sound public policy for upholding the traditional definition of marriage based upon the widely-held moral beliefs of the American people which are rooted in the Torah. The central moral values of the Torah unite the major world religions known as the "Abrahamic religions" with a common understanding of the true purpose and mission of mankind. "This is not a mere appeal to history or tradition for its own sake, or a preference for continuity in the face of an uncertain future. Rather, the moral laws recorded in the Torah are the headwaters from which flow a deep and abiding faith for countless millions of Americans," Mr. Schwartz wrote to the Supreme Court of the United States.
Included in the laws of the Torah that G-d Almighty gave to the Jewish people at Mount Sinai, a distinct subset of laws, applicable to all mankind, were given over to their safekeeping as well. These principles, called the Seven Laws of the Children of Noah, the brief explains, elucidate the physical, emotional and psychological form of the human being, and the baseline of human society, like anatomy and physiology describe the blueprint and function of the human species.
Gay Man Takes Down Antigay Preacher on Subway
A gay man found himself on a New York City subway with an antigay preacher over the weekend.
After the so-called preacher begins his tirade, the man responds with "You are bad and full of hate."
"False prophet! False prophet! False prophet" he shouts repeatedly.
The man continues to advise his fellow train patrons that the other guy is full of hate, and should not be listened to.
Eventually he jumps from his seat and declares, "I'm a man, and I'm a good man, and I'm a gay man, and Jesus loves me." His comment draws applause from other subway riders.
High School Senior Comes Out to Standing Ovation
Jonathan Rudolph, shows the younger Rudolph taking the stage to accept the Class Actor award during the school's senior class awards. Rudolph notes that while he's acted in several plays over his academic tenure, he's been acting every day as something he's not: a straight person.
"Most of you see me every day, you see me acting the part of straight Jacob," says Rudolph, as the crowd quiets. "When I am, in fact, an LGBT teen."
Rudolph even spells out the acronym for those classmates unsure of just what he's saying.
Watch the brief video below and enjoy the heart-warming moment when Rudolph's schoolmates give him a standing ovation for his courageous speech.
The aircraft giant, with extensive operations in Washington State, had resisted granting the benefits despite the state's new marriage equality law.
Aircraft manufacturer Boeing Co., which had resisted granting equal survivor pension benefits to same-sex spouses despite Washington State’s new marriage equality law, has now agreed to do so, reports Seattle newspaper The Stranger.
Executives at Boeing, which maintains extensive operations in Washington despite moving its headquarters from Seattle to Chicago several years ago, had told union negotiators in November that because pensions are governed by federal law, it would not offer surviving same-sex spouses the same benefits as opposite-sex spouses. They said federal law, which does not recognize same-sex marriages, would override Washington’s marriage equality law, passed by the legislature last year and affirmed by voters in November.
Now, as contract negotiations continue with the Society of Professional Engineering Employees in Aerospace, the company has agreed to the following language: “Recognizing Boeing’s commitment to equality without regard to sexual orientation, Boeing will extend pension survivor benefits to all spouses, as defined under either State or Federal law whichever defines the same sex person as a spouse.”
“We are satisfied that this language protects same-sex spouses,” Ray Goforth, executive director of SPEEA’s IFPTE Local 2001, told The Stranger. The local represents 23,000 Boeing engineers and technical workers, most of them in Washington. After Boeing initially denied the benefits, an online petition urging the company to grant them received 79,000 signatures.
Despite the agreement on survivor benefits, Boeing and the union remain far apart on many other issues, the paper notes.
Police DNA sample powers 'used against gay men'
Police powers to force offenders to give DNA samples have been used against gay men convicted of old homosexuality laws, it has been claimed.
In two recent cases, men said they were compelled to provide a sample because of convictions under a law that was repealed a decade ago.
In one of the cases, however, police said the demand for DNA was related to a separate conviction for theft.
The powers came into effect in England and Wales last year.
The Association of Chief Police Officers said police should demand DNA samples for only the most serious of historic offences, but that it was up to individual forces to make decisions based on the risk posed by individuals.
