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Saturday, January 15, 2011

Engaging news of Facebook

Chris Hughes
Facebook co-founder Chris Hughes, 27 -- who's been dubbed "the kid who made Obama president" for organizing his social networking site, My.BarackObama.com, during the historic 2008 campaign -- is planning to marry his long-term boyfriend, Sean Eldridge.
Wunderkind Hughes, said to be worth more than $500 million, was a roommate of Mark Zuckerberg at Harvard and served as Facebook's spokesman. He's now the founder and director of Jumo.com.
Eldridge, the baby-faced political director for Freedom To Marry, announced his engagement to Hughes before guests including City Council Speaker Christine Quinn, Newark Mayor Cory Booker, state Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, Ivanka Trump, Jared Kushner, Simon Doonan and Jonathan Adler at the couple's sprawling SoHo loft for the New York City Reception in Support of Freedom To Marry.
"This is very timely for Chris and I to have you here tonight to celebrate marriage and work on marriage," Eldridge announced to guests. "We got engaged two weeks ago, so there is a real sense of urgency."
The two decided to make their longtime relationship legal on New Year's Eve. "We were in Thailand in a hotel room in the north. We were delayed after two days in the snowstorm and Chris got down on one knee and proposed. It was very traditional and very sweet," Eldridge told us. "We've been together for five years now."
They have yet to set a date, and Eldridge said they'll try to wait until gay marriage is legal in New York.
"As you know, we can't get married in New York, so there is more of an urgency to approve gay marriage, so we can get married here," Eldridge said. "We're going to get married in the next year or two for sure -- we're hoping as soon as possible."

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Florida Leads the Nation in Denying Medications to HIV-Positive People

By Elizabeth Lombino -

Our culture is inundated with one crisis after another. Energy crisis, healthcare crisis, financial crisis, unemployment crisis ... These are all very real and they are scary. Yet, there is another serious crisis that is somehow hidden from our collective consciousness. The ADAP crisis.
ADAP, or AIDS Drug Assistance Program, is a vital program that assists HIV-positive individuals with paying for the incredibly expensive medications needed to treat and manage this devastating disease. Without these essential medications, a person’s HIV disease is more likely to progress to AIDS. HIV/AIDS can become life-threatening.
Currently, ADAP funding is being slashed in many states across the country. More and more people are becoming infected with HIV and as a result, states are struggling to keep up with the demand for ADAP assistance. Thousands of HIV-positive people have been terminated from the program and thousands more are being placed on waiting lists. Currently, there are more than 5,100 people in ten states on ADAP waiting lists.
Florida is at the heart of this crisis, as 2,715 people are now on the state's waiting list. This is over half of the national total. And these numbers continue to grow each month as states continue to struggle with financial constraints and increasing HIV infection rates.  This is a major crisis that could only get worse if something doesn't change.
Please join us today in demanding Florida State Legislators to provide better care to its residents who are living with HIV by reinstating ADAP funding.
On the plus side, Florida state officials recently decided to cancel a public hearing to discuss the possibility of lowering the ADAP income eligibility level. This move would completely terminate hundreds of HIV-positive people from ADAP due to their "too high" income level. No waiting list, just total loss. The proposed changes are on hold, so without continued protest and awareness, the change could eventually become a reality.
At this point, you may be wondering why such an article is posted on the Gay Right's Cause. We're among the first to proclaim "HIV/AIDS is NOT a Gay Disease!" Yes, this is true, yet it is also true that HIV still disproportionately affects young men who have sex with men. Also, while many LGBT organizations were at the front lines of AIDS advocacy in the early years, some have shied away from the battle. We all need to be loud and raise awareness to reduce stigma. We need to get news involving HIV/AIDS back in the mainstream media. As Kellee Terrell writes:
While the media continues to improve its reporting on LGBT issues -- especially around bullying, homophobia, DADT, ... marriage equality and job discrimination -- more needs to be done to illustrate how these issues directly impact one's own HIV risk. It may come as a surprise to some that there are still many cases (and many states) in which it is legal to fire someone based on their sexual orientation and gender identity and expression in the U.S. And if people can be fired from their job, that means they can lose their financial stability. They become less able to look after their health care, and in some cases may even become homeless. A slew of reasons begin to emerge that can make those individuals more vulnerable to HIV. (Hint, hint: National LGBT organizations, perhaps now is the time to make HIV/AIDS a platform issue. If you do, the media might follow.)
The ADAP crisis is very real and very scary. Florida is not alone. Other states are struggling with ADAP funding cuts and the consequences fall to the HIV-positive individuals themselves. This story deserves the same attention as many other events we hear about on a daily basis. Stay tuned to this cause for future posts and petitions highlighting the need for change with ADAP across the country. Together, we can overcome this crisis to ensure all individuals living with HIV/AIDS get the vital medications they need.

petition text -
Please Reinstate ADAP Funding for Your Residents Living with HIV/AIDS

Greetings, Florida State Officials,

Florida is at the heart of our nation's ADAP crisis. We urge you to reinstate full funding to this vital program for all of your residents living with HIV/AIDS.

We applaud you for cancelling the upcoming public hearing to discuss the possibility of lowering the ADAP income eligibility level. We all know this would be a devastating move for the residents of your state living with HIV/AIDS, and for your state's healthcare providers.

ADAP is vital in the HIV/AIDS fight. Far too many people cannot afford these life-saving, yet incredibly expensive medications. Without proper medication, HIV disease can more quickly progress to AIDS. HIV/AIDS then becomes life-threatening. ADAP assists those with financial constraints to gain access to these vital medications. To further cut funding puts thousands of lives in danger.

Thank you for taking the time to read this letter. We urge you to join us in fighting the ADAP crisis by reinstating funding.

