Hundreds Rally Against Indiana’s Religious Objections Law

Doug McSchooler—AP Thousands of opponents of Indiana Senate Bill 101, the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, gathered on the lawn of the Indiana State House to rally against that legislation, March 28, 2015.

"No hate in our state"

(INDIANAPOLIS)—Hundreds of people gathered outside of the Indiana Statehouse on Saturday, some carrying “no hate in our state” signs, to rally against a new law that opponents say could sanction discrimination against gay people.

The law’s supporters, however, contend the discrimination claims are overblown and insist it will keep the government from compelling people to provide services they find objectionable on religious grounds.

Since Republican Gov. Mike Pence signed the bill into law Thursday, Indiana has been widely criticized by businesses and organizations around the country, as well as on social media with the hashtag #boycottindiana. Local officials and business groups around the state hope to stem the fallout, though consumer review service Angie’s List said Saturday that it is suspending a planned expansion in Indianapolis because of the new law.

The measure, which takes effect in July, prohibits state laws that “substantially burden” a person’s ability to follow his or her religious beliefs. The definition of “person” includes religious institutions, businesses and associations. It will take effect in July.

Saturday’s crowd, for which police didn’t have an exact estimate, stretched across the south steps and lawn of the Statehouse building. At one point, they chanted “Pence must go,” and many held signs like “I’m pretty sure God doesn’t hate anyone” and “No hate in our state.”

Zach Adamson, a Democrat on Indianapolis’ City-County Council, said to cheers that the law has nothing to do with religious freedom but everything to do with discrimination.

“This isn’t 1950 Alabama, it’s 2015 Indiana,” he told those in attendance, adding that the law has brought embarrassment on the state.

He and other speakers urged people to register to vote, and said only way to stop laws like this is to elect new members of the Indiana General Assembly.

Supporters of the law maintain that in courts haven’t allowed discrimination to happen under similar laws covering the federal government and in 19 other states.

But some national gay-rights groups say lawmakers in Indiana and about a dozen other states that have proposed such bills this year are essentially granting a state-sanctioned waiver for discrimination as the nation’s highest court prepares to mull the gay marriage question.

Indianapolis Mayor Greg Ballard, a Republican who opposed the law, said he and other city officials would be talking to many businesses and convention planners to counter the uproar the law has caused. “I’m more concerned about making sure that everyone knows they can come in here and feel welcome,” Ballard said.

The Indianapolis-based NCAA has expressed concerns about the law and has suggested it could move future events elsewhere; the men’s Final Four will be held in the city next weekend.

Angie’s List had sought an $18.5 million incentive package from Indianapolis’ City-County Council to add 1,000 jobs over five years. But founder and CEO Bill Oseterle said in a statement Saturday that the expansion was on hold “until we fully understand the implications of the freedom restoration act on our employees.”

Around the state, stickers touting “This business serves everyone” have been appearing in many businesses’ windows, and groups such as the Indiana Chamber of Commerce have taken to social media with messages that the state is full of welcoming businesses. Democratic South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg touted on Twitter his city’s civil rights ordinance’s protections for gays and lesbians, while Republican Evansville Mayor Lloyd Winnecke wrote that the law “sends the wrong message about Indiana.”

Indianapolis’ tourism and convention business is estimated to have a $4.4 billion annual economic impact with some 75,000 jobs. Chris Gahl, a vice president with tourism agency Visit Indy, said: “We know that their ability to work is largely dependent on our ability to score convention business and draw in events and visitors.”


California Attorney General Blocks Initiative to Have Gays Executed

"This proposal not only threatens public safety, it is patently unconstitutional, utterly reprehensible, and has no place in a civil society," Harris said

(SAN FRANCISCO) — California Attorney General Kamala Harris asked a state court on Wednesday for permission to reject a proposed ballot initiative stipulating that anyone who engages in gay sex be killed.

