One Equal World


Jason Combs, 45, accused of “predatory towing” tactics.

A tow truck operator in Florida was arrested this weekend after illegally towing cars in Orlando. Not only was he illegally towing, but the operator was also specifically targeting LGBT cars during Gay Days in Orlando. Jason Combs, 45, towed over 100 cars between June 5-9th. Combs’ attorney was not responding to email or phone messages this weekend.

During the event, Combs allegedly would send others to watch the area for cars to tow. He is now faced with 29 counts of grand theft of a motor vehicle and other charges. Combs is the owner of ASAP Towing and did not have an up-to-date contract to even tow vehicles or have proper signs to tell motorists that the lot was a tow-away zone.

“With many of these people, their cars were towed within 5, 10 15 minutes [of parking],” Cpl. Rick Schmeltzer said according to the Sentinel. “This was total predator towing. There’s really no other word for it.” The cars were towed from the Westwood Town Center across the street from the Gay Days host hotel, DoubleTree by Hilton.

Now Schmeltzer is also claiming the tow company targeted cars at Gay Days events last year. Those whose cars were towed had to take a cab ride to the towing company and were charged $165 cash to get their cars, including a $40 “gate fee,” which isn’t permitted under Florida law, the complaint says. The law was also broken because Combs towed the cars more than 10 miles away from their locations, which is against Florida law.

Between 200,000 and 300,000 people attended the annual LGBT Pride Parade in San Diego, a celebration of the 40th annual Pride Weekend. Assembly Speaker Toni Atkins, the first lesbian and San Diegan to run the lower chamber of the state Legislature, was the parade’s grand marshal. Republican candidate for governor Neel Kashkari was another of many other notable politicians expected to participate.san-diego-pride

“Oh my gosh, I could not be prouder to be walking in the parade,” parade attendee Valerie Lacaba said.  This year’s celebration was even more special than normal: It was titled “Reflections of Pride” since it was the city’s 40th year doing it.

The first San Diego Pride was 1974, a time that far preceded today’s much more accepting view of LGBT people. We still see discrimination today, of course, but back then things were fare worse for LGBTs. The first Pride consisted of four hundred men and women, who showed up at Balboa Park for a rally and a march. San Diego was a right-leaning California city back then, but the Hillcrest neighborhood had begun shifting into a more safe and accepting place within the city.

Today, Hillcrest remains one of the most prominent LGBT communities in Southern California, a place where LGBTs can feel loved and accepted for who they are. What was once a small on-day gathering is now a full weekend of joyous celebrations, bringing in tens of thousands of people in each year.

Speakers for this year’s event included Assembly Speaker Toni Atkins, veteran activist Nicole Murray-Ramirez and San Diego City Council President Todd Gloria. “Orange is the New Black” star and transgender icon Laverne Cox also served as the keynote speaker.

An organization called the Young Conservatives for the Freedom to Marry is looking to remove the traditional-marriage stance from the GOP platform at the Republican National Conference in Cleveland, in hopes of seeing party leaders drop their support of the same-sex marriage ban by summer 2016. If successful, it would be the first time the Republican National Convention and its party members would drop the backing of the same-sex marriage ban.



Republican gay-rights lobbyists believe that their party’s stance on the issue is well outside the majority of the nation at this time. Said Marc Solomon, a group member with Freedom to Marry and a former Republican Hill staff member, “The ground has never been more inviting and welcoming to someone changing their positions on the issue. Where the polling is on the issue, it shows that we have a real legitimate chance at victory in 2016.”

Having already met with state and county party officials in New Hampshire, the group is also planning a trip to South Carolina and Nevada in September, and hitting Iowa as early as August. Says Tyler Deaton, the group’s campaign manager, “The convention is in two years, and we’re exceptionally organized.”

Many conservatives believe that opposing equal rights for gay Americans will become politically flawed very shortly, and if the goal isn’t met by the convention in 2016, it will quickly become a political nightmare for the GOP.

“I would say in America’s suburbs this is quite often the No. 1 test for younger voters to see how tolerant you are,” said Sen. Mark Kirk of Illinois, who supports gay marriage.

Says Ken Mehlman, political strategist and former campaign manager for George Bush in 2004, “rather than talking about gay marriage, strategists are guiding Republicans to talk about the freedom to marry, and they cast the question in familiar conservative terms about the government’s role in people’s private lives,” of the way that national political dialogue is becoming more inclusive of the rights of all people, including LGBTs.

Despite the influx of Republican support to drop the ban from the party’s agenda, not all conservatives are looking to give up the issue. The Family Research Council is working to undo the Supreme Court decision on the Defense of Marriage Act, and the council’s polling shows that 82% of Republicans favor the traditional marriage. Time will tell if the work of the Young Conservatives will pay off in time for the 2016 Republican National Convention.

Like many companies, Chase bank has been circulating a questionnaire for its employees. Typical questions include workflow, office culture, whether they feel challenged, etc. Recently however, one anonymous employee brought forth a question on the questionnaire that seemed oddly out of place. The question asked employees whether or not they were in alliance with the LGBT community.

