Sunday, June 05, 2011
Federal Reserve bank asked to lower gay pride flag
Government promotion of homosexuality? Will we see government promotion of Christianity too? I kinda doubt it
A gay pride flag flying below an American flag at a Federal Reserve bank has re-ignited a tense gay-rights debate in Virginia after officials were asked to remove it by a state delegate.
The Richmond Federal Reserve Bank hoisted a rainbow flag outside its building this month in a bid to support acceptance of diversity in the workplace.
However, Virginia state Delegate Robert G Marshall said the homosexual behaviour 'celebrated' by the bank 'undermines the American economy'.
In a letter to Richmond Federal Reserve President Jeffrey M Lacker obtained by the Richmond Times-Dispatch Marshall wrote that homosexual conduct is a felony in Virginia according to the state's penal code. That statute remains in place despite a Supreme Court ruling in 2003 which deemed the anti-sodomy law that prohibited private, sexual acts between consenting same-sex adults unconstitutional. The state has since stopped enforcing the law.
Marshall, a Republican member of the Virginia House of Delegates, continued, calling the flag's presence 'a serious deficiency of judgment by your organization, one not limited to social issues'. He wrote: 'What does flying the homosexual flag, or any other similar display, have to do with your central banking mission under the Federal Reserve Act passed by Congress?'
According to the Times-Dispatch, Richmond Federal Reserve officials placed the flag at the request of PRISM - a group of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) bank employees - in recognition of LGBT Pride Month in June.
Sally Green, the bank's first vice president and chief operating officer, said last week: 'We are flying the pride flag as an example of our commitment to the values of acceptance and inclusion.'
Bank spokesman Jim Strader said there were no plans to lower the flag, noting the Federal Reserve bank is operates independently from the federal government.
The bank has seen support from Richmond-based gay-rights group Equality Virginia, which has criticised Marshall and local opponents of gay-rights, dubbing them 'Virginia's self-styled morality police'.
Executive Director James Parrish said: 'The Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond should receive accolades for its decision to recognize and celebrate its GLBT employees, customers and vendors during Pride month.'
Meanwhile, opponents in the battle over gay-rights expansion are backing Marshall in his stance against the bank's decision. The conservative Family Foundation, dubbing the controversy 'Flag-gate', called it 'disappointing' to see the bank participate in the 'celebration' of homosexuality.
The association, whose purpose is to 'strengthen the family in Virginia through research, education, training, and public policy,' claimed state residents made clear their stance when they voted 57 to 43 per cent in 2006 in favour of the state's marriage amendment.
A post on its website fired back at Federal Reserve officials: 'So much for this being all about "inclusivity". Treading where it doesn’t belong, the Richmond Fed has alienated a large segment of the community.'
You want louts punished? That makes you a 'nasty extremist' in today's Britain
I regret to inform you that you are an extremist, bonkers, a spittle-flecked member of the lunatic fringe. That is because you agree with me that Wayne Bishop, whose triumphantly smirking, selfish face looks out at us from amid his terrifying brood of children, ought to be breaking rocks on Dartmoor instead, and to hell with his ‘right’ to a family life.
Bishop is a burglar. He is also a menacing lout who badly needs to learn some lessons in manners, but never will.
We’ve all seen faces like that and learned to cross the street, or shift down the bus, to avoid them when we see them coming. Some people, and God help them, cannot avoid them because they live next to them.
Bishop is the sort of person the law, the police and the prisons were invented to deal with and who – in a sharp break with normal practice – was actually locked up.
As the Ministry of Injustice finally admitted last week, it is harder by far to get into prison than it is to get into university.
Here are the figures, which should be tattooed on the foreheads of every member of the Cabinet so we are constantly reminded of how useless they all are: ‘96,710 criminals sentenced last year for more serious “indictable” offences had 15 or more previous crimes against their name. They included violent muggers, burglars and drug dealers.
‘Of those, only 36 per cent – around 34,600 offenders – were given immediate custody.’ So even after 15 or more previous offences, they won’t put most of them away.
So it’s almost an irrelevance that Bishop has been let out of prison in the name of his Human Wrongs. It is amazing that he was inside in the first place.
You are (for the moment) allowed to laugh at this, or to complain about it. But if, like me, you actually want to do anything about it, then you become an extremist, bonkers, spittle-flecked, lunatic etc.
