Headlines from around the world this week.
Anchorage Officials Nix Proposed Ballot Language in Effort to Repeal LGBT Ordinance
(AP) Opponents of Anchorage's lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender non-discrimination law may need to get more specific in their ballot language seeking repeal.
City attorneys approved the referendum effort while nixing language that asked whether Anchorage Ordinance 96 shall remain law, the Alaska Dispatch News reported.
City attorney Bill Falsey wrote in a Friday memo that the language didn't accurately describe what the law does.
Falsey was joined by other attorneys in suggesting alternative language saying the law prohibits "discrimination within the municipality on the bases of sexual orientation or gender identity in the sale, rental or use (of) real property, financing, employment, places of public accommodations, educational institutions, and practices of the municipality; to codify certain religious and other exemptions; and to expand the lawyer's role in fact-finding conferences before the Anchorage Equal Rights Commission."
City Clerk Barbara Jones says petitioners have to sign off on the new language in order to begin collecting signatures.
Conservative talk show host Bernadette Wilson is listed as the primary sponsor in the petition application. She did not respond to a request for comment.
Assemblywoman Amy Demboski said the repeal language has been "reworded in such a fashion to manipulate the electorate."
She said this issue is blatantly being treated differently from similar wording that had been approved for a referendum rewriting city labor law. Falsey says he was not the attorney when the labor issue went to ballot.
Assemblyman Ernie Hall chairs the ethics and elections committee, and says lawyers are defending against legal challenges that may be brought in the future.
Supreme Court Blocks Alabama Court Order in Adoption Case
(AP) The Supreme Court has sided with a lesbian mother who wants to see her adopted children, blocking an Alabama court's order that declared the adoption invalid.
The justices issued an order Monday in a case that puts on display legal challenges facing gay and lesbian parents even after the Supreme Court decided that same-sex couples have the right to marry.
The case involves a soured relationship between two women, and the three children they raised until the breakup. The children's birth mother is contesting regular visits between the children and her former partner.
Alabama's highest court refused to recognize the other woman as a parent, saying the adoption they obtained in Georgia was not valid.
The women disagree about whether the order Monday will restore visits while the appeal continues.
Scouts Ban on Advocacy Could Hurt Group's Bid for Troop
(AP) The Boy Scouts of America announced revised rules this week to emphasize a duty to God and ban political advocacy, leaving a Utah organizer who applied for a troop with gay leaders wondering if applications like his are targeted.
The changes come at the end of a turbulent year that saw the organization lift a blanket ban on gay leaders.
Restore Our Humanity - which advocated for the legalization of gay marriage in Utah - filed an application in September for an LGBT troop. Though he has yet to receive a formal response, director Mark Lawrence said he expects a rejection.
"I don't think this is what they were expecting. I don't think they expected a bunch of new charter applications to come," Lawrence said.
However, a Boy Scouts executive in the scouting stronghold of Utah said the revisions show that the organization's values remain intact.
The Boy Scouts' doors are open, but new troop applications must now be approved by a national body, not locally, Great Salt Lake Council Scout Executive Rick Barnes said.
"We're being very careful on how we do this with charters," he said. "We want to make sure that organizations are willing to follow our policy."
Utah is home to the nation's largest sponsor of Boy Scout units, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
There are about 427,000 boys in Mormon church-sponsored troops, accounting for about 18 percent of all youth Scouts.
Ind. City Council Backs Local Gay Rights Ordinance
(AP) Officials in another Indiana city have approved banning discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity ahead of an expected debate in the state Legislature over whether to stop allowing such local ordinances.
The Anderson City Council voted unanimously Thursday to extend local protections on housing, education, employment and public accommodations. The Herald Bulletin reports (http://bit.ly/1TFnpRe ) two residents spoke against the proposal, but Councilman Russ Willis said laws are sometimes needed so people do what is right.
Carmel, Columbus, Terre Haute and Hammond are among the cities adopting similar protections since last spring's uproar over Indiana's religious objections law.
A bill proposed by Senate Republicans would extend state civil rights protections to LGBT people, allowing exemptions for religious institutions and some small businesses. The bill would bar stricter local ordinances.
Top Kansas Child Welfare Official Rejects Anti-Gay Criticism
(AP) Kansas' top child welfare official says allegations that she attempts to block potential adoptions by same-sex couples are "fiction" and decisions about troubled children are driven by a desire to find the best homes for them, not anti-gay bias.
But in her first extensive interview on the subject this week, [Secretary Phyllis] Gilmore of the Kansas Department for Children and Families told The Associated Press that the department and its two foster care contractors are required by state and federal law to keep children with relatives and their siblings as much as possible. She said their decisions are focused on what's in the best interest of each child.
"We're talking about trying to get children into the best homes we can," she said. "Could that sometimes be a homosexual home? Of course, but I still say that the preferred (situation) is every child to have a mom and a dad, if possible, but it's not always possible."
That statement referred to a preference for so-called traditional families headed by straight, married couples. But she said that this would not exclude a child being placed with a gay or lesbian relative or with a same-sex couple.