Harris issued a statement saying she was making the unusual request to stop the measure filed by a Southern California lawyer late last month. The initiative seeks to amend the California penal code to make sex with a person of the same gender an offense punishable by “bullets to the head or by any other convenient method.” The distribution of gay “propaganda” would be punishable by a $1 million fine or banishment from the state.

“This proposal not only threatens public safety, it is patently unconstitutional, utterly reprehensible, and has no place in a civil society,” Harris said.

Matthew McLaughlin, the Orange County lawyer who paid $200 to submit the initiative, did not respond to a telephone call seeking comment. A Democratic state senator, Ricardo Lara, has asked the California bar to investigate whether McLaughlin’s actions make him unfit to practice law.

The measure puts Harris in a difficult position. Although the bill has no discernible momentum or likely chance of success, she said unless a judge rules otherwise, she will have no choice but to give McLaughlin the go-ahead to seek the nearly 366,000 votes needed to qualify the measure for the November 2016 ballot.

California is one of 21 states where citizens can petition to have laws put on the ballot through the gathering of voter signatures. Under California’s initiative process, state officials do not have authority to refuse to administer initiatives they find objectionable, the California Supreme Court has ruled. Although few of the dozens submitted to the attorney general each year make it on the ballot, the ease with which a resident with a pet peeve can gain clearance to circulate their proposals while seeking signatures has prompted calls for reform.

University of California, Davis law professor Floyd Feeney, an expert on California’s initiative process, said Harris alone cannot impede the proposed law. And despite the numerous legal problems with McLaughlin’s proposal, Feeney said he was not convinced a court would agree to halt it at this stage.

“The courts, rightly or wrongly, treat the initiative as sort of the citizen right and they are reluctant to get involved in trying to get rid of it, at least in advance, by using the law to keep something from being presented to the electorate,” he said.

On Wednesday, a Southern California real estate agent, Charlotte Laws, countered the so-called “Sodomite Suppression Act” with an initiative of her own. Titled the Intolerant Jackass Act, it would require anyone who proposes an initiative calling for the killing of gays and lesbians to attend sensitivity training and make a $5,000 donation to a pro-LGBT group.

Read next: The 10 Cities With the Highest LGBT Percentage in the U.S.

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TIME States

Indiana’s Controversial Religious Freedom Bill Set to Become Law

Religious Freedom
Robert Scheer—AP Community members on both sides of the issue stand outside of the Indiana House chamber during a meeting of an Indiana House committee to discuss the merits of Senate Bill 101, the Religious Freedom Bill, at the state Capitol in Indianapolis, March 16, 2015.

The state's House passed it 63-31 on Monday

A controversial religious freedom bill in Indiana that critics say could legalize discrimination against LGBT people is on track to become a law after the state’s House approved it 63-31 on Monday.

The bill would prohibit local government from “substantially burdening” a person’s free expression of religion with few exemptions, the Indianapolis Star reports. Opponents of the bill say it could give business owners a free pass to refuse service to customers in same-sex relationships. Supporters, however, say it protects citizens from government intrusion on their beliefs.

The bill is based on the decades-old federal Religious Freedom and Restoration Act law, which played a major part in the Supreme Court Hobby Lobby decision that allowed companies to opt out of a requirement to cover contraceptives to female employees under the Affordable Care Act for religious reasons.

Indiana Governor Mike Pence has voiced his support for the bill, which was approved in a different form by the Indiana Senate in February. Some 19 other states have similar laws in place.

[Indianapolis Star]


Puerto Rico Drops Opposition to Gay Marriage

"Today is a great day for my island," wrote Puerto Rican superstar Ricky Martin.

The Puerto Rican government announced on Friday that it would drop its opposition to same-sex marriage.

Justice Secretary Cesar Miranda said at a news conference that the Puerto Rican justice department would no longer oppose a suit challenging the constitutionality of the socially conservative island’s ban.

