Florida: Jacksonville Passes LGBTQ Protections AGAIN

For the second time, the City Council of Jacksonville, Florida, approved adding sexual orientation and gender identity to its non-discrimination ordinance.

This is the second time the City Council has approved the legislative move.

Back in 2017, when the amendments were initially approved by a vote of 12-6, the virulently anti-LGBTQ law group the Liberty Counsel filed a lawsuit to overturn the human rights protections.

Because, of course, they did.

Last month, the Liberty Counsel won its lawsuit in the First District Court of Appeals based on a ‘legislative technicality.’

The court didn’t rule on the issue of discrimination against LGBTQs in the areas of housing, employment or public accommodations. Instead, the victory came because the city didn’t follow a strict procedure that requires a period of public notification about the changes to the ordinance.

When the amendments were announced, the city listed the 28 sections of the non-discrimination ordinance that would be amended and noted that the terms “sexual orientation” and “gender identity” would be added.

“Section 2. Amending Sections 60.105, 400.101, 400.301, 402.102, 402.107(g)(1), 402.107(g)(3), 402.201, 402.202, 402.203, 402.204, 402.206, 402.210, 402.211, 406.102, 406.104(g)(1), 406.104(g)(3), 406.201, 408.102, 408.204, 408.401, 408.402, 408.403, 408.404, 408.406, and 408.407, Ordinance Code.”

“The foregoing sections of the Ordinance Code are hereby amended as follows: wherever protected categories are listed, that sexual orientation and gender identity, as defined in Section 3 below, shall be added to the list.”

But according to state law, such changes require the re-publishing of the full text of the Ordinance Code with the new language inserted.

The appellate court panel of judges voted 3-0 in favor of the Liberty Counsel’s argument.

At the time, the Liberty Counsel’s Mat Staver gloated over the ruling writing, “The citizen plaintiffs were injured by the city’s deceptive practice in presenting the HRO for passage, and that this deceptive practice of not revealing the intent and scope of the law invalidates it.”

And so, on Tuesday, the Jacksonville City Council essentially approved the exact same amendments to the Ordinance Code making sure to cross every ’T’ and dot every ‘I.’

Florida Politics reports the vote was treated as such a formality that no council members spoke on the bill before passage.

In 2015, Jacksonville had one of the worst ratings on LGBTQ rights in a major city, according to the Human Rights Campaign, garnering a low 23 out of 100.

Since adding the protections, the city now scores a 79 out of 100.

In related news, the Republican National Committee has announced Jacksonville will host Donald Trump’s acceptance of his party’s nomination for reelection.

It’s hard to overlook the irony that a city so dedicated to protecting LGBTQ citizens will now play host to a president who has repeatedly attacked that same community in so many ways including allowing adoption agencies to deny placement of children with gay couples, banning transgender people from serving in the military, opposing The Equality Act, and urging the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission to reverse Obama-era policies of protecting LGBTQ people in the workplace.

But the GOP, in an announcement so laughable it borders on parody, recently declared Trump has “taken unprecedented steps to protect the LGBTQ community.”

Stop, stop – oh, my sides…ROTFL

Florida: Haters Advance In Attempt To Reverse LGBTQ Rights In Jacksonville

(image via VisitJacksonville.com)

For years, the city of Jacksonville, Florida, had a terrible track record when it came to LGBTQ rights in the city.

In 2015, for example, the Human Rights Campaign rated Jacksonville a 23 out of a possible 100 in terms of LGBTQ rights and protections.

Since the city expanded its Human Rights Ordinance (HRO) to include sexual orientation and gender identity in early 2017, the HRC rating has improved to 79 out of 100.

But now, Florida’s 1st District Court of Appeal has sided with a handful of anti-LGBTQ activists that want to see the HRO reversed on a technicality.

Florida Politics reports that the appellate court ruled unanimously 3-0 that the lawsuit filed by virulently anti-LGBTQ law group Liberty Counsel should be allowed to move forward after being dismissed twice by lower courts.

Jason Gabriel, the city’s head lawyer in the office of General Counsel, called the decision a “mindboggling” and “bizarre” appeals court ruling against the local LGBTQ protections and vowed to fight to defend the law. “It’s a hyper-technical ruling with some bizarre findings,” said Gabriel.

The decision from the three-judge panel mainly hinged on how language was presented in the initial public notices about how the existing HRO would be amended.

When the amendments were being considered in 2017, the sections of the local Ordinance Code that would be affected were listed and then followed with instructions to add sexual orientation and gender identity to those sections.

