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Cross-dressing soccer star seeks international acceptance

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By Kirsten Anderson

PAGO PAGO, American Samoa -- With the 2014 World Cup now in full swing, billions of eyes are on the soccer field, and will be until the final game July 13.

Two of those eyes belong to Johnny Saelua, 25, a full-time male-to-female cross-dresser who now goes by the name Jaiyah and has played for the American Samoa men’s team since the age of 14.

"I didn't know the significance it had on the world because in Polynesian culture it's not that big of an issue."

In most of the world, Saelua would be considered “transgender.” He began dressing as a female in his teen years – a practice Samoans call “fa'afafine,” meaning "in the manner of [a] woman." Polynesian culture largely treats the “fa’afafine” as a third sex – neither fully male nor fully female.  Because sex change procedures are not generally available in American Samoa, practitioners usually retain their male physiology while assuming the societal role of a female.

Saeula says he never thought much of his effeminate dress and behavior until he began playing international soccer.  Because he is biologically male, he always played on men’s teams, and quickly gained a reputation for his hard tackles and rough play. He was surprised to learn in 2011 that he was the first full-time transvestite to play soccer for an international team.

"I didn't know the significance it had on the world because in Polynesian culture it's not that big of an issue,” Saeula told the AFP.  “I assumed that a lot more trans-people in the Pacific region were playing international football. I haven't met any in my career but I was so sure that there has been [some] before me."

Although Saeula’s Samoan teammates were generally accepting of his effeminate looks and behavior, he encountered resistance when he tried out for the men’s soccer team at the University of Hawaii, where he is studying dance.

"At the warm-up for the try-outs the coach pulled me aside and said that he didn't want to put his team in an uncomfortable position,” Saeula told the AFP, “and I knew that was my cue to leave. So I only spent 10 minutes during the warm-up and I didn't even get to show how good a player I was."  Afterwards, he told Vice News, “I cried my eyes out.”

Since he wasn’t going to be able to play soccer for the men’s team, and he was in Hawaii, where sex-change procedures are readily available, he decided to begin “transitioning” in preparation for sex-change surgery.  In 2011, the 6’1” defender began taking female hormones to make himself look and sound more feminine. 

But the next time he went home for break, he was offered his old spot on the international tournament team.  The team had a new coach, and for the first time, a slim hope of qualifying for the World Cup.  Saeula dialed back the dosage on his hormones and postponed his transition. “I didn’t want to be too soft on the field, or play at my lowest potential,” he told Vice News.

The 2011 team did not make the World Cup, but they did win their first game in 30 years – a prequalifying match against Tonga.  The win was so exciting that Saeula decided to put off his sex-change surgery and keep playing for another four years.

This year, American Samoa won’t be playing in the World Cup, and Saeula has decided to retire from soccer after 2015 and pursue the sex-change operation after all.  He said that while “there are no rules” forbidding transsexuals from playing on international soccer teams, he is concerned that the surgery, which typically includes total genital reconstruction and breast implants, would make tough tackles “risky for me."  He also said he needs testosterone to play to his full ability.

The question of how to handle self-identified “transgender” athletes has become an issue in the United States and other jurisdictions.

California has passed a law allowing public school athletes to play for whatever team matches their self-perceived gender, without regard for biological sex.  If Saeula was growing up there today, he would be eligible to play on a female team whether he handicapped himself with hormones and surgery or not – meaning the 6’1”, tough-tackling male powerhouse could have played high school and college matches against teenage girls – and shared a locker room with them.

NCAA rules allow transsexual college athletes to play on the opposite sex’s team regardless of surgical status.  The only stipulations are that men have to have undergone at least one year of hormone suppression therapy before playing on a women’s team, and women who take testosterone are barred from competing on female teams.  In 2012, Chelsea Philbrook, who now goes by Chase, became the first college athlete to play on both the female and the male soccer teams at the University of Maine after she began taking testosterone and had to make the switch.

