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Just days before a death row inmate’s scheduled execution, Susan Sarandon makes an impassioned plea on Monday’s episode of Dr. Phil to save the life of Richard Glossip, who has been on Oklahoma’s death row for 17 years.
“I’m heartbroken for the state of our judicial system as much as I’m heartbroken for this man,” says the Academy Award®-winning actress. “Because of the color of your skin or how much money you have, you can’t get a decent shake. It shouldn’t be that way. This is America — we’re better than that.”
Glossip, 51, who is scheduled to be executed by lethal injection on Wednesday, September 16, was convicted in 1998 of first-degree murder of his boss, Barry Van Treese. Glossip maintains his innocence despite being convicted and sentenced to death by two juries.
When Dr. Phil asks Sarandon how she will feel if Glossip is not granted a stay of execution, Sarandon responds: “I’ll feel ashamed and sad for us all. Not just for him. I mean, it’s hard to even put an animal down, but to put a man down? It’s just not the way we should be living our lives. It’s just wrong.”
If Glossip is executed as planned, he’ll leave behind four children and two grandchildren.
Sarandon is joined on the show by Sister Helen Prejean, Glossip’s spiritual adviser and the author of Dead Man Walking, whose character was played by Sarandon in the 1995 film. Prejean and Sarandon are appealing to Oklahoma Governor Mary Fallin to grant a stay of execution based on what they call the mishandling of Glossip’s case and poor legal representation.
Prejean tells Dr. Phil about one of her conversations with Glossip earlier this year: “He goes, ‘Sister Helen, I hope you don’t mind … but I want to ask you to be with me if I’m executed.’ And I will not just walk with that man, and be his spiritual adviser and hold his hand while he dies. His dying is wrong. The totally inadequate defense and no forensic evidence — and on that Richard Glossip is sitting on death row.”
Dr. Phil responds: “Well, we know in the American legal system, there are different standards of proof … To deprive someone of their liberty in America, to deprive someone of their life in America, is and should be the highest standard you can possibly imagine. Where 12 people go in a room and there is nothing that reasonable people could disagree about. There’s no possible way they could say there’s an alternative explanation that could even be considered. And in this case, the two of you, just in the few minutes that I’m talking to you here, have presented half a dozen alternative explanations, motives, for why [the man who claimed that Glossip hired him to commit the murder] would say what he’s doing. The absence of proof that would at least be a shred of doubt. Is that not violating the moral code of beyond a reasonable doubt for taking a man’s liberty and life? Is that not?”
Prejean answers, “Of course, I wish you had been Richard’s lawyer.”
Tune in to this episode of Dr. Phil on Monday, August 31 to see why Sarandon is moved to tears by Glossip’s exclusive statement from death row about his impending execution — find out where to watch here.
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A Mississippi school board has rewritten the district’s rules on school clubs after a student expressed interest in forming what the superintendent called “gay clubs.”
According to the Clarion-Ledger, a student at Brandon High School in Rankin County approached a teacher about starting a Gay-Straight Alliance chapter, which is aimed at creating safe spaces for students regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity. According to the teacher, the student sent the proposal for the new club to school administrators.
On Wednesday, the Rankin County School Board voted to require students to get permission from parents before joining clubs. Officials deny that they knew about the club before making their decision, although superintendent Lynn Weathersby met recently with county administrators and the school board attorney to discuss how to legally “limit organizations like that on campus that we don’t want to endorse and don’t want.”
Brandon High School did not return The Huffington Post’s request for comment.
The school board’s decision was quickly condemned by advocacy groups and civil rights organizations.
“This policy sends a harmful message to LGBT students in Rankin County that they are not welcomed within their classrooms, at school functions or on the bus,” said Mississippi’s Human Rights Campaign director Rob Hill in a statement. “The board’s actions tell LGBT students that they should be ashamed of who they are and that their lives are valued less than their peers.”
“I was greatly disturbed when I heard what was said by the superintendent and his board attorney, because he should know better,” American Civil Liberties Union Legal Director Charles Irvin told WAPT. “What I want to see changed is that you not try to hide behind abstinence only to say that is the rationale for keeping students from being able to assemble.”
Though school board officials stated that the new restrictions apply to all clubs and are not unlawful, Rankin County School Board attorney Freddie Harrell also claimed that a GSA club might violate the state’s abstinence-only education policies. Courts have rebuked school districts that have made similar arguments in attempting to block GSAs from forming, finding that clubs are dedicated to promoting tolerance and raising awareness of prejudice in schools.
According to the ACLU, 15 federal courts have upheld students’ rights to form GSAs under the Equal Access Act, which prevents schools from discriminating against clubs based on the content of the meetings.
Mississippi is one of nine states with restrictive laws that maintain strict goals for teaching students about sexuality and essentially bar teachers from educating students about LGBT issues.
Gay Voices – The Huffington Post
Legendary actress Cicely Tyson, known for her roles in film and television series like Roots, Sounder and The Help, says she decided early on that her work would be more than a job: she’d use her opportunities to help make a difference. Watch why Cicely is more determined than ever to create change.
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