In one recent case, a former soldier said he was ordered by Greater Manchester Police to provide a DNA sample because of a 30-year-old conviction for having consensual sex with a fellow soldier.
Force decisionSince the Crime and Security Act became law last year, police have had powers to force thousands of "historical" offenders to provide a DNA sample - in order to help solve serious crimes such murder, rape and manslaughter dating back some 40 years.
Stephen Close, 50, a former soldier from Salford, was convicted of gross indecency in 1983 because he had sex with another soldier when both men were under 21, which was then the homosexual age of consent.
Greater Manchester Police said its decision to demand a DNA sample from Mr Close two weeks ago had nothing to do with his sexuality, but related to a separate conviction for theft in 1995.
Another gay man from Newcastle, who was fined more than two decades ago for gross indecency at the age of 20, said he was recently told by Northumbria Police that he would be arrested if he refused to provide a DNA sample.
The force denied he was targeted because of his sexuality.
Both men agreed to give DNA samples but have complained at being bracketed with serious offenders such as rapists and murderers.
Op-ed: Guns Aren't The Problem
I think it’s safe to say that we were all stunned and saddened at the news of last week’s elementary school shooting in Connecticut. Sure, today’s modern-day news consumer is pretty calloused to the usual stories of death and disaster that grace our papers and computer screens every morning. There are tsunamis in Asia, wars and conflicts in the Mid-east, and financial doomsday prophecies taking place here on our home turf. But every so often, one story emerges from the chaos as something that causes even the most desensitized person to stop for a minute and marvel at humankind’s capacity for cruelty and malice, as well as courage and empathy and generosity. Of course, shortly after this minute ends, both liberal and conservative pundits take to their soapboxes and megaphones on TV and the web claiming to have the answer. We all know these speeches, since we’ve heard them time and again since Columbine in 1999.
What angers me is not necessarily that parties and pundits will exploit tragedy to further their agendas. Instead, I’m appalled that, no matter how many times this debate occurs, no one ever seems to evolve on this issue. Liberals argue for more regulation. Conservatives argue for less. Largely, we go about our daily business and pretend to be shocked when the cycle repeats itself once again. As much as we like to think that we learn from our mistakes, posterity begs to differ.
But why have we often put so much emphasis on the instrument while practically ignoring the individual?
Like a lot of people, I very enthusiastically support stricter gun control. While I do buy into the mantra of “guns don’t kill people, people kill people,” I do only to a certain extent. After all, when was the last time you heard of someone going on a “strangling spree” in the middle of a mall or a school and killing 20 or so people in one fell swoop? But incidents like Newtown, Aurora, and even Columbine are only symptoms of what I believe to be a greater issue. Thus, using gun control laws as a potent response would be like trying to treat cancer with painkillers. Sure, it may make us feel better, but it does little to address the true problem.
There’s a lot of talk in this country about physical health — health care, obesity, the effects of certain foods and diets on our body — and yet no one seems to be addressing mental health. What good is a physically fit person if he or she is psychologically unwell? Especially when that person is capable of buying a gun and taking out their anguish on the innocent? Why is it easier to buy a gun than to seek psychological help?
Most people know their doctors on a first-name basis. But would you know where to call in the event of a mental health crisis? What do you know about your own insurance? Do you know what mental health benefits it offers, if any? I’m not just talking about treating potential problems, either. You’re supposed to get a physical from your doctor once a year, even when you’re healthy. We should add mental health check-ups to the list.
I feel like the LGBT community should especially rally in support of this cause, because it also helps combat another issue that continues to devastate our community: teen suicide. While bullying and homophobia were the primary discussion surrounding deaths like those of Tyler Clementi, Asher Brown, Jamie Rodemeyer, and so on, there was too little speculation as to how mental health counseling could have helped save these young lives. As much as we like to think that we can effectively eradicate bullying and homophobia in our schools, eliminating them completely is virtually impossible. So what else can we do to fix this issue? In order to attend public school, I had to undergo regular health screenings and have vaccines that were current and up-to-date. Yet, students typically only talk to counselors when there’s a problem. Even then, these are usually guidance counselors, not necessarily mental health professionals.