“Our constitutional system does not allow discriminatory distinctions such as that contained in the Civil Code concerning the rights of same-sex couples,” Gov. Alejandro Garcia Padilla said in a statement posted to his office’s website. “Everyone knows my religious beliefs, but it is not for political leaders to impose our beliefs. We must push for progress in civil and human rights for all citizens equally. As Governor of Puerto Rico, that’s my duty.”

Puerto Rico native Ricky Martin, who has advocated for gay rights since he announced he was gay in 2010, said on Twitter that he was grateful for the move.

In a lengthier statement, the singer called Padilla a “leader who is not afraid of the present challenges.”

“Today is a great day for my island,” he wrote. “How proud I am to live a country of equality. I love you Puerto Rico.”


The 10 Cities With the Highest LGBT Percentage in the U.S.

A Gallup survey found that 3.6% of adults across the nation consider themselves gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender

The San Francisco metropolitan area has a higher percentage of adults who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender than any other city in the country, a new survey found.

Gallup’s poll of the 50 largest metropolitan areas in the U.S. found that 6.2% of San Franciscans identify as LGBT, which is 2.6 percentage points higher than the national average. The city, named the “Gay Capital of the U.S.” by LIFE magazine in 1964, has a long history of a politically active LGBT community.

The other high-ranking cities in the Gallup survey included Portland, Ore., Austin, New Orleans, Seattle, Boston, Salt Lake City, Los Angeles, Denver and Hartford, Conn.

Since the Census Bureau has never asked people about sexual orientation, the Gallup analysis is the most detailed portrait of LGBT demography yet. It is based on a survey of 374, 325 adults and was conducted between June 2012 and December 2014.

TIME Religion

3 Other Christian Denominations That Allow Gay Marriage

The Presbyterian Church (USA) formally recognized same-sex marriages Tuesday

On Tuesday the Presbyterian Church (USA) voted to redefine marriage as “a commitment between two people, traditionally a man and a woman,” formally allowing same-sex marriages within the church. The vote to modify the church constitution follows last year’s recommendation from the church’s General Assembly.

Here’s are other major churches in the U.S. that allow same-sex marriage:

The Evangelical Lutheran Church of America allows same-sex couples to get married, but leaves it up to individual ministers of congregations to decide, according to a 2009 resolution. “There is nothing that prescribes who a congregation pastor can marry or not marry, so long as it is consistent with state law,” ELCA Secretary David Swartling said in 2012.

The Episcopal Church established a rite of blessing for same-sex couples in 2012 and prohibited discrimination against transgender people. It has welcomed gay people since 1976, when its General Convention decided that “homosexual persons are children of God who have a full and equal claim with all other persons upon the love, acceptance, and pastoral concern and care of the Church.” Technically it has no official policy sanctioning same-sex marriage, but it will take up the issue in June.

The United Church of Christ has allowed same-sex couples to get married since 2005. At the 25th General Synod of the United Church of Christ in Atlanta, it “affirm[ed] equal marriage rights for couples regardless of gender and declares that the government should not interfere with couples regardless of gender who choose to marry and share fully and equally in the rights, responsibilities and commitment of legally recognized marriage.” It was the first major Protestant denomination to do so.

TIME Television

Elisha Cuthbert Loves the Lesbian Jokes in One Big Happy

One Big Happy - Season Pilot
Danny Feld—NBC Elisha Cuthbert as Lizzy on One Big Happy

With Ellen DeGeneres and Liz Feldman in charge, Girl Next Door actress she says she trusted her bosses' sense of humor

There haven’t been many sitcoms centered on a lesbian character since Ellen and The Ellen Show, but Ellen DeGeneres is hoping to change that with One Big Happy. The talk-show host is the executive producer this time around, not the star — that job goes to Elisha Cuthbert. She plays Lizzie, a sweet but uptight woman who decides to have a baby (platonically, not the old-fashioned way) with her straight best friend Luke (Nick Zano). Things get complicated when he meets and quickly marries a beautiful British woman, Prudence (Kelly Brook) who’s in danger of being deported.