“Section 2. Amending Sections 60.105, 400.101, 400.301, 402.102, 402.107(g)(1), 402.107(g)(3), 402.201, 402.202, 402.203, 402.204, 402.206, 402.210, 402.211, 406.102, 406.104(g)(1), 406.104(g)(3), 406.201, 408.102, 408.204, 408.401, 408.402, 408.403, 408.404, 408.406, and 408.407, Ordinance Code.”

“The foregoing sections of the Ordinance Code are hereby amended as follows: wherever protected categories are listed, that sexual orientation and gender identity, as defined in Section 3 below, shall be added to the list.”

The amendments also added specific definitions for “sexual orientation” and “gender identity.”

Sounds pretty straight forward, yes? Everyone concerned understood what and how the changes were to the HRO.

But the Liberty Counsel held that all 25 sections of the Ordinance Code that were affected by the amendments should have been written out in full text showing the insertion of the new language.

The appellate court agreed on that very narrow legal view saying the process “violated governing principles of notice and due process.”

And so, the Liberty Counsel won its reversal on previous rulings and is now allowed to further proceedings in trying to overturn the LGBTQ protections.

Mat Staver of the anti-LGBTQ Liberty Counsel

In a press release, the Liberty Counsel’s Mat Staver gloated over the ruling writing, “The citizen plaintiffs were injured by the city’s deceptive practice in presenting the HRO for passage, and that this deceptive practice of not revealing the intent and scope of the law invalidates it.”

Gabriel disagreed with the appeals court telling Florida Politics that “full text of the rules … was set forth for the Council and the public, both before or after enactment, and was immediately officially published after enactment.”

One solution to the issue, according to incoming City Council President Tommy Hazouri, who sponsored the 2017 legislation, is to simply pass the law again. Since the bill passed in 2017 (by a vote of 12-6), the membership of the City Council has not changed.

The city is also considering appealing this new ruling to the (currently conservative) Florida Supreme Court.

LGBTQ blogger JoeMyGod notes that the Liberty Counsel has been trying to repeal Jacksonville’s LGBTQ protections since they were passed in early 2017.

Pronoun “They” Is The Word Of The Year & Haters Are Mad

The language gurus at Merriam-Webster have announced the personal pronoun “they” is their Word of the Year after the dictionary’s website, Merriam-Webster.com, experienced a 313 percent increase in searches for the word compared to 2018.

As more and more people identify as nonbinary (neither exclusively male nor female), like Grammy Award winner Sam Smith sharing on social media their preferred pronouns were “they” and “them,” searches for the word would spike throughout the year.

ABC News reports when Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-Washington) became emotional during a House committee hearing as she spoke about her gender-conforming child, another spike at the website occurred.

And when trans nonbinary model Oslo Grace began garnering high profile attention on the fashion runways of the world, there was another surge in searches for the pronoun.

“Pronouns are among the language’s most commonly used words, and like other common words (think ‘go,’ ‘do,’ and ‘have’) they tend to be mostly ignored by dictionary users,” said Emily Brewster, senior editor at Merriam-Webster, in a statement. “But over the past year or so, as people have increasingly encountered the nonbinary use, we’ve seen searches for ‘they’ grow dramatically.”

“In 2019, the increase in lookups for ‘they’ was so significant and sustained that it stood out from all the other top lookups when we went to analyze the data,” Brewster added.

But a day after Merriam-Webster’s statement, hate group leader Mat Staver of the virulently anti-LGBTQ Liberty Counsel, fired off an angry message to his followers calling the announcement “a bizarre disgrace.”

Staver wrote in an email that Merriam-Webster “fell in, lockstep, with the garish LGBT parade” by “bowing to deeply radical LGBT forces and pushing the LGBT agenda forward.”

The lawyer, who has represented homophobes all over the country in an effort to defeat LGBTQ protections, then turned his raging missive into a money beg asking for a “most generous year-end gift now” to the Liberty Counsel so his ilk can continue defending “life, liberty and the family across America.”

Making money from hate is what they do, folks…


(source: ABC News)

Liberty Counsel Rep Declares Public School Sex Education “Satanic”

Mary McAlister of the anti-gay Liberty Counsel says public sex education is "satanic"

Without even the limited sex education in public schools, where would young Americans learn the basics about human sexuality and sexual health?

From their parents? #NotGonnaHappen

Which makes a recent appearance by Mary McAlister of the virulently anti-LGBTQ Liberty Counsel even more dangerous as she declared sex education in schools to be “satanic.”

From Right-Wing Watch:

Mary McAlister, who is senior litigation counsel for the anti-LGBTQ organization Liberty Counsel, appeared on Cliff Kincaid’s “USA Survival” program yesterday, where she declared that sex ed programs in public schools are satanic.