In my entire childhood, I was only brought to a professional once, and that was to get tested for the “gifted program.” Meanwhile, I should have been getting help after being sexually assaulted in third grade. Unfortunately, my problem, much like the problems of Tyler, and Jamie, and Asher, went unnoticed. Thankfully, a group of peer counselors at my old church managed to help me out before I had the chance to do something drastic to myself. But even then, this happened only many years after my incident, thus making much of my psychological damage permanent.
So I hope that, this time around, we can use the recent tragedy in Connecticut — as well as the unfortunately countless tragedies that have happened before — as an opportunity to discuss and address the issue of preventative mental health care. Yes, it’s true that a weapon is harmless by itself. But instead of regurgitating tired slogans like “guns don’t kill people; people kill people,” let’s recognize that guns aren’t the problem — people are the problem. We won’t have to worry about anyone using a weapon to harm others or even themselves if we ensure the mental and emotional well-being of our citizens.
Romney Concedes Florida
As of this afternoon, President Obama led Romney by 55,825 votes in the state, with 49.9% of the vote to 49.24% for Romney, according to the Herald. Many of ballots remaining to be tallied are from Miami-Dade, Palm Beach, and Broward counties, all majority-Democratic South Florida counties where Obama already has a large lead. There are also absentee ballots to be counted from Duval County, which includes the state’s largest city, Jacksonville. Romney had a narrow lead over Obama in Duval, but even if the absentee ballots follow the same pattern, they would not produce enough votes to significantly affect the statewide total.
Obama had already clinched his reelection without Florida’s 29 electoral votes, which will bring his Electoral College total to 332. Romney had 206.
Brett Doster, Romney’s Florida adviser, said campaign staff had considered Florida winnable for the Republican candidate. “We thought based on our polling and range of organization that we had done what we needed to win,” he said in a statement, reports the Herald. “Obviously, we didn’t, and for that I and every other operative in Florida has a sick feeling that we left something on the table. I can assure you this won’t happen again.”
Obama campaign manager Jim Messina said simply, “We feel we will be the official winner in Florida later today.”
Justice Ginsburg, the Cheney sisters, and same-sex marriage
For the first time, a member of the US Supreme Court has performed a same-sex wedding. Meanwhile, the daughters of former VP Dick Cheney have publicly disagreed about gay marriage.
Item one: The daughters of former vice president Dick Cheney – Mary and Liz – went public with their differences over gay marriage, revealing the kind of debate no doubt happening in other American families.
Item two: Ruth Bader Ginsburg – an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States – officiated at a same-sex wedding in Washington, D.C., where such marriages are legal.
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In a ceremony at the Kennedy Center Saturday evening, Justice Ginsburg performed the wedding of Michael Kaiser, who runs the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, and John Roberts.
No, not that John Roberts, the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, but government economist John Roberts, who works at the Commodity Futures Trading Commission.
Mr. Kaiser is an old friend of Justice Ginsburg, described by the Washington Post as “perhaps the Supreme Court’s most ardent supporter of the fine arts, especially opera.”
Ginsburg, the senior liberal on the court, has been on the pro-gay-marriage side of recent 5-4 Supreme Court decisions invalidating the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) and opening the way for California to resume same-sex marriages.
Saturday evening’s wedding at the Kennedy Center, Ginsburg told the Washington Post, “will be one more statement that people who love each other and want to live together should be able to enjoy the blessings and the strife in the marriage relationship.” She has agreed to officiate at another same-sex wedding later this month.
It’s not unusual for Supreme Court justices to perform marriage ceremonies. Ginsburg did for her son and his wife. Associate Justice Clarence Thomas did for radio broadcaster and fellow conservative Rush Limbaugh and his third wife.
