Monday, December 10, 2012

Around The Nation

New Jersey
Pharmaceutical Giant Merck Suspends Funding For Boy Scouts Of America Over Its Anti-Gay Discrimination
WHITEHOUSE STATION, NJ -- The Merck Foundation announced that it has suspended all funding to the Boys Scouts of America (BSA).  The foundation indicated that it will consider funding the BSA again when the organization's inclusion criteria has been expanded regarding LGBTQ people.
The Pharmaceutical Giant, which manufactures some of the most widely used drugs including asthma treatment Singulair and the HPV vaccine Gardasil, joins fortune 500 companies Intel and UPS, which both pulled their funding following a campaign by led by Scouts for Equality, which was co-founded by Iowa-based LGBT equality rights activist Zach Wahls.
In a statement released last week, foundation spokesperson Brian Grill wrote:
"The Merck Foundation believes that it is critical to honor and support a foundational policy of diversity and inclusion in all funding decisions. Recently, the Boy Scouts of America (BSA) restated its policy that excludes members on the basis of sexual orientation. The BSA’s policy of exclusion directly conflicts with the Merck Foundation’s giving guidelines. 
We know that many of you have personally contributed to the BSA and that this decision may be upsetting to some of you. However, we cannot continue to provide support to an organization with a policy that is contrary to one of our core beliefs. We remain ready and willing to re-consider our funding position in the event that the BSA were to revise its policy."
Wahls, who is currently campaigning to have telecommunications giant Verizon cease its support of the Boy Scouts via a petition, reacted to the news saying:
"I am thrilled that Merck & Company, a Fortune 100 pharmaceutical giant, has announced its foundation arm is immediately withdrawing funding from the Boy Scouts of America until the program ends its anti-gay membership policy."
In a notice posted on its webpage, the foundation said:
The BSA's policy of exclusion based on sexual orientation directly conflicts with the Merck Foundation’s giving guidelines.  The Foundation re-evaluated funding for the BSA when the organization restated its policy that excludes members on the basis of sexual orientation.  Merck Foundation has notified the BSA of this decision. 
As part of the broader review of funding decisions in 2013, the Foundation is currently assessing all current and future funding commitments to ensure that it is not funding organizations with policies contrary to its own. 
The Boy Scouts of America reaffirmed its long-time policy barring openly gay members from joining the organisation and barring gay and lesbian people from serving as scout leaders during a national conference in July. The ban has provoked considerable backlash for the organisation including rather pointed criticism from President Barack Obama condemning the BSA's stance. 
The BSA's policy states:
"While the BSA does not proactively inquire about the sexual orientation of employees, volunteers, or members, we do not grant membership to individuals who are open or avowed homosexuals or who engage in behavior that would become a distraction to the mission of the BSA. 
"Scouting believes same-sex attraction should be introduced and discussed outside of its program with parents, caregivers, or spiritual advisers, at the appropriate time and in the right setting. The vast majority of parents we serve value this right and do not sign their children up for Scouting for it to introduce or discuss, in any way, these topics. 
"The BSA is a voluntary, private organization that sets policies that are best for the organization. The BSA welcomes all who share its beliefs but does not criticize or condemn those who wish to follow a different path." 
Lesbian Who Faked Hate Crime Pleads No Contest
By Chris Dyer | LINCOLN NE -- In a Lancaster County Courtroom Monday, Judge Gale Pokorny, found Charlie Rogers Guilty of staging a fake hate crime that shocked both the citizens of Lincoln, and the nation first for it brutality and then for lying about the crime.
Rogers, 34, pleaded no contest in court this afternoon, a reversal of the not guilty plea she had made in the case earlier in September. Judge Pokorny set the date of her sentencing for February, 14, 2013.
Rogers' defense attorney Brett McArthur told reporters after the hearing;
"The courtroom is not a gentle place. Charlie is a very fragile personality. This has been very distressing experience and she felt she couldn't go on.”
Local prosecutors had charged Rogers last August with making a false report to police. She told investigators that three men broke into her house on July 22, tied her up, carved anti-gay slurs into her skin and tried to light the house on fire.
Media outlets from across the nation including CNN, NBC, Sports Illustrated, and LGBTQ Nation covered the story. Rogers re-asserted her claim to her version of events in a 15 minute video she posted online in mid-November.
“The Investigation culminated with me in a room with law enforcement and them saying, Charlie you did it. Say you did it. You did it. And me saying, No, No I didn't I won't say I did it then, I won't say I did it now. I did not do this I am innocent," Rogers said in the YouTube video.
Rogers also accused Lincoln police investigators of botching the investigation by trying to shred her story while according to her the three attackers ran free.
"Despite being railroaded," she said, “I'm gonna talk. I'm gonna talk, and I'm gonna talk until I can't talk anymore. This isn't ok.”
Prosecutors offered Rogers no deal, she faces up to one year in prison, and a fine of up to $1,000 for the misdemeanor crime when she appears again before Judge Pokorny for sentencing.