McAlister and Kincaid were discussing the upcoming “Sex Ed Sit Out” effort being organized by Religious Right activist Elizabeth Johnston, who is better known as the “Activist Mommy,” which encourages parents to remove their children from school to protest what she sees as “graphic, gender-bending sex education.”

“It’s evil,” McAlister replied. “It’s absolutely evil. God has made us all in his image, he has set out for us rules for living that enable us to live rich and full and healthy lives and all of this that is going on now is directly aimed at tearing all of that down. Well, we know who does that. That’s the Enemy, that’s Satan and his minions.”

Watch the exchange below.

News Round-Up: March 23, 2018

Out Olympian Gus Kenworthy & Beemo

Some news items you might have missed:

• Bonus National Puppy Day pic – Gus Kenworthy’s South Korean pup, Beemo, has her own Instagram page and already has 70K followers. Deservedly so, I should add.

• A new study shows 92% of young gay men want to get married.

• Robbie Rogers and director Greg Berlanti bought out two movie theaters so young LGBTQs could see Berlanti’s new movie, Love, Simon.

• The anti-gay hate group Liberty Counsel has pulled its support for the anti-LGBT bill The First Amendment Defense Act because it’s not anti-gay enough.

• Craigslist has shut down its personal ad section after the U.S. Senate passed Allow States and Victims to Fight Online Sex Trafficking Act (FOSTA). Some say shuttering these ads is dangerous for the sex workers it purportedly protects as sex workers advertising online are not soliciting work on the streets, where they are more likely to encounter dangerous situations.

• Comedian Jim Carrey has been sharing his artwork of late relating to the Trump regime, if you will.

The latest shows Donald Trump in flagrante delicto as allegations of sexual relationships with porn star Stormy Daniels and former Playboy Playmate Karen McDougal dominate the headlines.

CBS News: Liberty Counsel Is Behind Anti-LGBT Hate Laws In At Least 20 States

LGBT activists have known the names Mat Staver and Liberty Counsel for years. Staver and his cronies have spent years working to subvert the rights of LGBTs in the areas of marriage and public accommodation.

But now, CBS News has not only put Staver and company in the spotlight, but revealed in no uncertain terms the true nature of their mission: to control the “fire” of LGBT rights.

Demonstrators against the so-called bathroom bills were out in force in South Carolina — their chants echoing those in other states where they say legislatures have have enacted laws enabling bigotry.

But while they protested, the conservative group, that’s helped author many of those measures protecting religion over sexual orientation, was working at its Orlando area office on new ways to uphold what it says is really at stake.

“It is only about being free to pursue your faith,” said Mathew Staver. “We have no interest in discriminating against anyone.”

Staver is the founder and chairman of Liberty Counsel, which has affiliated attorneys in all 50 states — drafting bills, advising lawmakers and defending clients in what they believe to be the great cultural clash of our time.

CBS News first met Staver when he defended a Kentucky county clerk Kim Davis who said it was against her religion to hand out marriage licenses to homosexuals. Lately, Liberty Counsel has been helping to draft legislation for conservative lawmakers in at least 20 states.

Their bills began cropping up in state legislatures soon after the Supreme Court legalized same sex marriage last year.

An objective observer could conclude that they want to push back against that ruling.

“Well I certainly want to push back against that ruling,” Staver said. “It was a wrong ruling. It has no basis in the constitution.”

Where are they going with this?

“The Supreme Court in the 5-4 opinion on marriage in 2015 lit the house on fire,” Staver said. “All we’re trying to do is control the fire at this point in time.”

And he is unfazed by corporate threats to pull out of states in protest against his work.

“They’re not gonna follow through,” Staver said.

So it’s a bluff?

“It’s a bluff. They’re not leaving,” he said.

Kim Davis’ Law Firm, Anti-Gay Liberty Counsel, Called Out By Associated Press

Mat Staver, of the virulently anti-gay Liberty Counsel

Finally, a mainstream media source – the Associated Press, no less – has exposed the Liberty Counsel for the anti-gay, hate mongering organization that it is.

Kim Davis’ lawyer stood onstage in a Washington D.C. hotel and pointed to a photo on the screen. It showed 100,000 people packed into a Peruvian soccer stadium, Mat Staver told the crowd, all there to pray for the Kentucky clerk battling against gay marriage.

The crowd erupted.

It wasn’t true. Staver’s firm, the Liberty Counsel, which revealed Davis’ secret meeting with Pope Francis, has been accused by advocacy groups of peddling misrepresentations in the past. Yet it has become the main source of details about the controversial pope meeting.