APNewsBreak: Alaska may make gay partners 'family'
JUNEAU, Alaska (AP) -- The Alaska State Personnel Board is considering including Same-sex partners in the definition of "immediate family."
The proposed change in rules would allow state employees to take family leave due to a serious health condition of a same-sex partner.
Same-sex marriage is not legal in Alaska because of a state constitutional amendment, but Deputy Personnel Director Nancy Sutch says the proposed change in rules stems from a recent review of a 2005 Alaska Supreme Court decision.
That decision says it is unconstitutional to offer valuable benefits to spouses but not to same-sex domestic partners.
The personnel board plans to consider the changes at its Sept. 19 meeting in Anchorage.
Southport High School junior was beaten by classmate because he is gay, mother says
A Southport High School mother says her son was beaten by a football player on the school bus because he is openly gay.
Sunshyne Reffett said the sophomore player punched her son in the face and choked him for 10 seconds on Aug. 15. She said the sophomore has taunted her son, a junior, for months because he is gay.
“This child has been making fun of him for some time now, and it finally came to this,” said Reffett, 34, Indianapolis.
Reffett says the school district knows about the fight but failed to punish the boy. Instead, the district suspended both students from the bus for a week, discipline she called unfair for her son because it was a one-sided attack.
The Perry Township school district issued a statement saying it had investigated the fight.
“Intense verbal exchanges were made between two Southport High School students on a school bus which escalated into a physical altercation,” the statement says. “The district takes all physical exchanges seriously. A thorough investigation was conducted. Both students received a suspension from the bus.”
A spokeswoman for the school could not immediately say whether the district’s investigation found that the fight started because Reffett’s son was gay.
Reffett said her son “has been taunted in the hallway.”
“He knew once he came out that was going to happen, and he tries to have a sense of humor about it,” she said.
But it never ended in a physical altercation before, she said.
“He had a busted lip and a black eye, but what really scared me was the strangulation,” she said.
Reffet filled out a police report the day it happened and said she is meeting with a detective from the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department on Saturday.
Reffett’s son told police the assailant hurled gay slurs at him, the police report said.
Oprah: Gay Couples May Strengthen the Institution of Marriage
With France becoming the 14thcountry to legalize same-sex marriage, Oprah Winfrey sat down with three thought leaders — Reverend Ed Bacon and authors Mark Nepo and Elizabeth Lesser — to discuss the subject of marriage equality in the United States for an episode of the OWN network series Super Soul Sunday.
In the clip below from the show, Bacon, who has officiated both gay and straight weddings in the past, asserted that same-sex marriages would not destroy the institution of marriage, as some conservatives claim, but would instead enrich it. "I've never had a straight couple come to me and say, 'My marriage is in trouble because of a gay couple living next door,'" Bacon said. "To the contrary, I’ve had people come to me and say, 'Because of the love between Bob and Joe, I have learned how better to love my wife or my husband.'"
Lesser agreed, adding she felt same-sex marriage posed no threat to the institution of marriage and it was "in trouble long before gays were getting married."
"Maybe gay people can help it," Oprah proposed.
Ayanbadejo now says four gay players aren’t considering coming out
Recently, free-agent linebacker Brendon Ayanbadejo has been backpedaling more than a cornerback.
After suggesting this his support for same-sex marriage was a factor in his release by the Ravens, Ayanbadejo quickly said it wasn’t. Now, not long after explaining that four gay players are considering coming out at the same time, Ayanbadejo says they aren’t.
Via Outsports.com, that was the upshot of Ayanbadejo’s Friday night appearancewith Anderson Cooper of CNN.
“No, actually, what it is is, is there are organizations I’m in contact with, and there are individuals I’m in contact with and collectively we know of some gay players,” Ayanbadejo said when asked if he knows the names of the four gay players who are considering coming out. “And these players, some of them are anonymous, some of them we know who they are, but their identity is super secret and nobody wants to reveal who they are, and some of them don’t want to reveal who they are, rightfully so because it’s entirely up to them what they are going to do.
