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Santorum criticizes Hollywood: Hallmark Cards' 'gay' controversy
by Andrew Davis, Windy City Times
2013-11-06

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Former Pennsylvania senator and 2012 GOP presidential candidate Rick Santorum has said that movie theaters are the "devil's playground," according to On Top Magazine. Santorum, a vocal opponent of same-sex marriage, has argued that popular culture is to blame for the country's shift in attitudes on the subject of same-sex marriage; he also blamed the show Will & Grace for sparking that change. However, Santorum is now actually part of the movie industry, running EchoLights Studios.

Hallmark Cards has apologized for changing a word in a well-known Christmas carol from "gay" to "fun" on a holiday ornament, according to The Huffington Post. The company created an ornament for its Keepsake line depicting a miniature sweater bearing the words "Don we now our fun apparel" instead of the lyric "Don we now our gay apparel" from the Christmas carol "Deck the Halls." After receiving reactions, the company tweeted, "We never intend to offend or make political statements with our products, and in hindsight we realize we shouldn't have changed the lyrics on the ornament."

More than two years after playing an influential role in the Obama administration's repeal of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell," former U.S. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates has been named president-elect of the Boy Scouts of America, which has had its own share of issues regarding gay rights, according to The Huffington Post. The Boy Scouts voted in May to approve a resolution removing any ban on members based on sexual orientation alone, although gay Scout leaders are still prohibited. The policy change is slated to take effect Jan. 1, 2014.

After more than 55 hours of testimony, the joint House committees voted to pass Hawaii's marriage-equality bill, Senate Bill 1, according to ABC News. The bill now goes to the full House for a final vote. The committee votes came during a special session called by Gov. Neil Abercrombie for Hawaii's marriage-equality bill, and after a Senate hearing by the Committee of Judiciary and Labor and a full Senate vote to send the bill to the House.

A retired United Methodist bishop performed a wedding for two gay men in Alabama despite opposition from other church leaders, according to TimesDaily.com . The ceremony took place at the Covenant Community Church, a United Church of Christ congregation in Birmingham. Bishop Melvin G. Talbert of Nashville, Tenn., performed the wedding even though the local bishop and other leaders said it violated church law. Joe Openshaw said he and longtime partner Bobby Prince asked Talbert to marry them when they were refused permission to marry in their United Methodist church.

Sam Arora, a controversial Maryland lawmaker who voted against a bill that extended marriage rights to same-sex couples in his state, announced he will not seek re-election in 2014, according to The Washington Blade. "When my term of office concludes in January 2015, I plan to return full time to my work in the private sector," Arora ( D-Montgomery County ) said in an email to supporters. Arora actually co-sponsored a same-sex marriage bill at the start of the 2011 legislative session, but later was among those proposing an amendment that would replace marriage with civil unions.

Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel announced that he's directing national guards throughout the country to process benefit applications for troops in same-sex marriages regardless of their state laws, The Wasington Blade reported. Speaking before the Anti-Defamation League in New York City, the defense secretary spoke out against the decision by certain national guards to deny benefit applications for troops in same-sex marriages, adding that he's asked Chief of the National Guard Bureau Gen. Frank Grass "to take immediate action" to remedy this situation.

In a related matter, the Indiana National Guard has said it's delayed same-sex benefits to guard members for a month, but is not denying them, according to IndyStar.com . Lt. Col. Cathleen Van Bree, the spokeswoman for the Indiana National Guard, said that Indiana began processing same-sex benefits Oct. 3. Van Bree said in a statement, "The decision was never made to not process benefits; rather the decision was delayed in order to fully understand the impacts while service members serve in different pay categories."

The U.S. Military Academy at West Point marked a historic moment with the marriage of two former male graduates at its Cadet Chapel Nov. 2, TIME.com reported. Larry Choate III, 27, and Daniel Lennox, 28, were married before about 20 guests, making it the academy's first wedding between two men. Choate, who graduated in 2009, previously taught at the Military Academy's Cade Chapel and said he always pictured it as the setting of his wedding. Lennox graduated in 2007, and did not meet Choate until after graduating.

Rep. Mike Michaud ( D-Maine ) came out as gay in a column released to three of Maine's major news outlets Nov. 4, according to The Huffington Post. Michaud, who officially announced his gubernatorial bid in August, could become the first openly gay governor if successful in 2014. "For me, it's just a part of who I am, as much as being a third-generation mill worker or a lifelong Mainer," Michaud wrote. "One thing I do know is that it has nothing to do with my ability to lead the state of Maine."

