Mississippi religious exemption bill may face legal backlash amid muted business response

By : Wire Report
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Jackson, Miss. (AP) – The decision by Mississippi’s governor to sign a law that allows religious groups and some private businesses to deny services to gay and transgender people may have headed off gathering opposition in the state’s business community, but it could launch the state into litigation.

Saying he was protecting religious freedom, Republican Gov. Phil Bryant signed the bill without hesitation or fanfare just hours after it cleared its final legislative obstacle.

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Hope and Help Center of Central Florida development director Russell Walker on the changing face of HIV/AIDS awareness

By : Billy Manes
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In February 2015, former Orlando GLBT Center vice president (and interim executive director) Russell Walker left one shifting Central Florida philanthropic agency for another. Walker assumed the helm at Hope and Help Center of Central Florida as events manager, but now finds himself in the position of community development director, one who is pushing for more outreach and greater transparency.

If this year’s Headdress Ball, Hope and Help’s signature fundraising event of plumage and responsibility, is anything to go by, Walker is succeeding. The Oct. 17 affair raised $325,000 for the HIV/AIDS support organization, all told, which might seem like a disappointment compared to the reported numbers from previous years, but is likely more a reflection of net profits versus gross profits. Along with the celebrity flourishes and black-tie beverage stains came a sense of responsibility, of community, that may have faded in the spotlights during the years prior. Walker is working to right the ship, he says, even after the $4 million agency lost a large sum of funding when the U.S. Centers for Disease Control issued its grants this summer.

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NC church members face charges in beating of gay man

By : Wire Report
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Spindale, N.C. (AP) – For Matthew Fenner, a crowd of parishioners gathering around him in a church sanctuary after a prayer service was a sign of trouble.

Within minutes, he said they began to berate him because he was gay. One woman told him he was “disgusting.” Then for two hours, they pushed and hit Fenner, screaming at him as they tried to “break me free of the homosexual `demons,”’ he said in a police affidavit about the Jan. 27, 2013 attack.

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Beyond marriage, LGBTs still face rights and equality challenges

By : Wire Report
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New York (AP) – Even as they celebrate epic victories in the push for marriage equality, U.S. gay-rights activists acknowledge that other difficult issues remain on their agenda. There’s the persistent high rate of HIV infections, the struggles to expand transgender rights, and the striking fact that even in some states allowing same-sex marriage, people can lose their job for being gay.

For many activists, the top priority after marriage is federal legislation that would outlaw a broad range of discrimination against lesbians, gays, bisexuals and transgender people. There’s no such federal law now, and more than half the states do not ban discrimination by employers or public accommodations based on sexual orientation.

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Pittsburgh police punches woman in face during LGBT event

By : Wire Report
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PITTSBURGH (AP) — A Pittsburgh police officer has been put on desk duty after video surfaced showing him punching a woman at the city’s gay pride parade and festival.

Mayor Bill Peduto said June 16 the officer will remain on restricted duty for a month during an internal investigation.

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