“What we want to facilitate is getting them all together so they can lean on each other, so they can have a support group. And potentially it’s possible, it’s fathomable, that they could possibly do something together, break a story together.”
Apart from Ayanbadejo’s chronic inability to get his facts straight, he has an increasingly obvious desire to see one or more gay players come out. Gay players wrestling with this intensely personal decision easily could perceive that they are merely pawns in a much broader agenda being driven by straight players and/or members of the media who believe that the time has come for closeted gay players to be openly gay.
As former NFL player Wade Davis, who is openly gay, tells Outsports.com, “The problem is that you have straight people speaking on the behalf of these closeted gay athletes, instead of letting the gay athletes speak for themselves.”
There’s a fine line between providing support and applying pressure. While having multiple gay players come out at once would reduce the distraction created by one gay player coming out, if none of them choose to come out, that’s their business.
Ultimately, we believe people should be allowed to be who they are, and who they choose to be. That includes straight, gay, and closeted. If a gay player simply doesn’t want to come out, that’s his prerogative — and no one gay or straight should be trying to get him to do something he doesn’t want to do.
The supreme court's problem: how to back America out of anti-gay bigotry
US supreme court observers groaned when the well-regarded and Peabody Award-winning SCOTUSblog.com put the chances of the supreme court striking down the Defense of Marriage Act (Doma) at 80%. As far as predictability goes, supreme court decisions are somewhere between next week's weather and Tilda Swinton's career choices. Maybe, SCOTUSblog was itself playing at a little performance art, a commentary on the search for specificity and certainty in a series of cases that deal primarily with the ineffable realm of human emotions. Love, to be sure, but also the fear and unease, if not outright bigotry, that love flies in the face of.
It's a sign of progress, perhaps, that that defenders of Proposition 8 and Doma would just as soon pretend that emotions have nothing to do with their arguments. In some darker age, they might have been able to build a case that the "love" was, in fact, the thing that distinguished a heterosexual relationship from a homosexual one. That darker age was, of course, last year, when Protect Marriage Maine campaigned against that state's referendum to allow same-sex marriage with a statement that included the assertion:
"The basis of homosexuality centers around anonymous sexual encounters … it is largely predatory."
Protect Marriage Maine scrubbed its site of that statement fairly quickly. In general, defenders of "traditional marriage" have learned to couch their arguments with increasing circumspection when it comes to outright judgments of morality. This has led, ironically, to a crude emphasis on the corporal: the central, almost only, basis for defending Proposition 8 lay in heterosexual couples being baby-makers – or, in the words of lawyer for the defense Charles Cooper:
"The state's interest and society's interest in what we have framed as responsible procreation is – is vital, but at bottom, with respect to those interests, our submission is that same-sex couples and opposite-sex couples are simply not similarly situated."
Let it be known for evermore that it was the defenders of traditional values that forced the highest court in the land to ponder just how it is that "with respect to procreation" – "at bottom", no less – same-sex and opposite-sex couples are "not similarly situated". Do I need to draw you a map?
If that weren't uncomfortable enough, Justice Elena Kagan opened the door to further explicit material with her reasonable observation that not even all opposite-sex couples marry in order to "procreate":
"If both the woman and the man are over the age of 55, there are not a lot of children coming out of that marriage."
And she wondered then whether Cooper's logic would allow the state to deny straight seniors a marriage license.
After allowing that asking "Are you fertile?" at the marriage desk would be "an unconstitutional invasion of privacy", Justice Antonin Scalia invaded our minds by implying that Kagan's notion of what is "too old to have kids" suffered from not having met the wily racist Strom Thurmond, who fathered his last child at the age of 74. Thurmond, Scalia said, "was not the chairman of the Senate committee when Justice Kagan was confirmed." Encouraged, apparently, by this anecdote, Cooper then agreed:
"Very few men outlive their own fertility."
Think about old men screwing, everyone! We might lose a lot of potential baby-making opportunities if that's the image we leave off on.