Because against you, you will find all three major parties, most especially the treacherous, slippery and dishonest Tories, the BBC, the legal profession, the police and the Church of England.
They believe the system that allows Wayne Bishop and his many friends to smirk at you while they live off you is a good system. They think you are cruel, crude, outrageous and uncivilised to want a justice system that punishes bad people swiftly in ways they won’t forget.
Well, Wayne Bishop is the result of all their compassion and kindness and, as I grow older and nastier, I can’t help wishing that the people who created him could be forced to go and live next door to him for the rest of their natural lives. But then, I’m an extremist.
And if you hate the way people such as Wayne Bishop are caressed by our society, why do you keep voting for the Tories who help to caress him, and do nothing
to rescue you from him and from people like him?
Former British magistrate cleared of rape but facing bankruptcy
An outrageous conviction after a false rape accusation cannot be remedied at law?
For seven years he had served as a magistrate, a pillar of the community handing down sentences in Southampton magistrates court. So when Tony Hunt had a brief fling with a married colleague he knew that, although it might have been wrong, it was not against the law.
Little did he know that seven years later he would be accused of rape by that same woman – and his life would be turned upside down. The "attack" was reported to police not by the alleged victim but by one of her friends, another colleague, who at the time was being investigated over disciplinary matters by Mr Hunt, then a senior traffic warden.
Hampshire police persuaded the "victim", a special constable with the force, to give evidence. Hunt was arrested, charged and found guilty of rape at Winchester crown court in 2003 for the "offence" in 1995. He was sentenced to four years in prison.
Mr Hunt, from Blandford St Mary in Dorset, launched an appeal with fresh evidence to back up his claim that, after he had been on duty at the Fordingbridge country show, the woman had invited him into her home for a cup of tea and consented to sex.
New witnesses said that his accuser had been content to be in his company after the supposed "rape" and did not even change her shifts to avoid working with him. The appeal court in London also found that the trial judge had misdirected the jury. After two years behind bars, his conviction was quashed and he was a free man, innocent in the eyes of the law.
But his ordeal was far from over. When he applied to the Home Office for compensation for the two years he had spent in jail, his claim was rejected, in June 2006, because he had not proved "beyond reasonable doubt" that there had been a miscarriage of justice.
Determined to make clear his innocence, he launched a legal case for malicious prosecution against the woman he believed had concocted the allegations against him, the "victim", named only as AB.
Mr Hunt, who was sacked from his job after his conviction and has not worked since, had to remortgage the family home, use savings and take out loans to fund his legal battle, which was based on a 1995 House of Lords ruling.
But in October 2009, to his dismay, the case was thrown out by three civil appeal judges who ruled that AB was not the "prosecutor" and therefore could not be sued for malicious prosecution. "I was devastated," Mr Hunt said.
Lord Justice Sedley, sitting with Lords Justice Wall and Moore-Bick, said the prosecution was the responsibility of the police and the Crown Prosecution Service.
There was more bad news to come and today, at the age of 69, Mr Hunt – and his wife Lynn, and their 35-year-old son Paul, who have stuck by him throughout – are mired in a legal nightmare that has brought the family to the brink of financial ruin.
Hogan Lovells, the international law firm that acted for AB, is seeking nearly £500,000 costs from Mr Hunt including £80,000 AB spent on lawyers from other firms before Lovells took up the civil case.
The law firm had initially acted pro bono – free of charge – but after four months, in June 2008, switched to a "conditional fee arrangement" (CFA). This meant that although no fees would be charged to Mrs AB it could claim back its fees from Mr Hunt if he lost the case. The fees claimed would exclude the work carried out before the CFA came into effect.
The firm was voted runner-up for the 2010 Wig and Pen prize, awarded by London law societies, for its pro bono work on the Hunt case.
A spokesman for the firm said any money recovered from Mr Hunt would be given to AB to cover costs she incurred with her original lawyers, and any money due to the firm would be given to charity – although he declined to say which charity ahead of the hearing.
Mr Hunt is contesting their claim for the costs which will be decided at a hearing at Cliffords Inn in London this week (June 9/10). He said: "I feel disgusted. It is scandalous that Lovells can change their mind. "I spent two years in prison as an innocent man and now they are seeking over £400,000 and trying to bankrupt me. "I have felt suicidal at times. We are all at our wit's end."
