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5 Things That Pissed Us Off This Week: Stubborn American Inequality

5 Things That Pissed Us Off This Week: Stubborn American Inequality

5 Things That Pissed Us Off This Week: Stubborn American Inequality

Despite high-profile gains in the fight to establish marriage equality, conservative officials in states across the country are digging in their heels when it comes to denying LGBT people basic rights.


Welcome back to our weekly round-up of the most infuriating bits of anti-LGBT rhetoric to grace our news feeds in the past seven days. This week we're taking a good, hard look in the mirror — at good old-fashioned American homophobia. There's a special kind of hypocrisy in denying basic rights to law-abiding citizens living in the "land of the free." Read on to see what's outraging us at the moment, but expect a healthy dose of snark in the following pages — sometimes it's the only way we can get through the day.



5. Ohio Baptist University Adopts Russian-Style Ban on 'Gay Propaganda'

Administrators at a Baptist university in Ohio are apparently channelling Vladmir Putin and his antigay Russian cronies, deeming any content that seems supportive of LGBT people to be "propaganda."

Officials at Cedarville University, located near Dayton, prevented students from distributing 400 copies of The Ventriloquist during a regular chapel service Wednesday. The paper has been printed and given to students on campus regularly since 2010, and has occasionally published pro-LGBT articles, including a profile on a gay student who was removed from several leadership positions within campus groups after coming out.

In an ominous report on the paper's own website, the student-run publication reported that the school's president and vie president personally confiscated the papers during a chapel service as staffers attempted to distribute them. The paper suggested that the "move to shut down The Ventriloquist is likely the latest in a series of shifts towards right-wing religious fundamentalism by the new administration."

Cedarville's struggle between conservative Christian ideology and its more progressive, tolerant student body isn't new, but this latest instance seems to indicate an escalation of the tactics. In 2013, The New York Times ran a report about Cedarville's struggles to find its way in the midst of substantial changes in leadership. 

"Even by evangelical standards, nearly everyone at Cedarville is theologically conservative," Mark Oppenheimer wrote last year. "But some conservatives have a greater willingness to hear dissident views. The departures of William Brown, the president, whose resignation is effective June 30, and of Dr. [Carl] Ruby, who left suddenly last month, are widely viewed as strengthening the hands of the most conservative trustees, fearful of a more open Cedarville." Ruby was vice president for student life and was reportedly well-liked by students.

Because if there's one way to show just how deeply you love Jesus, it's by silencing all the voices in dissent to those in power — because Jesus was obviously a popular, well-liked guy, who never ran into persecution by the Roman authorities, right? That's how that whole story goes?


4. Maine GOP Opposes Marriage Equality — Despite the Fact That It's Been Legal for Years

In a move that is certain to solidify the party's ongoing relevance to an ever-more-tolerant populace, the official Republican Party in Maine thought last weekend was a good opportunity to reiterate its staunch opposition to marriage equality — despite the fact that same-sex couples have been allowed to marry in Maine since late 2012, and an estimated 78 percent of Mainers approve of the law. (Which makes sense, as marriage equality was established at the ballot box in 2012, marking an incredible about-face from 2009, when antigay conspirators successfully convinced voters to block the enactment of marriage equality legislation.)

Apparently undeterred by all those pesky facts and figures, the Maine Republican Party updated its platform over the weekend to reiterate its opposition to marriage equality, even though the state has had legal marriage rights for same-sex couples for more than a year.

In addition to declaring its aim to put an end to Common Core education standards, the state's GOP also said it viewed a marriage as strictly a union between one man and one woman, our sibling site, The Advocate, reports. The platform states that the family "is the foundation of a stable society, therefore the government should not interfere, but rather support and protect the integrity and rights of the family."

Of course, the party would be more accurate to say it believes the government should "support and protect the integrity and rights of some families, as long as those families are comprised of white, heterosexual couples who have consummated their union in a marriage bed, only in missionary position with the lights off."

But perhaps that's a little too wordy to put on a bumper sticker or as a slogan for the state's Republican governor, Paul Lepage (pictured above), who opposes giving gay and lesbian people the same rights as their straight counterparts. No word on how Lepage plans to explain that double-standard to the children of same-sex couples. 

Find more outrage on the following pages...


3. Tenn. Unmarries Three Gay Couples, Refuses to Let Gay Veterans Celebrate Their Decade-Long Relationship

Talk about digging in your heels on discrimination. On Monday, a federal appeals court granted a request from the Tennessee attorney general that sought to put a hold on a ruling from a district judge requiring the state to recognize the legal marriages of three same-sex couples who had married in other states and then moved to Tennessee. That stay, which will continue as the case winds its way through the appeals process, essentially reverts the couples who filed suit to legal strangers, who just happen to share a home, family, and sometimes, last name. 

Notably, the stay could be lifted when a final decision is reached — and judging by every single federal ruling that has come down since the Supreme Court issued its landmark pro-equality decisions last summer, it seems likely that the court will ultimately rule in favor of the loving, committed couples, and, you know, that whole "full faith and credit" thing. 

And maybe when that case is successful — it seeks to strike down Tennessee's statutory and constitutional amendment prohibiting marriage equality and the recognition of same-sex marriages performed in other states — the state will finally learn its lesson in how to treat its citizens with respect. 

But then again, if anyone should be treated with respect and reverence, it's probably those who have served in our armed forces, right? Especially those who served tours of duty in Iraq? No one could argue with that, right?

Wrong. A pair of veterans, who met while stationed in Kentucky and served under "don't ask, don't tell," and were each sent to Iraq, wanted to hold a commitment ceremony at a picturesque farm in Nashville. After touring the property with two employees, the same-sex couple was assured that they would be welcome to hold their commitment ceremony on site, celebrating nine years together in the presence of family and friends. 