Scalia was, as usual, the episode's garish, garrulous villain, the kind of lusty misanthrope the word "harrumph" erupts from. Tuesday, he barked out leading questions to the somewhat hapless Cooper. "Mr Cooper, let me … let me give you one … one concrete thing," he sputtered at one point. "I don't know why you don't mention some concrete things." Which led him to passive-aggressively offer the point that:
"There's considerable disagreement among sociologists as to what the consequences of raising a child in a … in a single-sex family, whether that is harmful to the child or not."
Sticking to the same two-layered script that all homophobes seem to be working from nowadays, Scalia was careful to distance himself from actually saying that GAYS WILL TURN THE KIDS GAY (or worse): "I take no position on whether it's harmful or not," he said, in a I'm-just-sayin'-here way, "but it is certainly true that … that there's no scientific answer to that question at this point in time."
Questions of time and public opinion overshadowed the entire proceedings. Scalia, for instance, seemed to be especially aware that the tides of history and logic are eroding the tenuous intellectual framework that would deny the extension of rights to gay men and women. His insistence, at one point, that plaintiff counsel Ted Olson deliver the precise date at which denying marriage rights to homosexual couples "became unconstitutional" reads as Captain Queeg-like breakdown:
"I'm curious, when … when did … when did it become unconstitutional to exclude homosexual couples from marriage? 1791? 1868, when the 14th amendment was adopted? Sometimes … some time after Baker, where we said it didn't even raise a substantial Federal question? When … when … when did the law become this? When do you think it became unconstitutional? Has it always been unconstitutional? Was it always unconstitutional? When did that … Well, how am I supposed to know how to decide a case, then if you can't give date when the constitution changes?"
He probably accuses his clerks of stealing his strawberries.
Ted Olson, sagely, interrupts this monologue at one point with an apt rhetorical response:
"When did it become unconstitutional to prohibit interracial marriages? When did it become unconstitutional to assign children to separate schools?"
In other words, the beauty of the American constitution is that we have discovered within it the tools to extend rights in cases where the question of "rights" wasn't even an imagined category 100 years before. This is how we live in a country where a black man is president even though he wouldn't have been allowed through the front door of the White House a century earlier. The rights themselves actually haven't changed that much; they've just been read to reflect a growing understanding of who deserves to have them.
That's actually the logic at the heart of the argument against the Defense of Marriage Act. "Traditional marriage" supporters argued that allowing two people of the same sex to get married somehow changes the definition of marriage (it's been all about babies otherwise!). The lawyers who argued against the Defense of Marriage Act Wednesday urged the court to a definition of marriage more elegant than the blinkered "insert-tab-A-into-slot-B" logic of the anti-equality crusaders. Changing the definition of who can get married, they say, doesn't change the definition of marriage; it expands the number of people who can enjoy it. Just as allowing different races to drink from the same water fountain doesn't make it any less refreshing, same-sex marriages won't make matrimony any revered, or vital.
People opposed to marriage equality don't like it when you make analogies to the quest for racial civil rights, and there's a simple reason why: they don't want to be thought of as bigots. But here's the thing: they're bigots.
I already regret writing that, because I know there are good people, kind people, out there who have what they believe to be principled moral arguments against same-sex marriage. If I were having a conversation with one of those people, I would not call them a bigot to their faces. As the people at Protect Marriage Maine realized a hair too late, it is difficult to make headway in a debate if you piss off your opponent.
So, the sensitivity to offending others that demanded that traditional marriage proponents talk about baby-making and not THE EVIL GAY muzzled those seeking marriage equality as well. Kagan drilled the lawyer defending Doma, Paul Clement, about his assertion that homosexuals were not being discriminated against, rather that Doma was just the kindly force of government defining a term ("marriage") so that everyone understands exactly what it is. "When Congress targets a group that is not everybody's favorite group in the world", Kagan posed:
"Do we really think that Congress was doing this for uniformity reasons, or do we think that Congress's judgment was infected by dislike, by fear, by animus, and so forth?"
The court did not record Kagan going, like, "I mean, duh" at the end of her question.
