Thursday, February 21, 2013

Around The Nation

New York
Tim Tebow
Tim Tebow Cancels Appearance At Anti-Gay Megachurch
NEW YORK, NY -- New York Jets backup quarterback Tim Tebow has canceled his appearance at a Dallas megachurch known for its virulently anti-gay pastor Robert Jeffress.
Announcing his decision Thursday on Twitter, Tebow tweeted;
"While I was looking forward to sharing a message of hope and Christ's unconditional love with the faithful members of the historic First Baptist Church of Dallas in April," Tebow, "due to new information that has been brought to my attention, I have decided to cancel my upcoming appearance. 
I will continue to use the platform God has blessed me with to bring Faith, Hope and Love to all those needing a brighter day. Thank you for all of your love and support. God Bless!"
Tebow's initial announcement of his scheduled appearance as a "special guest" for April 28 on the church's website brought a firestorm of critisim and headlines from both the LGBTQ media and the mainstream media.
NBC Sports commentator and blogger Rick Chandler wrote:
Is Tebow’s appearance at First Baptist Dallas an ipso facto endorsement of Jeffress’ views? Not necessarily — he could be there to debate him. Or perhaps it’s a secular arts & crafts presentation. Look, work with me here, OK?
I prefer to think of Tebow as someone who saw the word “megachurch” and got excited about speaking to a lot of like-minded people, and just forgot to do his due diligence on the guy in charge. Remember Tim, Google can be your friend.
The list of Jeffress' anti-gay statements is lengthy.
In October 2011, Jeffress endorsed Texas Governor Rick Perry for president, then went on to claim that Islam, Mormonism and Judaism are heretical religions “from the pit of hell.”
On the eve of the presidential election in November 2012, Jeffress warned his Dallas congregation that President Barack Obama’s re-election would “lead to the rise of the Antichrist,” according to The Christian Post.
Jeffress also gained notoriety for his statements about the gay community. According to ThinkProgress, during the same speech where he endorsed Rick Perry in 2011, Jeffress told a crowd at the high-profile Values Voters Summit that gays should not be allowed in the military because “Seventy percent of the gay population” has AIDS.
In 1998, he checked out children's books from the local library that included same-sex parents and then refused to return them instead writing a cheque to the library vowing to keep "the filth" out. [The response by library patrons was to donate dozens of the titles for check-out.]
Jeffress has also previously suggested telling people that "the idea of long-term homosexual relationships is a myth."
Right Wing Watch reports that in an interview today with fellow anti-gay activist Tim Wildmon, the president of the American Family Association, Jeffress said that Tebow told him “he would like to come back to our church at a later date” once the current controversy blows over.

Texas Meetings & Party Facility Refuses Gay Couple's Wedding Reception
FORT WORTH, TX -- In a broadcast aired Wednesday on Ft. Worth's NBC news affiliate NBCDFW, a gay Fort Worth couple said that a local meetings & party facility refused to lease them space for their upcoming wedding reception.
Ben Allen and Justin Hudgins told the station that after 8 years of being a couple they had decided to get married, in Mexico, because Same-Sex marriages are not legal in Texas. But when they contacted the All Occasion Party Place in suburban Ft. Worth's Tarrant County, the owner after finding out that they were a same-sex couple refused to lease the space telling them, " we don't do that here."
In a subsequent email after the phone conversation, the owner wrote; [...] "it is because of God that I will not be a part in your reception and I know he loves you but not what you are doing."
"It almost felt like a sucker-punch to the face," Allen told the station. "Initially, I didn't know how to respond, so I called Justin immediately and told him what happened," he said. 
"I was kind of floored a bit. I thought, in today's day and age, for someone to deny you simply because you date someone of the same sex, it doesn't really make sense to me."
Allen and Hudgins will be married in Mexico on April 6 and plan to have their friends and family at a private reception when they return home.
All Occasion Party Place is just outside the Fort Worth city limits, so it doesn't fall under the city's anti-discrimination code, which does offer protection in such situations.
The owner of the facility refused to comment on the matter.

New Jersey
Lawsuit Claims M&M Candies Maker Fired Worker Over Sexual Orientation
M&M Mars candy plant in Hackettstown, NJ
HACKETTSTOWN, NJ -- In a lawsuit filed February 6 in Superior Court for Warren County, NJ, a local woman alleged that she was fired from the M&M Mars Candy company for being a lesbian.
In the court filing, Theresa Kwiecinski, contends that she was fired in September 2011 by the Mars Chocolate North America division's Hackettstown plant after her co-workers learned of her sexuality. The local newspaper reported that she'd worked at the company for about 10 years when she noticed a difference in treatment, heralded by a complicated pregnancy, according to the lawsuit. 
Kwiecinski's attorney, William Koy Jr. told the Express Times, "The complaint speaks for itself. My client is very disturbed for how she was treated at Mars, and we look forward to her day in court." 
According to her suit documents, Kwiecinski stated that conditions in her work environment treatment deteriorated after a March 2011 week-long work conference in Florida. She had attended that conference with her partner and their son, further stating that immediately afterwards she began to experience negativity directed at her in the workplace. She also attested that her work load was intentionally increased and when she asked for help, she was either ignored or told "well that's the business now, we all have to work bigger job." 
The Express Times reported that Kwiecinski worked as a commercial manager for external manufacturing, and had received good performance reviews, although according to Kwiecinski's lawsuit, in 2010, after the Mars Company hired a new supervisor and Kwiecinski started having issues with her pregnancy she was given reviews of "below expectations."
After she was hospitalized a few times and unexpectedly needed to go on maternity leave, she was informed that her mid-year status was again "below expectations" for failing to prepare enough for her leave, according to the complaint. 
Following her pregnancy complications and revelation of her sexual orientation, Kwiecinski alleges she was placed on a performance improvement plan that proved impossible.
She alleges that this culminated in her wrongful termination in September 2011.