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GOP Rep. David Jolly (Fla.) announced his support of gay marriage Monday in a statement to the Washington Post.

While Jolly said he personally believes in traditional marriage because of his Christian faith, he thinks the government should support both traditional and same-sex marriages. He also noted his support of Monroe County Circuit Judge Luis Garcia’s decision to order the county’s officials to begin issuing marriage licenses to gay couples last week.

“But as a matter of Constitutional principle I believe in a form of limited government that protects personal liberty,” Jolly said. “To me, that means that the sanctity of one’s marriage should be defined by their faith and by their church, not by their state. Accordingly, I believe it is fully appropriate for a state to recognize both traditional marriage as well as same-sex marriage, and therefore I support the recent decision by a Monroe County Circuit Judge.”

Garcia refused to allow gay couples to marry on Monday, citing an appeal by Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi. The AP reports:

Garcia initially ruled marriage licenses could be issued in Monroe County beginning Tuesday to gay couples. But that was blocked by an automatic stay triggered when Republican Attorney General Pam Bondi immediately filed notice that the state will appeal.

Bondi’s office filed papers later Monday urging Garcia to keep the stay in place and preserve the status quo until all appeals are sorted out and Garcia agreed. That means no gay marriages can take place while Garcia’s original ruling is reviewed by the Miami-based 3rd District Court of Appeal, which could take weeks or months to issue a decision.

Jolly, who won the special election to fill the seat left vacant by the late Rep. Bill Young in March, is the eighth current Republican member of Congress to support gay marriage, according to the Washington Post.

Source:  The Huffington Post, “GOP Rep. David Jolly Comes Out In Support Of Gay Marriage,”  By Posted: 07/21/2014 6:03 pm EDT Updated: 1 hour ago

President Barack Obama signed an executive order banning workplace discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender employees of federal contractors. | ASSOCIATED PRESS

President Barack Obama signed an executive order banning workplace discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender employees of federal contractors. | ASSOCIATED PRESS

WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama on Monday signed an executive order banning workplace discrimination against millions of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender employees of federal contractors and the federal government.

The executive order has two parts: It makes it illegal to fire or harass employees of federal contractors based on their sexual orientation or gender identity, and it explicitly bans discrimination against transgender employees of the federal government. The part targeting federal contractors affects 24,000 companies employing roughly 28 million workers, or about one-fifth of the nation’s workforce.

“America’s federal contracts should not subsidize discrimination against the American people,” Obama said during remarks at the White House just before signing the order. “I’m going to do what I can with the authority I have to act.”

The provision affecting federal employees takes effect immediately, while employees of federal contractors will have their new protections in place by early next year, according to senior administration officials.

To the relief of the LGBT community, Obama did not include a sweeping religious exemption in the executive order — something the community feared could happen in the wake of last month’s Supreme Court ruling in the Hobby Lobby case.

Instead, Obama simply added the categories of sexual orientation and gender identity to an existing executive order that protects employees of federal contractors from discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex or national origin. President George W. Bush amended that executive order in 2002 to allow religiously affiliated federal contractors to prioritize hiring employees of their particular religion, however, and Obama is keeping that language intact.

Obama is fulfilling a 2008 campaign promise with his action targeting federal contractors. His action affecting federal employees, meanwhile, responds to what some have described as a shortcoming in existing governmental rules. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ruled in 2012 that the federal ban on sex discrimination covers transgender discrimination, but those affected by that rule change say the government hasn’t been enforcing it and that they continue to be discriminated against.

It is still legal in 32 states to fire or harass someone at work for being LGBT. Congress could remedy that by passing the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, which already passed the Senate. But Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) has refused to bring the bill up for a vote in the House.

Source:  Huffington Post, “Obama Signs Executive Order On LGBT Job Discrimination,” by Jennifer Bendery, jen.bendery@huffingtonpost.com, Posted: 07/21/2014 10:50 am EDT Updated: 18 minutes ag0

US Attorney General Eric Holder speaks during a press conference at the US Justice Department in Washington on June 30, 2014. SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images

If the Supreme Court decides to hear a case on same-sex marriage, the Department of Justice will file a brief urging the court to uphold the rights of gay couples to wed, Attorney General Eric Holder said in an interview that aired Sunday.

