Charges dropped against Utah gay couple who kissed on LDS property

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Charges dropped against Utah gay coupleCharges against a Utah gay couple have been dropped for trespassing after they kissed on LDS property. From the Salt Lake Tribune.

Salt Lake City Prosecutor Sim Gill said Wednesday he will not prosecute a gay couple cited for trespassing after they shared a kiss on the plaza.

“The two individuals believed — albeit mistakenly — that they had the right to be there,” Gill said. “Fairness requires that either that property be not open to the public or you condition that [openness] in a way that the person who comes on understands that it is private property.”

Gill said his decision not to prosecute this particular case “should not be viewed as limiting” the ability of the church to enforce its private-property rights on the plaza in the future.

“Going forward,” he said, “working toward clarity [on the plaza] serves everyone’s interests in this community.”

Gill’s analysis cites the lack of signs on the plaza that indicate visitors are entering private property “at will,” meaning they can be ejected at any time for any reason.

“The signs will obviously change on the plaza,” Wally Bugden, Jones’ defense attorney said. “The vast majority of the public believed that there was a public corridor.”

Since the incident supporters have staged kiss-ins in Salt Lake and San Diego protesting the actions of the LDS church. Those protests have also inspired a national kiss-in campaign.

Update: A surveillance video (no audio) has been released of the incident showing LDS security roughing up the gay couple.

Are U.S. soldiers executing gay Iraqis?

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Gays in IraqAn Iraqi refugee has accused the U.S. Military of atrocities against gay Iraqis and claims to have the photographic evidence to back it up.

Two gay Iraqi refugees, who declined to use their real names, delivered a presentation at the Human Rights Campaign headquarters July 24 in which they detailed alleged abuses of fellow gay Iraqis while calling on their audience to donate funds to Helem, a Lebanon-based center that works to address the plight of LGBT people in the Middle East.

One of the Iraqis, who goes by the name “Hussam,” showed the audience of about 80 people gruesome images, including shots allegedly of a beheaded man who was gay and another of the victim’s twin brother grieving over the severed head.

While asserting that anti-gay violence in Iraq is often committed by Iraqis, Hussam also said U.S. service members were involved in anti-gay hostility. For example, he said service members displayed signs in front of their barracks with the words “Fuck Off Fags.”

But the reaction from the audience turned from anger to shock when Hussam said U.S. service members had detained Iraqi civilians perceived to be gay and executed them.

He then showed an image of what appeared to be an American soldier standing in front of a small group of four or five kneeling naked men who were chained together. Hussam claimed the men were gay Iraqis and that he possessed images of their execution, which he did not show the audience.

While there have been numerous reports of violence against gays in Iraq, as reported in the USA Today as late as yesterday, this is the first accusation against the U.S. Military.  Defense officials have not yet commented on the allegations.

Rep. Alcee Hastings on White House “thwarting” his anti-DADT amendment

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Rep. Alcee HastingsRep. Alcee Hastings (D) of Florida appeared on Rachel Maddow to discuss an amendment he introduced and then later withdrew at the urging of the White House, a measure which would have suspended funding of discharges under DADT, effectively shutting the policy down.

SyFy Channel responds to GLAAD’s “F” grade, promises more diversity

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syfylogoThe SyFy Channel (formerly Sci-Fi)  responded to  GLAAD’s Network Responsibility Index which gave the network a failing grade, promising to try harder to increase diversity in its original programming.

A GLAAD rep told that Syfy’s grade was based on the fact that there were only two gay characters appearing on the network’s programming during the timetable of the study — Eureka‘s Vincent and Battlestar Galactica‘s Gaeta — and the latter’s sexual orientation was never directly addressed on the show. Instead, it was only referred to in a webisode.

Looking ahead, however, Syfy’s [executive vice-president] Stern touts two new series and the diversity depicted within.

“On Stargate Universe, one of the main female characters, we discover, is a lesbian and has a wife at home. It’s a pretty important facet of who that character is,” he says. ER alum Ming-Na plays intergalactic diplomat Camille Wray, while 24‘s Reiko Aylesworth recurs as her wife.

Similarly the Galactica prequel spin-off Caprica has at least two main characters depicted as being in gay relationships. “[One] is a ‘goodfella’-type, and we discover in a nonchalant way that he is gay, with a husband,” Stern says. “It was very interesting to me to take what is traditionally a very heterosexual role in an organization that we think of as being extremely homophobic, and put a gay character in that world in a very normalized way.”

NBC, CBS, A&E and TBS also received failing grades for lack of diversity but have refused to comment. HBO and Showtime received the highest ratings.

As a longtime science fiction geek, it will be good to see more of us represented in the Final Frontier. J.J. Abrams, are you listening?

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