Pastor Being Treated In ICU After Holding Maskless Church Services

Pastor Paul Van Noy holds open church services during COVID-19 pandemic
Pastor Paul Van Noy holds open church services during COVID-19 pandemic
Pastor Paul Van Noy (screen capture via YouTube)

A pastor in A Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, is being treated for COVID-19 at the Kootenai Health intensive care unit after who opening his church in May for in-person services that encouraged unmasked congregants to gather.

Who’d have ever guessed something could go wrong?

From the Spokesman-Review:

Paul Van Noy, the senior pastor at Candlelight Christian Fellowship, has spent the past two weeks in the ICU while his wife, Brenda Van Noy, recovered from her own bout with COVID-19 at home. Five other church staff have been infected, said Eric Reade, body ministry coordinator the church.

The church closed its doors for two weeks and underwent deep cleaning before reopening for in-person services Sunday, Reade said.

“We didn’t want, obviously, to be spreading the virus,” he said.

Church staffers don’t know how Van Noy contracted the virus, Reade said.

Van Noy, who apparently has a history of sharing his political views from the pulpit, has publicly shared his doubts regarding the efficacy of wearing face coverings to help protect against the virus.

Idaho Protester Arrested After Refusing To Leave Closed Playground

Sara Walton Brady (photo via Ada County Sheriff’s Office)

In a video shared on social media platforms, anti-vaccination activist Sara Walton Brady, 40, dared police to arrest her as officers tried to peacefully disperse an organized protest on a closed playground in Idaho.

Any guesses as to what happened next?

The group was protesting Gov. Brad Little’s stay-home order after removing signs and caution tape indicating the park’s closure.

From the Idaho Statesman:

Sara Walton Brady, 40, of Meridian, was noncompliant and refused to leave after being given many opportunities, police said. She was arrested on one count of misdemeanor trespassing. She was booked into Ada County Jail and released.

According to a police press release, officers on Tuesday night responded after several calls were made to dispatch. Officers then informed those gathered that the playground structure was closed and that they were welcome to utilize open areas of the park.

Walton Brady posted a $300 cash bond Tuesday evening, and her next court date is set for May 29, according to online court records.

A GoFundMe campaign was launched to “buy booze” for the arresting officer.

Podcast: Leslie Jordan’s InstaStardom, Idaho Challenged On Anti-Trans Laws, All-Star Celebration Announced For Sondheim’s 90th

The Randy Report podcast delivers the week's top stories in a quick, convenient podcast - 'the 60 Minutes of gay news - only shorter'

The Randy Report podcast delivers the week's top stories in a quick, convenient podcast - 'the 60 Minutes of gay news - only shorter'

In this week’s podcast:

• A Texas couple tragically dies within hours of each other due to COVID-19

• Idaho’s new anti-transgender laws are already being challenged in court

• Actor Leslie Jordan has become an Instagram sensation surging from 80K to 3 million followers. Find him on Instagram here.

• The new Netflix documentary Circus of Books chronicles the journey of a middle-class, straight Jewish couple from everyday entrepreneurs to accidental LGBTQ activists

• A vintage photo of two men named ‘Tommy’ and ‘Buzz’ has captured the romantic imagination of gay internet

• Huge stars will perform on the streaming event, Take Me To The World: A Sondheim 90th Birthday Celebration, on April 26

All that and more in this episode of The Randy Report

Idaho Governor Signs Two Anti-Transgender Bills Into Law

Idaho Gov. Brad Little (image via public domain)

After allowing two recently passed bills to sit on his desk for more than a week, Idaho Governor Brad Little chose to sign two anti-transgender bills into law on the eve of International Transgender Day of Visibility.

The laws take particular aim at transgender youth.

House Bill 509 prohibits transgender people from changing the gender listed on their birth certificate. The legislation is clearly a direct rebuttal to a federal court’s decision to overturn Idaho’s previous ban on trans people amending their birth certificates.

In 2018, U.S. Magistrate Judge Candy Dale ruled a prohibition on updating birth certificates by Idaho’s Department of Health and Welfare was discriminatory because some citizens – like adoptive parents – were allowed to amend birth certificates while trans people were not. The court ruled that the ban could cause “irreparable injury and harm” to trans people.

Idaho Rep. Julianne Young (R) proposed a new ban against updating birth certificates claiming they are “historical” documents.

House Bill 500 bans transgender student-athletes from participating in sports.