Mr Hunt's solicitor, Stephen Taylor, of Buckinghamshire-based law firm Coyle, White Devine. said: "Mr Hunt is an innocent man who has been living in a nightmare for the past nine years."
The case has also sparked a political controversy. Questions are being asked about the role of Vera Baird, the solicitor general in the then Labour government, and a supporter of AB. Mrs Baird said the ruling against Mr Hunt in the malicious prosecution case was "good news for the courageous Mrs AB, for women and for the criminal justice system" because it would encourage women to come forward without fear of being sued for damages if the alleged attacker was eventually acquitted.
The verdict also means that if a man is wrongly accused of rape by a woman, he can bring a case to a civil court only if he can prove beyond reasonable doubt that she perjured herself in a criminal case.
In a Radio 4 interview in November 2008, defending anonymity for complainants in rape cases, Mrs Baird said: "The point ... is to avoid the shame, the guilt of having to expose that she had been treated in this way and having to be challenged about whether she consented or not."
Robert Walter, the Conservative MP for North Dorset, who is backing Mr Hunt, said he would ask Dominic Grieve, the current Attorney General, to investigate Mrs Baird's role and examine whether she had in any way abused her position by allegedly asking Lovells to take up AB's case.
Mr Walter said the law firm should not pursue Mr Hunt for costs "since they were doing the work pro bono and he was acquitted in the criminal case. He also had a strong civil case, including fresh evidence that was ruled to be inadmissible by the judge."
Lord Newby, a Liberal Democrat peer, wrote to the law firm asking them to drop the action – but it refused. He wrote: "If you were successful ... you would not only effectively bankrupt Mr Hunt – an innocent man – but would be doing so on the basis of what appears to be a cynical and unethical approach to business."
Another extraordinary aspect of the case is that both parties were initially reluctant to take action against each other. AB did not come forward with her rape allegation until she was contacted by detectives seven years after the incident, following the complaint to police by her friend who was being investigated by Mr Hunt over expenses and sick pay claims.
In another twist, following a complaint from Mr Hunt, the Independent Police Complaints Commission has asked Hampshire police to investigate an allegation that a prosecution witness in the original trial committed perjury. The CPS has also been asked to investigate claims that it withheld crucial evidence from the first trial in 2003 that did not come to light until 2008.
British Christians take prejudice row to European court
The Government will be forced to say whether it backs the rights of Christians to wear the cross and opt out of diversity legislation as part of a landmark legal case.
European judges have ordered ministers to make a formal statement on whether it believes Christians' rights have been infringed by previous decisions in the British courts, which have repeatedly dismissed their right to dress and act according to their beliefs.
The move by the European Court in Strasbourg is because Christians who believe they have suffered discrimination for their beliefs are taking a landmark legal fight the court.
Four Christians leading the pivotal new challenge include Nadia Eweida, the British Airways worker who mounted a legal action after being barred from wearing a cross around her neck. Their cases have been selected by the European Court as of being of such legal significance that they be examined further.
Once ministers have responded the court will decide whether to have full hearings on them.
The four new cases, which come from a range of Christian denominations, could lead to a final legal answer on how religious beliefs must be balanced against equality laws designed to prohibit discrimination against minority religions and other groups such as homosexuals.
The other applicants to the European Court of Human Rights include Lillian Ladele, a former registrar who objected to conducting homosexual civil partnership ceremonies because of her faith. It led to disciplinary action by Islington council in north London, where she had worked for 17 years.
Gary McFarlane, a Christian relationship counsellor, has also applied to Strasbourg after he was sacked by a Relate, the counselling service, for refusing to give sex therapy to homosexual couples.
The final applicant is Shirley Chaplin, a former nurse from Exeter, who was barred from her job in a hospital for wearing a cross.
Andrea Minichiello Williams, the founder and director of the Christian Legal Centre, which is supporting two of the applicants, said: "These cases are massively significant on every front.
"There seems to be a disproportionate animosity towards the Christian faith and the workings of the courts in the UK has led to deep injustice.
"If we are successful in Strasbourg I hope the Equalities Act and other diversity legislation will be overturned or overhauled so that Christians are free to work and act in accordance with their conscience. "David Cameron now needs to put his money where his mouth is."