To call out those who supported Doma as being motived by "fear, animus and so forth" is to tell a truth that could hurt the cause. The lawyers arguing against the law themselves demurred when given the opportunity to label the motivations behind Doma: "I'm not saying it was animus or bigotry, I think it was based on a misunderstanding," said Roberta Kaplan, the lawyer for the original estate case that underlies the debate today. Even Attorney General Donald Verrilli, who made the most full-throated argument for calling Doma "discrimination at its most basic aspect", equivocated; of Congress's motivation for the law, he said:
"[I]t may well not have been animus or hostility. It may well have been… the simple want of careful reflection or an instinctive response to a class of people or a group of people who we perceive as alien or other."
In wrapping up his plea to keep Doma, Clement likewise pleaded that, hey, maybe gays should get married, but let's not rush things! "You have to persuade somebody you're right," he said:
"You don't label them a bigot. You don't label them as motivated by animus. You persuade them you are right."
He has something of a point. You don't change someone's mind by calling them a bigot. Anyone who's ever argued about anything with anyone else on the internet can corroborate the ineffectiveness of name-calling as a debate strategy.
You don't change any one person's mind, but you do change a country. The very tentativeness of the debate at the supreme court is itself a testament to the difficulty of exposing hatred and fear for just what they are, and of not letting people get away with the polite forms of racism or sexism or homophobia that occur in both courtrooms and social situations.
Yes, gay people are everywhere, they're everywhere and they're not ashamed of it – the toxicity of actively and obviously discriminating against a gay person is what makes fundamentalists just fume over Ellen and Bravo TV rather than get labeled a backwards weirdo like that Westboro Church guy. This premium on appearing civil, if not endorsing civil rights, is what Chief Justice John Roberts to seems to equate with being "a sea-change" in attitudes toward gay rights.
Baffled at how the country could go from 85 senators voting for Doma to, as he put it, "political figures falling over themselves to endorse your side of the case", Roberts asserted to Kaplan that it must have "a lot to do with the political force and effectiveness of people representing, supporting your side of the case." Kaplan said that she thought it had to do with a social shift, people beginning to believe that "no difference" could "justify this kind of categorical discrimination between gay couples and straight couples".
Roberts's response was revealingly petulant:
"You don't doubt that the lobby supporting the enactment of same sex-marriage laws in different states is politically powerful, do you?"
Of course, he sees it that way: a faceless army of gay lobbyists, passing "same sex-marriage laws" – as though the point was to enshrine "same-sex marriage" and not just, you know, "marriage". The growth of gay rights has to spring from some top-down enforcement mechanism … Roberts believes this, I suspect, because, like many conservatives, he quite understandably feels like somewhere the rules were changed over homosexuality's place in society: how we talk about it, react to it, address it.
But the thing is, the rules themselves haven't. The "rules", the law, are lagging behind justice. What's changed is what level of intolerance people will tolerate.
Civil rights is not a polite endeavor. The allusions and discursiveness of the arguments before the supreme court this week are just the most polished version of the truth. The way that we've gotten to where we are isn't by convincing people through reasoned discussion; it is because people are afraid to be thought of as bigots. Until the laws themselves change, I'm fine with that
Boy Scouts to vote on policy involving gays
IRVING, Texas -The polarizing debate over whether Boy Scouts of America should allow gay members could culminate with a vote on a new policy Wednesday.
But no matter which way the vote goes, activists on both sides aren't going to be satisfied.
The controversy pits leaders of religious groups that sponsor about 1 million Boy Scouts against activists who want the organization to end its ban on openly gay Scouts and Scout leaders.
Neither side is happy with BSA's proposal to let local troops decide if they want to allow gay members.
"What they've said to us and to other religious leaders is that they are doing this under pressure, and we're going to give people what basically amounts to a local option," said Richard Land of the Southern Baptist Convention. "You can't have a local option of a core conviction."
Brad Hankins of Scouts for Equality also sees problems with passing the decision to local troops.