The possibility that the high court could soon decide the controversial issue at the federal level became more likely at the end of last year when a federal appeals court struck down a ban on same-sex marriage in Utah. That decision was stayed pending an appeal, but rather than making his case before the circuit court again, Utah’s attorney general took the argument directly to the Supreme Court, asking the justices to weigh in on the issue. Several other appeals courts across the country have heard similar cases that could also make their way to the High Court.

The Supreme Court could decide not to hear the case or to postpone it, but if they take it up, Holder told ABC’s “This Week” that the Justice Department will “file something…in support of same-sex marriage.”

“I think we will file a brief that is consistent with the actions we have taken over the past couple of years,” Holder said. He noted that the government stopped defending the Defense of Marriage Act, a 1996 law banning federal recognition of same-sex marriages that was struck down last year by the Supreme Court, and that the federal government has begun extending federal marriage benefits to same-sex couples.

“We are proud of what we have done,” Holder said. “When you have differentiations that are made on the basis of sexual orientation, they should be subject to heightened scrutiny. That being the case, I think a lot of these measures that ultimately will come before the Court will not survive a heightened scrutiny examination.”

Holder, who has been President Obama’s attorney general since the administration assumed power in 2009, recently described the fight for gay rights as the “defining civil rights challenge of our time.”

Denver Clerk and Recorder Debra Johnson was beaming as she awaited the first couple to walk through the doors.

“It’s so gratifying,” she said. “I’m so excited. I was just talking with someone on the phone, and I said, ‘I didn’t think it would ever happen in my lifetime.’ “

Johnson began issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples Thursday, just hours after Boulder District Court Judge Andrew Hartman rejected a request by the state to stop the Boulder clerk from continuing to do so. Hartman’s ruling has potentially thrown open the doors as elected county clerks across the state consider whether they will begin issuing the licenses, despite the risk that they may later be declared invalid.

The ruling was the second defeat in two days in Colorado Attorney General John Suthers’ effort to defend the state’s voter-approved ban on gay marriage.

Suthers, who filed the lawsuit against the Boulder clerk’s office, issued a statement that said the issue “cries out for resolution by the state’s highest court.”

Gov. John Hickenlooper said in a statement that the decision “puts Colorado on the right side of history” and urged the attorney general not to appeal the ruling. He added that if Suthers felt he must appeal, he should go to the Colorado Supreme Court.

Boulder County Clerk and Recorder Hillary Hall’s office has issued 123 licenses to gay couples since the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals struck down a Utah ban on same-sex marriages last month. Hartman said the AG’s office failed to prove that Hall’s actions have harmed the couples or the state.

“The State makes assertions that Clerk Hall’s disobedience irreparably harms the people by causing loss of faith in the rule of law,” Hartman said. “However, the State has made nothing but assertions. An alternate public response is that the people of Colorado laud Clerk Hall for her pluck and/or condemn the Attorney General for his tenaciousness.”

Johnson welcomed Samantha Getman, 33, and Victoria Quintana, 23, at Denver’s Wellington E Webb Building. They were the first of 17 couples who obtained a license Thursday.

“Whether they say it’s invalid or not, we’re married,” Getman said.

Johnson also saw a familiar couple.

"Anna Simon (L) and Fran Simon share a kiss as son Jeremy stands in the middle,  at the counter to get their license at the Denver County clerk's office where they began issuing same sex marriage licenses July 10, 2014. They are the first official married couple  as they self solomized at the office. They are the first to go on record with the Denver County clerk's office. (Photo by John Leyba/The Denver Post)"

“Anna Simon (L) and Fran Simon share a kiss as son Jeremy stands in the middle, at the counter to get their license at the Denver County clerk’s office where they began issuing same sex marriage licenses July 10, 2014. They are the first official married couple as they self solomized at the office. They are the first to go on record with the Denver County clerk’s office. (Photo by John Leyba/The Denver Post)”

Fran and Anna Simon, who have been together for 11 years, arrived with their 7-year-old son, Jeremy. They were the first couple to get their civil union and had a ceremony at the building May 1, 2013.

