Thursday, February 05, 2015

The Thursday Take Out No.1

Crazy Button 2015
Arkansas Legislature Goes to the Deep End

Well here we go! Just when we thought possibly that we just might squeak by without being nationally put on full blast by our legislative folks, it just couldn't hold. I was so hoping that I would not have to get out the "we're crazy" button this year but it seems that I need to add on the "we're really crazy pills," too.

Two bills were introduced this morning that could make a significant impact on not only the LGBTQ set but from the wording it could have an impact on all Arkansans. Let's begin with
HB1228 ( which seeks to allow religious-based discrimination and SB202 ( to allow to prohibit cities from enacting fairness ordinances.  Who thought this up right? They must be reveling in their brilliance. Just for the record, these two bills are brought to by Hindsville's Rep. Ballinger (HB1228) and Rep. Hester of Cave City ( SB202). 

Let's make it simple, If these bills pass and allow for people to use their religion to dictate how they serve the public, it will not only disenfranchise LGBTQ Arkansas, it will lead to the discrimination of many other people across the board. 

If for a moment can we even imagine in this day and time that a business owner can refuse service to someone with a religious affiliation which differs from their own. Haven't we already been outraged with the antics of the Clarkdale Church of Christ congregation whom decided that even in death there can be those who decide if you are worthy of respect.
LGBTQ students could be denied equitable access to education because their of teacher's beliefs or lack of competence such as the Pea Ridge incident where HIV status was used as weapon on young students.  Currently the U.S. Constitution already protects a litany of freedoms including those around religion. So why in the heck are these bills being proposed as  an attempt to allow people to openly discriminate against whomever they choose. Another "Lordt please let these folks come to their senses and don't embarrass even more than the Huckster!"

As much of this will already be in motion as we post. However, COP 24/7 stands with local activist and advocates in openly opposing these bills. We urge all of readers to contact ALL committee members as well as your own senator and representative and demand that they take a "eyes open wide," approach to this dastardly roll on human rights.  Watch COP 24/7 for the latest breaking news on this and so much more!!!

Appeals Court Clears Way for Same-Sex Marriage in Alabama
By Pete Williams, 

Marriage equality is set to begin in Alabama on Monday, February 9, when a stay will expire in a federal court ruling that invalidated the state's ban on same-sex marriage. The 11th Circuit Court of Appeals denied the state's request to extend the stay. 

"Same-sex marriages could begin as soon as next week in Alabama after a federal appeals court Tuesday decided not to suspend an earlier ruling that struck down the state's gay marriage ban. The state had asked the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals to put a federal judge's ruling on hold while the Supreme Court is expected to take up four similar same-sex marriage cases from Michigan, Ohio, Kentucky and Tennessee — and definitively settle the issue nationwide.
"In a short, unsigned order, the 11th Circuit court denied the state's appeal with no explanation or noted dissent. The state could still ask the Supreme Court to issue a stay." 

North Carolina-based group releases online 'LGBT Rights Toolkit' for the South
By Matt Comer, qnotes (North Carolina) 

The Campaign for Southern Equality’s new focuses on 12 southern states, offering directories of LGBT-friendly attorneys and physicians, information on name and gender changes and copies of state-specific forms including healthcare power of attorney, wills and hospital visitation forms.
The group said the toolkit is designed to help LGBT southerners better understand and protect their rights.
“LGBT people in the South live with great dignity and courage and are often savvy navigators of the legals system, but the reality of discrimination persists and must be addressed,” the Rev. Jasmine Beach-Ferrara, executive director of the Campaign for Southern Equality, said in a press release on Monday.

The South, the Campaign said, continues to provide a hostile legal climate for LGBT people, despite a third of the nation’s LGBT people calling the region their home. The toolkit will help connect individuals with the proper resources and empower them to take the necessary steps to protect themselves and their families.

The need for the toolkit became more apparent as the Campaign for Southern Equality traveled across the region presenting their Community Law Workshops. At the events, volunteers and lawyers assist individuals in navigating legal questions, preparing wills and power of attorney forms, among other protections. At one such workshop at Charlotte Pride last year, just one of 13 such events, 144 people were able to complete healthcare power of attorney forms for free.

“We’ve really bulked up the resource lists over the past 18 months,” Campaign Communications Director Aaron Sarver told qnotes. “We get a good amount of calls and emails looking for LGBT-friendly attorneys. We’re always updating and building out those lists. And we’re just scratching the surface really.”

Sarver said some lists and resources on the Campaign’s main website have been gaining a lot of traffic over the past two years. They decided to take the resources among the most popular and provide easier access to them.

“We decided to make a more web friendly version and specifically build out the healthcare power of attorney forms and name change docs; there is a very high demand for those resources,” Sarver said.
The Campaign’s online resource is among the first of its kind in the South, though Sarver noted several other groups have been working in the South, as well, including Lambda Legal, state ACLU chapters and the Southern Poverty Law Center.

Focus on southern LGBT equality and organizing has grown over the past couple years, with national groups like the Human Rights Campaign launching their own southern organizing efforts. HRC’s Project One America has run advocacy and education ads on Mississippi TV stations, as well as placing field organizers in three states — Mississippi, Alabama and Arkansas.
River Valley Goes through Looking Glass

The River Valley Equality Center cordially invites you to join Alice, the Mad Hatter, the Queen of Hearts and more for an evening of tea and revelry at our 3rd Annual Equality Gala and Silent Auction on Saturday, March 14th from 6:30 - 10:00 pm at the Fort Smith Riverfront Pavilion.

Tickets can be bought in-person from a Board member for $50 or online in February for $55. A reserved table for 8 is $400. Buy your tickets now!

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