This makes Idaho the first state in the country to pass legislation targeting transgender student-athletes.

Local news station KTVB reports the anti-LGBTQ group Family Policy Alliance of Idaho hailed the bills’ passage saying  that the so-called “Fairness in Women’s Sports Act” protects athletic opportunities for girls “by ensuring biological males don’t play in girls’ high school and college sports.”

The Idaho attorney general’s office has already told the press that it estimates it will cost $1 million to defend the law in court.

The new law also allows for female student-athletes gender to be “challenged” and forces the athlete to submit to medical exams to prove their gender.

“This bill asks doctors to perform procedures way outside of the standards of care,” pediatrician Jessica Duvall told Forbes. “Moreover, even if the tests were performed against medical society norms, more often than not they do not yield clear, easily interpreted results.”

The Human Rights Campaign issued a statement denouncing both laws said that both laws.

“We are living in an unprecedented global health crisis, with confirmed cases of COVID-19 increasing on a daily basis in Idaho, across the United States, and around the world, but Governor Brad Little and the Idaho legislature have decided to prioritize the demonization of transgender people,” said HRC President Alphonso David in a statement.

“This is unacceptable, and a gross misuse of taxpayer funds and trust. Idaho is leading the way in anti-transgender discrimination, and at a time when life is hard enough for everyone, Idaho’s elected leaders will be remembered for working to make their transgender residents’ lives even harder.”

Alex Schmider, GLAAD’s Associate Director of Transgender Representation, denounced the legislation as well writing, “Tonight, on the eve of Transgender Day of Visibility and while the United States is overwhelmed with a massive public health crisis, Idaho Governor Brad Little passed legislation targeting some of the most vulnerable members of the LGBTQ community — transgender children. Although medical experts, sport governing bodies, and Idaho’s major employers have spoken out against these two bills, Governor Little has instead sided with discrimination. Now, more than ever, transgender people need to be supported, not subjected to state-sponsored discrimination and suffering.”

“Our country is facing an unprecedented health crisis, and Gov. Little and members of the Idaho Legislature have prioritized attacking transgender student-athletes with this discriminatory and unnecessary new law,” said Rodrigo Heng-Lehtinen, deputy executive director for the National Center for Transgender Equality. “State leaders should focus on protecting public health and safety, not on attacking vulnerable youth who want to play on a team with their peers. With so much suffering right now, Idaho is making sure trans kids suffer more.”

Idaho Man Arrested On Hate Crime Charges After Screaming Racist/Homophobic Slurs At Church Kids

Richard Sovenski has been arrested and charged with a hate crime after accosting a church youth group in Idaho
Richard Sovenski of Idaho

File this under ‘Today in Trump Nation.’

A group of church kids from Spokane, Washington, on a field trip to Idaho were accosted by a man identified as Richard Sovenski at a McDonalds restaurant as they stopped for ice cream.

From The Inlander:

A group of high schoolers from a Spokane youth group traveled to Coeur d’Alene last Thursday to hear a guest preacher. Afterward, the group’s leader, Jose Ceniceros, took them out for ice cream at McDonald’s.

As the group was getting ready to leave Sovenski started hurling racial slurs and profanity at them, Ceniceros says. A woman, who was standing with Sovenski, later told police that the kids were “being rude, dancing and running around causing a disturbance.”

Ceniceros disputes this, and says as they approached the door to leave Sovenski sucker punched Ceniceros and threw him to the ground. Ceniceros began recording Sovenski with his cell phone once they were outside and has shared the video with the Inlander.

“Fuck you, you fucking half-breeds! Get the fuck out of Idaho!” Sovenski is shown saying on video.

“You got a fucking problem, I’m your fucking guy!” he adds. “I will fuck you up in a fucking heartbeat, you little faggot!”

At one point, one of the youth group can be heard saying, “That’s why I don’t come to Idaho,” to which Sovenski screams back, “Yeah! That’s why you don’t come to Idaho! We’re real fucking men here, you bitch!”

Here’s the video – warning: VERY strong language.

The man accompanying Sovenski, who grabs his genitals at the end of the video, is apparently Sovenski’s son.

The local NBC affiliate reports that in interviews with investigators, Sovenski’s wife says she was worried the children might have bumped into her as she’d recently undergone shoulder surgery.

For Sovenski’s part, he told investigators that he didn’t so much ‘punch’ Ceniceros as ‘pushed’ him and that the church youth leader must have “tripped over his own feet.”

