OREGON: Final Ruling Says Anti-Gay Bakers Must Pay $135K To Gay Couple

Via Oregon Live:

Oregon Labor Commissioner Brad Avakian on Thursday ordered the owners of a former Gresham bakery to pay $135,000 in damages to a lesbian couple for refusing to make them a wedding cake. Avakian’s ruling upheld a preliminary finding earlier this year that the owners of Sweet Cakes by Melissa had discriminated against the women on the basis of their sexual orientation.

Bakery owners Melissa and Aaron Klein cited their Christian beliefs against same-sex marriage in denying service. The case ignited a long-running skirmish in the nation’s culture wars, pitting civil rights advocates against religious freedom proponents who argued business owners should have the right to refuse services for gay and lesbian weddings.

Avakian’s final order makes clear that serving potential customers equally trumps the Kleins’ religious beliefs. Under Oregon law, businesses cannot discriminate or refuse service based on sexual orientation, just as they cannot turn customers away because of race, sex, disability, age or religion, the Oregon Bureau of Labor and Industries said in a news release.

The Klein’s say they will appeal. But they’ll likely never have to pay a penny due to a GoFundMe-style campaign launched by Franklin Graham.

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Federal Judge Orders Alabama To Issue Gay Marriage Licenses

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A federal judge in Alabama has ruled that the state’s probate judges must issues marriage licenses to same-sex couples if those judges are also issuing marriage licenses to heterosexual couples.

The decision came from Judge Callie Granade, whom you may recall struck down the state’s gay marriage ban as unconstitutional earlier this year. On Wednesday, Judge Granade ordered that her decision was binding because of the Supreme Court’s ruling last week.

AL.com reports:

U.S. District Judge Callie Granade of Mobile issued a brief order saying state probate judges can’t discriminate against gay couples since the U.S. Supreme Court has ruled gay marriage is legal everywhere […]

Granade’s order doesn’t affect counties that have stopped issuing all marriage licenses in response to the Supreme Court decision, but a gay rights attorney said other counties must treat people equally or face penalties.

“We will ask Judge Granade to hold them in contempt if they’d don’t,” said Shannon Minter of the San Francisco-based National Center for Lesbian Rights in Washington.

Possible penalties include monetary fines, cost assessments and even jail time, but Minter said no decision has been made about which penalties to seek.

“We’ll cross that bridge when we come to it,” Minter said.

Minter said his group knew of seven of Alabama’s 67 counties that were issuing licenses to straight couples but not gay couples early in the day, but the number dropped by at least four when Elmore, Franklin, Tallapoosa and Tuscaloosa counties said they would issue licenses to anyone.

Still, despite the ruling from Judge Granade, several Alabama counties are still withholding marriage licenses from same-sex couples citing a statement from the state’s Chief Justice Roy Moore that probate judges do not have to issue a marriage license to same-sex couples.

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Did Southern Baptist Baylor University Just Sign Off On Gay Sex Among Students?

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Gay sex may no longer be explicitly prohibited at Baylor University, as long as the two people are married.

The Southern Baptist school in Waco, Texas, has removed “homosexual acts” from its misconduct policy. However, the policy still states that “physical sexual intimacy is to be expressed in the context of marital fidelity.”

It’s unclear whether the change comes in response to the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling in favor of same-sex marriage. From The Waco Herald-Tribune:

“These changes were made because we didn’t believe the language reflected the university’s caring community,” Baylor spokeswoman Lori Fogleman wrote in an email. “The university has a responsibility to articulate clearly and consistently Baylor’s commitment to its values as a Christian university.”

Fogleman would not elaborate on whether the policy opens the door for married same-sex couples at Baylor in light of the Supreme Court’s ruling knocking down bans on same-sex marriages.

Fugleman also told the newspaper that the policy change was part of a two-year review of all university policies. And she said the misconduct policy — which is now actually called the “conduct” policy — is to be “interpreted in a manner consistent with the Baptist Faith and Message of 1963,” which states:

Marriage is the uniting of one man and one woman in covenant commitment for a lifetime. It is Gods unique gift to reveal the union between Christ and His church, and to provide for the man and the woman in marriage the framework for intimate companionship, the channel for sexual expression according to biblical standards, and the means for procreation of the human race.

