News You Should Know August 14, 2014

BTL Staff

KANSAS - The Westboro Baptist Church, famously known for picketing and protesting the funerals of United States army members, has released a statement that it plans on protesting the funeral of beloved actor Robin Williams. The anti-gay church, whose messages of "God Hates Fags" has denounced the late Williams as a "fag pimp" because he played roles such as Armand in the Birdcage and Mrs. Doubtfire in the renowned family film. The group quotes Proverb 14:9 "Fools make a mock at sin..." warning the living to "repent or likewise perish." Church members are currently targeting the headquarters of Apple, Facebook and Twitter with their God Hates Fags Media Campaign.

VIRGINIA - Federal appeals court has denied a request to delay its ruling striking down Virginia's same-sex marriage ban. A panel of 4th Circuit Court Judges on Aug. 13 denied a request by a county clerk in Northern Virginia to stay the decision. Without U.S. Supreme Court intervention, same-sex couple could begin marrying and have their out of state marriages recognized by Wed of next week.

PORTLAND - The biggest collection of portraits and personal stories of gay men to date has been put together by Kevin Truong who is on a global mission to change the way society views gay men. His subjects do average things that general people do such as posing with their pets, riding scooters or sitting on overstuffed chairs. "I want to challenge stereotypes to give these men the opportunity to share their experiences, whether they're in Lima, Peru or Pigeon Forge," Truong said. He is the son of a Vietnamese immigrant born in a Malaysia refugee camp. Truong came out first to his professors at Portland State University, after keeping his sexual identity secret for years. After joining the Peace Corps and being told that he had to hide his sexuality again by another volunteer, Truong quit, moved to New York, enrolled in the Pratt Institute's photography program and began making large-scale art projects such as this one. The plan is to go to 10 different countries collecting photos and stories of international gay men from around the world, and to capture real gay men in real life situations. Visit this website to see his three minute kickstarter video.

MONTANA - Billings City leaders rejected a proposed ordinance to add sexuality and gender orientation to the city's discrimination clause. After an eight hour meeting the city decided 6-5 to decline the LGBT addition. "My wife and I own our own home, and we're employed by companies that are open and embracing of our marriage, which occurred in another state," said Shauna Goubeaux, who with her wife, Nicole, are plaintiffs in a lawsuit to end Montana's ban on same-sex marriage. "Our lives aren't as impacted, but the lives of our friends are impacted by this vote." Councilman Shaun Brown stated he wasn't against the ordinance, just the section that would've banned discrimination in restrooms and locker rooms.

KANSAS CITY, MO - As previously approved by Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, Chelsea Manning is not receiving hormone therapy, Manning's attorney and the ACLU said Aug. 12. Manning's attorney David E. Coombs notified the U.S. Disciplinary Barracks in Fort Lavenworth, that same day, that a lawsuit will be filed if military officials do not confirm by Sept. 4th that her treatment will be provided. The ACLU's attorney for the LGBT project, Chase Strangio, said that refusing to treat manning is "cruel and unusual punishment" and "the continued failure to provide Ms. Manning with this treatment is inconsistent with well-established medical protocols and basic constitutional principles."

EL PASO - One of the toughest abortion laws in the U.S. has come under scrutiny late Aug. 13. The law would leave just seven abortion facilities open in Texas, all of which would be located in major cities, leaving none in the western half of the nation's second-largest state. Without any providers in El Paso, women would face a 550-mile trip to the nearest clinic still legally allowed to terminate pregnancy. State attorneys claim that women could just go to a neighboring clinic in New Mexico, just 15 minutes away. Opponents of the new rules say New Mexico doesn't require the same standards that Gov. Rick Perry approved in 2013 nor does it require the pre-abortion sonograms that Texas began mandating in 2012. Under the new law clinics will be required to have operating rooms, sterile ventilation systems and other hospital-style standards that currently only seven of the state's clinics have. Nearly 2,200 abortions were performed in El Paso in 2011, nearly 3.1 percent of all abortions in Texas that year.

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