This Past Tuesday the Inter-American Court of Human Rights ruled that all 20 member countries in Central and South America must legalize same-sex marriage (at best confer the legal rights associated with it).
The Court was established in 1979 by the Organization of American States, which are a comprised of several countries in Central and South America. It is the judicial enforcer as outlined in the American Convention on Human Rights, a document that outlines provisions for “personal liberty and social justice based on respect for the essential rights of man.”. Currently the there are 20 countries which include: Argentina, Barbados, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, the Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Haiti, Honduras, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Suriname and Uruguay.
The court reached it decision when Costa Rica asked the court for its opinion on if property rights extended to same-sex couples. Seven Judges from the court said that member nations “must recognize and guarantee all the rights that are derived from a family bond between people of the same sex.” The ruling is legally binding to all member countries, in-affect legalizing same-sax marriage (or rights associated with it).
There was no language on how each country needed to go about legalizing marriage equality - and there doesn't appear to be a deadline for doing so - the court rebuffed evangelical and conservative political forces opposing LGBT rights in Central and South America.
The Court also ruled that Costa Rica must allow transgender people to change legally change their name and gender marker on government-issued identification documents. While this is clearly a monumental win for LGBT rights, several of the countries listed above have policies forbidding members of the LGBT community to donate blood, adopting children, joining the military or having access to housing, employment and public accommodations.
Recently HRC suspends Walmart's CEI score. The conclusion was that while Walmart might have a LGBT policy, it isn't enforced. Reports show that Walmart did little to nothing to protect LGBT employee's from discrimination. For awhile it was unclear why Walmart received such a high score on the CEI index. One theory is that Walmart like many companies only seek to attract LGBT dollar's and really don't care one way or the other about issues in the LGBT community.
It appears that HRC's reticence to modify its application or enforcement of polices says volumes about the power corporations have over the LGBT movement Recently HRC was asked to sign a letter demanding Nissan to take a neutral position on recent union elections at Nissan. HRC refused to sign the letter.
The Human Rights Campaign finally acknowledged the retail giant is not treating its employees — including LGBT employees — humanely. Jerame Davis says HRC should have made this point much sooner.
An article written by Jerame Davis and Michele Kessler they highlighted issues not only with HRC's CEI scoring but how corporation have a hold over HRC and other community leader. Just because they sponsor pride events, create floats doesn't mean that companies are treating or actively combating LGBT discrimination in the workplace.
Maybe until HRC can actually do something for the LGBTQ community instead of pandering to corporations we should suspend our donations.
Image purchased at istock.com and used for commercial use only.
On July 2017, I wrote and posted an article regarding Southern Decadence, Inc. "N.O. Southern Decadence, In., 501(c)(3) status: Is It a Fraud". The article focused on Southern Decadence, Inc. claim that they are a 501(c)(3) tax exempt organization. Since then I have received several comments regarding the story. At first, I would not have responded to comments that either didn’t make sense or were just personal attacks on me, but attacks on my family and blog require me to respond to those who have a lot to say but never to my face.
I refuse to post any of the comments. I will not give someone a platform to vent their narrow-minded points-of-view, or opinion. While I value opinions from everyone, even when they differ from my own. I believe that it’s important to understand and listen to others as they express themselves, but I draw a line when those comments cross a line and become defamatory, question my honesty or integrity. Since 2015 when I wrote my first article I have tried to maintain professional standards and fairness in everything I write and post.
With that being said; I want to make it clear that I stand by my article. What do you tell someone who gets a letter from the I.R.S. explaining that the sponsorship donations they made in 2015 for $1,500 and 2016 for $1,500 are not allowed to be claimed as a donation on their tax returns because the organization is not a tax exempt 501(c)(3)? That they now must amend their taxes for two years, pay penalties/fines, and the expense to use a tax accountant? Their recourse was to submit the paperwork that they retained so that the I.R.S. could determine if any tax codes were violated, and let Southern Decadence, Inc. explain. So, who pays the tax bill, not to mention the $3,000 they gave in good faith?
Not only has Southern Decadence, Inc. left themselves open to possible civil and/or criminal claims, but they have eroded the trust in the LGBT community (then again maybe not). Any possible legal issues that Southern Decadence Inc. faces is of their own making..
It’s interesting that some people in the LGBT community deem or use the term fake news or just drama. While many might think the subject is not important, to some it is important. When did it become acceptable to lie, cheat or deceive a community to collect money? What was written is based in fact, and everything was sourced or confirmed. Contrary to what has been said, we did reach out to get a confirmation or give Southern Decadence, Inc. an opportunity to explain, or deny the article. Not one person has called, texted or stood in front of me and contradicted any portion of the article.