The pilot airs Tuesday, and the show will be under a fair amount of pressure to get renewed — NBC only ordered 6 episodes for a midseason release. In advance of the premiere, we caught up with Cuthbert to talk about the show’s sense of humor and the influence of Ellen and the show’s creator, Liz Feldman.

TIME: What drew you to this show and this character?

Cuthbert: I got the script and I remember vividly laughing out loud at some jokes, which is always for me a really great sign that the comedy doesn’t have to be willed to be funny — it just is. So that was really promising. And then I was just so over-the-moon excited that Ellen DeGeneres and Liz Feldman would consider me to play Lizzy. I mean, they are two very influential lesbians and I was just kind of shocked and ecstatic that they thought I was right for it, and that they thought I was funny and that I could do this part properly and give it some sort of justice. It was fantastic.

I do have to tell you I was terrified of doing a sitcom, ironically, not of anything else. It’s out of my wheelhouse, I’d never done one before. As you get older you get a little bit more fearful, I guess! I was sort of going, “Hmm, I don’t know if I can do that, I don’t know if I can handle that.” And Nick Zano, who plays Luke, was the one who called me up and said, “Don’t let the process stop you from playing the character, because I know you can do it and I’ll be there for you and we’ll do it together.” He really was a huge support for me.

As executive producer, has Ellen been involved in the process?

She really has been involved. I was ready to be like, “We’re never gonna see her,” because she just has so much going on. But she actually did come a lot, and came and warmed up the audience before tape nights, which was also kind of intimidating because she’s so funny, and then it’s like, “Okay, now she’s gone,” and then we have to entertain them! It was kind of crazy. It’s really kind of hard to follow comedy after Ellen DeGeneres. She was there for the pilot, gave us some great notes about what she wanted from us as far as making sure Nick and my character’s friendship was believable, because without that the show is nothing.

The punchline of a lot of jokes is basically just that Lizzy’s a lesbian. Are you nervous about whether actual lesbians will find that funny?

I never had too much concern because when you have Liz Feldman at the helm and Ellen Degeneres, I thought that their taste would be appropriate and that they would have a much better gauge about whether we were going down the right path with certain jokes or not. I was laughing out loud, too, [at] really great jokes, like when Luke says to me, “I knew you were gay when you wore a top hat to prom.” I mean it’s just funny stuff. It’s crazy and goofy and it’s real friends poking fun at one another.

What’s the latest you’ve heard on whether NBC will order more episodes?

Generally you find that out in May. It would be season 2, but we did discuss when the baby’s coming. We didn’t feel like we got enough great stuff out of it. There’s still more awkwardness in being pregnant, and you really didn’t get to see the baby bump at all. So it would be season 2 and then it would be the pregnancy, no delivery at that point.

Sometimes you’ll get a midseason release like [this]. It actually was perfect in the sense that if we had started at the start of this year, there’s a lot of pressure going into a new show to do well and to get great numbers. When there’s a midseason show the heat is tapered down a little bit. We’re just gonna get a chance to go on and to see if people respond.

Do you have special plans for watching the pilot?

I know that we’re definitely live tweeting for the East Coast and the West Coast. It’s St. Patrick’s Day, so it’s a little hard to go to any sort of bar. I think we’re planning to get together at someone’s house, possibly.

Big pivot: Would you ever do a Girl Next Door sequel?

I feel like Danielle would be a little old at this point. It would definitely be a different story. But I had such a great time doing that movie, and I know that it’s special to a lot of people, which makes it even better. But yeah, I would definitely collaborate with [director] Luke Greenfield again. I would definitely work with all of those guys again, for sure. I mean Timothy Olyphant is just brilliant. He’s so good in that movie and he’s so good on [Justified]. He’s just a tremendous actor, I’m really lucky that I got to work with him.

TIME movies

How One Movie Changed LGBT History

Boys in the Band
Michael Ochs Archives / Getty Images Kenneth Nelson with his arm resting on Cliff Gorman shoulders in a scene from the film 'The Boys In The Band', 1970.