"We don't want to see Scouting gerrymandered into blue and red districts. So the best solution would be to end discrimination outright," he said.
The Boy Scouts of America has 2.7 million members nationwide. More than 70% of troops are affiliated with church or religious groups.
The debate has ignited a firestorm of comments on CNN.com and social media.
"Hopefully the BSA will make the decision to be more inclusive! I enjoyed my time as a scout, but would not want my future children to join an organization that doesn't promote equality," said Cole Fuller, one of thousands of readers who have shared their views in the comments section of CNN.com.
Other readers slammed the organization for considering the change and criticized gay rights advocates for pushing for it.
"Take a challenge and create your own organization with gay ideals, but don't ever force or coerce a child and don't force us to say your lifestyle is acceptable," said another poster identified as Dave McFarland.
By Wednesday morning, the Boy Scouts of America Facebook page had more than 27,000 comments on the issue.
"Stick (to) the core values, Boy Scouts is not for everyone," Adam Stoltzfus said.
Danny Kane disagreed: "We have an organization for all. It's called the Boy Scouts of America. Segregation is not an American value."
No lesbian den mothers
The existing policy came under fire last year after Jennifer Tyrrell, an Ohio den leader, was dismissed by her local Boy Scout troop for being a lesbian.
In 2000, the Supreme Court ruled that the Boy Scouts have a constitutional right to oppose homosexuality in its ranks.
"Forcing a group to accept certain members may impair the ability of the group to express those views, and only those views, that it intends to express," then-Chief Justice William Rehnquist wrote after the court's 5-4 decision. He added that the decision was not meant to approve or condemn the Scouts' view on homosexuality.
But Eagle Scout Zach Wahls, founder of Scouts for Equality, says the ban on gays has backfired.
When he was 10, Wahls' Cub Scout pack had to find a new home because the BSA's policy violated the school's nondiscrimination rules.
"I was confused, because my den mother, Jackie -- who is my actual mother -- was a lesbian, and nobody in our unit had any issue with that," Wahls wrote.
The troop eventually found a new sponsor.
"But some parents pulled their kids from the pack, uncomfortable with entrusting their sons to an organization they believed engaged in discrimination," Wahls said.
"Unfortunately, because of the Boy Scouts of America's shortsighted policy, many of the boys who left my pack missed out on learning the lifelong principles, values and skills that Scouting offers."
NFL punter thinks Chris Culliver should be suspended for homophobic comments
Seattle Seahawks punter Jon Ryan thinks Chris Culliver should be suspended for his negative comments about having a gay teammate.
The 31-year-old Canadian gave his thoughts in a tweet posted late Wednesday night. He called for action against the San Francisco 49ers cornerback who caused the biggest stir of Super Bowl week when he said a gay teammate would have to "get up outta here" and that no one in the locker room could "be with that sweet stuff."
If Chris Culliver isn't suspended by Goodell then I am absolutely embarrassed to be part of a league that accepts this type of behavior.Goodell could suspend Culliver, I suppose. The better way to handle the situation is to say nothing and let Culliver face the court of public opinion.
Social change comes about incrementally. Suspension or not, Culliver's opinion isn't going to change overnight. Nor will those of the many players who agree with him in silence. But the horde of press that gathered around Culliver in New Orleans shows that such beliefs are no longer held by the majority. This is another step in the process.
And it is a step in the right direction, despite suggestions that Culliver's comments may have set back the timetable for an NFL athlete coming out. The opposite seems more likely.
The attention on Culliver and the immediate backlash to his comments proves that the country is ready for a gay athlete, even if the locker room isn't. That's a step too.
Any player thinking about becoming an NFL pioneer already knows what he'll be up against. It's not like Culliver's comments were anything they hadn't heard before. Think of it this way: If Culliver said that on a radio show, can you imagine what gets spoken behind closed doors? Knowing that it won't be that way with the public can only be a positive sign for the movement.
CNN Host Ejects Anti-Gay Activist From Tuesday Morning Broadcast