The American Psychiatric Association ( APA ) has released a statement on an error it made when it initially classified pedophilia as a sexual orientation, according to a press release. The statement reads, "'Sexual orientation' is not a term used in the diagnostic criteria for pedophilic disorder and its use in the DSM-5 text discussion is an error and should read 'sexual interest.' In fact, APA considers pedophilic disorder a 'paraphilia,' not a 'sexual orientation.' This error will be corrected in the electronic version of DSM-5 and the next printing of the manual."

Sen. Rand Paul ( R-Ky. ) made a unique statement regarding Rachel Maddow and the website Buzzfeed over a so-called Wikipedia scandal, according to Opposing Views. Paul said, "If dueling were legal in Kentucky, if they keep it up, you know, it would be a duel challenge. But I can't do that, because I can't hold office in Kentucky then." Maddow and Buzzfeed have reported on Paul's plagiarism of Wikipedia in his speeches, and Politifact.com has confirmed Maddow's claim. Paul subsequently said that he and his staff have begun to more thoroughly check and footnote what they write, according to the Chicago Tribune.

The U.S. Senate has advanced the Employment Non-Discrimination Act—a bill meant to expand workplace protections for LGBT individuals, marking the chamber's first vote on the issue in more than 15 years, according to NBC News. The procedural vote, which required the support of 60 senators, was 61-30, as seven Republicans and all Democrats voted for the measure. Despite the expected passage in the Senate, it likely will be blocked by the GOP-led House; a spokesman for Republican House Speaker John Boehner said the politician opposes the legislation.

The gay-owned Ace Hotel chain will open in downtown L.A.'s United Artists building in mid-January, according to OUT Traveler. The Portland, Ore.-based chain spent millions to restore the United Artists building and theater, built in 1927 with funding from Hollywood figures like actress Mary Pickford. The 180-room property will feature a pool, restaurant, rooftop bar, screening room and a reactivated 1,600-seat theater on the ground-floor that will likely feature live performances. Ace already operates hotels in Portland, New York City, Seattle, London and Palm Springs, Calif.

Phil Batt—one of Idaho's most popular GOP governors—is supporting LGBT rights, according to Advocate.com . Batt has endorsed Idaho's Add the Words campaign, which aims to add sexual orientation and gender identity to the Human Rights Act. "A homosexual who can't rent a room or get a job because of his orientation doesn't make any sense to anybody," said Batt, as he became the first recipient of the Idaho Human Rights Lifetime Achievement Award.

The Missouri Supreme Court has ruled against a Highway Patrol trooper's same-sex partner who sought survivor benefits, KSDK.com reported. Patrol Cpl. Dennis Engelhard died in December 2009 when he was struck by a vehicle while investigating an accident on Interstate 44 in Eureka. In a five-to-two ruling, the court ruled against partner Kelly Glossip, saying the denial is because he and Engelhard were not married, not because of his sexual orientation. The court noted that Glossip had not challenged Missouri's ban of same-sex marriage.

Lambda Legal, the Human Rights Campaign ( HRC Foundation ) and the LGBT Rights Committee of the New York City Bar Association—with pro bono assistance from Hogan Lovells US, LLP—have jointly released a publication that aims to provide guidance to hospitals seeking to improve health care for transgender patients, according to a press release. This long-awaited publication, authored by experts, will play an important role in eliminating health disparities for transgender people, providing them with patient-centered care, and ensuring equity in the nation's healthcare system. The policies are at www.lambdalegal.org/publications/fs_transgender-affirming-hospital-policies.

A new report from the Williams Institute analyzes the extent of discrimination against LGBT people in law enforcement, according to a press release. This updated report reviews evidence of discrimination against 95 law enforcement and corrections employees since 2000. Many of the reports revealed physical harassment or violence toward the officers, such as individuals being attacked with chairs. The report is at http://williamsinstitute.law.ucla.edu/wp-content/uploads/Law-Enforcement-Discrim-Report-Nov-2013.pdf.

Two private Indiana liberal-arts colleges announced that they oppose the state's proposed constitutional ban on same-sex marriage, USA Today reported. In a joint release, DePauw University and Wabash College said they have joined Freedom Indiana, a bipartisan grassroots coalition working to defeat the ban scheduled to be considered in the Indiana General Assembly early next year. The two colleges join Indiana University, a public university that's the largest in the state with more than 110,000 students on eight campuses statewide.


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