Sovenski said he used the strong language to “get the upper hand” in the argument, and believing the comments would “get under their skin.”

And it’s now garnered a hate crime charge with video evidence.

Richard Sovenski (R) charged with hate crime in Idaho

Ninth Circuit Denies Idaho Governor’s Request For En Banc Review Of Marriage Equality Ruling

As Idina Menzel might say to Idaho Gov. Butch Otter: “Let it go.”

In the wake of same-sex marriage coming to Idaho due to a ruling by the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, Gov. Otter asked the 9th to take another look at the case, this time by a larger panel of judges.

They said “no.”

Via press release from the National Center For Lesbian Rights:

On October 7, 2014, a panel of Ninth Circuit judges ruled 3-0 that Idaho’s and Nevada’s bans on the freedom to marry for same-sex couples violates the U.S. Constitution’s guarantee of equal protection.

On October 9, 2014, the Supreme Court rejected a request by Idaho officials to stay the Ninth Circuit’s judgment, clearing the way for marriages to begin.

Same-sex couples began marrying in Idaho on Wednesday, October 15, 2014.

The Governor of Idaho asked for review of the panel decision by a larger panel of Ninth Circuit judges.

Today’s order denied that request.

The text of the ruling is as follows:

“The panel has voted to deny the petitions for rehearing en banc. The full court was advised of the petitions for rehearing en banc. A judge requested a vote on whether to rehear the matter en banc. The matter failed to receive a majority of the votes of the nonrecused active judges in favor of en banc reconsideration. Fed. R. App. P. 35. The petitions for rehearing en banc are denied.”

Idaho Ordered To Pay Pro-Same-Sex Marriage Legal Team Over $400K

A federal judge in Idaho has ruled that the state must pay the lawyers that successfully fought to overturn the ban on same-sex marriage over $400,000 in legal fees.

From the Idaho Statesman:

“Simply put, the case was neither easy nor ordinary,” Dale wrote. “It is therefore not surprising that plaintiffs employed a team of experienced attorneys to divvy up the many legal tasks.”

While Gov. Butch Otter and his legal team didn’t dispute that the state should pay the lawyers’ fees, they did argue that the lawyers took too much time communicating with one another and charged too much in hourly fees. State lawyers argued the amount, therefore, should be cut in half to $204,049.

Dale disagreed, saying that the complexity of the case warranted frequent communication and extra time to prepare for court appearances.

“Whatever this case lacked in procedural complications or disputed issues of material fact, it surely made up in legal complexity,” Dale wrote. “After all, the case involved constitutional issues of first impression not only in Idaho, but in all district courts in the Ninth Circuit.”

Same-sex marriage has been legal in Idaho since October 15th of this year when the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals upheld Judge Dale’s ruling striking down the marriage ban.

Since late October, Governor Otter has spent over $80,000 in legal fees preparing for further appeals.

In that marriage equality is here to stay, if I were a citizen of Idaho I’d be mad at the Gov for wasting tax payer money on an issue that’s settled law.

But hey, maybe that’s just me…

Idaho ACLU and City of Coeur D’Alene Say Wedding Venue Not In Violation Of Non-Discrimination Ordinance

The Hitching Post, a Coeur d’Alene wedding chapel in Idaho, has been the center of a fake controversy this week seeming to pit LGBT non-discrimination ordinances versus anti-gay religious beliefs.

The city of Coeur d’Alene and the Idaho ACLU have issued statements saying the venue would not be violating the city’s nondiscrimination laws should they decline to officiate a same-sex marriage, but the anti-gay Alliance Defending Freedom is killing itself to keep the story alive.

From Boise State Public Radio:

Initially, the city said its anti-discrimination law did apply to the Hitching Post, since it is a commercial business. Earlier this week, Coeur d’Alene city attorney Mike Gridley sent a letter to the Knapps’ attorneys at the Alliance Defending Freedom saying the Hitching Post would have to become a not-for-profit to be exempt.

But Gridley said after further review, he determined the ordinance doesn’t specify non-profit or for-profit.

“After we’ve looked at this some more, we have come to the conclusion they would be exempt from our ordinance because they are a religious corporation,” Gridley explained.

Court filings show the Hitching Post reorganized earlier this month as a “religious corporation.” In the paperwork, the owners describe their deeply held beliefs that marriage should be between one man and one woman.

