Justice Department Sides With Baker Who Refused To Make Wedding Cake For Gay Couple

Original Article

By Robert Barnes

In a major upcoming Supreme Court case that weighs equal rights with religious liberty, the Trump administration on Thursday sided with a Colorado baker who refused to bake a wedding cake for a same-sex couple.

The Department of Justice on Thursday filed a brief on behalf of baker Jack Phillips, who was found to have violated the Colorado Anti-Discrimination Act by refusing to created a cake to celebrate the marriage of Charlie Craig and David Mullins in 2012. Phillips said he doesn’t create wedding cakes for same-sex couples because it would violate his religious beliefs.

The government agreed with Phillips that his cakes are a form of expression, and he cannot be compelled to use his talents for something in which he does not believe.

“Forcing Phillips to create expression for and participate in a ceremony that violates his sincerely held religious beliefs invades his First Amendment rights,” Acting Solicitor General Jeffrey B. Wall wrote in the brief.

Plaintiff in landmark Supreme Court case says: ‘One person can change the world’
The Post’s Steven Petrow sits down with Jim Obergefell, the main plaintiff in the landmark Supreme Court case, Obergefell v. Hodges, and talks about gay marriage, equality for the transgender community and his late husband John.(Video: Erin Patrick O’Connor/Photo: Maddie McGarvey/The Washington Post)

The DOJ’s decision to support Phillips is the latest in a series of steps the Trump administration has taken to rescind Obama administration positions favorable to gay rights and to advance new policies on the issue.

But Louise Melling, the deputy legal counsel of the American Civil Liberties Union, which is representing the couple, said she was taken aback by the filing.

“Even in an administration that has already made its hostility” toward the gay community clear, Melling said, “I find this nothing short of shocking.”

Since taking office, President Trump has moved to block transgender Americans from serving in the military and his Department of Education has done away with guidance to schools on how they should accommodate transgender students.

The DOJ also has taken the stance that gay workers are not entitled to job protections under federal anti-discrimination laws. Since 2015, the Equal Employment and Opportunity Commission has taken the opposite stance, saying Title VII, the civil-rights statute that covers workers, protects against bias based on sexual orientation.

Federal courts are split on that issue, and the Supreme Court this term might take up the issue.

Indeed, lawyers for Jameka Evans, who claims she was fired by Georgia Regional Hospital because of her sexual orientation and “nonconformity with gender norms of appearance and demeanor,” on Thursday asked justices to take her case.

Citing a 1979 precedent, a panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit rejected her protection claims.

Taking that case, along with Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission, would make the coming Supreme Court term the most important for gay rights issues since the justices voted 5 to 4 in 2015 to find a constitutional right for same-sex couples to marry.

The case of Phillips, a baker in the Denver suburbs, is similar to lawsuits brought elsewhere involving florists, calligraphers and others who say providing services to same-sex weddings would violate their religious beliefs. But these objectors have found little success in the courts, which have ruled that businesses serving the public must comply with state anti-discrimination laws.

Mullins and Craig visited Masterpiece Cakeshop in July 2012, along with Craig’s mother, to order a cake for their upcoming wedding reception. Mullins and Craig planned to marry in Massachusetts, where same-sex marriages were legal at the time, and then hold a reception in Colorado.

But Phillips refused to discuss the issue, saying his religious beliefs would not allow him to have anything to do with same-sex marriage. He said other bakeries would accommodate them.

The civil rights commission and a Colorado court rejected Phillips’ argument that forcing him to create a cake violated his First Amendment rights of freedom of expression and exercise of religion.

The court said the baker “does not convey a message supporting same-sex marriages merely by abiding by the law.”

Anti-LGBTQ+ Pastor Adds TV Screen Outside His Harlem, Manhatten Church To Air Sermons

Original Article

By Ayana Harry

HARLEM, Manhattan — A controversial Harlem pastor known for his anti-gay sentiments added a TV to the message board outside his church so his sermons can be seen and heard by pedestrians.