[Your name here] 

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Gay Intern Famous After Heroic Action in Arizona

In this Jan. 9, 2011 photo, Daniel Hernandez, an intern with U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, D-Ariz., walks across the lawn outside University Hospital in Tucson, Ariz.
Daniel Hernandez

By Terry Tang -

He sat next to President Barack Obama in the nationally televised event. People are lining up to shake his hand, seeking an autograph or photograph. A mariachi band recognized him and rushed over with a spontaneous serenade.

Intern Daniel Hernandez’s brave and clear-headed actions in helping save the life of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords after she was shot in the head last Saturday made him an unlikely hero. His appearance Wednesday at the Tucson memorial service for the shooting victims - he spoke humbly about his role and was embraced by the president - has moved his new-found celebrity into the stratosphere.

His poise and unscripted remarks in front of the president, other political dignitaries, victims’ families and others in the 13,000-plus crowd in a basketball arena have left people amazed - and heartened - that it was coming from a 20-year-old University of Arizona student.

In his speech, Hernandez insisted he was not a hero. In the shooting’s aftermath, he raced to Giffords’ side, holding her, applying pressure to her wounds until first responders arrived. Obama politely disagreed, assuring him that he was, in fact, a hero.

Since Wednesday night, Hernandez has given more than 200 interviews. Trying to walk into the medical center where Giffords is hospitalized or anywhere else, he is surrounded by throngs of well-wishers.

Before the memorial, the biggest group Hernandez had ever addressed was about 30 people.

"And even that I think is a bit of a stretch," Hernandez told The Associated Press.

Hernandez said the whole event still seems unreal. He can’t even remember exactly what he said Wedneday night.

"I ended up throwing away the speech I was going to be giving moments before I went up on stage. I think it’s really disingenuous to be doing anything other than speaking from the heart."

Hernandez had been an intern with Giffords’ office for all of five days when the shooting happened at a district meet-and-greet outside a supermarket. He also volunteered as a teenager for her 2008 congressional campaign.

Born in Tucson to parents of Mexican heritage, Hernandez grew up the oldest of three children. His parents taught him and his two sisters from a young age to give back.

"My mom is like that. She has a big heart," younger sister Alma Hernandez said. "My dad always thinks about the community. He always wants to do better. He always told us we have to always go back to our community where we came from to help out."

Their father is retired and their mother has a side business baking cakes.

Hernandez’s talent for public speaking was developed in high school, where he participated in academic decathlons, Junior Honor Society and student council.

Besides interning for Giffords, Hernandez was appointed as a commissioner at large to the City of Tucson Commission on Gay, Lesbian Bisexual and Transgender Issues. He plans to help the organization with education outreach on issues such as bullying.

C. Michael Woodward, co-chair of the commission, said Hernandez had a resume bigger than some candidates twice his age.

"It was pretty clear he was a mover and a shaker long before any of this happened," Woodward said. "The real heroes are the ones who dedicate themselves to public service but that’s what he’s planning to do anyway. He just got his hero badge early."

The amazing improvements in Giffords’ medical condition have helped him get through what’s been a traumatic, surreal week, he said.

"It’s really hard to describe how much better I feel and just knowing she’s been a fighter," Hernandez said. "I can’t say I’m surprised that something miraculous happened but still, it sends chills down your spine."

Many observed after his speech that he would be a natural for public office, but Hernandez downplays the idea.

"My main focus is making sure I can get back to school, make sure no matter what I do I finish up for my degree," Hernandez said.

He is also trying to juggle the public’s curiosity about him while maintaining the focus on the shooting victims, those he describes "as the real heroes," including first responders.

"I keep saying I don’t want the attention," Hernandez said, adding that he feels guilty when he is asked for interviews. "...If that makes sense to anyone but me. It’s just really hard to balance right now."

Hernandez isn’t the only one who’s been overwhelmed by all the sudden attention. His family has also been stunned by how much his life has changed.

"I still see him and I think he’s so normal," said Alma Hernandez. "I find it awkward that people see him as a celebrity type. Little kids look up to him. I’m not saying there’s anything wrong with it. It’s just weird."



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Jane Lynch says gay actors will never get the straight leading roles

Glee star Jane Lynch says that while she does not think Hollywood is homophobic, gay actors will never get to play straight leads.
The lesbian actress, who married her partner in 2010, told AfterElton.com that mainly straight audiences want to pin their “hopes and dreams” on straight actors.
When asked if she thought film studios would begin casting gay or lesbian stars in lead roles, she said: “I don’t know when or if that will ever happen.
“I think because since most of the world is straight – and maybe we’ll get to a place where this will happen – most of the world is straight and we want the audience to project their hopes and dreams for love and romance onto those actors.
“And if it’s not in some way possible, maybe never probably, in their mind that it could never happen, then they’re not going to do it. You know, most people are straight, and I think that’s probably why.”
But unlike Rupert Everett, she said she did not find Hollywood anti-gay.
“Look, I’ve never – as far as I know, it’s been behind my back if it has – I’ve never been turned down for a role because I’m gay. I’m a character actor, and that’s probably why,” she said.
“I don’t find Hollywood, in my own experience, to be homophobic. Have I ever been turned down? I don’t know because you never know when you don’t get something or why you didn’t get it. But I do think the straight folks will continue to play the straight roles.”
Last month, Everett, who is gay, claimed that straight actors were taking over gay roles, while veteran actor Richard Chamberlain said it would be safer for gay actors to stay in the closet.
US commentator Ramin Setoodeh also weighed in, claiming that Hollywood “doesn’t even allow gay actors to play gay”.

