By Christy Barritt
Mississippi Town Sued Over Gay Bar
The Southern Poverty Law Center is suing the town of Shannon, Mississippi, for its refusal to approve a license to open a gay bar.
Businesswoman and lesbian Pat Newton requested the business license and was denied by the city’s Board of Aldermen.
The SPLC lawsuit, brought about on Newton’s behalf, reads, “The Defendants denied Newton’s business license application because they did not want Newton to open a business in their town that would cater to the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender community, not because of any failure to meet the criteria for opening and operating a business in town.”
The suit goes on to claim that Newton’s constitutional rights to equal protection and free speech under the First and Fourteenth Amendments were violated.
At press time, the city had refused to reconsider the license.
Attorneys Try to Overturn Virginia’s Marriage Amendment
The same group of lawyers who overturned California’s same-sex marriage ban is now trying to overturn the constitutional amendment prohibiting gay marriage in Virginia.
The American Foundation for Equal Rights and two other attorneys have joined a lawsuit filed in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia.
The suit was filed on behalf of a gay couple who were denied a marriage license at the Norfolk Circuit Court. A lesbian couple who were married in California but now want their marriage recognized in Virginia have also joined in the suit.
Lawyers involved in the case said they won’t be happy until all Americans—not just those in California—have the same rights and privileges that other Americans do.
The Virginia amendment was voted on in 2006 and defines marriage as between one man and one woman.
Who’s More Likely to Believe in Aliens?
A new poll conducted by Survata, a consumer research firm, showed that 55 percent of atheists and agnostics believe that alien life is possible, as compared to only 32 percent of Christians.
Broken down, that means that nonbelievers are 76 percent more likely than Christians to believe that life exists outside of planet Earth.
Of all the religious groups surveyed, Christians were the least likely to believe in extraterrestrial life at 32 percent. When broken down by denomination, Baptists were the least likely of Christians to believe in aliens at 29 percent, while Eastern Orthodox Americans were the most likely at 41 percent.
On the whole, 37 percent of the Americans surveyed answered affirmatively to their belief in the likelihood of alien life, as opposed to 21 percent who do not believe, and 42 percent who remained uncertain.
National Organization for Marriage Sues IRS
The National Organization for Marriage is taking the Internal Revenue Service to court after the government organization illegally released confidential tax documents to the Human Rights Campaign, a civil rights organization that advocates on behalf of the gay community.
HRS published the confidential information on its website in March 2012. The information included names of donors to the National Organization for Marriage. Some of those donors—including Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney—were then harassed. The Huffington Post also republished the information.
Releasing confidential tax information without permission is a felony under federal law.
The main goal of the lawsuit is to bring the crime to light and to make sure those responsible are brought to justice.
Christy Barritt is an award-winning author, freelance writer, and speaker living in Chesapeake, Virginia. She and her husband Scott have two sons.