Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Officer Refusing to Work SLC Gay Pride Speaks Out

The officer who asked to switch assignments internally with another officer during SLC gay pride 2014 decided at this time (where laws concerning equal rights for LGBT and religious liberty) to voice his opinion and share his side of the story.

This officer was trained to be in a motorcycle performance that usually participates in any major parades in the city. This year's pride parade seemed to him to be promoting the 'gay lifestyle', for which he was clearly against. He sent an email internally to switch assignments. Although the wording of the email was not disclosed, Officer Moutsos made it out to seem innocent. When the chief saw this request, it was denied.

At this point, the officer decided he would do the assignment, but was suspended for discrimination. As the suspension was made public, the officer decided to resign. Although he would have worked his way through the situation and could have remained an officer, he felt his labelling as a bigot was enough to end his police career.

Chief Burbank stated that any hint of bias or personal discrimination was not tolerated in his police officers. A small reaction is enough to say there is a chance that the bias could make the difference in protecting someone in a life-threatening situation. Burbank does not want that risk in any officer.

Performing on motorcycle as an officer occurs in all types of parades. I haven't seen a parade without them. It's not a statement of supporting a lifestyle. It's the officer's job. It is a statement, however, that you will protect and serve all citizens equally as an officer. Something Moutsos apparently hesitated to do because of a discriminatory belief.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Park City High - Gender Neutral Bathroom

The first in Utah public grade schools. A gender neutral bathroom was approved by the school board in Park City at the request of Tori Vipond, a senior that does not want to be required to choose a gender for using the restroom. "I usually just hold it until I go to the restroom at home," Vipond said.

Except for a few criticisms on the internet, the article claims that there is little objection and an overall pleased attitude with the addition. LGBT students say they feel more comfortable with the restroom available.

Balancing Religious Liberty with Anti Discrimination for LGBT

Lawmakers are still squabbling over the details and wording of any legislation concerning the goals to protect LGBT citizens from discrimination in housing, employment, and other public services, while also conserving a person's ability to avoid activities that violate "deeply held religious beliefs".

Anderegg of Lehi has drafted a bill that does not include any wording for LGBT, but widens the religious rights for anyone to deny services for any religious reason. Knowing that LGBT advocates will attempt to kill anything that does not have the words "gender identity" or "sexual preference", he states he will probably not run the bill.

On the other end, LGBT advocates are promoting St. George's Urqhuart's bill SB100, which simply adds those exact words to Utah's anti-discrimination bill. They believe Utah is already saturated with religious liberties and isn't in need of any more.

Some quotes I'd like to post from the article's comment forum:

This is an excellent question. Why does "relgious freedom" trump all other rights like LaVar's bill is asking to do? Religion is already a protected class and cannot be discriminated against, but his bill is a no holds barred bill that will allows anyone to discriminate anyone as long as they claim a religious belief. It is absolutely ridiculous and doesn't even follow the spirit of what the LDS Church was calling for.

Religious freedom means being able to WORSHIP in anyway you feel is right for you. Renting an apartment or baking a cake is not WORSHIP. If you serve the public, you have to serve the ENTIRE public, not just those who you like.

Also, adding protections in from discriminating against a person's sexual orientation or gender identity will have zero effect on what you are suggesting with "it would be very difficult to terminate them if they are unproductive or problematic". Adding thses protections would prevent you from firing someone strictly because they are Gay, Straight, asexual etc. But if they are unable to perform their job, you are firing them for performance issues not orientation issues. It is no different from me not being able to fire someone because they are Mormon. - LittleBrudda

I see a lot of complaining and whining about religious folks being forced to accept the LGBT way of life (even though nobody is asking anyone do to anything of the sort). When is it my turn to not have to be "forced" to accept the religious way of life? I'm straight, married, 2 kids, live a productive life, involved in my community, give time to others in need, and wouldn't step foot in a church if someone paid me. Why? Because I don't believe religion is necessary to do the right thing.
I don't care what the trait is, if you are discriminated against because of it then you should be protected. They should change the law so that it reads anti discrimination, regardless of why, is prohibited. Now, don't get me wrong, I'm not saying protect the perpetrators in our society. I'm talking about those that just live their lives without causing problems for others. I don't know why we as humans act this way. -Fellow_Man

Read more here:

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Amendment 3 Case Plaintiff Derek Kitchen Running for SLC Council

by Brig Bagley

12 February 2015

Derek Kitchen has decided to run for city council to use his voice in new ways. Kitchen was one of several plaintiffs in the Kitchen vs. Herbert case against the same-sex marriage ban: Utah's Amendment 3. 

