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SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) - A proposal making it illegal to display what some are calling "revenge porn" is one step closer to becoming law.
The bill makes it a felony to post sexual material of another person on the internet without their consent. An Illinois Senate committee unanimously passed the bill Wednesday.
State Sen. Michael Hastings is sponsoring the measure. The Democrat from Orland Hills says "revenge porn" - often posted by angry ex-boyfriends, girlfriends or spouses - has serious harmful effects, even leading victims to commit suicide.
Mary Dixon is the legislative director for the American Civil Liberties Union of Illinois. She says the organization is concerned the bill is too broad and would like to see some changes.
The legislation now moves to the Senate.
 
Published in Local News
JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) - The American Civil Liberties Union filed a lawsuit Wednesday seeking to force Missouri to recognize same-sex marriages performed in states or countries that allow them. Here are five things to know about Missouri's law.
 
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   CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENT: Missouri voters overwhelmingly approved a constitutional amendment - with 70 percent support - in August 2004 that prohibits same-sex marriage. The measure states: "That to be valid and recognized in this state, a marriage shall exist only between a man and a woman." Missouri was a trailblazer of sorts, becoming the first state to enact such an amendment after the Massachusetts high court permitted gay marriage there. Other states adopted similar measures in subsequent years.
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   MISSOURI HIGH COURT: Last October, the Missouri Supreme Court ruled against a man seeking state survivor benefits after his same-sex partner, Highway Patrol Cpl. Dennis Engelhard, was killed while working in 2009. Missouri's law governing state survivor benefits defines marriage as between a man and a woman. The state's high court said Kelly Glossip was ineligible for the benefits because he was not married to Glossip.
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   EXECUTIVE ACTION: In November, Democratic Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon announced that he was directing state tax officials to accept joint tax returns filed by same-sex couples who were legally married elsewhere. Nixon noted that Missouri's tax code is tied to the federal one, and that federal officials had recently decided to allow legally married gay couples to file joint federal tax returns. Officials from the Missouri Baptist Convention were among several plaintiffs who sued in January contending that Nixon's policy violates the Missouri Constitution. Some Republican state House members have filed articles of impeachment against Nixon because of the policy, though no hearings have been held.
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   DISCRIMINATION LAWS: Missouri law does not currently prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation. The state Senate, on the final day of the 2013 session, passed a measure that would have added sexual orientation to a list of anti-discrimination categories that already includes race, color, gender, religion and disabilities. But the bill never was considered by the House. Nixon has called for passage of the measure this year, but no legislative hearings have been held on it.
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   GAY FOOTBALL PLAYER: The ACLU's lawsuit isn't the first significant event in Missouri this week pertaining to gay rights and discrimination. Michael Sam, an All-American football player at the University of Missouri, publicly announced he is gay. Sam is preparing for the National Football League draft, and if he makes a team, he could become the first openly gay NFL player.
Published in Local News
ST. LOUIS (AP) - The American Civil Liberties Union is suing a small southeast Missouri town after police allegedly threatened to arrest a homeless couple for holding a sign asking for help.
 
The ACLU filed suit Monday on behalf of the homeless couple, Edward Gillespie and Brandalyn Orchard. The suit filed in U.S. District Court in Cape Girardeau names the city of Miner and two unidentified police officers.
 
The lawsuit claims that in late September, Gillespie and Orchard were holding a sign that read, "Traveling. Anything helps. God bless." A Miner officer told them to leave.
 
The ACLU says the officer later showed copies of city ordinances related to vagrancy, begging and loitering. A second officer arrived and the couple was told to leave town or face arrest.
 
A Miner police spokesman declined comment.
Published in Local News

A new wrinkle to the school transfer story today. The ACLU of Eastern Missouri sent a letter to the superintendents of Mehlville and Kirkwood schools asking them to reconsider their decision to place limits on the number of transfers they will accept from Riverview Gardens.

ACLU Executive Director Jeffrey Mittman argues that all students are guaranteed an education.

"There cannot be arbitrary government action that would limit that right", Mittman says,"so for example, you cannot say there is a date cutoff by which you need to make that selection, or a lottery that would limit the right of students to attend the accredited school that their families select."

Mittman says the ACLU is not issuing a mandate to the districts, but says the letter is intended to open a dialogue with school officials.

 

Published in Local News

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) - The ACLU of Illinois says the state's abortion notification law will go into effect in 35 days.

The Illinois Supreme Court issued a ruling Thursday that ended a lengthy and emotionally charged legal battle of a 1995 law that's never been enforced. It requires doctors to notify a girl's parents of her abortion 48 hours before the procedure. It applies to girls 17 and younger.

The ACLU represented the southeastern Illinois clinic and the director of the University of Illinois at Chicago's Center for Reproductive Health in the case.

The group says the measure "jeopardizes the health and safety of young women."

The ACLU says it will spend the next weeks working with health care providers and lawyers to counsel girls.

 
Published in Local News

   The Ku Klux Klan is challenging a new Desloge, Missouri ordinance that bans them from distributing flyers in city streets.  

   A judge has already struck down a city wide ban on distributing leaflets that the Klan had fought with the help of the ACLU.  Tony Rothert, legal director for the ACLU's Eastern District of Missouri says the Supreme Court has long held that handing out leaflets is protected by the First Amendment.  

   Rothert says that neither he, nor the ACLU agrees with the KKK`s message, just their right to share it.  "We think it’s important for all Americans that they be able to distribute literature to get their ideas out in peaceful ways and let the market place of ideas debate who’s right,” he said.

   Rother has suggested the that the city's new ordinance is an attempt to get around the earlier judges ruling. 

   Desloge city administrator Greg Camp says that's not true.  Camp says, it's never been a question of First Amendment rights.  "Regardless of the message, we have to respect the fact that everyone has the right to free speech," he said. "The concern is for people being in the road."

   Camp says the city consulted with an attorney before crafting the new measure, and they believe it will hold up in court.

   The city has until Monday (May 6th) to respond to the ACLU's new complaint.

   Desloge is about 60 miles south of St. Louis.

 

Published in Local News

ST. PETERS, Mo. (AP) - A lawsuit filed Monday by the American Civil Liberties Union claims that the free-speech rights of a Ron Paul delegate were violated when he was arrested outside a Republican caucus in suburban St. Louis last year.

Brent Stafford of O'Fallon was part of the St. Charles County Republican Central Committee caucus on March 17, 2012, that grew so testy it was canceled. Stafford was arrested outside the high school gym where the caucus was held as he tried to gather other supporters of Ron Paul. He was charged with trespassing but later acquitted by a St. Peters municipal judge.

The suit names the city of St. Peters and the arresting officer, Tim Hickey. It seeks unspecified monetary damages.

Messages seeking comment from the city of St. Peters were not returned.

 

Published in Local News
JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) - The American Civil Liberties Union says it will keep fighting against Missouri's new constitutional amendment on prayer after a federal judge dismissed its initial lawsuit.

The ACLU sued Missouri's Department of Corrections on behalf of two inmates after voters approved the amendment in August. It argued the measure's ballot summary did not explain how the amendment would impact prisoners. A provision in the amendment says the religious rights of inmates are limited to federal law, which provides fewer protections than Missouri law.

U.S. Judge Howard Sachs dismissed the case in February. An ACLU official says the group hasn't decided whether to appeal this case or wait for another lawsuit.

The amendment is more widely known for protecting public prayer and letting students avoid assignments that violate their religious beliefs.
Published in Local News

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