James David Manning, pastor of  Atlah World Missionary Church, came under fire in recent years after he posted messages implying that people who support LGBT individuals should be “cursed” with cancer, HIV, syphilis, stroke and madness. He’s now hoping to use the TV to get his message out in a new way.

“It ain’t going nowhere,” Manning said about the TV. “They don’t have the right to tell me how to preach.”

Pastor Manning noted that a picture is worth a thousand words and, in a neighborhood that’s rapidly changing, it’s important for him to stand his ground and share his message.

“The TV gives an opportunity to do live and living color,” he said.

But residents have begged the pastor to take the messages down.

“Some of the message that you see here are disturbing,” said Isseu Campbell, a local who walks by the church every day. “I think it should be a positive place with positive energy.”

Los Angeles Cancels Columbus Day

Original Article

Columbus Day is no more in the nation’s second-largest city.

The Los Angeles City Council voted 14-1 on Wednesday to officially mark the second Monday in October as Indigenous Peoples Day on the city’s calendar — a day to commemorate “indigenous, aboriginal and native people.” The day will remain a paid holiday for city employees, the Los Angeles Times reported.

The vote followed a contentious hearing, during which some Italian-Americans said the switch would eradicate a key portion of their history, while others argued that city lawmakers needed to “dismantle a state-sponsored celebration of genocide of indigenous peoples” and dismissed the idea of celebrating Indigenous Peoples Day on a different date altogether.

“To make us celebrate on any other day would be a further injustice,” said Chrissie Castro, vice chairwoman of the Los Angeles City-County Native American Indian Commission.

Councilman Mitch O’Farrell, a member of Oklahoma’s Wyandotte Nation tribe, had pushed for the change, saying Wednesday that the move would provide “restorative justice.” In a blog post prior to the vote earlier this week, O’Farrell said the “historical record is unambiguous in documenting the horrors” Christopher Columbus and his men imposed on the native people in present-day Haiti and the Dominican Republic.

Los Angeles Councilman Mitch O’Farrell -Getty Images

“Removing Columbus Day and replacing it with Indigenous Peoples Day is the appropriate action for this city to take,” O’Farrell wrote. “We must send a signal to Washington D.C. that there is no better day to honor our original inhabitants while highlighting the absurdity of celebrating a historical figure responsible for such profound suffering, still felt by generations of Indigenous People everywhere. This is more than symbolic. It is spiritually and morally necessary.”

Councilman Joe Buscaino, a first-generation Italian-American, suggested replacing Columbus Day with a new name to celebrate “all of the diverse cultures in the city” before being the lone city lawmaker to oppose the switch, asking fellow councilors not to “cure one offense with another.”

With the change, Los Angeles joins a growing list of places that have already replaced Columbus Day — first recognized as a federal holiday in 1937 — with Indigenous Peoples Day, including Alaska, Vermont, Seattle, Albuquerque, San Francisco and Denver. Most recently, the Bangor City Council in Maine voted to rename the holiday, the Bangor Daily News reports

Petition to Label “Antifa” As A Terror Group Gains 300,000 Signatures

Original Article

By Dylan Stableford

new petition calling on the Trump administration to formally recognize the so-called antifa as a “terrorist organization” has generated nearly 300,000 signatures in a week — well beyond the threshold that is supposed to trigger a formal response from the White House. But there’s been no indication under President Trump that it will.

The petition, created by last week in the wake of the violent clashes between white supremacists and antifascists in Charlottesville, Va., argues that the group’s tactics are akin to ISIS:

Terrorism is defined as “the use of violence and intimidation in pursuit of political aims”. This definition is the same definition used to declare ISIS and other groups, as terrorist organizations. AntiFa has earned this title due to its violent actions in multiple cities and their influence in the killings of multiple police officers throughout the United States. It is time for the pentagon to be consistent in its actions – and just as they rightfully declared ISIS a terror group, they must declare AntiFa a terror group – on the grounds of principle, integrity, morality, and safety.