The U.S. Soccer Federation, which governs many state youth soccer organizations, passed blanket rules in 2012 permitting “self-determination” for transgender athletes.  All one needs is a state-issued ID or a doctor’s note declaring one’s preferred sex. 

“We don't discriminate,” Robert Contiguglia, who chaired the committee that wrote the policy, told Between the Lines News. “We accept who you say you are, so long as you follow the rules. It's a self-determination policy.”

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Lisa Bourne

‘You can’t have’ marriage equality ‘without polygamy’

Lisa Bourne
By Lisa Bourne

July 3, 2015 (LifeSiteNews) – Motivated by the U.S. Supreme Court ruling legalizing homosexual “marriage,” a Montana polygamist has filed for a second marriage license, so he can be legally wed to two women at once.

"It's about marriage equality," said Nathan Collier, using homosexual advocates’ term to support marriage redefinition. "You can't have this without polygamy."

Collier, who has has appeared on the TLC reality show Sister Wives with his legal wife Victoria, and his second wife Christine, said he was inspired by the dissent in the Supreme Court decision.

The minority Supreme Court justices said in Friday’s ruling it would open the door to both polygamy and religious persecution.

“It is striking how much of the majority’s reasoning would apply with equal force to the claim of a fundamental right to plural marriage,” wrote Chief Justice John Roberts.

Collier and his wives applied for a second marriage license earlier this week at the Yellowstone County Courthouse in Billings, a report from the Salt Lake Tribune said.

Collier, who was excommunicated from the Mormon Church for polygamy, married Victoria in 2000 and had a religious wedding ceremony with Christine in 2007. The three have seven children between them and from previous relationships.

"My second wife Christine, who I'm not legally married to, she's put up with my crap for a lot of years. She deserves legitimacy," Collier said.

Yellowstone County officials initially denied the application before saying they would consult with the County Attorney and get him a final answer.

Click "like" if you want to defend true marriage.

Bigamy, the holding of multiple marriage licenses, is illegal all 50 states, but Collier plans to sue if his application is denied. Officials expect to have an answer for him next week.

While homosexual “marriage” supporters have long insisted legalization of same-sex unions would not lead to polygamy, pro-life and family advocates have warned all along it would be inevitable with the redefinition of marriage.

“The next court cases coming will push for polygamy, as Chief Justice John Roberts acknowledged in his dissent,” said Penny Nance, president of Concerned Women for America, after the Supreme Court ruling. “The chief justice said “the argument for polygamy is actually stronger than that for ‘gay marriage.’ It’s only a matter of time.”

In a piece from the Washington Times, LifeSiteNews Editor-in-Chief and the co-founder of Voice of the Family John-Henry Westen stated the move toward legal polygamy is “just the next step in unraveling how Americans view marriage.”

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Chris Christie: Clerks must perform same-sex ‘marriages’ regardless of their religious beliefs

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By Ben Johnson

TRENTON, NJ, July 3, 2015 (LifeSiteNews) – Chris Christie is not known for nuance. This time, he has turned his fiery personality loose on county clerks and other officials who have religious objections to performing same-sex “marriages.”

In a tone usually reserved for busting teachers' unions, Christie told clerks who hold traditional values, “You took the job, and you took the oath.” He would offer no exemption for an individual whose conscience would not allow him to participate in a union the vast majority of the world's religions deem sinful.

“When you go back and re-read the oath it doesn’t give you an out. You have to do it,” he said.

He told a reporter that there “might” be “individual circumstances” that “merit some examination, but none that come immediately to mind for me.”

“I think for folks who are in the government world, they kind of have to do their job, whether you agree with the law or you don’t,” the pugnacious governor said.

Since the Supreme Court voted 5-4 to legalize homosexual “marriage” last Friday, elected officials have grappled with how to safeguard the rights of those who have deeply held religious beliefs that would not allow them to participate in such a ceremony.

