Anti-Gay Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton Charged With 3 Felonies

Ken Paxton

Rabidly anti-gay Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton will be indicted Monday on three felony charges, according to media reports.

Paxton admitted to violating the State Securities Act last year after he solicited investment clients for a friend and business partner without properly registering with the state. He initially received a $1,000 slap on the wrist, but a subsequent investigation by the Texas Rangers concluded that the violations were far more serious.

A grand jury reportedly indicted Paxton last week, but the charges were immediately sealed. They will be released on Monday, and a judge has already been assigned to the case.

WFAA-TV reports:

After the indictments are unsealed, Paxton can surrender to be photographed, fingerprinted and booked at any of the state’s 254 county jails. …

Paxton does not have to resign or step down from statewide office as he prepares to face a criminal trial. He can continue to work, just as Gov. Rick Perry did after his two felony indictments in August 2014.

Paxton’s case, legal experts predict, will go to trial since his law license and statewide office are now on the line.

Paxton, a tea partier, vigorously defended the state’s same-sex marriage ban, even filing a lawsuit seeking to prevent gay workers from taking unpaid leave to care for their sick spouses. In February, after a lesbian couple wed in Austin, Paxton sought to void their marriage, even though one of them has ovarian cancer. Paxton also appeared at an anti-gay hate rally alongside Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore, and blamed the demise of anti-LGBT legislation on a small group of hateful gay activists and their corporate cronies.

Paxton later issued a non-binding opinion suggesting that county clerks could refuse to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples, and calling the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling in Obergefell v. Hodges “lawless.”

A special prosecutor assigned to the case has said he would seek a first-degree felony charge against Paxton, punishable by up to life in prison, since the securities violations resulted in losses of more than $100,000. However, Paxton spokesman Anthony Holm has denied the AG did anything wrong. From WFAA:

Holm also has accused the special prosecutors of being biased and unfair, and engaging in a political witch hunt.

“The securities board was very clear this was no crime,” he told News 8 on Tuesday. “It was resolved last spring. It was a civil event. It was a $1,000 fine and we are only here because of liberal activists.”

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Cecil the Lion’s Brother Jericho Illegally Killed in Zimbabwe

lion

More heartbreaking news out of Zimbabwe as Jericho, the brother of slain lion Cecil, was gunned down illegally in Hwange National Park today.

CNN reports:

“It is with huge disgust and sadness that we have just been informed that Jericho, Cecil’s brother has been killed at 4pm today,” Zimbabwe Conservation Task Force said Saturday on Facebook.

“We are absolutely heart broken,” the Task Force added.

Jericho was considered to be caring for and defending Cecil’s cubs, but the survivability of those cubs wasn’t immediately clear in the aftermath of Jericho’s death.

Some of the cubs may have been Jericho’s, said David Macdonald, director of Oxford’s Wildlife Conservation Research Unit, who has been studying Cecil.

Earlier today, the Zimbabwe Parks and Wildlife Management Authority announced it would be further tightening hunting regulations outside wildlife parks.

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Gay Iconography: Jim Parsons’ Big Bang

Jim Parsons

Compared to some historically high-profile coming outs — like Neil Patrick Harris, Lance Bass and Ricky Martin — there was something refreshing about the sort of nonchalance with which Jim Parsons revealed his sexuality in 2012.

In a profile in The New York Times’  theater section, Parsons discussed his work in the Broadway production of Larry Kramer’s The Normal Heart. In the nearly 2,000 word piece, it’s just one line that served as Parsons’ public coming out: “The Normal Heart resonated with him on a few levels: Mr. Parsons is gay and in a 10-year relationship, and working with an ensemble again onstage was like nourishment, he said.”

With that one sentence, Parsons publicly acknowledged his sexuality for the first time. A committed actor since playing the Kola-Kola bird in The Elephant’s Children while in first grade, Parsons had long been open about his sexuality in his private life. He’s been with his partner, Todd Spiewak, for more than 12 years.

Since coming out, Parsons has become the highest paid openly gay actor on TV, reportedly earning $1 million per episode, plus a percentage on the back end. On the wildly popular series The Big Bang Theory, Parsons’ character Sheldon has become a beloved pop culture institution. As the socially awkward Sheldon, Parson has anchored the ratings juggernaut that received an average of 19 million viewers last season.

But Parsons is more than just a sitcom star. The actor honed his craft in a classical theater program at the University of San Diego. In addition to portraying Tommy Boatwright in The Normal Heart on Broadway, Parsons’ stage credits include the role of Elwood Dowd in Harvey and even playing God in An Act of God earlier this year.

Check out some of our favorite clips of Parsons below:

The Big Bang Theory debuted in 2007, with Parsons anchoring the ensemble as Sheldon, the physicist. Created by Chuck Lorre and Bill Prady, the series’ first season received mixed reviews, but by season three in 2009, it began a steady climb to become one of the most popular shows on television. In season four, it became the highest rated television comedy.

His work on Big Bang has earned him four Emmy Award wins for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy Series and a Golden Globe.

GLSEN honored Parsons and partner Todd Spiewak with an Inspiration Award in 2013. In his gracious acceptance speech, the actor acknowledged “I’ve never considered myself an activist. I’ve never considered my relationship with Todd to be an act of activism. Rather simply, it’s an act of love, coffee in the morning, going to work, washing the clothes, taking the dogs [out]—a regular life, boring love.”

In 2014, Parsons revisited the role of Tommy Boatwright in The Normal Heart, this time for the Ryan Murphy-directed HBO film. His powerful performance earned him an Emmy nomination. In the clip above, Parsons’ character delivers a stirring eulogy in one of the film’s most moving scenes.