Allegations of bias arose after a Topeka City Council member and his wife were charged last month with child abuse and child endangerment. They were serving at the time as foster parents and have both biological and adopted children. They were allowed last year to adopt a young girl who'd previously been foster-parented by a lesbian couple in Wichita who also wanted to adopt her, according to news reports.
Five other cases involving lesbian couples have since become public. Legislators are contemplating an audit of the child welfare system, and House Minority Leader Tom Burroughs, a Kansas City Democrat, has suggested a special investigatory committee.
Log Cabin Republicans Take Issue with LGBT Obamacare Ad Campaign
(EDGE) The Log Cabin Republicans once again denounced a social media campaign involving "selfies" for Out2Enroll, which aims to get members of the LGBT to enroll in Obamacare.
"Just when you thought they couldn't get any lower, Out2Enroll once again plays to the lowest common denominator by invoking gay stereotypes in an attempt to con members of the LGBT community to enroll in a government health insurance plan on life support," Log Cabin Republicans President Gregory T. Angelo stated. "Out2Enroll and its supporters would do well to abandon their campaign of narcissism, voyeurism, and terrible grammar in favor of real healthcare solutions being offered by Republicans in congress today."
Taking umbrage with Out2Enroll ad campaigns has become [an] annual event for Log Cabin Republicans. In 2014, the conservative gay group was equally miffed with a holiday-themed ad that featured four go-go boy types in spandex shorts and skimpy holiday accessories dancing and frolicking to the song "Let it Snow."
"This ad is also an example of the left promoting harmful stereotypes that gay men are nothing more than sex-crazed lechers," Angelo wrote last year. "If anyone on the right made such a comparison, liberals would be apoplectic. At a time when left-wing propagandists are decrying 'Duck Dynasty’s Phil Robertson for equating homosexuality with promiscuity and deviance, Out2Enroll and others should take a look in the mirror and ask if the truth is that they are the ones responsible for promoting such harmful stereotypes."
In October 2014, the GA Voice reported that Kellan Baker, associate director for the LGBT Research and Communications Project at the Center for American Progress, said Out2Enroll is not about "putting a rainbow flag" on the Affordable Care Act.
"We commissioned research of the experiences of LGBT people living under 400 percent of poverty level. The results were striking," Baker said. "There is an additional layer of skepticism, LGBT people and especially transgender people said they faced discrimination, and people reported having trouble with getting their partner and kids covered through their job."
LGBT Activist, Victim in Calif. Hate Crime, Unexpectedly Dies
(EDGE) A popular LGBT rights activist died Thursday six weeks after he and his husband were attacked in what police are calling a hate crime, Gay Star News reports. He was 71.
George Zander was sent to Desert Regional Medical Center early Thursday morning and died from unknown causes. His husband Chris Zander, who was also injured in the October attack, took to Facebook to discuss his husband's passing.
"His passion and strength has paved the road for many of us to follow and build from. His legacy will live on forever. I love this man more than I love life itself. I can only assume that is what true love is," he reportedly wrote. He added George died "in loving arms and in very little pain."
As a result of the attack, George suffered a double hip fracture and needed to undergo surgery, which then required weeks-long of rehabilitation.
George was one of the cofounders of the Desert Stonewall Democrats and was currently serving on the Palm Springs Police Department Advisory Board, Gay Star News reports.
Chairwoman of the Desert Stonewall Democrats Ruth Debra told the Desert Sun George's passing was "sudden" and "unexpected."
"All of us who are his friends are very sad and a little angry," she told the newspaper.
It was reported earlier this month police arrested two men believed to have been involved in the attack, which took place over Halloween weekend. Both Christopher James Carr and Keith Terranova pleaded not guilty but remain in custody.
At the time of the incident, Carr allegedly "intentionally" bumped into Chris and used gay slurs towards him. After the couple argued with Carr, he then allegedly tackled Chris, who was left with a concussion and required staples to the back of his head.
Carr then allegedly returned with Terranova and attacked the couple. Police accused Terranova of beating Chris with a tire iron and accused Carr of attacking George.
Birth Certificates for Arkansas Gay Couples' Kids on Hold
(AP) Married same sex couples in Arkansas will not be able to get the names of both spouses listed on birth certificates for their children after the state's highest court on Thursday put a temporary hold on a lower court ruling allowing it.
The exception is that three same sex couples who originally sued over the issue will be able to get birth certificates for their children.
The Arkansas Supreme Court suspended Pulaski County Circuit Judge Tim Fox's decision striking down part of the state's birth certificate law as unconstitutional. A spokeswoman for the state health department said that same-sex couples would need a court order to both be listed as parents now that the lower court ruling is on hold.
Earlier this week, the department had said it would issue amended birth certificates for children of same-sex couples who can prove they were married before the child was born after initially saying it would only issue them for the three couples in the case.
But the Supreme Court said it halted such birth certificates to avoid confusion.
"Substantial confusion could result if the circuit court's order were to remain in effect and subsequently be altered by a decision of this court on appeal," it said.