On Thursday Fran and Anna were first again, as they exchanged vows and signed their certificate, becoming the first same-sex couple to be married and recorded in Denver.

“I’ll love, honor and respect you … be your wife for the rest of my days,” Anna vowed to Fran.

Hall acknowledged that her court battle continues.

 

Source: The Denver Post, “Boulder ruling opens doors for same-sex marriage licenses,” By Jordan Steffen, Jon Murray and Kieran Nicholson, Posted:   07/10/2014 10:55:37 AM MDT | Updated:   about 4 hours ago

 

20140710__Denversamesexmarriage~p1

First same-sex couple to obtain a marriage license in Denver, Colorado on Thursday, July 10, 2014. (Kieran Nicholson, The Denver Post)

The Denver County clerk’s office on Thursday began issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples, just hours after a Boulder judge rejected a bid by the state to block a similar move there.

The first couple, Samantha Getman, 33, and Victoria Quintana, 23, got their license shortly before 2 p.m. They were far outnumbered by reporters, photographers and activists.

Clerk and Recorder Debra Johnson’s decision came after a Boulder County judge said he would allow Boulder’s clerk to continue issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples, rejecting a request from Attorney General John Suthers to issue an injunction.

Johnson said on her Twitter account: “FINALLY! We can issue marriage licenses to ALL loving couples here in CO. Our Office will be issuing licenses till 4:30 pm today.”

Earlier Thursday, Denver Mayor Michael Hancock told Post journalists during a meeting that he would back any decision Johnson made about issuing licenses to same-sex couples.

“As a city, we have stood together against injustice and for the rights of all people,” Hancock said in a statement. “Today, I fully support Clerk and Recorder Debra Johnson in her issuing of marriage licenses to gay and lesbian couples who simply want the freedom to be united with the ones they love. I stand proudly with her as we take another step toward marriage equality for every single resident of this great city.”

Just after noon, Denver clerk’s spokesman William Porter said no same-sex couple had yet arrived to apply for a license.

When Boulder County Clerk and Recorder Hillary Hall began issuing same-sex marriage licenses on June 25, Johnson had said Denver would hold off until officials felt they had the legal authority to follow suit.

On Thursday, though, Porter said Johnson decided on a change in course in consultation with city attorneys, following the new Boulder ruling and the outcome of another lawsuit naming Johnson. Couples in Denver and Adams counties challenged the state’s same-sex marriage ban in Adams County court, and a judge ruled Wednesday that the ban is unconstitutional.

But in that case, Judge C. Scott Crabtree issued an immediate stay in his ruling, pending the state’s expected appeal.

The Boulder ruling Thursday gave Denver legal cover, in officials’ view.

“Now, thanks to Clerk Hall’s bravery, we can issue licenses today,” Porter said.

He added: “We view this not only as the legal green light, but we’re thankful that we can finally provide this fundamental right. We’re one step closer to marriage equality, but this is not the end of the journey.”

In the Boulder ruling on a temporary restraining order request, Judge Andrew Hartman wrote that the validity of any marriage licenses issued by the Boulder clerk’s office to same-sex couples was conditional ultimately upon courts finding Hall had the proper authority.

That likely leaves any marriage license issued to same-sex couples in some legal limbo until higher courts rule on the validity of Colorado’s gay marriage ban.

The Denver clerk’s office is on the first floor of the Wellington E. Webb Municipal Office Building, 201 W. Colfax Ave.