The question left many employees frustrated and confused as to why this topic was relevant to their career. How would their answers affect the bank on any level? Chase responded that the survey wasn’t a requirement for employees; however, it was strongly suggested by management to better understand the company culture.

This event raises a lot of issues on how companies are classifying and monitoring diversity in the office. The employee that brought this issue to the public reported that those who have outwardly identified themselves as part of the LGBT community are often seen as cliquey and held to different standards. Whether intentional or not, the questionnaire has certainly created a clear divide.

If this questionnaire really was intended to show how diverse Chase is, it’s doing a bad job of creating unity within that diversity. Rather than finding a way to unite the company’s employees, it is instead acting as a divider between them, leaving everyone frustrated. Regardless, it will definitely spark future conversations regarding what employers can and cannot ask, how diversity within the workplace is tracked, and ultimately reopen the issue of how anyone can truly define diversity.

Rev. Frank Schaefer back in December was defrocked after he officiated the marriage of his gay son.

Schaefer at the time had met with officials, who originally put him on suspension for thirty days. The period was meant to be a time of reflection, meant to have the Reverend to accept that homosexuality is incompatible with Christian teachings. However, Schaefer stated he would not do that stating:

“I cannot voluntarily surrender my credentials because I am a force now for many, for tens of thousands of LGBT members in our church. … I cannot uphold the United Methodist Book of Discipline in its entirety. . … I cannot uphold those discriminatory laws … that are hurtful and harmful to our homosexual brothers and sisters in the church.”

Schaefer was kicked out of the church, however in a move that is surprising many, the United Methodist Church have voted to let him return to the pulpit. This comes on the heels of Schafer’s appeal of the ruling.

Schaefer stands in front of Zion United Methodist Church of Iona in South Lebanon Township.

Schaefer stands in front of Zion United Methodist Church of Iona in South Lebanon Township.

“The nine-person [appeals] panel ordered the church to restore Frank Schaefer’s pastoral credentials, saying the jury that convicted him of breaking church law erred when fashioning his punishment.

“I’ve devoted my life to this church, to serving this church, and to be restored and to be able to call myself a reverend again and to speak with this voice means so much to me,” an exultant Schaefer told The Associated Press, adding he intends to work for gay rights “with an even stronger voice from within the United Methodist Church.” …

The appeals panel, which met in Linthicum, Maryland, last week to hear the case, upheld a 30-day suspension that Schaefer has already served and said he should get back pay dating to when the suspension ended in December.

The jury’s punishment was illegal under church law, the appeals panel concluded, writing in its decision that “revoking his credentials cannot be squared with the well-established principle that our clergy can only be punished for what they have been convicted of doing in the past, not for what they may or may not do in the future.”

YouTube, in conjunction with parent company Google, has launched its 2014 Gay Pride campaign, #ProudToPlay, which highlights various LGBT athletes and allies in order to help end anti-LGBT bias in sports. Several famous sports stars in the spot include basketball player Kobe Bryant, football player Michael Sam and Olympic diver Tom Daley.

The campaign works to promote equality among all athletes, regardless of their sexuality. The video also features footage and sound bites from equal rights advocates including Nelson Mandela, Barack Obama and TV host Ellen DeGeneres.

“We applaud the courage and openness of athletes at all levels who have come out and admire their teammates, friends, families, and supporters who are all proving that it doesn’t matter who you are or who you love — what matters is that you put forward your best effort. “We stand with our community in the belief that youth everywhere should all have the same opportunities to grow up and pursue their dreams and passions, on or off the field,” says YouTube on its blog.

The video encourages users to share their own experiences of what equality among athletes means to them by uploading videos and using the hashtag #ProudToPlay.

Kobe Bryant, #ProudToPlay supporter and ally said, “Equality in sports has to be there for your team to be successful. It’s these little building blocks that you learn through playing sports. The bravery of being you is really the anchor of it all. You have to be brave in your own convictions, you have to be brave about who you are and you have to be brave to step forward and step into the spotlight and declare to the rest of the world this is who I am.”

The Jewish Community Center Association of North America is sponsoring its first ever LGBT delegation to Israel. The delegation of 21 people began its ten-day trip on Sunday and planned its visits to coincide with Tel Aviv’s Pride Week. The New York-based gay Jewish nightlife group Hebro organized the trip.

jcca-logo“I’ve been wanting to do this for a long time,” said Aliza Orent, organizer of the JCCA trip and director of Jewish Life and Learning at the JCC in Austin, Texas. “It’s been a passion of mine and the stars aligned.”

The trip is more than a “basic Israel 101,” and is filled with various LGBT-themed activities including meeting the founders of Chavruta, an Orthodox gay organization, and a visit to the Jerusalem Open House for Pride and Tolerance.

“I was really encouraged by the support we got from the executive offices in New York when I first brought up this idea,” said Aliza Orent, the driving force behind the initiative and the person who will be leading the group to Israel. “There were no questions or judgment.”

On June 13, starting at 10:00 a.m. at Gan Meir, a record-breaking number of people—estimates are that 130,000 people will attend Gay Pride events in Tel Aviv this month—will march through major streets across the city to the beachfront Charles Clore Park, in solidarity with the LGBT movement.


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