Christie's response differs markedly from other GOP hopefuls' responses to the Supreme Court ruling. Mike Huckabee, for instance, has specifically said that clerks should have conscience rights. Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal signed an executive order granting such rights and ordered clerks to wait until a pending court case was fully adjudicated before any clerk issues a marriage license to a homosexual couple.

Christie gave up a legal appeal after a superior court judge struck down his state's voter-approved constitutional marriage protection amendment. New Jersey is the only state where such a low court overturned the will of the voters.

The decision to ignore conscience rights adds to the growing number of Christie's positions that give conservatives pause.

The natural locus of support for a Christie 2016 presidential run is the Republican's socially liberal donor class, for personal as well as political reasons. His wife works on Wall Street, and some of the GOP's high-dollar donors – including Paul Singer – have courted Christie for years.

However, this year Jeb Bush, Marco Rubio, and to a lesser degree Scott Walker have eclipsed Christie as the preferred candidates of the boardroom donors – who sometimes prefer Democrats to Republicans.

Christie also used language during a speech before the Republican Jewish Coalition last year, which concerned some major GOP donors.

Christie is reportedly spending this weekend with Mitt Romney and his family at Romney's New Hampshire home. Romney declined to enter the 2016 race himself and may be able to open his donor list to Christie's struggling campaign.

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After having a girl with Down syndrome, this couple adopted two more

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By Ben Johnson

LINO LAKE, MN, July 3, 2015 (LifeSiteNews) – For most people, having five biological children would have been enough. In fact, for many Americans, large families are treated as a scandal or a burden.

But one family made the decision, not just to have a large family, but to give a home to some of the most vulnerable children in the world: Girls born overseas with Down syndrome.

Lee and Karen Shervheim love all seven of their children, biological or otherwise. Undeterred by having twin boys – Daniel and Andrew, 18 – they had Sam four years later.

They now have three daughters who are all 11 years old. All three have Down syndrome.

And two of them are adopted.

About the time their eight-year-old son, David, was born, Lee and Karen decided to adopt a child with Down syndrome to be a companion to their daughter, Annie.

They made the further unexpected choice to adopt a child from Eastern Europe with the help of Reece's Rainbow, which helps parents adopt children with Down syndrome.

“Between my wife and I, we couldn’t get it out of our heads,” Lee told the Quad City Press. “So many children need families and we knew we could potentially do something about it.”

After originally deciding to adopt Katie, they spent six weeks in Kiev, visiting an orphanage in nearby Kharkov. While there, they decided they may have room in their heart, and their home, for another child.

When they saw a picture of Emie striking the same pose as their biological daughter in one of their photographs, they knew they would come home with two children.

Both girls were the same age as their Annie. She would not lack for companionship, as they worried.

Lee said after the Ukrainian government – finally – completed the paperwork, they returned to the United States, when the real challenges began.

“The unvarnished truth,” Lee told the Press, is that adopting the Russian-speaking special needs children “was really disruptive to our family. They came with so many issues that we had not anticipated.”

After teaching them sign language and appropriate behavior, they moved to Lino Lake, Minnesota and found a new support group in Eagle Brook Church. There they found personal assistance and spiritual solace.

Every year in the past seven years has been better and better, they say.

“I think my girls can do almost anything they want to do,” he said, “and that’s what I want to help them become.”

The family's devotion is fueled by their faith, and it informs the sense of humor Lee showed in a tweet during the 2014 midterm elections:

It takes a special person to believe in the potential of the “mentally retarded,” as they were once labeled. Today, 90 percent of all babies diagnosed with Down syndrome in the womb will be aborted. The percentage is higher in some countries. Some have even spoken of "a world without people with Down syndrome."

Their God, and their experience, tell them that every child has infinite worth and potential, Lee told local media, and he would encourage anyone to follow his footsteps and adopt a Down syndrome child – or two.

“The message is that it really doesn’t matter where you started or where you came from,” Lee said. “There are endless opportunities for everyone, whether they have disabilities or not. They deserve a shot.”

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