The Boys in the Band was released 45 years ago

“If the situation of the homosexual is ever to be understood by the public,” a TIME film review stated in 1970, “it will be because of the breakthrough made by this humane, moving picture.” The picture in question was The Boys in the Band, which was released on March 17, 1970, and was one of the first American films to focus on gay characters.

Adapted from Mart Crowley’s 1968 off-Broadway play, the movie is an unflinching and candid illustration of gay life at the time. It offers a snapshot of a particular generation of gay men in New York City, for whom to be “a queer” necessarily meant to be an outsider, and deeply unhappy. Though the characters are unabashedly campy in speech and affect, it’s a survival strategy used to disguise the pain of difference.

Recovering alcoholic Michael (played in the film by Kenneth Nelson) gathers several friends together to celebrate Harold’s (Leonard Frey) 32nd birthday. As the night wears on and the party guests become increasingly drunk, their banter grows sharper and meaner. The flamboyant Emory (Cliff Gorman) enlists the services of a young blond hustler, “Cowboy Rex” (Robert La Tourneaux), as a gift to Harold, but the men treat him with disdain; as a sex worker, Cowboy occupies an even lower rung on the social hierarchy than the rest of them do. Tensions mount when Michael’s straight college friend Alan (Peter White) shows up unexpectedly, putting pressure on the men to conceal their sexualities for as long as possible. Emory cannot fool anyone, and, threatened by his effeminacy, Alan punches him in the face, bloodying his mouth and sweater.

To the generation of gay Americans who came of age amidst the positive imagery of the contemporary LGBT rights movement — pride, love, rainbows and the message that “It Gets Better” — the plight of these men can look unrecognizable. With its bitter angst and grim outlook (the film’s most famous line is “show me a happy homosexual and I’ll show you a gay corpse”) The Boys in the Band feels like something of a relic.

But in 1970, it was a milestone for gay representation in Hollywood. For decades, homosexuality did not appear onscreen at all; the 1930 Motion Picture Production Code, enforced until 1968, prohibited the portrayal of “sex perversion.” Although a handful of characters from classic films — Plato in Rebel Without a Cause, the “sissy” cowardly lion in The Wizard of Oz and the murderous aesthetes in Hitchcock’s Rope — managed to slip past the censors, those who would interpret such figures as gay are stuck reading subtext. In The Boys in the Band, on the other hand, gay desire and identity are explicit; each character announces his presence as a “fairy” or a “queen.” The film helped make the gay community culturally visible during a moment in which openly discussing homosexuality was still taboo, and many Americans had yet to encounter an “out” gay man in person.

At the time of the movie’s release, gay audiences did not universally applaud it, as some believed that the self-loathing and dysfunctional characters perpetuated negative stereotypes. But the film was still a turning point, not least for suggesting that homophobic oppression, rather than some sort of innate pathology, is responsible for making gay men so miserable; it ultimately condemns the social and psychological consequences of “the closet.”

A lot has changed in the past 45 years. The gay liberation movement of the 1970s reduced much of the shame and stigma associated with homosexuality, and gave many gay men the sense of belonging and acceptance that the characters in Boys in the Band were missing. And today, with so many people out to their relatives, friends and co-workers, it is less likely that an individual’s only exposure to the LGBT community comes from the media. But the media, too, has transformed dramatically; in most genres of popular entertainment, especially television (both scripted and unscripted) there has been an explosion of out LGBT characters that shows no signs of slowing down.

In American film, gay characters are far less likely to be cast as villains and recruiters now than in previous decades (in movies like Cruising, for instance), but still the most commercially successful and critically acclaimed films with gay male protagonists are tend to be tragedies. Think of the movies that have received attention from the Academy in recent years, like Brokeback Mountain, Milk, A Single Man and The Imitation Game. These films showcase gay life in the past rather than the present — they are period pieces that remind us of the bad old days, the repression and the hatred prior to our apparently enlightened modern era. The heroes die at the end, murders and suicides.