At a campaign rally in Phoenix earlier this week, Trump himself referred to the masked antifascist protesters by name.

“You know, they show up in the helmets and the black masks and they’ve got clubs and they’ve got everything,” the president told the crowd. “Antifa!”

Related: Outside Trump’s rally, bikers, antifa, police, protesters and pepper spray

The State Department maintains a list of Foreign Terrorist Organizations (FTOs)that are designated by the secretary of state. There are currently 61, including ISIS, al-Qaida and Boko Haram.

The petition to add antifa to that list has more than 290,000 signatures — nearly triple the number it needed by Sept. 16 to get “an official response.”

The digital platform, which was created in 2011 under President Barack Obama, drew nearly half a million petitions during his presidency. And the Obama White House answered many of them, including a petition to forgive student loan debt, a call for Obama to pardon Edward Snowden and, most memorably, a plea for the federal government to begin construction on a Death Star, the galactic superweapon featured in the “Star Wars” film franchise.

“The Administration does not support blowing up planets,” Paul Shawcross, a White House science and technology adviser, replied in a statement. “Why would we spend countless taxpayer dollars on a Death Star with a fundamental flaw that can be exploited by a one-man starship?”

But the Trump administration has yet to respond to any of the 10 other petitions that have crossed the 100,000 threshold.

petition calling on the Trump administration to immediately release the president’s tax returns, launched on the day of Trump’s inauguration, crossed that mark a day later. It now has more than a million signatures.

Another petition, also launched on Inauguration Day, demands that Trump “divest his financial and business holdings or have them administered by a truly blind trust.” That one has 350,000 signatures. A petition urging the administration to preserve the National Endowment for the Arts and the National Endowment for the Humanities received more than 200,000 signatures.

And one calling on Trump to resign because he is “in violation of the Emoluments Clause” — which some Constitutional lawyers have argued — also breezed past the 100,000-signature mark.

Police use pepper spray to disperse protesters
Police use pepper spray to disperse protesters outside of President Trump’s rally in Phoenix on Tuesday. (Photo: Laura Segall/AFP/Getty Images)
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It’s Going Down, a website that bills itself as “a digital community center from anarchist, anti-fascist, autonomous anti-capitalist and anti-colonial movements,” called the idea of labeling antifa a terror group “absurd.”

“We see this petition as a part of a political campaign to criminalize dissent,” a spokesperson for the website wrote in an email to Yahoo News. “It is insidious accusation that anti-fascism is ‘terrorism’ given the number of actual murders, mass casualty incidents and violence white supremacists are directly responsible for.”

“To lump ISIS in with anti-fascism in the same sentence as if anti-fascists are not actively fighting ISIS in Syria is an intentional effort to conflate two polar opposite efforts,” the spokesperson added. “Anti-fascists see ISIS and the alt-right as two sides of the same fascism.”

On-Field Prayer Made by Christian Football Coach Ruled Unprotected by the Constitution

Original Article

By Maura Dolan

A Christian football coach suspended for kneeling and praying on the 50-yard line after high school games Wednesday lost a bid to be reinstated and allowed to worship in front of students.

A three-judge panel of the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals said that Bremerton, Wash., High School football coach Joseph A. Kennedy was serving as a public employee when he prayed in front of students and parents immediately after games, and the school had the right to discipline him.

The Bremerton School District, located in Kitsap County across Puget Sound from Seattle, serves about 5,057 religiously diverse students, the court said.

Kennedy, an assistant football coach there from 2008 to 2015, led students and coaching staff in locker-room prayers before and after most games and also prayed on the 50-yard line after games.

Students eventually joined him in the prayers on the field, and he gave motivational speeches with religious content, the court said.

The school district objected, saying its employees could not publicly endorse a religion, and Kennedy asked for a religious exemption under the federal Civil Rights Act of 1964.

The school said he could pray on the 50-yard line after students and parents had left. Kennedy did this for a while, but eventually renewed his postgame practice of praying before people left.