The husband and wife are of equal worth before God, since both are created in Gods image. The marriage relationship models the way God relates to His people. A husband is to love his wife as Christ loved the church. He has the God-given responsibility to provide for, to protect, and to lead his family. A wife is to submit herself graciously to the servant leadership of her husband even as the church willingly submits to the headship of Christ. She, being in the image of God as is her husband and thus equal to him, has the God-given responsibility to respect her husband and to serve as his helper in managing the household and nurturing the next generation.

Baylor also still has a Statement on Human Sexuality posted on its website, which says the following:

Baylor University welcomes all students into a safe and supportive environment in which to discuss and learn about a variety of issues, including those of human sexuality. The University affirms the biblical understanding of sexuality as a gift from God. Christian churches across the ages and around the world have affirmed purity in singleness and fidelity in marriage between a man and a woman as the biblical norm. Temptations to deviate from this norm include both heterosexual sex outside of marriage and homosexual behavior. It is thus expected that Baylor students will not participate in advocacy groups which promote understandings of sexuality that are contrary to biblical teaching

Nevertheless, a former student who fought to change the misconduct policy two years ago, Trenton Garza, says it’s a victory:

“In this case, they are applying things universally, to where it’s equal, it’s fair, and by removing anything that would enumerate one subset of students and could be used to subject them to any sort of negative feelings at Baylor,” said Garza, who now works in political and marketing consulting. …

“The fact that the university took the initiative to nix and replace the wording of the previous code and to establish this new policy, I think that is a sign of acknowledgement that the previous code was egregious or was (creating) a sense of separation among its students,” he said.

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KANSAS: State Agencies Hold Back Marriage Recognition As Brownback Considers New Religious Liberty Bill

It’s almost one full week after Obergefell and Kansas remains the lone purple holdout in Wikipedia’s otherwise allsapphire marriage map. Here’s why, via the Kansas City Star:

Republican Gov. Sam Brownback said Thursday that he’s considering proposing a new religious objections law for Kansas following the U.S. Supreme Court’s legalization of gay marriage, and he defended his administration’s cautious response to the ruling. Same-sex couples can obtain marriage licenses in all 105 Kansas counties, but the state is not allowing gay and lesbian spouses to change their names on driver’s licenses, nor has it said whether couples can file joint income tax returns. The state has not extended coverage to gay spouses under its health insurance plan for government workers. The conservative governor said the state will move “as expeditiously as we can” to make changes, but he didn’t have a timetable. “You have to understand and get the mechanisms in place,” he told reporters. “We’ve had meetings with the attorney general, with the relevant Cabinet agencies. We want to make sure to do this right.” Asked whether he’d outline a proposal for legislators next year, Brownback said, “We’re looking at that.” Lawmakers are out of session for the year. “We want to make sure that people’s religious liberties are protected,” he said.

Last year’s attempt to install a RFRA bill in Kansas failed to pass. (Tipped by JMG reader Adam)

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Cuba Receives Certification For Eliminating Mother-To-Child HIV And Syphilis Transmission

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The World Health Organization awarded Cuba certification after the country became the first in the world to eliminate mother-to-child transmission of HIV and Syphilis reports The New York Times.

Cuba was the first country to request the certification according to a spokeswoman from the Pan American Health Organization. WHO awards countries with certification that achieve at least a 95 percent elimination rate; In 2013 Cuba only had five babies that were born with HIV or Syphilis.

Cuba’s isolationist policies, forced quarantine in the 1980s during the AIDS crisis and basic health care afforded to all Cuban citizens are attributed to the low infection rates within the country. However, the country’s crippling poverty and limited gay rights prove the country has much farther to go; fortunately Mariela Castro, daughter of Cuban President Raul Castro and director of the country’s National Center for Sex Education, is proactively fighting for LGBT rights through demonstrations and activist work.

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Movie Review: Magic Mike XXL

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Mike & Friends return for another show. You’re welcome.

When Magic Mike opened three years ago it was something of a risky proposition. Male stars exploiting their bodies for a young male star’s dream project loosely based on his own stripping career which he felt no shame about? Who would have guessed? Cut to three years later: Magic Mike and Friends (minus The Kid and Dallas “alright alright alright”) have returned to movie theaters with much teasing and blockbuster fanfare to a relatively new pop cultural context they helped create: male objectification is increasingly the norm. Just ask Chris Pratt, the ascendant superstar of the moment (Guardians of the Galaxy, Jurassic World) who has acknowledged that his new body was key to his ascendance and that he’s all for it… the objectification.