The Southern Poverty Law Center lists the Liberty Counsel as an anti-gay hate groups for spreading false information. “A group that regularly portrays gay people as perverse, diseased pedophiles putting Western civilization at risk are way, way over the line,” said Mark Potok, a senior fellow at the center.

The Liberty Counsel has connected homosexuality to higher rates of promiscuity and incest, Potok said, despite scientific evidence to the contrary.

The firm opposes laws banning hate crimes and supports discredited conversion therapies that purport to turn homosexuals into heterosexuals.

Staver once declared that the Boy Scouts would become a “playground for pedophiles” once it allowed gay troop leaders.

Staver said the meeting with the pope validates his arguments about Davis’ rights to conscientious objection. He rejects even the suggestion he might wake up one day and discover himself on the wrong side of history.

Last week, he showed the crowd at the Values Voter Summit the photo of the imaginary Peruvian prayer rally and declared its significance in the battle against Christian oppression. “That, my friends, is happening around the world,” he said. “When one person stands it has an impact and Kim Davis will continue to stand for her lord and savior Jesus Christ.”

Read the full expose here.

Quite enjoyable reading, I must say.

(h/t JMG)

Chris Hayes Slaps Down Liberty Counsel’s Mat Staver

I always find it interesting when someone not only refuses to answer a direct question in a TV interview, but also can only keep repeating the same, single talking point.

Liberty Counsel director Mat Staver, who is representing Kentucky County Clerk Kim Davis, is like a dog with a bone here repeating and repeating his own issue while completely ignoring the questions being asked by MSNBC host Chris Hayes.

Best line is when Hayes ask Staver point blank how his fundraising is going in light of the press his firm is getting by being in the thick of things with Davis.

New Jersey: Liberty Counsel Loses For Second Time Over “Ex-Gay” Torture Ban

Mat Staver and his Liberty Counsel have failed for a second time in attempting to repeal the ban on so-called “conversion” therapy for minors in New Jersey.

By a 3-0 vote, the 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals said the ban did not infringe the First Amendment rights of minors and their parents to receive information and exercise religion, or the rights of parents to decide how to raise their children.

The challenge came from a 15-year-old boy known as John Doe, who claimed to suffer from anxiety, panic attacks, self-hatred and suicidal thoughts as he struggled with his sexual identity, and his parents, who said they had sincere religious beliefs that homosexuality was sinful and harmful.

The family plans to appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court, said their lawyer, Mathew Staver.

“It is a tragedy when people who are not in the counseling room try to dictate what the client wants to receive and what the counselor is allowed to offer,” Staver, chairman of Liberty Counsel, said in a phone interview.

Signed by Republican Governor Chris Christie in August 2013, New Jersey’s law bans licensed counselors from trying to convert homosexual minors into heterosexuals.

The law was upheld last Sept. 11 by the same 3rd Circuit panel after counselors claimed it violated their free speech rights.

On April 8, President Barack Obama called for an end to gay conversion therapy for children, citing “overwhelming scientific evidence” that it was “neither medically nor ethically appropriate and can cause substantial harm.”

The American Psychiatric Association in 1973 declassified homosexuality as a mental disorder. Some conservative and religious groups have said sexual orientation can be changed.

This follows three failed attempts by Liberty Counsel to overturn a similar ban in California.

(via Reuters)

Liberty Counsel Files Petition Demanding Alabama Probate Judges Cease Issuing Same-Sex Marriage Licenses

Mat Staver of the anti-gay hate group Liberty Counsel

Mat Staver and the virulently anti-gay Liberty Counsel have filed a petition with the Alabama state Supreme Court demanding that the entire bench of judges instruct all state Probate Judges to cease issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples.

Via press release from Liberty Counsel:

“Many Alabama probate judges are acting lawlessly,” said Mat Staver, Founder and Chairman of Liberty Counsel.

“Alabama probate judges do not have discretion to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples. Neither the Searcy nor the Strawser Injunction requires Alabama probate judges to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples,” Staver pointed out.

“The only remedy to this lawlessness is mandamus relief, an order from the Alabama Supreme Court to command probate judges to perform their ministerial duty not to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples,” Staver concluded.

Actually, the Supremacy Clause of the US Constitution specifically states that Federal law trumps State law. Federal Judge Callie Granade has ruled Alabama’s ban on same-sex marriage is unconstitutional. The Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals and the US Supreme Court have been asked and passed on staying the ruling.

Haters would want to stop embarrassing themselves sooner than later.