Leo Morales of the ACLU of Idaho said the exemption makes sense as long as the Hitching Post primarily performs religious ceremonies.

“However, if they do non-religious ceremonies as well, they would be violating the anti-discrimination ordinance,” Morales said. “It’s the religious activity that’s being protected.”

See, what happened was, quietly on October 6th, the owners of the venue changed the wording of the “purpose” of their LLC in preparation of all these shenanigans. Prior to a few weeks ago, the Hitching Post performed non-religious marriage ceremonies. BUT, that wouldn’t make for as good a story as a “religious corporation” would. Check the new language on the company’s business operating agreement:

“The Hitching Post is a religious corporation owned solely by ordained ministers of the Christian religion who operate this entity as an extension of their sincerely held religious beliefs and in accordance with their vows taken as Christian ministers.”

So, the point is – civil weddings are fine with the Knapps. Other religions ceremonies are fine with the Knapps. It’s the gays they have a problem with.

Even the group that helped draft the non-discrimination ordinance language – the Kootenai County Task Force on Human Relations – has issued a statement to the mayor and city council that the Knapps fall under the religious exemption in the law.

But the thing is, the anti-gay groups WANT there to be a controversy so they can point their fingers and say “See? We told you religious folks would be persecuted!” The Alliance Defending Freedom keeps perpetrating the idea that at least one same-sex couple has tried to get the owners of The Hitching Post to marry them. Except, that hasn’t happened.

So, no one is being persecuted.

Fake story. Fake controversy.

Let’s Check The Facts About Anti-Gay Idaho Wedding Venue “The Hitching Post”

Click to enlarge

The extreme right-wing, anti-gay folks like Bryan Fischer are promoting Idaho’s The Hitching Post as a “victim” of pro-gay policies with the arrival of same-sex marriage to the state.

Coeur D’Alene is one of the few cities in Idaho which include sexual orientation in it’s nondiscrimination laws regarding public accommodation. In other words, if you are a public business, you can’t refuse service to gays and lesbians based on their sexual orientation.

Churches and religious organizations operating as 501(C)3s are exempt from the law. The Hitching Post is not one of those organizations.

The story the haters would like you to buy is that the wedding venue has been “threatened” with jail time and fines for refusing to perform same-sex marriages.

The FACTS are:

• No one has asked the venue to perform a same-sex marriage
• No one has filed a complaint against the venue
• The Hitching Post is not a church; it is a FOR-PROFIT wedding business
• The “ministers” of the venue are ordained for the purpose of performing weddings; they do have “minister” to any congregation or flock
• No one has ordered anyone at the venue to do anything

But if you listen to the Bryan Fischers and Tony Perkins of the world, the two “ministers” of The Hitching Post are about to be drawn and quartered. Take a look at this recent tweet from Bryan Fischer:

Coeur D’Alene City Spokesman Keith Erickson has publicly stated, “We have never threatened to jail them, or take legal action of any kind.”

Facts, kids. Follow the facts.

(via JMG)

Idaho Gov. Butch Otter To Petition 9th Circuit Court for En Banc Re-hearing of Same-Sex Marriage Case

Idaho Gov. Butch Otter (do you love that name or what?) announced today that he’s filing a petition with the 9th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals for an en banc re-hearing of Idaho’s same-sex marriage case.

From the Spokesman-Review:

“I will continue defending Idahoans’ self-determination and the will of Idaho voters who decided that traditional marriage is a core principle of our society,” Otter said in a statement. He said his office will file the petition later today.

An en banc review at the 9th Circuit, because the circuit is so large, would mean that a larger 11-judge panel would re-hear the case, after a three-judge panel made the decision earlier. In smaller circuits, an en banc review is a rehearing by the full court. Otter and Idaho Attorney General Lawrence Wasden earlier requested that 9th Circuit assign a full 11-judge panel to hear Idaho’s case in the first place, rather than a three-judge panel; that request was denied.

Meanwhile, county clerks began issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples on October 15th. By the time any appeal reaches any court, hundreds of gay and lesbian couples will be married. Can I see a show of hands of the folks who want to tell those couple’s children they won’t be a legal family anymore?

Interestingly, Attorney General Lawrence Wasden is not a party to Otter’s petition. But in a statement from his spokesman, Todd Dvorak, Wasden stated that he does plan to file an appeal directly to the U.S. Supreme Court in the coming weeks.