Denver Clerk and Recorder Debra Johnson is ready to hand out marriage license to same sex couples on Thursday, July 10, 2014. (Katie Wood, The Denver Post)

Denver Clerk and Recorder Debra Johnson is ready to hand out marriage license to same sex couples on Thursday, July 10, 2014. (Katie Wood, The Denver Post)

Source:  Denver Post, “Denver clerk begins issuing same-sex marriage licenses,” by Jon Murray and Kieran Nicholson, Posted:   07/10/2014 12:12:18 PM MDT | Updated:   24 min. ago

The 24th of June in 1973 was a Sunday. For New Orleans’ gay community, it was the last day of national Pride Weekend, as well as the fourth anniversary of 1969′s Stonewall uprising. You couldn’t really have an open celebration of those events — in ’73, anti-gay slurs, discrimination, and even violence were still as common as sin — but the revelers had few concerns. They had their own gathering spots in the sweltering city, places where people tended to leave them be, including a second-floor bar on the corner of Iberville and Chartres Street called the UpStairs Lounge.

That Sunday, dozens of members of the Metropolitan Community Church (MCC), the nation’s first gay church, founded in Los Angeles in 1969, got together there for drinks and conversation. It seems to have been an amiable group. The atmosphere was welcoming enough that two gay brothers, Eddie and Jim Warren, even brought their mom, Inez, and proudly introduced her to the other patrons. Beer flowed. Laughter filled the room.

Just before 8:00p, the doorbell rang insistently. To answer it, you had to unlock a steel door that opened onto a flight of stairs leading down to the ground floor. Bartender Buddy Rasmussen, expecting a taxi driver, asked his friend Luther Boggs to let the man in. Perhaps Boggs, after he pulled the door open, had just enough time to smell the Ronsonol lighter fluid that the attacker of the UpStairs Lounge had sprayed on the steps. In the next instant, he found himself in unimaginable pain as the fireball exploded, pushing upward and into the bar.

The ensuing 15 minutes were the most horrific that any of the 65 or so customers had ever endured — full of flames, smoke, panic, breaking glass, and screams.

MCC assistant pastor George “Mitch” Mitchell escaped, but soon returned to try to rescue his boyfriend, Louis Broussard. Both died in the fire, their bodies clinging together in death, like a scene from the aftermath of Pompeii.

Metal bars on the UpStairs Lounge windows, meant to keep people from falling out, were just 14 inches apart; while some managed to squeeze through and jump, others got stuck. That’s how the MCC’s pastor, Rev. Bill Larson, died, screaming, “Oh, God, no!” as the flames charred his flesh. When police and firefighters surveyed and began clearing the scene, they left Larson fused to the window frame until the next morning.

This news photo is among the most indelible I’ve ever seen:

Thirty-two people lost their lives that Sunday 40 years ago — Luther Boggs, Inez Warren, and Warren’s sons among them.

Homophobia being what it was, several families declined to claim the bodies and one church after another refused to bury or memorialize the dead. Three victims were never identified or claimed, and were interred at the local potter’s field.

When the Rev. William Richardson, of St. George’s Episcopal Church, agreed to hold a small prayer service for the victims, about 80 people attended, but many more complained about Richardson to Iveson Noland, the Episcopalian bishop of New Orleans. Noland reportedly rebuked Richardson for his kindness, and the latter received volumes of hate mail.

The UpStairs Lounge arson was the deadliest fire in New Orleans history and the largest massacre of gay people ever in the U.S. Yet it didn’t make much of an impact news-wise. The few respectable news organizations that deigned to cover the tragedy made little of the fact that the majority of the victims had been gay, while talk-radio hosts tended to take a jocular or sneering tone: What do we bury them in? Fruit jars, sniggered one, on the air, only a day after the massacre.

Other, smaller disasters resulted in City Hall press conferences or statements of condolence from the governor, but no civil authorities publicly spoke out about the fire, other than to mumble about needed improvements to the city’s fire code.

Continuing this pattern of neglect, the New Orleans police department appeared lackluster about the investigation (the officers involved denied it). The detectives wouldn’t even acknowledge that it was an arson case, saying the cause of the fire was of “undetermined origin.” No one was ever charged with the crime, although an itinerant troublemaker with known mental problems, Rogder Dale Nunez, is said to have claimed responsibility multiple times. Nunez, a sometime visitor to the UpStairs Lounge, committed suicide in 1974.

