News Bites for Feb. 19, 2014

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‘Homosexuals Should Be Exterminated’

A confidant of suspected arsonist Musab Masmari turned FBI informant said the motive behind the New Year’s Eve fire at popular Seattle gay club Neighbors stemmed from Masmari’s “distaste for homosexual people.” Further, the informant was concerned that the suspect “may be planning terrorist activity” reports Seattle’s CBS affiliate, KIRO-TV.

Greg Kabel

Documents filed in King County Superior Court say that Masmari, 30, told a friend who is a member of the local Muslim community that "homosexuals should be exterminated." The friend-turned-informant contacted the FBI.

Actress Ellen Page Comes Out

Actress Ellen Page, known for her role in "Juno," announced she is gay during an emotional speech Friday in a crowded conference hall in Las Vegas.

“I'm here today because I am gay. And because... maybe I can make a difference,” Page, 26, told a crowd at an event called Time to THRIVE, a conference to promote issues of the gay community.

The Canadian star got a standing ovation during the speech.

“I am tired of hiding and I am tired of lying by omission,” Page told the crowd. “I suffered for years, because I was scared to be out.”

Virginia’s Gay Marriage Ban Struck Down

A federal judge in Norfolk, Virginia, last week struck down the state’s ban on same-sex couples marrying, but stayed the execution of her order, that the state stop enforcing the law, pending appeal to the Fourth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals.

Whatever the Fourth Circuit’s decision, it will apply to Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Maryland, and West Virginia.

“Equality isn’t something that happens just up north,” said American Foundation for Equal Rights executive director Adam Umhoefer, at a press conference Friday morning.

Italian Trans Activist Detained in Sochi

An Italian gay-rights activist says she was detained by police in the Olympic host city after being stopped while carrying a rainbow flag saying "Gay is OK" in Russian.

Vladimir Luxuria, a former Communist lawmaker in the Italian parliament who has become a prominent transgender rights crusader, said on her website and Twitter feed that she was held for several hours Sunday before being released. It was not known if she was charged with any offense.

Her website published a photograph of her after her release. Before her arrest, she tweeted: "I'm in Sochi. Greetings in the colors of the rainbow, in Putin's face."

Sochi police would not comment.

Texas Judges Officiate ‘Commitment’ Ceremonies

An offer by two Texas judges to officiate same-sex “commitment” ceremonies at an Austin courthouse on Valentine’s Day has sparked the anger from GOP politicians who noted the Lone Star State bans gay marriage.

The Austin American-Statesman reported Saturday the offer by County Court-at-Law Judge John Lipscombe and his wife, visiting Judge Jan Breland, a retired county court-at-law judge, was part of a 25-year tradition to hold free courthouse weddings on Valentine’s Day. The pair issued a statement Thursday saying the event would include “free commitment ceremonies for same-sex couples.”

Agriculture Commissioner Todd Staples slammed the judges’ offer saying it’s wrong for a sitting judge “to hold a ceremony mocking our state constitution.”


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