News: New York wipes out ‘gay’ slander, June 1, 2012

Falsely calling someone gay is no longer slanderous in New York. With that decision, a mid-level appeals court wiped out decades of prior rulings on Thursday, including its own.

“These appellate division decisions are inconsistent with current public policy and should no longer be followed,” stated the unanimous decision, adding that the assertion of slander had been “based on a false premise that it is shameful and disgraceful to be described as lesbian, gay or bisexual.”

The court ruled that society no longer treats false comments that someone is gay, lesbian or bisexual as defamation and without defamation, there is no longer slander. “With the decision and similar ones in several other states, calling someone gay is eliminated as defamation, just as being called black is no longer grounds for slander,” said Jonathan L. Entin, law and political science professor at Case Western University Law School in Ohio.

While the decision establishes new case law in New York, it could still go to a definitive ruling by the state’s highest court, the Court of Appeals. Meanwhile, teenaged boys everywhere were left without their go-to catchphrase with which to readily insult their friends.

CNN’s Ashleigh Banfield clarifies controversial statements
CNN anchor Ashleigh Banfield took to the airwaves Friday in an attempt to clarify controversial remarks she’d made during an “Early Start” segment the previous morning. Banfield admitted that she “probably misspoke and mangled words” in stating that pedophilia and incest weren’t choices, but that being gay was a “lifestyle choice.”

“I made some comments yesterday that ended up getting a lot of traction out there, not only on Twitter but elsewhere,” Banfield explained. “And I want to be very, very clear about what my comments were about.”

Banfield went on to explain that she’d intended to say that incest and pedophilia involve victims who don’t have a choice, while individuals in a gay relationship engage voluntarily. She further clarified that while those who perpetrate incest and pedophilia are committing crimes those involved in gay relationships were not.

“Being gay is not a choice; being in a voluntary gay relationship is a choice. It is not a crime,” stated Banfield.

Banfield’s initial remarks were made during a segment about Curtis Knapp, the Kansas pastor who has called for the state-sanctioned execution of gay people. He compared homosexuality to incest and pedophilia, to which Banfield added that the latter two aren’t choices, but being gay is, a misstep widely shared via social media.

Clearly attempting to cover all her bases on the subject Banfield closed her Friday remarks by adding, “So I hope that at least clears up any of the comments I made after that story of the pastor. And in no way do I agree with or stand by any of the comments that pastor made either.” Good to know.

GLAAD recognizes Facebook for anti-bullying efforts
Facebook’s efforts to eradicate anti-gay bullying from its users’ pages have earned the social media company a GLAAD award.

Facebook will receive a Special Recognition Award at the 23rd Annual GLAAD Media Awards for the company’s strong stand and leadership around bullying prevention as well as its inclusive options for LGBT users,” GLAAD announced in a statement.

As a member of the Network of Support, Facebook has worked very closely with groups like GLAAD, GLSEN, HRC, PFLAG and the Trevor Project to monitor and stamp out hate speech on the site and to offer gay-friendly relationship options such as “in a domestic partnership” and “in a civil union.”

Two Facebook employees involved in the company’s LGBT work will accept the award at GLAAD’s gala event on June 2 in San Francisco and Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg will appear in a taped thank-you message. Facebook is the first social media company to receive such an award.

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