I welcome anyone to talk to me about the topic and convince me it was a mistake. As the owner/editor of an online blog, I’m 100% responsible for all the content published. I don’t make excuses for mistakes that I've made, nor will I ever redirect that responsibility. Regardless of the medium used (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or YouTube) it reflects Squirrel News.
I will not apologize, explain or defend the article. I believe it speaks for itself!
Southern Decadence is one of the largest LGBT events in New Orleans. Every Labor Day weekend thousands of visitors descend on the city to party and have a good time. The annual Southern Decadence parade is a much-anticipated event; which features the official Grand Marshals.
New Orleans Southern Decadence, Inc. is the entity that raises money for the parade and various charities in New Orleans. Locals in the LGBT community and businesses give thousands of dollars to support Southern Decadence, not to mention each Grand Marshal host several events to help raise money.
New Orleans Southern Decadence, Inc., state that they are a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt organization on their sponsorship application Which means they can raise money as a tax-exempt organization defined by the Internal Revenue Service tax codes. Having a 501(c)(3) tax-exemption allows money collected, to possibility be tax-deductible on personal and business federal tax returns. To decide if New Orleans Southern Decadence is a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt organization research was conducted by looking under the Exempt Organizations Select Tool of the I.R.S. and no listing was found, therefore, I called the Internal Revenue Service and spoke with a Mr. Reece (100057****), a complete search was conducted using the name(s), addresses, cities, and zip code(s) as listed in the database of the Louisiana Secretary of State, at the time this article was posted the I.R.S. could not verify New Orleans Southern Decadence, Inc. had or currently is a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt organization, nor was an application submitted. As a matter of fact, according to Ambush Magazine in their Nov. 22 – Dec. 5, 2016 edition, New Orleans Southern Decadence, Inc. paid $15.00 to the Louisiana Secretary of State to file their annual report; however according to the state’s database they are not in good standing for failure to file an annual report. So, what did they file?
I find it strange that New Orleans Southern Decadence, Inc., does not list anywhere on their website the EIN number that would have been given when their application was approved. When you give cash you never receive a receipt, which all 501(c)(3) organizations are required to give when requested. New Orleans Southern Decadence, Inc. has never posted or made available their annual reports. Unless you count the information they post in Ambush; which cannot be confirmed.
This raises concerns about the people overseeing the company. Do they know that they are cheating the public out of money? By stating a falsehood. According to a source at the United States Justice Department, “it’s considered fraud to state that you are a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt organization if you do not have proper documentation of the fact”. The Justice Dept. takes all accusations of fraud seriously, and there is a possibility that state statutes might have been violated. All 501(c)(3) tax-exempt organizations must abide by certain rules; such as, when holding a fundraising event where money is raised, funds should go directly to the charity. New Orleans Southern Decadence, Inc. may deduct certain expenses directly related to the event, but nothing outside the described event. So, where does that leave the parade? Can money be raised under a 501(c)(3) and spent on a parade (including insurance, permits, police details, costumes, and sanitation/cleanup, etc.)? Does the parade directly benefit any charity?
So, what happens to Southern Decadence? An event founded on the principle of having fun and being decadent. Is Southern Decadence as we know it coming to an end? It is a shame in my opinion when a company deceives the public and local businesses by asking for money under a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt status when in fact they are not and never were! I remember a saying that someone once told me, "never fool around with the I.R.S., sooner or later they will come knocking and wanting answers" when that day comes Southern Decadence might return to its original purpose. Until then we wait!
UPDATE: It appears that New Orleans Southern Decadence, Inc. has filed their annual report with the State of Louisiana. However, that doesn't mean they are compliant with the Federal tax codes regarding 501(c)(3). At the time of this posting (8/3/2017 3:15 AM CST) New Orleans Southern Decadence Inc. sponsorship form still, states their a 501(c)(3) corporation.
Ambush Magazine. 45th Southern Decadence Sets New Records: Over 216,000 Participants, Over $259 Million Economic Impact, Over $27,000 for Charity. Vol. 34. 22 November - 5 December, 2016. Article. 28 July, 2017. Online.
Department of the Treasury. Internal Revenue Service. Charitable Contributions - Substantiation & Disclosure Requirements. Publication 1771. Catalog No. 20054Q. Rev. March 2016. 28 July, 2017. Online.
Department of the Treasury. Internal Revenue Service. Tax-Exempt Status for Your Organization. Publication 557. Catalog No. 46573C. Rev. January 2017. 28 July, 2017. Online.
Department of the Treasury. Internal Revenue Service. Tax Information for Charities & Other Non-Profits. EO Select Check. Database. 28 July, 2017. Online
Louisiana Secretary of State. Commercial Division. Charter Number 4121365N. New Orleans Southern Decadence Inc. 28 July, 2017. Online.
Image: istockphoto.com Purchased for commercial use. 28 July, 2017.