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Ibis Hotels: Where People Who Want to Murder Gays Get to Hold Conferences

By Michael A. Jones -

An Ibis hotel in London is set to host a conference this Sunday. But this isn't just any old hotel conference. Nope, according to the folks at OutRage in the UK, it's a conference featuring some of the fiercest anti-gay speakers around, including speakers who say that gay people should be executed by being stoned to death.
Here are the details. This Sunday, an Ibis hotel in Earls Court, London, will be playing host to a daylong conference of leaders from the Islamic Education and Research Academy (IREA). But according to the folks at OutRage, IREA doesn't represent the breadth and depth of Islam. Instead, they have a lengthy track record of promoting fundamentalist beliefs that homosexuality should be punished with stoning and that LGBT people should be murdered.
"The Ibis Hotel group should not facilitate speakers who promote homophobic discrimination and violence. They should cancel this booking," said Peter Tatchell, a member of OutRage. "Most Muslims in Britain do not believe that lesbian and gay people should be killed. These extremists are out of touch with the majority of Muslim opinion. They are divisive and they damage community cohesion. Their homophobic fanaticism is being exploited by the far right to unfairly tarnish the wider Muslim community."
That's why OutRage and other LGBT activists in the UK are calling for Ibis to drop the conference, or else face a boycott from LGBT customers.
OutRage documented a lengthy list of religious leaders affiliated with IREA who have some deeply disturbing viewpoints. There's Shaykh Abdullah Hakim Quick (scheduled to speak this Sunday), who has said that "AIDS is caused by the 'filthy practices' of homosexuals," that "homosexuals are not natural," and that the Islamic position on homosexuality is death.
There's Abdur-Raheem Green (also scheduled to speak), who has said of homosexuality: "[It deserves] a slow and painful death by stoning. It is indicative of just how harmful this crime is to society."
And there's Hamza Tzortzis (again, someone scheduled to speak on Sunday), who justified his position that criminalizing homosexuality is OK by saying this: "There are societies past and present which accepted paedophilia and cannibalism as normal parts of human life and they would find Western society oppressive preventing them from carrying out these practices."
Sounds like quite the lineup for Sunday, right?
Other leaders with IREA have actually been banned from entering Britain because of their track record of hate speech. Last year, Home Secretary Theresa May banished two leaders with the group, for repeatedly saying that contemporary societies needed to adopt the death penalty for LGBT folks.
So here's the question: these religious leaders might have the freedom to believe such archaic and damaging beliefs. But does Ibis hotels have to give them a platform for spewing their hatred? That's what OutRage wants to find out.
"Lesbian and gay people - and straight people of conscience - should not use Ibis Hotels while they continue to host extremist anti-gay preachers. A boycott campaign might be necessary if Ibis does not change its policy," Tatchell concluded.
Meanwhile, if you want to pressure Ibis hotels and let them know where you stand on this issue, send their executives a message here.

petition text -
Stop the Anti Gay Hate Preachers Conference at Ibis Hotel Earls Court, LONDON

Greetings,

I am Deeply Saddened to learn that the Ibis Hotel in Earls Court will host an Anti Gay Hate Conference on Sunday 16th January 2010.
Can I mention that the headline speakers are associates of the hate preachers Dr Zakir Naik and Bilal Phillips who are both banned from entering the United Kingdom by the Home Secretary Theresa May
How can the Ibis group do this to gay people?, does your chain not like them?
I urge the Ibis Group to immediately Cancel this Conference and Stop hosting Future Speakers who incite Homophobic Hatred and the Killing of Gay people

[Your name here] 

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Nepal Includes Transgender People in Census

By Tom Basgil -

Transgender and gender non-conforming Nepalese will not be ignored this year. After enacting marriage equality and allowing third-gender ID cards across the nation, Nepal is going to count the transgender community in its 2011 census.
Bikash Bista, the director of Nepal’s Central Bureau of Statistics said, “Earlier, we had only two categories, men and women. But in the upcoming census, we are including a ‘third gender’ category.” This move will allow those who do not fit into binary gender categories or who identify solely as a third gender to be counted. The new category should also ease the path to citizenship, to which transgender Nepalis are already entitled by law.
Nepal’s first openly gay parliamentarian, Sunil Babu Panta, says the transgender community welcomed the change.
Recently, Nepal has been trying to attract LGBT tourists to boost its flagging economy. And really, who wouldn’t want to get married on Mount Everest? Unfortunately, the country still has a long way to go in the ways of cultural acceptance. The government is leaving much of the advertising and outreach to private companies in an effort to get the tourism dollars without angering the largely Hindu populace. So, it might all be a tourist publicity stunt. But hey, we can’t be too picky. Laws are a great way to increase social acceptance over the long term.
Nepal’s neighbor, India, will also be adding a third category to its 2011 census. America, the home of freedom, democracy and institutionalized bigotry, is once again falling behind in its recognition of the transgender community.

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Pro-Gay Rights Scientist from Brazil Appointed to High Vatican Commission

By Steve Weinstein -

Dr. Miguel Nicolelis
Dr. Miguel Nicolelis
An appointment to something called the Pontifical Academy of Sciences would not normally raise eyebrows. After all, the Vatican is not generally known as being in the forefront of scientific avant-garde thinking. (Galileo, anyone?)

But when Dr. Miguel Nicolelis was appointed to the Vatican study group, ultra-traditionalist Catholic website Lifesite news broke the news, it was to point out that the Brazilian neuroscientist "is an open defender of the pro-abortion and homosexualist ideology of Brazil’s new president, Dilma Rousseff."

Nicolelis lives in the United States, where he teaches at Duke University’s Department of Neurobiology in North Carolina. His specialty is neurologically controlled robotics, which would seem to be sexual-orientation (and abortion) neutral.

