It seems like you can’t turn on the news or scroll through your social media feed without seeing breaking news story after breaking news story. It’s hard to keep track of it all. Well, we want you to be informed, so we did some follow-up on a story from last week about ISIS leader Abu Omer, checked in on the U.S. Supreme Court, rounded up great news in terms of Central America gay marriage and did some digging on the Star Trek Discovery death shocker.
Here are the week’s 5 news stories that’ll keep you looking well-informed at brunch:
1. Karma’s Not Coming
In a quick update to an important story we reported on last week, ISIS leader Abu “White Beard” Omer, known as the executioner, was released by Iraqi authorities only minutes after being arrested. Why, you ask? He bribed them with a $7,500 payment. Apparently corruption runs rampant in the Iraqi police force.
Omer is notorious for executing gay men by throwing them off rooftops and posting the videos on social media to promote ISIS’s extreme views against homosexuality. United Nations Ambassador Nadia Murad has demanded justice and that a UN Security Council resolution be implemented immediately.
2. SCOTUS Punts on LGBTQ Discrimination
The U.S. Supreme Court announced this week that it would not hear an appeal to Mississippi’s religious freedom law, known as HB 1523. The law, which went into effect last October, is one of many laws we’ve seen pop up throughout the country (remember Gov. Pence’s bill in Indiana a couple years back?) in response to gaining our freedom to marry.
As is typical, this law allows businesses to arbitrarily discriminate against LGBTQ customers based on their religious beliefs. Opponents believe the law could have far-reaching effects that include adoptions, foster care, bathroom policies, as well as filling birth control prescriptions for unmarried women.
Some experts believe that because the Supreme Court recently heard the case involving a Colorado baker who refused to bake a cake for a gay couple that the decision reached will ultimately affect all of these so-called “religious freedom” laws throughout the country. A decision is expected early this year.
3. A Huge Win for Love!
The Inter-American Court of Human Rights issued a pro-marriage equality ruling this week that could have a sweeping effect on the Western hemisphere. The ruling, from a case out of Costa Rica in Central America, also sets precedent for 19 other countries.
Same-sex marriage is already legal in a small number of these countries, like Argentina and Uraguay, but a majority of them will take a huge step forward in LGBTQ equality with this ruling. All of the countries have agreed to comply with the court’s decision. The Costa Rican government released a statement and we just love the first sentence, “Loving is a human condition that must be respected, without any discrimination.”
4. Live Long and Prosper … If You’re Straight (Warning: Star Trek: Discovery Spoilers)
Stop us if you’ve heard this one before: “My show killed the gay character off.”
What message is that sending to the LGBTQ community? Is it, “I can’t have a happy ending?” Well Star Trek: Discovery, the streaming CBS web series, set off an internet frenzy this week when it killed off Dr. Hugh Culber, played by openly gay actor Wilson Cruz.
This is the first-ever gay romance story line for Star Trek. Openly-gay actor Anthony Rapp plays Dr. Culber’s other half, Lt. Stamets. But before you set your blasters on stun, executive producers Aaron Harberts and Gretchen Berg said this is not the end for Dr. Culber.
They are well aware of the “bury the gays” stigma that is out there and said this is only the first chapter in this romance, but an important one. They tease fans to let the arc of the storyline play out. Cruz, a former spokesperson for GLAAD, credits the organization for the reason we are seeing so many more LGBTQ characters on television. Now we just need to ensure they stay there. Stay tuned, fans.
5. Our Whackjob of the Week: Missouri State GOP Rep and Reverend T.J. Berry
Missouri State GOP Rep/Rev T.J. Berry wants to take Missouri’s government out of the marriage business. He introduced a bill that would redefine the word “marriage” for everyone. The word would apply to religious institutions — you would have to be married in a church to be deemed “married.” All other state-recognized unions would be reclassified as “domestic unions.”
Berry claims that this way everyone is being treated equally and can believe what they want to believe outside of government. Well, except it doesn’t seem like he’s treating everyone equally. It certainly seems that churches are being given special rights to the term “marriage.”
This word is a very important word globally. The world knows what it means when you’re “married” and not necessarily aware of what it means to be “domestically unioned.” Plus, the federal government only recognizes the term “married” for purposes of providing rights and benefits.
Let’s be honest about this bill. It would be in place to allow religious institutions to refuse to marry gays and lesbians. If we didn’t already have that right, this bill wouldn’t exist. A similar bill has failed the past two years, so let’s hope it suffers a similar fate in 2018.
Paul Katami and Jeff Zarrillo were one of two plaintiff couples in California’s 2013 challenge of Proposition 8, which brought marriage equality back to the state after being ruled on by the U.S. Supreme Court. These activists also host the weekly podcast The Husbands. Catch them there or follow them on Instagram @JeffZandPaulK.
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