Watch the trailer for Royd Anderson’s new documentary about the UpStairs Lounge.

 

Source:  Patheos Blog, “Remembering the UpStairs Lounge: The U.S.A.’s Largest LGBT Massacre Happened 40 Years Ago Today,” June 24, 2013 By

 

For more information on the massacre, check out these sources:

About Terry Firma
Terry Firma, though born and Journalism-school-educated in Europe, has lived in the U.S. for the past 20-odd years. Stateside, his feature articles have been published in the New York Times, Reason, Rolling Stone, Playboy, and Wired. Terry is the founder and Main Mischief Maker of Moral Compass, a site that pokes fun at the delusional claim by people of faith that a belief in God equips them with superior moral standards.

The first same-sex marriage license issued by Boulder County today. (Alex Burness, Daily Camera)

The first same-sex marriage license issued by Boulder County today. (Alex Burness, Daily Camera)

 

Boulder County Clerk and Recorder Hillary Hall announced Wednesday afternoon that her office will immediately begin issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples now that the 10th U.S. Circuit Court has struck down Utah’s ban on gay marriage.

The Colorado Attorney General’s office said the licenses won’t be valid.

The clerk’s office said it would issue same-sex marriage licenses until 4:30 p.m. at its Boulder office, 1750 33rd St., and resume issuing licenses at 8 a.m. Thursday.

The clerk’s offices in Lafayette and Longmont will start issuing same-sex marriage licenses on Friday.

FILE - In this April 10, 2014 file photo, the plaintiffs challenging Utah's gay marriage ban, from left, Derek Kitchen and his partner, Moudi Sbeity; Kate Call, her partner, Karen Archer; Laurie Wood and her partner, Kody Partridge, stand together after leaving court following a hearing at the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Denver. A federal appeals court for the first time says a state cannot prevent gay people from getting married. A three-judge panel of the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Denver on Wednesday, June 25, 2014 found that Utah's ban on same-sex marriage violates the U.S. Constitution. (AP Photo/Brennan Linsley, File)

FILE – In this April 10, 2014 file photo, the plaintiffs challenging Utah’s gay marriage ban, from left, Derek Kitchen and his partner, Moudi Sbeity; Kate Call, her partner, Karen Archer; Laurie Wood and her partner, Kody Partridge, stand together after leaving court following a hearing at the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Denver. A federal appeals court for the first time says a state cannot prevent gay people from getting married. A three-judge panel of the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Denver on Wednesday, June 25, 2014 found that Utah’s ban on same-sex marriage violates the U.S. Constitution. (AP Photo/Brennan Linsley, File)

No mention was made in the clerk’s online news release about the stay the three-judge panel put on its ruling, pending a decision by the U.S. Supreme Court on the matter.

Carolyn Tyler, spokeswoman for Colorado Attorney General John Suthers, said any same-sex marriage licenses issued in Colorado will be invalid. Because the 10th Circuit decision was stayed, Colorado’s ban against gay marriage remains in effect, she said.

“It’s not binding on Utah let alone on Colorado,” Tyler said. “Boulder has a history of activism on this issue.”

She noted that in 1975, the Boulder County Clerk issued marriage licenses to a few gay couples.

“They are no more valid today than they were in 1975,” Tyler said.

The appeals court covers the territory of Colorado, Utah, Oklahoma, Wyoming, New Mexico and Kansas.

Hall said she is moving forward with the issuance of same-sex marriage licenses because the 10th Circuit has upheld “the fundamental right to marriage.”

“Couples across Colorado have been waiting a long time to have their right to marry the person they love recognized,” she stated in the release. “I want to act immediately to let them carry out that wish.”

 

Source: Denver Post, “Boulder County begins issuing same-sex marriage licenses; AG says no,” By John Aguilar, Posted:   06/25/2014 04:12:51 PM MD| Updated:   25 min. ago

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