Mormons, religious groups file brief in support of Prop 8 | Gay News | Washington Blade – America’s Leading Gay News Source

The participation of the Church of Latter-Day Saints in a legal brief filed by religious groups in favor of California’s Proposition 8 is vexing an organization that advocates for LGBT Mormons.

In a 38-page friend-of-the-court brief, filed before the Supreme Court Jan. 29, religious groups — including the Mormon Church — emphasize that justices shouldn’t strike down Prop 8 on the basis of religious support for the anti-gay amendment. The brief is signed by Von Keech, a Utah-based private attorney who has previously assisted the Mormon Church, as well as other private attorneys with his firm Alexander Dushku, R. Shawn Gunnarson and Kirton McConkie.

“[O]ur members supported Proposition 8 based on sincere beliefs in the value of traditional marriage for children, families, society, and our republican form of government,” the brief states. “Only a demeaning view of religion and religious believers could dismiss our advocacy of Proposition 8 as ignorance, prejudice, or animus.”

In a statement on Monday, Affirmation, a national group for gay and lesbian Mormons, questioned why the Mormon Church would participate in a legal brief in favor of Prop 8 after backing off its support of anti-gay measures since the passage of the California’s constitutional ban on same-sex marriage in 2008.

“I agree that churches should have the freedom to petition the government and that Proposition 8 should not be invalidated due to religious support of the initiative,” said Affirmation President Randall Thacker, who’s gay. “However, we believe Proposition 8 should be invalidated on the grounds that it denies protections to same-sex couples who have committed to care and provide for each other and their children, a grouping that is clearly defined as a family by the majority of society.”

Spencer Clark, who’s straight and president of Mormons for Marriage Equality, said he agrees the law should provide a foundation for strong families, but said Prop 8 harms children being raised by same-sex parents.

“Unfortunately, Proposition 8 provides no additional benefits to straight couples while denying substantial benefits and legitimacy to gay and lesbian couples who are also raising children,” Clark said. “The brief argues for a conception of marriage that blatantly ignores the hundreds of thousands of children in the United States being raised by same-sex couples, pretending that these loving families don’t exist.”

via Mormons, religious groups file brief in support of Prop 8 | Gay News | Washington Blade – America’s Leading Gay News Source.

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Lake County School Board May Slash All Student Clubs To Blockade Gay-Straight Alliance UPDATE

A central Florida school district may ban extracurricular student clubs in an attempt to prevent the formation of a Gay-Straight Alliance at a local middle school.

The Lake County School District discussed amending the rules regarding student clubs in order to blockade a Gay-Straight Alliance at Carver Middle School in Leesburg, according to the Miami Herald. A group of students attempted to form the Gay-Straight Alliance during the 2011-2012 school year, but were turned down. One eighth-grade student, Bayli Silberstein, persisted and reapplied for permission in November.

Silberstein’s push for a GSA is in response to anti-gay bullying at the school, according to WFTV. She claims she and her friends were tormented by others for their sexual orientation. “It hurt, and that is something that I did not want to see continuing,” she told central Florida’s ABC local affiliate WFTV.

After Silberstein’s application was previously denied, the American Civil Liberties Union got involved, according to WFTV. The ACLU sent a letter to the school district saying that if school officials continued to obstruct the formation of the group, taxpayers may have to foot the bill for a very expensive lawsuit.

The Florida School district is legally obligated to permit a Gay-Straight Alliance, per the federal Equal Access Act. The legislation states that it is unlawful for a school receiving federal funding “to deny equal access or a fair opportunity to, or discriminate against, any students who wish to conduct a meeting… on the basis of the religious, political, philosophical, or other content of the speech.”

So now, Lake County may sacrifice all to thwart one.

According to the Orlando Sentinel, school board members mulled over the issue on Monday. Chairwoman Kyleen Fischer reasoned that the school is not responsible for “social engineering.” Board member Tod Howard expressed worry over losing the more valuable clubs, remarking during the meeting, “I am very concerned that one club would push out the remainder of the clubs that are doing good things.”

via Lake County School Board May Slash All Student Clubs To Blockade Gay-Straight Alliance UPDATE.