When queer activist and author Vito Russo wrote about homosexuality on film in the book The Celluloid Closet, he compiled a “necrology” list of dead gay movie characters, because he counted so many of them. That was in 1981, just before the AIDS crisis killed thousands of gay men in San Francisco and New York. Russo’s observation was further validated after Hollywood recognized the AIDS epidemic, in movies like Philadelphia, and other dramas with inevitably bleak conclusions. Now in 2015, the list keeps growing.

During a moment in which LGBT activists promise bright futures to gay youth, it may seem paradoxical that American critics and audiences continue to prefer gay tragedies on film — a sign of our lingering cultural ambivalence regarding sexuality. But as The Boys in the Band shows us, stories of suffering can evoke empathy and offer a sense of historical perspective. The problem only comes in assuming that violence and intolerance are situated safely in the past.

Read TIME’s original 1970 review of the movie, here in the archives: Shades of Lavender

The Long ViewHistorians explain how the past informs the present

Sascha Cohen is a PhD candidate in the history department at Brandeis University, specializing in the social and cultural history of 1970s America.

TIME celebrities

Celebrities Join Elton John in Dolce & Gabbana Boycott

Elton John performs on Feb. 28, 2015, in Reading, Pa.
Owen Sweeney—Invision/AP Elton John performs on Feb. 28, 2015, in Reading, Pa.

#BoycottDolceGabbana begins trending on Twitter

Celebrities have joined in the condemnation of fashion designers Domenico Dolce and Stefano Gabbana — honchos of Italian fashion house Dolce & Gabbana — who drew the ire of Elton John Saturday when they declared gay adoption unnatural and deemed children born via IVF “synthetic children.”

The 67-year-old “Candle in the Wind” singer immediately took to Instagram to demand: “How dare you refer to my beautiful children as “synthetic?” and warning “I shall never wear Dolce and Gabbana ever again. #BoycottDolceGabbana.”

Now, celebrities from Ricky Martin to Courtney Love are echoing John’s sentiment, referring to the luxury designers’ views as outdated and promising to dispose of the brand-name products:

Amid the backlash, Stefano Gabbana issued a press statement Sunday saying “It was never our intention to judge other people’s choices. We do believe in freedom and love.”


Boston Sees Historic St. Patrick’s Day Parade

St Patricks Parade Gays
Steven Senne—AP Retired U.S. Air Force Master Sgt. Eric Bullen, of Westborough, Mass., left, holds an American flag as U.S. Army veteran Ian Ryan, of Dennis, Mass., front right, rolls up an OutVets banner after marching with a group representing LGBT military veterans in a Veterans Day parade in Boston, Nov. 11, 2014. The organizers of Boston's annual St. Patrick's Day parade voted to allow the group of gay veterans along with a second group, Boston Pride, to march in this year's parade.

Two gay groups participated, ending a two-decade ban

Two gay rights groups marched in Boston’s annual St. Patrick’s Day parade for the first time in its 114-year history on Sunday, ending a two-decade ban against participation by lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) groups in the annual celebration.

LGBT rights group Boston Pride and OutVets, an organization for gay veterans, joined in the South Boston St. Patrick’s Day Parade this year, as did Mayor Marty Walsh, who opted out last year because it didn’t allow gay groups. No Boston mayor had participated in the parade since 1995, when the U.S. Supreme Court upheld the Allied War Veterans Council’s ban on participants who identified as gay.

“I’m thrilled that the St. Patrick’s Day parade is inclusive this year, and the addition of Boston Pride to the list of participants reflects the values of the South Boston neighborhood,” Walsh said in a statement before the event. “With this year’s parade, Boston is putting years of controversy behind us.”

The parade route, which winds through the city’s traditional Irish-American section, was shortened by nearly half this year after heavy snowfall in recent months stymied road-clearing efforts, Reuters reports.

New York Mayor Bill de Blasio plans to boycott his city’s pride parade for the second year in a row because organizers won’t allow more than one gay group to participate.

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