What made Nicolelis anathema to conservative Catholics is his outrage, as expressed in an article in a Brazilian magazine in which he raged against the "hysterical right>" He defended Rousseff’s platform of civil unions.

Members of the Pontifical Academy of Sciences are nominated by present academy members and then appointed by the pope.

Nicolelis is best known for his work with primate thinking patterns. He has implanted electrode arrays into a monkey’s brain that detected the monkey’s motor intent and thus was able to control movements performed by a robotic arm. This has implications for people with prosthetic limbs, among other uses.
EDGE Editor-in-Chief Steve Weinstein has been a regular correspondent for the International Herald Tribune, the Advocate, the Village Voice and Out. He has been covering the AIDS crisis since the early ’80s, when he began his career. He is the author of "The Q Guide to Fire Island" (Alyson, 2007). 
 
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Justice Dept. outlines defense of US marriage law

The U.S. Department of Justice has filed its opening legal brief for its appeal of a decision by a judge in Massachusetts who concluded that a portion of a federal law banning recognition of same-sex marriage is unconstitutional.

The appeal follows two rulings in July by U.S. District Judge Joseph Tauro, who said the federal Defense of Marriage Act is unconstitutional because it interferes with a state’s right to define marriage and denies married gay couples an array of federal benefits given to heterosexual married couples.

The Justice Department argued in a brief filed on Thursday that the law was Congress’ "reasonable response" to a debate among the states on same-sex marriage. In its brief, the Justice Department said the federal government has the right to define marriage differently than individual states.

The appeal is expected to be heard by the 1st U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Boston.

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Transgender Activist Karina Samala Honored with WeHo’s ‘Keeper of the Dream’ Award

By Karen Ocamb -

Karina Samala
The City of West Hollywood, in an annual commemoration of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr, awards the “Keeper of the Dream” Award to individuals who embody Dr. King’s philosophy and principles of justice, equality and peace, which the city embraces as core values.
Each year, the MLK Committee selects a quote from Dr. King and then asks the WeHo community to nominate people they think best reflect that sentiment. This year the quote was:
“All labor that uplifts humanity has dignity and importance and should be undertaken with painstaking excellence… Human progress is neither automatic nor inevitable… Every step toward the goal of justice requires sacrifice, suffering, and struggle; the tireless exertions and passionate concern of dedicated individuals.”
After considering all the nominations, the MLK Committee selected civil rights activist and transgender advocate Karina Samala, a member of the West Hollywood Transgender Advisory Board, as this year’s “Keeper of the Dream” award honoree.
The award will be presented to Ms. Samala tonight, Thursday, Jan. 13, as part of the City’s official launch of “Get on the Bus,” a community-based creative arts/education initiative dedicated to the empowerment and enrichment of the City’s youth.  There is a reception at 6:00pm with the official ceremonies starting around 7:00pm and the Pacific Design Center’s Conference Center, 8687 Melrose Ave., in West Hollywood. (Parking is $8 in the PDC).
Prentis Bonds, chair of the city’s MLK Committee, says this:
“Karina Samala  has not only demonstrated exceptional community leadership, but she has undertaken the labor of uplifting with painstaking excellence. She has not taken for granted that human progress is inevitable.
Karina Samala was born in the Philippines and obtained her Bachelor of Science Degree in Chemical Engineering at Mapua Institute of Technology. After settling in the Los Angeles area, she wasted no time in making her personal mission to help others work through their personal struggles of finding “one’s true self” and campaigning for human rights and transgender equality.
Buddy Goldman, Commander, Office of the Undersheriff, wrote, “Ms. Samala has educated and guided executive members of the Los Angeles Police Department to improve our service to the Transgender Community and to the public at large.  Through her efforts, we have made positive changes for both our employees, the public and for those community members who are unfortunately incarcerated.”
Rodney Scott, CSW President, Board of Directors wrote, “Karina is a driving force in the Southern California Transgender Community and is regularly called upon to help younger transgender people in crisis from lack of housing, employment, hospitalization, discrimination, and incarceration.
Since 1997 Karina has received many awards and honors.  She lives her life with grace and dignity.”
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DOJ Asks 9th Circuit to Hold Up Case Determining Constitutionality of DADT

Attorney General Eric Holder
By Karen Ocamb -

Late Friday afternoon, Eastern time, the Department of Justice filed it’s brief asking the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals to stop moving forward in the case of Log Cabin Republicans v. United States of America, the federal challenge to the constitutionality of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.


Here’s how Earle Miller, one of the attorneys from White & Case who’s representing LCR, explained what happened:
“What DOJ filed today was not a new motion, it is the reply brief on the motion they already filed on December 29.  (A party files a motion; the other party files an opposition; then the moving party files a reply.  This is the reply.)  That motion had asked the 9th Circuit to suspend the briefing schedule on the appeal while the certification process unfolds.
We had suggested to the government that we would agree to suspend the briefing IF they would agree to suspend actual discharges for the same period of time.  They rejected that.  So they are asking the court to essentially stay the appeal pending certification, while they remain free to pursue DADT investigations and discharges during that time.  In this reply brief, they are also now asking for a one-month extension of the due date for their appellate brief (now Jan. 24; they’re asking for Feb. 23) in the event that the court denies their motion to stay the appeal.
Their reply brief again brought up their claim that the court’s injunction was based only on “alleged injuries to two of [LCR's] members whose standing to sue is dubious.”  As we have argued repeatedly in previous briefing, that mischaracterizes the nature of our lawsuit and the findings of the district court.  The government keeps hammering on this argument because they see it as a way to attack the judgment without having to get into the merits of the claim.”
The DOJ wrote (see brief below):
“Holding this appeal in abeyance is appropriate out of respect for the orderly process mandated by Congress and because when certification occurs no further briefing will be necessary. Indeed, not even Log Cabin can dispute that this case will be moot once certification requirements are met and repeal becomes effective. The motion should be granted.
1. Log Cabin, in opposing the government’s abeyance motion, contends that the Court and the parties should ignore Congress’s decision to establish an orderly process for repeal of § 654, which, Log Cabin suggests, has no bearing on this case. Instead, Log Cabin speculates that “it is likely that the hearing and this Court’s determination of this appeal will take place before repeal is ultimately effective.
There is no reason to credit this prediction. Briefing in this case is currently scheduled to conclude on March 8 and this Court denied a motion to expedite the oral argument date, instead indicating that oral argument would be set in the ordinary course. Expedition Order 2 (Attachment 1). In the ordinary course oral argument would likely not be scheduled for some time, and any panel decision, to say nothing of any final en banc determination, would likely issue at least months after argument…..
The district court entered a permanent worldwide injunction against enforcement of a duly enacted Act of Congress on the basis of alleged injuries to two of plaintiff’s members whose standing to sue is dubious. Gov’t Stay Mtn. 6-9. In granting the government’s request for a stay of the district court order pending appeal, this Court weighed the equities and concluded that they favor the government, not plaintiff. The Court noted that “Acts of Congress are presumptively constitutional, creating an equity in favor of the government when balancing the hardships in a request for a stay pending appeal” in a case of this kind, Order 3 (Attachment 3), and observed that the immediate, court-ordered repeal of the statute would produce “immediate harm and precipitous injury,” Order 5-6. Congress has now provided for an orderly process for repeal of § 654, confirming this Court’s concerns about an immediate, chaotic repeal process. There is no basis for Log Cabin’s latest request to upend that carefully crafted political compromise.”
LCR v USA – Gov Reply in Support of Motion to Hold Appeal in Abeyance
If the court decides not to hold the appeal in abeyance, the DOJ asked for a 30-day extension to file its opening brief and excerpts of record, up to and including February 23, 2011.

-end-

Friday, January 14, 2011

AIDS is a plague allowed to happen

By Larry Kramer -

Editor's note: Watch "Hope Survives: 30 Years of AIDS," an AC360° special, at 9pm ET Friday. Larry Kramer co-founded Gay Men's Health Crisis and founded ACT UP, an activist organization that has campaigned for treatments for HIV/AIDS. His play, "The Normal Heart," about the early years of AIDS and directed by Joel Grey, will be produced on Broadway by Daryl Roth and will star Joe Mantello; it will also be filmed next summer starring Mark Ruffalo and directed by Ryan Murphy. "The American People," his novel about the history of homosexuals in America, will be published by Farrar Straus and Giroux. Kramer, whose partner is David Webster, is HIV+ and the recipient of a liver transplant.

New York City (CNN) -- I want this article to break your heart. But it deals with a subject that has had a tough time of it in the break-everyone's-heart department. I'll bet that a number of you will be more angry at me than sympathetic by the time you finish reading it. If indeed you finish reading it.
   From its very beginning, most people have not wanted to know the truths about AIDS. This is an indisputable fact that continues until this very minute. I have been on the front lines since Day 1, so I know what I'm talking about.

   Here are 10 realities about AIDS, and I've learned them the hard way:
1. AIDS is a plague -- numerically, statistically and by any definition known to modern public health -- though no one in authority has the guts to call it one.
2. Too many people hate the people that AIDS most affects, gay people and people of color. I do not mean dislike, or feel uncomfortable with. I mean hate. Downright hate. Down and dirty hate.
I have watched almost everyone I once knew die.
--Larry Kramer
3. Likewise, both people who don't have sex the way they do (if they have it at all) and people who take drugs in order to feel better in a world that they find wretched are considered two highly expendable populations by the powerful forces that control this world.
4. AIDS was allowed to happen. It is a plague that need not have happened. It is a plague that could have been contained from the very beginning.
5. It is a plague that is not going to go away. It is only going to get worse.
6. There is no cure and the amount of money expended toward finding one is pathetically small, miniscule, puny, and totally indicative of a system and a government and a country and a world that does not want to end this plague.
There is no cure and the amount of money expended toward finding one is pathetically small.
--Larry Kramer
7. There is no incentive for pharmaceutical companies to find a cure since they are making billions selling, at highly inflated prices, the many anti-viral drugs that those infected must consume -- drugs that only keep us living but still infected just enough to continue to possibly still infect others.
8. Educational campaigns, indeed all attempts at prevention, have been too stupid, useless, lily-livered, and nicey-nicey to accomplish much of anything.
9. There is no one of any use really in charge of this plague, in America or anywhere else in the world -- and it is a worldwide plague by now -- and this lack of decent, responsible and humane leaders has been so since its beginning in 1981. They lie to us. I consider most of those who have been or are in charge as equal to murderers.
10. One out of every five men who have sex with men in America is now HIV-positive, and more than 50% of gay men do not know it. Doctors in Chelsea say the statistics for that New York neighborhood have jumped from one out of five to one out of four. At the rate things are going, almost all gay men in America could be HIV-positive, which a lot of people would really like to see happen.
These are appalling statistics, appalling statements, appalling facts, and yet no one responds to them when I raise them. Why should they? Too many people want too many other people dead, and it is fearful and as we continue to see over and over, often dangerous to confront them.
30 years of HIV -- Three men reflect

   Governments and bureaucrats and presidents and politicians and the people who run this world lie to people. They tell us HIV is under control. They tell us case numbers are decreasing. They tell us that all is being done that can be done. They tell us HIV is too complicated to eradicate. They tell us gay people and people of color have made more progress than ever before. These are all lies.
   We must not believe them. How could we when, in one place or another:

-- They also tell us we can't get legally married.
-- They also tell us that we cannot legally adopt children.
-- They also tell us religions will not recognize us.
-- They also tell us we can't serve our country yet.
-- They also tell us our real history cannot be taught in schools.
-- They also tell us that gay students cannot organize in schools.
-- They also tell us that people who murder us are not committing hate crimes.
-- They also tell us we cannot insure our partners.
-- They also tell us our partners are not legal.
-- They also tell us we cannot have equal opportunities.
-- They also tell us we can't kiss each other or hold each other's hands in public.
-- They also tell us that our Supreme Court doesn't want to know about any of this, doesn't want to make us free and equal, doesn't want to honor the Bill of Rights.
   If you want to know why AIDS is a plague, I have just told you why.
I could add a thousand more "they also's." I could expound and expand and add so many facts and figures to the above they'd put you to sleep. I helped start the two major AIDS organizations in America. I have watched almost everyone I once knew die.
   For some 30-plus years, I have been trying to tell the world where this plague came from and why, and I will continue to do so until I die, too.
   You see, I simply can't get the memories and the ghosts of just about every friend I had out of my life. And since there is no doubt in my mind that this plague of HIV/AIDS that took them from me was and continues to be allowed to happen, I am duty bound to tell this hideous history as best and as fully as I can. It's the least I can do.
   That is correct: This plague of HIV/AIDS was intentionally allowed to happen. It still is. Nothing has changed in the intentionality department. Hate has a way of hanging around forever and too often winning out in the end.

The opinions in this commentary are solely those of Larry Kramer.

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Legalize same-sex marriage in Rhode Island!

Started by: Paulo Sant-Filh -


New England is a region in the northeastern corner of the United States consisting of the six states of Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and Connecticut

Same-sex marriage is legal or has been legalized in four of the six New England states. These states include Massachusetts, Connecticut, Vermont, and New Hampshire. The New England region has been noted for being the nucleus of the same-sex marriage movement in the United States,with the region having amongst the most widespread and earliest legal support.
In 2004, Massachusetts became the first state in the United States to legalize same-sex marriage, to be followed by three more states between October 2008 and June 2009. This followed Vermont being the first-in-the-nation with civil unions in 2000.Currently, Iowa and the District of Columbia are the only U.S. jurisdictions outside New England performing same-sex marriages, and California performed them for five months in mid 2008.
The legalization of same-sex marriage was part of a campaign which began in November 2008, called Six by Twelve, and was organized by the Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders (GLAD) to legalize same-sex marriage in all six New England states by 2012.
The region holds a number of firsts on same-sex marriage: Vermont was the first state to enact it through legislative means and not because of a judicial ruling, and Maine was the first state to have a governor sign a same-sex marriage bill that was not the result of a court decision. However, Maine's gay marriage law was repealed through a people's veto.On May 6, 2009, Maine's legislature and governor enacted a law to allow same-sex marriage in Maine. The law was subsequently repealed by voters on November 3, 2009.
Rhode Island and Maine are the New England states that do not have same-sex marriage. Despite this, support in Rhode Island for same sex marriage is consistently within the 54% range.There have been numerous reasons given for why New England has found such strong legal recognition for same-sex marriages in comparison to the rest of the United States.
Same-sex marriage is not currently legal in the state of Rhode Island; however, while several bills were introduced to the Rhode Island General Assembly in 2009 which would provide for same-sex marriages, the governor has promised to veto it, leading the 6x12 campaign and other same-sex marriage advocates to look towards 2011, when the Republican governor leaves office after a mandated term limit.
Nevertheless, the odds against same-sex marriage in Rhode Island are considered rather higher than in the rest of New England, primarily on account of the influence of the Roman Catholic Church.
Join me in this cause. Raise your voice and tell Rhode Island to legalize same-sex marriage.

Petition Text

Same-sex Marriage.

Greetings,
New England is a region in the northeastern corner of the United States consisting of the six states of Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and Connecticut

Same-sex marriage is legal or has been legalized in four of the six New England states. These states include Massachusetts, Connecticut, Vermont, and New Hampshire. The New England region has been noted for being the nucleus of the same-sex marriage movement in the United States,with the region having amongst the most widespread and earliest legal support.

In 2004, Massachusetts became the first state in the United States to legalize same-sex marriage, to be followed by three more states between October 2008 and June 2009. This followed Vermont being the first-in-the-nation with civil unions in 2000.Currently, Iowa and the District of Columbia are the only U.S. jurisdictions outside New England performing same-sex marriages, and California performed them for five months in mid 2008.

The legalization of same-sex marriage was part of a campaign which began in November 2008, called Six by Twelve, and was organized by the Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders (GLAD) to legalize same-sex marriage in all six New England states by 2012.

The region holds a number of firsts on same-sex marriage: Vermont was the first state to enact it through legislative means and not because of a judicial ruling, and Maine was the first state to have a governor sign a same-sex marriage bill that was not the result of a court decision. However, Maine's gay marriage law was repealed through a people's veto.

Rhode Island and Maine are the New England states that do not have same-sex marriage.

Legalize same-sex marriage in Rhode Island!

Please do something. Fight for equality! Same-sex couples deserve respect.

It's time to legalize same-sex marriage in Rhode Island!

Sincerely,
[Your name]


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-end-

House Republican aims to put brakes on repeal of 'Don't ask, don't tell'

By John T. Bennett -

A member of the House Armed Services Committee plans to introduce legislation next week designed to put the brakes on repeal of the military’s ban on openly gay troops.

The measure by Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-Calif.) would add the four military service chiefs to the list of those who must sign off on repealing the policy before it can be officially scrapped.


Hunter, an Iraq and Afghanistan war veteran, is concerned that the bill passed in December repealing the “Don’t ask, don’t tell” policy “excluded the service chiefs from the certification process,” said one congressional aide.

The repeal bill, signed into law Dec. 22 by President Obama, requires only the OK of the president, defense secretary and Joint Chiefs chairman.

“The chairman technically speaks for the chiefs, but they should be included in the debate,” said the aide. “The chiefs are the ones carrying the burden of combat on their shoulders.”

Hunter’s measure would require the Army, Air Force, Navy and Marine Corps chiefs to submit to the congressional defense committees “written certification that repeal … will not degrade the readiness, effectiveness, cohesion and morale of combat arms units and personnel of the armed force under [each] officer’s jurisdiction engaged in combat, deployed to a combat theater, or preparing for deployment to a combat theater,” according to a copy obtained by The Hill.

“The emphasis here is on combat troops,” said the aide, “because when Congress heard from the military chiefs, it was the leaders of the Army and Marine Corps who had the strongest concerns — the services that are most engaged in war right now.”

The aide said Hunter could introduce the bill as soon as Tuesday evening, adding that “15 to 20” members — so far all Republicans — have signed on. 

A member of the House Armed Services Committee plans to introduce legislation next week designed to put the brakes on repeal of the military’s ban on openly gay troops.

The measure by Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-Calif.) would add the four military service chiefs to the list of those who must sign off on repealing the policy before it can be officially scrapped.


Hunter, an Iraq and Afghanistan war veteran, is concerned that the bill passed in December repealing the “Don’t ask, don’t tell” policy “excluded the service chiefs from the certification process,” said one congressional aide.

The repeal bill, signed into law Dec. 22 by President Obama, requires only the OK of the president, defense secretary and Joint Chiefs chairman.

“The chairman technically speaks for the chiefs, but they should be included in the debate,” said the aide. “The chiefs are the ones carrying the burden of combat on their shoulders.”

Hunter’s measure would require the Army, Air Force, Navy and Marine Corps chiefs to submit to the congressional defense committees “written certification that repeal … will not degrade the readiness, effectiveness, cohesion and morale of combat arms units and personnel of the armed force under [each] officer’s jurisdiction engaged in combat, deployed to a combat theater, or preparing for deployment to a combat theater,” according to a copy obtained by The Hill.

“The emphasis here is on combat troops,” said the aide, “because when Congress heard from the military chiefs, it was the leaders of the Army and Marine Corps who had the strongest concerns — the services that are most engaged in war right now.”

The aide said Hunter could introduce the bill as soon as Tuesday evening, adding that “15 to 20” members — so far all Republicans — have signed on.

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Same-sex couples mark 10th anniversary

Two same-sex Canadian couples who made international headlines and North American history by being the first to be legally married, will renew their vows, along with 50 others, in a 10th-anniversary celebration Friday.
Joe Varnell and Kevin Bourassa, along with Anne and Elaine Vautour, were the first same-sex couples to be married in Toronto at Riverdale's Metropolitan Community Church on Jan. 14, 2001.
Since then, same-sex marriage has been upheld as a constitutional right across Canada. It has also become legal in several other countries and states.
But getting to this point has not come easy. There were court battles right up to the Supreme Court of Canada.
"I had no idea how huge this was going to be for so many people. It made a huge difference in the world," said Anne Vautour.
The couple have buffed up their wedding rings for their big event. "After 10 years they're looking a little scratchy, so we had them polished," added Elaine Vautour.

Faced protests

Rev. Brent Hawkes married the two despite protests and death threats. He wore a bullet-proof vest at the ceremony and was under police protection during that time.
"There were 50 police outside, searching people as they came into the building. It was all so terrifying. The night before, I called my family and told them, 'I love you. If anything happens to me, I love you,'" Hawkes recalled.
Since then, he has performed hundreds of marriages, and most of the couples are still together. According to the last census, there are at least 7,500 married same-sex couples in Canada and their numbers continue to grow.
But Hawkes said the struggle for equality rights in Canada is not over, especially for those who are transgendered. He said their rights in law have not been recognized.
Earlier this week, Saskatchewan's top court said marriage commissioners cannot use religion to say "no" to nuptials for same-sex couples. The Appeal Court had been asked by the government to rule on a proposed provincial law that would have allowed commissioners to cite religious grounds in refusing to marry gay men or lesbians.
The issue arose when commissioner Orville Nichols, a devout Baptist, refused to marry a gay couple in 2005.

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Keep Hateful Westboro Baptist Church Off the Air


The Westboro Baptist Church has apparently struck a deal with a pair of Arizona and Toronto-based radio stations and a nationally syndicated talk show host. The church claims it will not bring its hate to the funeral of nine-year-old Christina Taylor Green, or the funeral of Judge John Roll – both of whom were killed over the weekend in Tucson, Arizona. Instead, it will be rewarded with a bigger prize. It will broadcast its vicious and hurtful messages, live and on-air, to all the listeners of KXXT-AM, a 50,000-watt station in Tolleson, Arizona, and Toronto-based CFNY-FM, 102.1 "The Edge," as well as the nationally syndicated Mike Gallagher show.

It should also be noted that Westboro has made no promises regarding the funerals of the other four people killed in last weekend’s tragedy, and could very well show up at those.

For more than 20 years, the Westboro Baptist Church has cynically and maliciously exploited the suffering of countless brave and patriotic American families by protesting the funerals of innocent victims and fallen heroes.