Attorney General Leslie Rutledge's office said she was pleased the court quickly approved her request to put the lower court ruling on hold.
"The attorney general disagreed with much of the lower court's order and was concerned that it would lead to confusion and uncertainty," spokesman Judd Deere said in a statement.
An attorney for the couples said she was disappointed with the court's ruling. All three of the couples who sued the state have received amended certificates for their children since Fox's ruling, she said.
Same-Sex Parental Rights at Issue Before Kentucky High Court
(AP) As Kentucky's Supreme Court heard a case Thursday that could help determine the parental rights of same-sex partners, one justice noted they were in "uncharted waters."
The court has been asked whether a woman has the right to intervene in an adoption case involving the child of her former same-sex partner.
The two women, identified only by their initials in court documents, were in a same-sex relationship for five years. One of them had a child in 2006 with the help of a sperm donor. The other helped raise the child until the couple split up in 2011.
Now the biological mother has cut off all contact with her ex-partner and has married a man who is trying to adopt the child. The ex-partner, identified as A.H., is seeking joint custody and wants to intervene in the case to block the adoption. But the biological mother, identified as M.L. says because her ex-partner is not the biological mother of the child, she has no parental rights. The biological mother compared her ex to a "baby sitter."
A Kenton County family court ruled in favor of A.H. But a state appeals court reversed the decision, arguing A.H. lacked legal standing to intervene in the adoption.
The Kentucky Supreme Court has already ruled that same-sex partners may seek custody of a non-biological child. But in that case, decided in 2010, the women involved had a contract written by a lawyer and signed by both of them. No such agreement exists in this case.
3 Weeks in Jail for Man Who Disrupted Gay Marriage Arguments
(AP) A protester who disrupted historic arguments over gay marriage at the U.S. Supreme Court has been sentenced to 21 days in jail.
Rives Miller Grogan of Mansfield, Texas, was sentenced Thursday. Grogan pleaded guilty in September to illegally demonstrating inside the court. Grogan was arrested April 28 after disrupting oral arguments by yelling that the Bible says gay marriage supporters "could burn in hell."
The justices announced their decision in the case in June, ruled same-sex couples have a right to marry nationwide.
Prosecutors and Grogan had agreed to a 30-day jail sentence, but prosecutors wanted him to serve it consecutively while Grogan asked to serve it intermittently, two days at a time, so he could continue to work.
Grogan must stay away from the Supreme Court for a year.
Gay Conversion Therapy Banned in Cincinnati: Violators Face Steep Fines
(AP) An Ohio city's council has passed a ban on therapy aimed at changing the sexual orientation of minors.
Cincinnati council members voted 7-2 Wednesday to outlaw the practice known as "conversion therapy." The Cincinnati Enquirer reports that nearly two dozen pastors and other people packed in to council chambers to unsuccessfully oppose the move.
But council voted to prohibit therapy by health professionals designed to change sexual orientation or gender identity, imposing a $200-a-day fine on violators.
There are laws against the practice in California, New Jersey, Oregon, Illinois and Washington, D.C. The American Psychological Association and other health organizations say conversion therapy doesn't work and can increase suicide risks.
Councilman Chris Seelbach referred to the suicide nearly one year ago of transgender teen Leelah Alcorn of suburban Cincinnati.
Puerto Rico for First Time Allows Same-Sex Couple to Adopt
(AP) A Puerto Rico court has for the first time allowed a same-sex couple to adopt a child.
Wednesday's ruling involves a woman whose longtime partner gave birth to a girl through artificial insemination. The woman had been fighting to adopt the girl for two years.
Justice Secretary Cesar Miranda calls it a historic decision and says it represents a new civil rights achievement.
Puerto Rico until recently prohibited same-sex marriages and the recognition of such marriages. However, the government struck down those laws after a landmark U.S. Supreme Court decision in late June that required every state to recognize such marriages.
Gov. Alejandro Garcia Padilla previously signed orders that allow transgender and transsexual people to change their gender on their driver's licenses and protect their rights when seeking medical services.
TLC OKs 'I Am Jazz" for a Second Season
(EDGE) TLC officials announced last week they green lit the second season of their reality show "I Am Jazz," which follows transgender teen Jazz Jennings and her family, Deadline reports.
Season 2 will have eight episodes and is scheduled to premiere in 2016.
"I Am Jazz" stars 15-year-old Jennings as she faces decisions about her health and balancing her social life with friends and dating. The second season of the reality show will continue to follow the teen and her perspective as a trans youth as she experiences school, social life, sports and family. Jennings' parents Greg and Janette Jennings, along with her sister Ari and twin brothers Griffen and Sander will also return to the show.
Time magazine named Jennings one of "The 25 Most Influential Teens" in 2014 and 2015 after she published her book "I Am Jazz."The teen and her parents founded the Transkids Purple Rainbow Foundation, a nonprofit organization to support trans youth and their families, Deadline notes.
E! announced in October it renewed "I Am Cait," the reality series that follows Caitlyn Jenner, for a second season.