This wondrous new world of happily exposed man-flesh makes Magic Mike XXL feel curiously demure. Usually sequels go for more-more-more but XXL (the title is a misnomer) downsizes even as the stages get larger. There’s less plot since it’s essentially a road trip movie but most curiously there’s much less nudity even if the women this time around seem a lot more eager to see it. This withholding is smart and funny at the beginning of the film in a sensational opening dance number starring Mike and Mike alone. Channing Tatum is terrific as usual and anyone still surprised by that… sashay away. Mike shakes his own helmet clad head in his work room. He can’t believe that he still has the sexually suggestive Magic moves in him — and the urge to perform them, too.

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But that same withholding wears thin as the finale approaches. The new coyness is a bit puzzling since nearly the same exact team assembled for the sequel and the stars seem to have worked even harder on perfecting their physiques. Perhaps Matthew McConaughey’s Oscar-worthy exhibitionism was the key to how randy and uninhibited the first film felt? Though the Oscar-winning Steven Soderbergh famously retired from feature film directing with Magic Mike (what a film to go out on) and moved to television, his stamp is still all over the sequel. He’s the cinematographer, editor, and executive producer but he’s turned the director’s chair over to his former first assistant Gregory Jacobs.

Without the nudity, it’s a good thing Gregory and Steven have other tricks to keep our eyes glued to the screen. The best decision is to amplify the comedy and Magic Mike XXL is hilarious in ways both expected like dumb lug conversations between strippers and Tatum’s romantic comedy skills as well as entirely random like a long highly enjoyable detour to meet Andie MacDowell who completely steals a big scene (and the heart or at least the loins of Big Dick Richie himself, y’all). The filmmakers have also paid attention to careers post-2012 and Matt Bomer and Joe Mangianello both have highly welcome expanded roles. Bomer’s Ken doll is dreamier this time and put to better use as a singing stripper and Mangianello nearly steals the movie out from under Tatum (mmmm ‘under Tatum’) with XXL‘s only display of casual nudity, that big scene with MacDowell, and the film’s most riotous sequence set in a mini-mart.

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That hot but languorous summer feeling of the first film carries over and while that works wonders for its shambling road movie comedy, the slow and flazéda approach is difficult to enjoy in the stripping climax, which should be the most exuberant part. Though XXL starts out like a road movie, you could argue that it turns into an old Judy Garland/Mickey Rooney style “let’s put on a show” musical in its last act… if Garland and Rooney wore sparkly speedos (sorry for the image) and were a whole lot less professional about their big numbers.

The climax is seriously lacking. Between lame long stripping routines we keep taking inexplicable breaks for Jada Pinkett Smith. A whole lot of Jada Pinkett Smith. Worse still, she’s already given this exact girl power emcee performance in the middle of the movie in an extended road trip stop along the way to the convention. Tons of screen time for Jada Pinkett Smith is not something anybody clamoring for more Magic Mike  would have asked for or expected or won’t feel slightly cheated by. Faring a lot better is Amber Heard (former lesbian, now Mrs. Johnny Depp) who plays a female stripper who “isn’t going through a boy phase” but finds herself drawn to Mike anyway.

Despite a bunch of trouble in the final act, I wouldn’t dream of telling anyone not to see the picture. It’s charming sexy fun for roughly 2/3rds of the running time which is more than a lot of summer blockbusters can claim. In one of the film’s cutest moments, Mike does a silly spin for Zoe after introducing himself as simply “Magic” and the thing is this: he really is. And so is his singular franchise.

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In what other movie could a face-humping move like this actually double as a sweet romantic comedy character beat for two lonely people, and yet it does. If you don’t believe me see the picture!

As with the first film, which dropped us into a lengthy hilarious sandbar party on the Fourth of July the national holiday plays a key role again. When the light display begins, the camera wisely knows we don’t even need to look at it. Cut to a closeup of Channing Tatum’s movie star mug, eyes all lit up. Baby, he’s a firework.

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Obama Mocks GOP 2016 “Hunger Games”

“They’re going to be making a whole bunch of stuff up, and when I say a lot of stuff, I mean a lot of stuff. You know, we’ve got some healthy competition in the Democratic Party, but I’ve lost count on how many Republicans are running for this job. They’ll have enough for an actual Hunger Games. That is an interesting bunch.” – Barack Obama, speaking today in Wisconsin. May the odd ever not be in their favor.

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