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Mississippi Again Tries To Hide Ceara Sturgis Because She’s A Lesbian

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Ceara Sturgis in 2009 wore a tuxedo for her 2010 high school yearbook senior photo (image, right.) School officials in her home state of Mississippi didn’t like that so they simply didn’t include her in the yearbook. Don’t like lesbians? Hide them from the public. Sturgis is now holding a commitment ceremony — Mississippi doesn’t allow same-sex marriage — and wanted to use a local museum for the event, after attending a wedding there. State officials at the Mississippi Agriculture and Forestry Museum said no, because  a commitment ceremony is like a wedding — and Mississippi doesn’t allow same-sex marriage. So Mississippi officials are trying once again to hide Sturgis from the public and deny her her rights.

The concept that something is illegal because it is like something that is illegal is illogical at best and absolutely wrong in this case. Fortunately, the Southern Poverty Law Center is representing Ceara Sturgis and her partner, Emily Key, and have given the museum until July 25 to concede.

Noting the “state-owned museum refused to allow a similar ceremony for two men earlier this year,” Fox News of course published an antigay article titled, “Lesbian demands ceremony at Mississippi museum.”

The museum has said it interprets commitment ceremonies to represent a union and cites a 2009 opinion by Attorney General Jim Hood saying it could decline such ceremonies because same-sex marriage is banned in Mississippi.

The SPLC is not challenging Mississippi’s ban on same-sex marriage, but says the museum should allow commitment and marriage ceremonies to take place even if the couple won’t be recognized under state law.

“The Museum’s policy is premised on a misguided and erroneous interpretation of Mississippi state law and, further, violates the United States Constitution. We intend to challenge the Museum’s policy in federal court if the Museum does not rescind its policy against same-sex commitment and marriage ceremonies and honor our clients’ request,” the letter said.

Sturgis told The Associated Press Thursday that she went to a friend’s wedding at the museum and liked it, so she thought it would be the right place for her and Key to publically profess their love. She said they’re not asking the state to recognize them as a married couple, but they just want to be able to rent the venue for a celebration like a heterosexual couple could.

“Emily and I just want to have the same fair treatment as everyone else. We want to share our love with our friends and family,” Sturgis said.

Zack Ford at Think Progress notes:

Hood’s argument fails on its face. If it were true, then it would technically be illegal to have any kind of same-sex wedding or commitment ceremony. There is a difference between not recognizing same-sex unions and declaring them to be unlawful. What Hood seems to have suggested is that Sturgis and Key could be arrested simply by declaring their love for each other in front of their family and friends, which would obviously violate their right to free speech and expression. Given the growing number of religious denominations that recognize marriage equality, such a precedent would also be a clear violation of religious freedom.

For the state of Mississippi to declare that a same-sex commitment ceremony is unlawful behavior is an egregious attack on gay community and its personal liberties. It’s nothing more than a pathetic excuse for blatant anti-gay discrimination.

The American Family Association’s One New Now also published an article, quoting Liberty Counsel’s Mat Staver:

“Now they’re being threatened by the Southern Poverty Law Center [SPLC], which is an organization that supports radical homosexual agenda items,” [Staver] reports. “This particular situation, I think, is one where in Mississippi, same-sex marriage is not recognized. And so it would be impermissible, I think, completely wrong to use government facilities to recognize something that is absolutely banned in the state of Mississippi.”

But Staver emphasizes that “the agenda of the sexual anarchist movement” is “to put this issue up — homosexuality, lesbianism and whatever the nomenclature of the alphabet may be from day to day — to simply push this into your face and to shove it down the throats of the American people. I believe that this threat of homosexuality and same-sex unions is the biggest threat to our family, to our morality and to our freedom that we face here in America,” the attorney concludes.

As for Mississippi, he believes the state stands on solid ground as it faces the threat of a lawsuit if it does not approve the ceremony by July 25.

Jeremy Hooper at Good As You responds to Staver:

I seriously can’t even comment on this. If you’ll excuse me, I’m going to go join my husband (aka fellow family threatener) at dinner (aka menu-based morality molester), where we we will consume pasta (aka freedom—fouling fusilli) and drink red wine (aka sexual anarchy’s chosen lubricant). Until tomorrow, my dear readers (aka nuclear bombs lying wait to destroy all that is holy).

According to readers, comments at One New Now are being deleted if they criticize Christianity.

Ceara Sturgis won her lawsuit against her high school last year.

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MN Police Officer Sentenced 3.5 Years for Death of George Floyd

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Former Minneapolis police officer J. Alexander Keung has been sentenced to 3.5 years in prison for aiding and abetting manslaughter in the death of Black city resident George Floyd.