Kitchen is gay and is planning his wedding with Moudi Sbeity, but none of his initial statements on policy mention LGBT equality or gay marriage, other than the fact that his involvement with the SSM case has interested him in the position.

Read more here:

LDS Critic John Dehlin Excommunicated for 'Apostasy'

by Brig Bagley

12 February 2015

John Dehlin has been at odds with the LDS Church and its leadership for years. Not wishing to be excommunicated, but not surprised it took place, he celebrates his freedom from adhering to the LDS leader's teachings and following their policies.

Dehlin's actions didn't take center stage for the LDS head leaders until he publicly criticized them for still proclaiming their opposition to ordaining women to the priesthood and permitting same-sex marriages: two topics that Dehlin also tended to focus on in his podcasts, "Mormon Stories." Dehlin believes that questioning authority and policies is healthy, especially when it comes to the diversity that exists in the church and should be better addressed. Simply "having faith" is not enough of an answer for Dehlin.

Dehlin also no longer fully believes in some of the core doctrines, such as the Book of Mormon as the 'word of God' and the LDS Church as being the only 'true' authority of God on the earth. What ultimately led to his excommunication were his perpetual attempts at declaring and gathering others to criticize the LDS church through informational dissemination online.

Read more here:

Monday, February 9, 2015

Slovakia Dodges Anti-Gay Laws

by Brig Bagley

9 February 2015

Due to a poor voting turnout, Slovakia dodged an anti-gay law that would reinforce their current ban on SSM, prevent same-sex couples from adopting, and allow students to opt-out of classes that discuss sex. There was less than 50% registered voter turnout, a number required to put such legislation on the books. Although poor voter turnout is considered unfortunate, HRC exhales a sigh or relief.

Arizona based Alliance for Defending Freedom (ADF) is one of the largest-funded anti-LGBT groups that has connected with attorneys across the world to promote laws that dehumanize and invalidate gays, lesbians, bisexual and transgender persons. ADF wrote an amicus brief to Slovakia to encourage that this bill pass in the country.

Alabama Becomes #37

9 February 2015

Alabama's Governor Moore and Attorney General Strange are furious as the United States Supreme Court has denied their request to extend the stay for the federal ruling that a ban on same-sex marriage is unconstitutional. Sunday night, Moore issued a demand that no licenses be issued, but several judges have already issued them in Alabama counties with officiators performing the marriages at parks.

Although there are a few judges siding with Moore and refusing the federal order, they will be subject to retribution for disobeying.

Alabama becomes the 37th state in the US to allow SSM to the celebration of many.

The greater news from this is that SCOTUS denied this request AFTER taking on the SSM issue. It would be completely unexpected for the High Court to reverse it's decisions at this point. A 50 State federal requirement to recognize same sex marriage is on the horizon.

Read more here:

Friday, February 6, 2015

"Freedom to Discriminate" Showing Up Across US

by Brig Bagley

6 February 2015

Several states have started drafting bills and laws with similar language: religions are under attack and should be protected from laws that force them to contradict their beliefs.

Jan Brewer of Arizona vetoed a law with this language about a year ago that passed through the state's senate floor. Urged by a coalition of groups and businesses, Gov. Brewer agreed that it would be bad for business and society to permit persons with religious convictions to deny services, products, and housing because their beliefs disagree with another's personal life.

Although laws that protect one's freedom to believe as they please, laws should not allow someone to refuse business association with another simply because of opposing beliefs.

Gov. Gary Herbert of Utah recently claimed that people are being fired for disagreeing with same-sex marriage. He did not reveal any specifics, but said that discrimination occurs on both sides of the issue, and that discrimination based on religion is also wrong.

True. Partially. The First Amendment guarantees that an individual has a freedom of speech and freedom of religion (also from religion). The government cannot force or support or promote any religious belief, or punish a citizen for expressing an opinion (with a few exceptions, such as "bomb" in a plane or "fire" in a theater). 