Mrs Minichiello Williams added: "People with orthodox views on sexual ethics are excluded from employment because they don't fit in with the equalities and diversity agenda. It is this which we want to see addressed. Such injustice cannot be allowed to continue."
In Mrs Eweida and Mrs Chaplin's cases, the court asked the British government: "In each case, did the restriction on visibly wearing a cross or crucifix at work amount to an interference with the applicant's right to manifest her religion or belief, as protected by Article 9 [the right to freedom of religion] of the Convention?"
Earlier this year the European Court ruled that schools have a right to display a crucifix on classroom walls, after an application was brought by Roman Catholics in Italy.
The decision appeared to set European human rights law at odds with British courts, where all four applicants in the new round of cases have lost on appeal.
Mrs Chaplin was banned from working on wards by Royal Devon and Exeter NHS Trust after she failed to hide the cross she wore on a necklace chain, even though she had worn the symbol every day since her confirmation and throughout her 31-year nursing career.
The 55-year-old was supported in her battle by senior Anglicans, who claimed Christians are being persecuted in Britain.
Lord Carey, the former Archbishop of Canterbury, and six current and former Anglican bishops wrote to The Sunday Telegraph in support of Mrs Chaplin when her case was heard by an employment tribunal last year.
They expressed their deep disquiet at examples of Christians being "treated with disrespect" while followers of other faiths are treated far more sensitively. "We are deeply concerned at the apparent discrimination shown against Christians and we call on the Government to remedy this serious development," they said in their letter.
The bishops said it was "deeply disturbing" that the NHS trust's uniform policy permitted exemptions for religious clothing, such as Muslim headscarves, but appeared to regard the cross as "just an item of jewellery".
Mrs Eweida's case against BA dates back to 2006 when she was suspended for refusing to take off the cross which she regards as a personal expression of her faith. The 60-year-old, from Twickenham, south-west London, is a Coptic Christian who argued that BA allowed members of other faiths to wear religious garments and symbols - such as the Sikh turban and the Muslim hijab - but she had been sent home without pay for insisting on displaying her cross.
BA later changed its uniform policy but Mrs Eweida lost her case at the Court of Appeal and in May last year was refused permission to take her fight to the Supreme Court.
The application to the European Court says of Mr McFarlane's case: "He holds a deep and genuine belief that the Bible states that homosexual activity is sinful and that he should do nothing which directly endorses such activity."
Mr McFarlane, 50, claimed unlawful discrimination he was sacked by Relate after refusing to give sex therapy to homosexual couples, but the tribunal upheld the employers' decision.
Bristol-based Mr McFarlane, who regularly attends both Pentecostal and Anglican services, said at the time: "If I were a Muslim, this would not have happened, but Christians seem to have fewer and fewer rights."
Mr McFarlane and Mrs Chaplin are represented by Paul Diamond, a leading human rights barrister.
Miss Ladele, who joined the council in 1992 and became a registrar in 10 years later, told appeal judges that she could not carry out such civil partnership ceremonies "as a matter of religious conscience". She claimed she suffered bullying and ridicule as a result of her views and said she had been harassed and discriminated against by the council.
But Lord Neuberger, the Master of the Rolls sitting with two other senior judges at the Court of Appeal, ruled in December 2009 that Labour's 2007 Sexual Orientation Regulations - which make it illegal to refuse to serve someone on grounds of their sexual orientation - trump the rights of religious believers. "It is simply unlawful for Miss Ladele to refuse to perform civil partnerships," he said.
Political correctness is most pervasive in universities and colleges but I rarely report the incidents concerned here as I have a separate blog for educational matters.
American "liberals" often deny being Leftists and say that they are very different from the Communist rulers of other countries. The only real difference, however, is how much power they have. In America, their power is limited by democracy. To see what they WOULD be like with more power, look at where they ARE already very powerful: in America's educational system -- particularly in the universities and colleges. They show there the same respect for free-speech and political diversity that Stalin did: None. So look to the colleges to see what the whole country would be like if "liberals" had their way. It would be a dictatorship.
For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, GREENIE WATCH, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN (Note that EYE ON BRITAIN has regular posts on the reality of socialized medicine). My Home Pages are here or here or here or Email me (John Ray) here. For readers in China or for times when blogger.com is playing up, there is a mirror of this site here.