Saturday, February 04, 2017

NEWS: Pulse Gunman's Wife Helped Him, Travel Ban Lifted, Stonewall Inn Protest, Marriage Equality, Gay Men Pardoned, LGBT Economic Summit

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Noor Salman (L)  Omar Mateen (R)
Pulse Gunman's Wife Helped Scout Potential Targets, Including Disney: Prosecutors
A federal judge in California declined Wednesday to release the widow of the man who killed 49 people at Orlando’s Pulse nightclub after prosecutors said she accompanied her husband on scouting trips for potential targets that included the Disney Springs shopping complex. U.S. Magistrate Judge Donna Ryu in Oakland said she wanted a psychiatric evaluation done of Noor Salman before deciding whether to release her from jail pending a trial on charges of supporting her husband's attack and then lying to investigators about it. Salman, 31, has pleaded not guilty. Federal authorities arrested Salman last month at her mother's home in suburban San Francisco, where Salman moved with her 4-year-old son after her husband, Omar Mateen, killed 49 and wounded at least 68 others on June 12 at Pulse nightclub. Mateen pledged allegiance to the Islamic State during the attack before police shot and killed him. READ MORE

US Reverses Travel Ban Over Court Ruling as Trump Fumes
The US authorities have rolled back a controversial travel ban on people from seven mainly Muslim countries after a judge suspended it. The state department said it was reversing the cancellations of visas, 60,000 of which were revoked after President Donald Trump's order. Judge James Robart ruled there were legal grounds to challenge the ban. Mr Trump called the verdict by the Seattle judge "ridiculous" and vowed to restore the ban. People affected by the ban treated news of the suspension warily as airlines began allowing them to board flights to America on Saturday. Meanwhile, the US president has raged against Judge Robard on Twitter. "The opinion of this so-called judge, which essentially takes law-enforcement away from our country, is ridiculous and will be overturned!" he wrote. Mr Trump later added in another tweet: "What is our country coming to when a judge can halt a Homeland Security travel ban and anyone, even with bad intentions, can come into U.S.?"READ MORE

LGBT Protest at Stonewall Inn Takes on Edge Amid Possible Blow to Gay Rights
The stated goal of the event outside the Stonewall Inn on Saturday afternoon is to be a solidarity rally for the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender (LGBT) community to stand with immigrants, refugees and asylum seekers outraged by the president’s executive order banning refugees and travelers from certain Muslim-majority countries from entering the US. But the protest is likely to gain a new edge and several thousand extra participants from the emergence into the public domain this week of a leaked draft of an executive order revealing what would be a sweeping federal authorization of discrimination against gays in the name of religious freedom. While the White House has declined to say when and whether it would sign such an order, the document’s very existence within the administration’s inner circle has rattled many in the community. New York City council member Corey Johnson, whose district includes the neighborhoods of the West Village and Chelsea, is a key organizer and told the Guardian that he was shocked by the wording of the leaked draft of the executive order. “He may not have come out yet and said he wants to persecute gay people but Trump has appointed senior people and cabinet members who are anti-gay and his collusion with the religious right is the equivalent of making a pact with the professional anti-gay forces,” Johnson said. He added that if the draft order were to be signed by the president it would be “disastrous”. READ MORE

TEXAS: GOP Still Trying to Chip Away at Gay Marriage Ruling
Proposals in the Legislature and a case taken by the Texas Supreme Court attempt to turn back some of the federal law allowing gay marriage. Eighteen months after the U.S. Supreme Court legalized same-sex marriage, Texas Republicans are still trying to chip away at the landmark decision. Senate Bill 522, filed by state Senators Charles Perry, R-Lubbock, and Brian Birdwell, R-Granbury, would allow county clerks to opt out of issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples if it would violate their “sincerely held religious beliefs.” In response to pressure from GOP state leaders, the all-Republican Texas Supreme Court agreed to take up a lawsuit challenging same-sex benefits for Houston city workers. Under SB 522, clerks could instead delegate the duty of issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples to deputy clerks, judges or magistrates. County commissioners could also appoint a “certifying official” — another employee or a contractor — to issue the licenses if no deputy clerks, judges or magistrates are available. Ken Upton, Dallas senior counsel for the LGBT civil rights group Lambda Legal, said the proposal could run afoul of the high court’s ruling in Obergefell v. Hodges depending on how it’s applied, especially in smaller counties. READ MORE

AUSTRALIA: Conservative Coalition MPs Push Back on Same-Sex Marriage Free Vote
Tensions within the government over same-sex marriage have erupted again with conservative MPs warning Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull that allowing a free vote on this issue would be a "betrayal" of the Coalition's election commitments. Fairfax Media reported on Saturday that moderate MPs are preparing a push for the Coalition to abandon its policy that a national plebiscite should be held before any vote in the Parliament. Sydney Liberal MP Craig Kelly told Fairfax Media: "The plebiscite was a black-and-white election commitment. "To abandon that would be a betrayal of what people voted for at the last election. "People are more cynical about politicians than they have been at any time in history and we have to show that we respect the policies we took to the election." READ MORE

IRELAND: Bill to Pardon Gay Men Convicted of Sexual Offences Prior to Decriminalization of Homosexuality to Be Debated
A bill to apologize to and pardon gay men convicted of sexual offences before the decriminalisation of homosexuality will be debated in the Seanad. It is estimated up to 2,000 Irish people might have been convicted on such charges prior to the law changing in 1993. The Bill brought forward by the Labour Party states the convictions are “discriminatory, contrary to dignity and in breach of personal privacy and autonomy”. Equality spokesman Senator Ged Nash, who is spearheading the proposals, said it will be “an important landmark in our society”. He added: “Where the Labour Party sees injustice, whether it’s at home or abroad, we always fight it. This week, the Labour Party Senate Group is introducing a Bill which essentially is an apology to and exoneration of those who were found guilty of certain sexual offences pre the decriminalization of homosexuality in 1993. We believe this particular apology and exoneration is an important step forward – it’s an important reckoning with our past.” READ MORE

Seattle to Host First-Ever West Coast LGBT Economic Summit on March 16, 2017
The Greater Seattle Business Association will host the Western Business Alliance's first-ever LGBT economic summit on Thursday, March 16 to address economic factors and policy agendas that affect LGBT and allied businesses and communities in the western U.S. and Canada. The full-day summit, Working Together for Shared Prosperity, will explore topics such as: leveraging the power of LGBT businesses; tourism on the West Coast; maintaining Left Coast politics in the post-election era; working together to promote diverse supply chains, a case study by the insurance industry; unlocking the power of bringing marginalized communities together; and homelessness. Through keynote presentations, panel discussions, and break-out sessions, attendees will share information, provide critical input to regional challenges, and form lasting relationships with LGBT and allied business leaders from western states. During summit, attendees will meet business and community leaders from Washington, Oregon, California, Nevada, and British Columbia. There will be opportunities to share information, provide critical input to regional challenges, and form lasting relationships with LGBT and allied leaders. MORE

Event information:
Date: March 16, 2017
Time: 8:30am - 7:00pm
Location: Renaissance Seattle Hotel
Address: 515 Madison St, Seattle, WA