But freedom of speech and freedom of religion in the First Amendment DOES NOT allow someone to act in such a way that another is harmed or is denied a service or good. Practicing a religion does not mean a person can use religion to not do their job, sell a product, or provide shelter. You still can hold your beliefs. That is your right. But because someone else does not hold your belief, you cannot punish them. 

Freedom of speech is just that. Speech. Not action. Even religions are denied certain practices (human or animal sacrifice, as an example). And religions are also even denied ability to endorse political candidates (although that is never really enforced). 

Yes, a religious person is free to exclaim their hate and disagreement with gays and same-sex marriage. At work, home, school, whatever. You can say whatever you want. Don't expect to make may friends, though. But at the end of the day, you still have to bake that cake for them. Take their pictures. Let them rent your house. If they knew you didn't like them, they would probably not do business with you anyway. So tell them you don't approve of their life (although it's rude and unethical). But also tell them that you will serve them or rent to them anyway because they qualify just like any other. 

That is the difference. Your boss won't threaten or fire you for your beliefs or for being gay. But he should punish you for denying services or not doing your job because of your beliefs. If you're going to go out in the world, you're going to have to deal with people not like you. Religious or not. Think what you want. But do your job. Actions cannot be discriminatory. 

Sunday, February 1, 2015

An Outstanding Criticism of LDS Church's Plea for 'Religious Freedom'

by Brig Bagley

1 February 2015

A close friend of mine is exquisite in his arguments and explanations. Jonathan has had a blog for years on-and-off. Recently he has moved from SLC to Maryland, near D.C. and has been regular in his posts. His most recent post criticizes the LDS church's claim to persecution in the LGBT issue, and its call for more religious freedoms.

A few points I thought were meaningful:

  • Mr. Oaks mixed the word "abortion" with "artificial insemination of lesbians" to add a scare tactic to the situation. Since when do lesbians get accidentally pregnant, and when did abortion have to do with any of this?
  • The LDS church claims to be "bullied" in not conforming to granting equality to LGBT groups. But when did you last hear of a Mormon committing suicide because of the oppression of "the gays"? Or a Mormon feels life is unbearable because "the gays" are one step closer to receiving full equality under the law?
  • The "Good Samaritan" is an ironic example of how the LDS Church wishes to walk past the injured man on the side of the road "for religious reasons", just like the priest and the Levite. The man may be "unclean" or too "icky" to help, so the LDS church would like to have legal permission avoid providing its help and offering its services to the man (in this case, a gay man).

Idaho Kills LGBT Nondiscrimination bill 13-4

Idaho ‘Add the Words’ nondiscrimination bill dies in committee

by Brig Bagley

1 February 2015

A bill to simply add the works "sexual orientation" and "gender identity" to the Idaho "Human Rights Act" was killed by republican representatives in the vote.

Supporters of the bill wept in failure, knowing the fear that comes with being judged for their differences in school, work, and housing. Legislators stated that they believe the state has come a long way, and that these concerns are very legitimate. But the bill as written was not appropriate for passage.

Read more here:

HRC Calls LDS Support for LGBT Nondiscrimination / Religious Freedom "Flawed"

HRC calls Mormon appeal for religious freedoms legislation ‘flawed’

by Brig Bagley

1 February 2015

Although the HRC is glad that the LDS church is publicly, officially, and loudly voicing support for state-wide and even nation-wide nondiscrimination for LGBT, it says the the religious freedom exceptions make it deeply flawed.
"Doctors would still be allowed to deny medical care. Pharmacists would still be allowed to refuse to fill valid prescriptions. And landlords, as well as business operators, would still be allowed to reject LGBT people. All in the name of religion."

Jackie Biskupski Announces Candidacy for SLC Mayor, Stands for Equality

by Brig Bagley

1 February 2015

Jackie Biskupski, a lesbian and mother of one boy, has stood up to announce her plan to run for SLC mayor. The KSL article outlines her sexual orientation and platform of focusing on LGBT issues, but she also has plans to provide equal education across the city--not just giving certain zip codes better funding.  Air quality, gender equality, and a better environment for business are other issues on her plate.

Read more here: