Amish leader,15 followers convicted of hate crimes in beard attacks
Sam Mullet, leader of the breakaway Amish sect in eastern Ohio, denies allegations he's running a cult.
October 3rd, 2012
05:15 PM ET

Amish leader,15 followers convicted of hate crimes in beard attacks

By Jason Hanna and Mallory Simon, CNN

(CNN) - Sixteen members of a breakaway Amish community in rural eastern Ohio, including its leader, were convicted of federal hate crimes Thursday for the forcible cutting of Amish men's beards and Amish women's hair.

Sam Mullet Sr. and the 15 followers were found guilty of conspiracy to violate federal hate-crime law in connection with what authorities said were the religiously motivated attacks on several fellow Amish people last year.

The verdicts were read in U.S. District Court in Cleveland following several days of jury deliberation and a trial that began in late August, a U.S. attorney's office said.

Prosecutors said the 15 followers, at Mullet's instruction, shaved the beards and cut the hair of Amish people who had left his group over various religious disagreements. Five attacks happened in four eastern Ohio counties between September and November 2011, authorities said.

To the Amish, a beard is a significant symbol of faith and manhood, and the way Amish women wear their hair also is a symbol of faith, authorities said.

The assaults violated the Matthew Shepard-James Byrd Hate Crimes Prevention Act, which "prohibits any person from willfully causing bodily injury to any person, or attempting to do so by use of a dangerous weapon, because of the actual or perceived religion of that person," according to the office of the U.S. attorney for the Northern District of Ohio.

Opinion: Oops, I left my sexual orientation at home
California Gov. Jerry Brown signed a law last weekend prohibiting attempts to change the sexual orientation of patients under 18.
October 3rd, 2012
11:27 AM ET

Opinion: Oops, I left my sexual orientation at home

Editor's note: LZ Granderson, who writes a weekly column for CNN.com, was named journalist of the year by the National Lesbian and Gay Journalists Association and a 2011 Online Journalism Award finalist for commentary. He is a senior writer and columnist for ESPN the Magazine and ESPN.com. Follow him on Twitter: @locs_n_laughs

By LZ Granderson, CNN Contributor

(CNN) - This morning I decided to wear jeans.

I could've gone with sweat pants, but I needed to stop by a couple of offices and didn't want to look too relaxed. I could've done slacks but didn't want to look too uptight. I'm not big into khakis and it's too chilly for shorts, so jeans won out.

I decided to go with the French Roast over the Morning Blend. When I got in my Jeep, I decided to listen to Eric Church as opposed to Zac Brown Band or Craig Morgan. I opted not to run that red light. I chose to park on the street as opposed to the nearby lot.

And just before I got out of the car, I chose to be gay.

I was going to make that decision earlier, but you know how hectic mornings can be. I'm just glad I remembered when I did. I've been known to go all day without remembering to pick a sexual orientation, which can make things pretty awkward at home.

Now, if that last part sounds a bit stupid to you, welcome to my world.

The idea that people can just pick their sexual orientation the way the pick what to wear or what kind of coffee to drink is so irrational that even conservative vice-presidential nominee Paul Ryan had a problem going along with that line of thinking.

Read LZ Granderson's full column
October 3rd, 2012
06:00 AM ET

Latino immigrants empowered by vote

Editor’s note: In America follows the fight to win an essential voting bloc in Nevada, a battleground state with one of the fastest-growing Latino populations in the nation. Soledad O’Brien reports in “Latino in America: Courting Their Vote” at 8 p.m. ET Sunday.

By Cindy Y. Rodriguez, CNN

(CNN) - Forty years ago, Balbino and Rosario Guevara didn’t vote. It had nothing to do with Nixon’s landslide or the electoral implosion of the Democratic Party; they were living in El Salvador. And they were simply afraid.

“I had two businesses: a restaurant and store. But then, the politics took a turn for the worse. ... People, even teachers, were being kidnapped. It was terrible,” Balbino Guevara said. “I told my wife, 'I don’t like this. We need to leave.' ”

The Guevaras watched helplessly as the country hurtled toward a brutal civil war. They fled to the United States in the early '70s, and suddenly, the ballot box became a key part of their identity.

It's immigration, stupid, say Latino voters in Nevada

“The first thing we did after we became U.S. citizens was go to the town hall and register to vote,” Rosario Guevara said proudly in her native Spanish. “And we have voted at every single election since.”

The Guevaras became naturalized citizens and embraced voting in a way that was denied their countrymen in El Salvador, hit by electoral violence and fraud and a coup amid the bloody civil war.

“It’s very important to vote. Very, very important,” Rosario said. “I always tell my two daughters to vote, but they don’t listen to me.”

She has been voting since 1992, and her husband cast his first ballot in the following presidential election in 1996. “We even vote in our local town elections,” said Rosario Guevara, who now lives in West New York, New Jersey, across the Hudson River from Manhattan.

But that passion isn’t always shared by other Latinos. Balbino Guevara believes that one reason why Latinos vote in smaller proportions to other population groups is the lingering memories of fellow immigrants of what went on in the old country. FULL POST