Kennedy’s religious activities gained media attention, and a Satanist group said it too wanted to pray on the football field.

The district eventually suspended Kennedy with pay and did not rehire him when his contract expired.

Kennedy charged in his lawsuit that the school violated his 1st Amendment rights.

Disagreeing, the 9th Circuit panel said the fact that Kennedy insisted on praying in front of students and parents showed his speech was directed at least in part to others, not solely to God.

“When Kennedy kneeled and prayed on the fifty-yard line immediately after games while in view of students and parents, he spoke as a public employee, not as a private citizen, and his speech therefore was constitutionally unprotected,” wrote the 9th Circuit, upholding a decision by a district court judge.

GOT Director Confirms More Incest

Original Article

By William Hughes

Out all the shows of on TV, HBO’s Game Of Thrones is probably the last one you’d accuse of withholding intra-family sexual relationships from its viewership. So it’s not wholly surprising to learn that Alan Taylor—the episode director who handled last Sunday’s penultimate episode of the show’s seventh season, “Beyond The Wall”—has seemingly promised that the relationship between Jon Snow and Daenerys Targaryen is going exactly where we all expected it’s going, despite the fact that Dany is almost certainly Jon’s secret aunt.

Taylor has been making the rounds this week for interviews, but he seemingly confirmed the news to The Daily Beast, stating, “There’s no secret that this is where this is going. Readers of the book have known that things were heading towards this destination for a while. Even the characters in this story know it’s heading in this direction. Tyrion is making fun of Dany about what’s brewing.” And while he didn’t comment on the fan-theory-turned-fan-firm-belief that suggests Jon is the son of Dany’s dead brother, Rhaegar, he did confirm that, sex-wise, “It’s clear that that’s our destination at this point.”

Taylor also discussed some of the, let’s say, odd choices the characters made in the most recent episode, and expressed what appears to be mounting frustrations at the show’s fans, and their wacky need to watch something that can keep a basic timeline straight. “There’s been tremendous amount of talk about the airspeed velocity of the raven,” he noted, “Which seems to be catching some people a lot. I don’t have an answer for that, except to say those ravens are really fast.”

[via Esquire]

Discussion

Christopher Macbride Adapting Scott Snyder’s and Jeff Lemire’s “A.D. After Death” for Sony.

Original Article

By Rich Johnston

Writer-director Christopher MacBride has already written and is directing Amnesiabased on the Arcana Comics graphic novel by Dwayne Harris. He also adapted Tim Truman‘s comic book series Scout for Studio 8 and producer Braden Aftergood. And now, third’s the charm: Deadline is reporting that he is tapped by Sony and producer Josh Bratman at Immersive Pictures to adapt the Scott Snyder and Jeff Lemire graphic novel A.D.: After Death.

A.D.: After Death was published by Image Comics last year and optioned by Sony in December.

Summary: WHAT IF WE FOUND A CURE FOR DEATH? Two of comics’ most acclaimed creators, SCOTT SNYDER (WYTCHES, Batman, American Vampire) and JEFF LEMIRE (DESCENDER, Moon Knight, Sweet Tooth) unite to create a three-part epic like no other, set in a future where a genetic cure for death has been found. Years after the discovery, one man starts to question everything, leading him on a mind-bending journey that will bring him face-to-face with his past and his own mortality. A unique combination of comics, prose, and illustration, A.D.: AFTER DEATH will be serialized monthly as three oversized prestige format books written by SNYDER and fully painted by LEMIRE.

You can read a review/recommendation of A.D.: After Death right here

“Cooke is aware of the tensions between his parents, their losses, failures, and hopes, in a highly charged, novelistic, way. These are people struggling to find meaning and a sense of being in life, just as their son is, and he becomes obsessed with recording it as if it is all fragile, something precious that can be lost. Cooke’s life as narrated by him is depressing, scary, and beautiful.”

…and a preview below…

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