U.S./World: Marriage protections, fitness club, cyberbullying case

Beyond the Carolinas

FADA promises ‘protections’ for same-sex marriage dissenters

Ever since the Supreme Court legalized same-sex marriage, anti-gay crusaders have been touting a somewhat obscure piece of legislation called the First Amendment Defense Act (FADA), which would prohibit the federal government from “taking discriminatory action against a person on the basis that such person believes or acts in accordance with a religious belief or moral conviction that: (1) marriage is or should be recognized as the union of one man and one woman, or (2) sexual relations are properly reserved to such a marriage.”

In other words, the First Amendment [Defense] Act would let both individuals and businesses discriminate against gay people and others under the banner of “religious liberty.”

As Right Wing Watch reports, anti-gay groups have been eager to show their support for the legislation.

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As it so happens, a handful of these groups — namely, the American Principles Project, Heritage Action for America and Family Research Council Action — just made the announcement that a total of six GOP presidential hopefuls have signed a pledge promising to push for the passage of the FADA within their first 100 days in office should they be elected.

American Principles Project has joined together with Heritage Action for America, the action arm of the Heritage Foundation, and FRC Action, the legislative affiliate of the Family Research Council, to invite each of the candidates running for president to sign the following pledge: “If elected, I pledge to push for the passage of the First Amendment Defense Act (FADA) and sign it into law during the first 100 days of my term as president.”

So far, six candidates have signed the pledge:

  • Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas)
  • Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Florida)
  • Dr. Ben Carson
  • Carly Fiorina
  • Former Sen. Rick Santorum (R-Pennsylvania)
  • Former Gov. Mike Huckabee (R-Arkansas)

Maggie Gallagher, senior fellow at American Principles Project, released the following statement: “It has become clear that the First Amendment Defense Act is rapidly becoming a signature issue that unifies the GOP. Three out of the four top contenders for the nomination — Carson, Cruz, and Rubio — have pledged to prioritize passing FADA in their first 100 days of office. Additionally, Bush, Graham, Paul, and now for the first time, Donald Trump, have publicly expressed support for FADA. Real, concrete protections for gay marriage dissenters appear to be just one election victory away.”

Fresno residents worked up about 24-hour fitness club

Plans to open a men’s fitness and social club serving the gay community 24-hours-a-day is upsetting many residents in the Fresno, Calif., area.

Shelly Cummings, who lives next door to where the club would open, is particularly displeased.

“I am not speaking against people who want to do things like that,” she tells ABC30. “Everybody can do what they want, but for the neighborhood, it being in the middle of a neighborhood with the crime that is bad down here in Tower like it is now, I can’t see anything good coming out of it. I see people getting hurt.”

Richie Shields, a business owner, also thinks the club will attract problems.

“The people that go there and having fun, not a problem,” he says, “but it’s the byproduct of that — the people that are walking around, maybe prostitution, littering, drug use, things like that, I don’t want to see…”

Craig Harmon, the man hoping to open the club, also operates a business called The Bunker, which is an adult club for men.

Located in the industrial part of zone [sic], it’s closing by month’s end to make way for high-speed rail.

Harmon insists the health club won’t be adult-oriented at all, but rather “a gym with a gay orientation to cater to the gay community.”

City Council Member Esmerelda Soria says, “One of the main concerns again is the 24-hour period, in addition to some being concerned with it being adult-oriented, so we’ve been tracking it, making sure we will understand what the business will bring to the neighborhood.”

A hearing was scheduled for the Fresno Planning Commission tonight [Dec. 17], but it’s been put off until the staff has more time to study the issue.

Michigan court rejects appeal in ‘cyberbullying’ case

The Michigan Supreme Court won’t get involved in the case of a state lawyer who was fired after hounding a gay student leader at the University of Michigan.

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In a brief order, the court says it won’t hear an appeal from Andrew Shirvell over unemployment benefits and other issues.

In February, [a] Michigan appeals court said Shirvell was not entitled to collect unemployment benefits, rejecting claims that his off-hours activities were protected by the First Amendment, ruling Shirvell’s “conduct undermined one of the department’s specific missions — i.e. the integrity of its anti-cyberbullying campaign.”

Shirvell was fired as assistant attorney general in 2010 for an anti-gay campaign against then-20-year-old Chris Armstrong, who accused him of stalking and defaming him on an anti-gay blog and elsewhere.

For nearly six months, Shirvell waged an online campaign against Armstrong, the university’s first openly gay student president.

Shirvell used his blog to continuously attack and harass Armstrong, calling him a “radical homosexual activist,” a “racist, elitist and liar,” a Nazi, a “privileged pervert,” and “Satan’s representative on the student assembly.”

He was fired after it was determined that he used state resources and hours to conduct his campaign against Armstrong. Shirvell said he was exercising free speech rights, but his bosses said he was disrupting state business.

Armstrong later sued Shirvell, and a jury awarded him $4.5 million, which was later reduced to $3.5 million. In November, the U.S. Supreme Court refused to hear an appeal by Shirvell, and let stand the $3.5 million awarded to Armstrong.

— all stories via LGBTQ Nation (lgbtqnation.com), a qnotes media partner

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