Keung, age 29, had accepted a plea deal in order to avoid an additional charge of aiding and abetting second-degree murder. His guilty plea acknowledged that the restraining holds used by police on Floyd were excessive and likely to cause serious harm.

Video of Floyd’s May 25, 2020 murder at the hands of city police captured footage of Keung kneeling on Floyd’s back while another officer knelt of the man’s neck. for over nine minutes, officers applied pressure to Floyd while he laid face down in the street, crying and telling officers that he couldn’t breathe while also calling out for his mother.

Video of Floyd’s murder sparked international outrage and inspired protests against institutional racism and police brutality.

Keung is the fourth and final police officer to receive prison time for his role in Floyd’s death. He will serve his new sentence and a federal sentence for Floyd’s death concurrently, serving a total of about 2 1/2 years for the killing.

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'ARE YOU KIDDING?!'

Virginia Republican Files Bill Defining a Fertilized Egg as a Human

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Virginia State Delegate Marie March (R) has pre-filed House Bill 1395, a law that would define life as beginning at fertilization.

“Life begins at conception and each person is accorded the same rights and protections guaranteed to all persons by the Constitution of the United States,” the proposed bill states.

The proposed bill would effectively outlaw all abortions in the state and even endanger the use of Plan B (aka. “The morning-after pill”), a medication that prevents fertilized egg cells from attaching to a woman’s uterine wall.

The bill could also effectively criminalize in vitro fertilization, a method of inducing pregnancy that uses fertilized eggs and discards any unused ones.

Even though Republicans control the state’s House of Delegates, it’s unclear if the bill would have any chance of passing the state’s Democratic-led Senate. The legislature won’t reconvene until January 11, 2023.

Virginia currently allows a woman to get an abortion within roughly 26 weeks of pregnancy. Gov. Glenn Youngkin (R) has proposed passing a law that would reduce that window to 15 weeks, a period of time in which most women may not even realize they’re pregnant.

In response to March’s bill the Virginia Reproductive Equity Alliance said in a statement, “In the wake of the overturning of Roe v. Wade, and despite the vast majority of Virginians who oppose it, Virginia’s anti-abortion elected officials keep proving there are no limits to their extremism and true intentions to ban abortion for all Virginians.”

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'A WAR FOR AMERICA’S DEMOCRACY'

Georgia GOP Says Its Voting Restrictions “Backfired” & Helped Dems Win Senate Seat

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When two Republicans lost Georgia’s special runoff senate elections in January 2021, state Republicans in the General Assembly re-wrote voting laws to restrict absentee ballots and give voters fewer days to vote in future runoff elections.

However, after Republicans lost yet another runoff election for Georgia’s Senate seat — with Herschel Walker losing to his Democratic competitor, Rev. Raphael Warnock, earlier this month — state Republicans want to re-re-write the rules, hopeful of a more favorable outcome.

Georgia’s Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger (R), the official who oversees the state’s voting procedures, said he plans on giving three proposals to lawmakers when they return to the General Assembly in January.

“[The proposals] include forcing large counties to open more early-voting locations (in an attempt to reduce the hours-long lines some voters waited in) … lowering the threshold candidates must achieve to avoid a runoff from 50 percent to 45 percent; and instituting a ranked-choice instant-runoff system that would not require voters to come back to the polls again after the general election,” The New York Times reported.

To be clear, it’s unclear whether these changes would’ve helped Walker win. But they stand in contrast to the changes state Republicans made to voting laws following their failed January 2021 Senate runoff ambitions.

The changes after that time severely restricted the types of people eligible to receive an absentee ballot. While 24 percent of the January 2021 vote came via mail-in absentee ballots, the rule changes resulted in 5 percent of mail-in votes coming in for the January 2022 runoff.

Republicans also lowered the number of in-person early voting days to five (though the rule change allowed counties to add extra days.) The Times found that 28 of Georgia’s 159 counties opted to add extra in-person early voting days — 17 of the counties that did largely backed Warnock while 11 backed his challenger.

Before the recent run-off election, Raffensperger also tried to enforce a state law forbidding in-person early voting on the Saturday after Thanksgiving. However, Warnock successfully sued to prevent the law from going into effect.

Overall, the changes may have “backfired,” Republicans told The Times, actually encouraging Democratic voters to come out in greater numbers.

While Republicans point to the large turnout of runoff voters as “proof” that their changes didn’t discourage voting, Warnock’s campaign criticized the changes, saying that such restrictions shouldn’t make it harder for people to vote in the first place.

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