Appearing on Inside the Actors Studio earlier this year, Parsons described how he felt about coming out in The New York Times: “I never had a coming out piece, I just didn’t mention it … I took Todd with me to events…and then finally one day while working on Harvey I did a piece with Patrick Healy for The New York Times and he just point-blank asked, ‘Was working on The Normal Heart meaningful to you as a gay man?’ And I was like, ‘Well, yeah. Yeah.’ And what a wonderful … I can’t tell you what a wonderful thing that was, what a gift he gave me with one question. It was suddenly out there and official.”

What’s your favorite Parsons scene?

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Thailand Bans Same-Sex Surrogacy As Gay Couple Fights To Keep Daughter

Lake

Last month we told you about the case of Gordon “Bud” Lake and his husband, Manuel Rivera, who are fighting to leave Thailand with their surrogate baby, Carmen.

The surrogate mother has refused to sign paperwork that would allow Carmen to leave the country, saying she didn’t realize the couple was gay.

Now Lake and Rivera, who are living with Carmen in a secret location in Bangkok, face another obstacle as they prepare to take their case to court: A strict new law went into effect this week banning surrogacy in Thailand unless a couple has been married at least three years and one of them is a Thai citizen.

Because Thailand doesn’t allow same-sex marriage, the law prohibits gay couples from having surrogate babies there, and it could be applied retroactively to Lake and Rivera’s case.

The Bangkok Post reports:

A significant change in the law gives biological parents of a child born via surrogacy immediate parental rights in line with family and inheritance laws, Public Health Minister Rajata Rajatanavin said. Under the existing statute, a surrogate mother is considered the legal parent until consents to turning over the child. …

In an emotional interview on Channel 3 this week, Mr. Lake pleaded with the mother, identified only by her nickname Oy, to change her mind. He vowed not to leave Thailand without the child.

Ministry officials said Wednesday that biological parents of surrogate children born before the new law was passed can apply to have it applied to their case.

Although it could negatively impact Lake and Rivera, the law was actually drafted in response to the case of a straight Australian couple who abandoned a surrogate baby with Down’s Syndrome and left the country with his healthy twin sister. The new law bans surrogacy for all foreigners, and says the biological mother must be a sibling of one of the parents.

Nevertheless, the law eliminates a popular destination for gay couples to have surrogate babies. An estimated 2,000 foreign couples travel to Thailand each year for that purpose, due to the country’s established industry and first-rate medical facilities.

The Nation reports:

Yesterday, Public Health Minister Rajata Rajatanavin announced at a press conference that the move was aimed at controlling artificial fertilisation technology for couples with infertility and set up the legal status and regulations on surrogacy services, which had previously caused both moral and humanitarian problems such as surrogacy businesses or the neglect of children.

“Under the new act, foreign couples cannot seek the surrogacy service in Thailand. Homosexuals also are not allowed to receive the service because Thailand has not yet legalised same-sex marriage,” he said. …

Public Health Ministry deputy permanent secretary Amnuay Gajeena said about 45 clinics provide surrogacy services in Thailand.

“Of them, six have already been shut down and the concerned persons arrested,” Amnuay stated.

“Anyone who breaks this law will be punished with up to 10 years in jail or a fine not exceeding Bt200,000. The selling of sperm, ovum and embryo is also banned,” he said.

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Leslie Jordan on Throwing Sweet Tea at Anti-gay Starbucks Patrons: ‘I Lost My Temper’

Leslie Jordan

Yesterday, we told you the incredible story of character actor Leslie Jordan confronting a group of men who were shouting anti-gay slurs at a West Hollywood Starbucks earlier this week.

Jordan, perhaps best known for his role on gay-centric shows like Will & Grace and Sordid Lives, reportedly told the men to “get out of our house” before throwing his iced tea on the phobes.

Locals interviewed after the incident called Jordan a “hero,” but Jordan pushed back a bit against the designation in a Facebook post Friday night.

I was hoping to remain silent on the incident at Starbucks but somehow the story found legs and has made its way into the press. I feel I owe my friends an explanation:

Truth be told it was “sweet” iced tea, not coffee. I am a “sweet” mannered Southern boy who was taught not to start a fight. Nobody ever told me I could not end one. I refused to sit and watch these hate crimes continue. I guess our work for equality is not done yet!

I’m being hailed a hero which is all well and good but I lost my temper. My heroes in life always kept their cool.

Anyone who stands up against hate is a hero in our book. Thank you Leslie!

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Scott Walker Outlines How He’ll Keep LGBT People Second Class Citizens As President

Scott Walker

Speaking at a town hall in rural southwest Iowa yesterday, Wisconsin governor Scott Walker laid out his anti-LGBT policy plans should he win the 2016 election, telling the crowd “the most appropriate and timely focus for the next president is to focus on defending religious liberties.”

The Washington Post reports:

He said that he would support a constitutional amendment but then listed off what that would take: First, Congress would have to approve it by a super majority. Then it would have to be ratified by three-fourths of states.

“Clearly, though, that is a difficult standard,” Walker said. “Not just on this amendment but on any other out there.”

Given that, Walker said, it would be better for the next president to instead focus on defending religious liberties. He said that Wisconsin’s constitution has long had “very explicit language about protecting religious liberties,” along with some “anti-discriminatory language.”

“We’ve shown for many, many, many years that we make it work — we can defend religious liberties and it has worked out just fine,” Walker said. “We need a president and an administration who’s going to stand up and defend religious liberties in this country: The freedom of religion, not freedom from religion.”

Wisconsin has banned discrimination based on sexual orientation (but not gender identity) since 1982.

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