Until the property's owner got wind of the booking, promptly putting the kibosh on all that gay nonsense. 

Anthony Wilfert and his partner, Brian Blas, of Nolensville, Tenn., said they were hurt and disappointed to receive the following email from an owner of Mint Springs Farm near Nashville, where they'd hoped to hold their ceremony:

"Unfortunately, until same-sex marriage is legal in the state of Tennesesee, we cannot participate in this ceremony at our venue," read that email. "I wish we could help, I truly do, but our hands are tied in this situation."

"To have fought in the military for freedoms and liberties of all Americans, it can be quite deflating to come back and now fight a whole new set of obstacles," Wilfert told Nashville's WSMV-TV.

An owner at Mint Springs Farm told the local news network that its policy is tied to state law and noted that the refusal doesn't reflect the company's position about marriage equality. 

"We are deeply sorry that a staff member of ours was unaware of our policy and truly understand the disappointment of this couple," said the statement to WSMV. "Our employee was simply trying to be helpful to this couple who visited our venue after hours."

"We only do weddings at our facility," the statement continued. "When we went into this endeavor, we knew that due to the nature of our business, this situation would arise. However, Tennessee law currently states that same-sex marriage is prohibited by the Tennessee State Constitution. Because we only host weddings, we cannot violate Tennessee law." 

The couple say they will continue to look for a venue that will welcome them, regardless of the legal status of their union. Nevertheless, they were frustrated that the private, secular venue denied their request. Tennessee's existing nondiscrimination law does not cover discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity, but the Republican-controlled legislature recently approved a "religious freedom" bill that would mandate opportunities for religious students to express their faith in public forums before every major school gathering. The state's Republican governor has not yet indicated whether he'll sign the bill into law. 

Good thing you've got your priorities straight, Tennessee. Emphasis on straight. 


2. Thanks For Risking Your Life For This Country, Now Bury Your Beloved Somewhere Else

Speaking of honoring our veterans — an Idaho cemetery is refusing to allow a veteran to place her recently deceased wife's ashes into the plot the veteran purchased in the state's veteran cemetery.  

Madelynn Taylor, 74, served six years in the U.S. Navy, earning the right for her and her spouse of 17 years, Jean Mixner, to be buried in Idaho’s Veteran Cemetery. 

But the "patriots" at Idaho's Division of Veterans Services are denying access for Taylor's now-deceased wife’s ashes to be laid to rest in the plot the couple has already paid for.

"It's not taking up any more space to have both of us in there, and I don't see where the ashes of a couple of old lesbians is going to hurt anybody," Taylor told KBOI, Idaho’s CBS affiliate.

Federal law allows same-sex couples to be buried in all national cemeteries, but because the Veterans Cemetery in Boise is a state-run facility, the powers that be claim they must follow the Idaho Constitution, which currently does not recognize same-sex unions. 

"I'm not surprised," Taylor said. "I've been discriminated against for 70 years, and they might as well discriminate against me in death as well as life."

But Taylor, irreverent and undeterred, refuses to be buried anywhere but in her home town and alongside her wife. She'll keep fighting for equal rights for the rest of her life — and for years thereafter, if necessary. 

"I’ll have the paperwork and both of our ashes in someone’s care," she said. "So they can put it in when we get laws changed."  

  It's good to know that the state-run cemetery is more than happy to take money from lesbians who've honorably served their country, but won't extend the services those veterans have paid for to the couple because… Post-humous gay panic? 

Find the most outrageous story on the next page...


1. Texas Trans Teacher Suspended From Teaching, Then Reinstated — But Not In the Classroom

Oh, Texas. You were so close to making progress. 

A substitute teacher in Lumberton, Texas has returned to work after parents complained because she is transgender, but her new position with the school district keeps her out of the classroom. 

Earlier this month, Laura Jane Klug was suspended after a parent complained that her gender identity and expression was a classroom "distraction." Days later, fearing a lawsuit, the Lumberton Independent School District officially reinstated the teacher following a school board meeting, though her reinstatement seems to have come with a catch: she's no longer allowed in the classroom.

Last week, Klug accepted a full-time position with the district through the end of the school year, but as a condition of employment, she was, essentially, sworn to secrecy about what she's actually working on. She was, however, able to confirm to Lone Star Q that she is not working as a teacher. Klug had been serving as a substitute in Lumberton while she sought employment in her field of expertise as a pilot.

"I was asked not to say where I was working because we don't want the media and we don't want angry parents down there, because it's near one of the schools," Klug told Lone Star Q. "I said I'm willing to do whatever because I really need a paycheck. It doesn't make me very happy, but I think it should placate [the parents] somewhat."

Klug worries that not only has the media attention surrounding her case effectively outed her to the public, but will actually have a negative impact on her pursuit of full-time work as a pilot.

"I'm afraid that all this attention that I've gotten throughout the entire situation might have ruined my chances of ever finding pilot employment," she told Lone Star Q.

Throughout the ordeal, Klug maintains that she's never discussed her gender identity with students, and no one seems to be disputing that claim. Rather, some transphobic parents have systematically destroyed this woman's life, publicly outing her and making it even more unlikely that she will be able to find work — when transgender women already face an unemployment rate up to four times that of the general population. 

Keeping it classy, Texas.

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Sunnivie Brydum

<p>Sunnivie is an award-winning journalist and the managing editor at&nbsp;<em>The Advocate</em>. A proud spouse and puppy-parent, Sunnivie strives to queer up the world of reporting while covering the politics of equality daily.</p>

<p>Sunnivie is an award-winning journalist and the managing editor at&nbsp;<em>The Advocate</em>. A proud spouse and puppy-parent, Sunnivie strives to queer up the world of reporting while covering the politics of equality daily.</p>