Westboro Baptist Church has held up signs at the funerals of fallen soldiers, saying "Thank God for IEDs," "Pray for More Dead Soldiers" and "God Killed Your Son." Before the families of victims of September 11th, they held up signs saying "Thank God for 9/11" and "God Hates America." Westboro has picketed the funerals of hate crime victims with placards reading "God Wants Your Son Dead" and "God Hates Fags."


This week Westboro has reacted to the tragedy in Tucson with messages like "God Sent the Shooter." Giving airtime to this malicious group is like negotiating with terrorists. Except in this case, Westboro is being incentivized by being provided with an outlet to broadcast their hate to thousands of others.


While countless radio stations and media outlets around the country are properly paying tribute to the fallen and taking a serious look at the tragedy in Tucson, Mike Gallagher, KXXT-AM and CFNY-FM have decided to renege on their responsibility as broadcasters by rewarding one of the most anti-American groups in the country.


Make your voice heard. Tell Mike Gallagher, KXXT-AM and CFNY-FM that rewarding hateful behavior doesn't work and demand that they immediately rescind their offer of airtime to the Westboro Baptist Church.


For more information, please see
www.glaad.org/nowestboro

Petition Text

Please Do Not Give Westboro Baptist Church a Platform

Greetings,
I am outraged that you would offer airtime to the Westboro Baptist Church. For more than 20 years, the Westboro Baptist Church has cynically and maliciously exploited the suffering of countless grieving families by protesting the funerals of fallen heroes and innocent victims alike.

Westboro Baptist Church has held up signs at the funerals of fallen soldiers saying “Thank God for IEDs,” “Pray for More Dead Soldiers” and “God Killed Your Son.” Before the families of victims of September 11th , they held up signs saying “Thank God for 9/11” and “God Hates America.” Westboro has picketed the funerals of hate crime victims with placards reading “God Wants Your Son Dead” and “God Hates Fags.”


This week Westboro has reacted to the tragedy in Tucson with messages like “God Sent the Shooter.”


By giving airtime and audience to the vicious and violent rhetoric of these people, you are rewarding sick and harmful behavior. I call on you to stand strong in the face of such atrocities and withdraw your offer to Westboro.


Rewarding hateful behavior doesn’t work, and I call on you to immediately rescind your offer of airtime to the Westboro Baptist Church.

[Your name]

Petitions by Change.org|Start a Petition »



-end-

Daniel, You're A Hero! (But Don't Ask for Federal Benefits)

Yesterday the Obama Administration's Department of Justice submitted its appeal brief in Gill v. Office of Personnel Management, otherwise known as the DOMA (Defense of Marriage Act) case (2). (Last August, Federal Judge Tauro ruled that DOMA Section 3, the part denying federal benefits to legally married same-sex couples, was unconstitutional.)

Two days ago President Obama publicly proclaimed Daniel Hernandez, an openly gay Arizonan, a hero for the role he played in saving Gabrielle Giffords' life. It is certainly a coincidence these events took place but a day apart; nonetheless the contrast between these two actions could not be more striking.

Unlike most other unmarried individuals in his state and across the country, Mr. Hernandez could not tomorrow decide to get married to his sweetheart, go down to the county courthouse and exchange vows. If he had the wherewithal, the best he and his fiance could do would be to travel some 1500 miles to Iowa or to a foreign land to plight their troths.

But Daniel was perfectly capable of making a split-second decision that ended up saving the life of a Congressperson.

Should Mr. Hernandez indeed get married, he would not be eligible to check the 'married' box on either his federal or state income tax return; nor would any agency of the federal government recognize his marriage for any legal purpose. Should he or his spouse die, the other would not be eligible for Social Security benefits when the time came. Should his spouse get sick, it would be unclear -- at best -- whether Mr. Hernandez had the authority to make life-critical decisions for him.

But Daniel was quite eligible to take a bullet from a deranged assassin had the scene played out just a bit differently. No one had to give him that authority.

Should Mr. Hernandez decide tomorrow that he wants to serve his country in its armed forces, he would still be denied that privilege -- politely but firmed turned away from any recruiting station because he has openly proclaimed that he is gay (1).

But Daniel was perfectly capable of acting coolly and professionally under intense pressure, making time and life-critical decisions -- qualities any sane officer would presumably be more than eager to have from a soldier under his command regardless of his or her sexual orientation.

Two days ago the President of the United States proclaimed this man a hero. And one day ago, the same President's administration submitted a detailed, finely honed argument to the Federal Courts that this man, currently a second class citizen, is and of a right ought to be kept that way.

So help us God.

Gay Rights Groups Angered by Justice Department's DOMA Defense



By Stephanie Condon -

James Grady and Mike Picardi cheer the news
 as advocates for gay marriage rally on
Capitol Hill in Salt Lake City after a federal
court judge overturned California's same-sex
 marriage ban
The gay rights community is pressing President Obama to take a bolder stance in favor of gay marriage after the Justice Department on Thursday filed a brief defending the Defense of Marriage Act.
Mr. Obama says he is opposed to the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), which prohibits federal recognition of same-sex marriages, and the Justice Department has explicitly stated that the president maintains that position. However, after a district judge ruled in July that DOMA is unconstitutional, the Justice Department announced it would appeal the ruling because it has an obligation to defend all federal laws.
Gay rights advocates take issue with that logic.
"The Administration claims that it has a duty to defend the laws that are on the books, despite the President publicly decrying DOMA as discriminatory. We disagree," the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) said in a statement. "And at the very least, the Justice Department can and should acknowledge that the law is unconstitutional."
In response to the Justice Department's brief, the HRC last night issued an alert to its 1.3 million supporters urging them to lobby the president in support of same-sex marriage.
"Now is the time for the President to stand firmly against bigotry and discrimination in our laws and for the full inclusion of our community in marriage," the group said in its statement.
In its brief, the Justice Department argues that the federal government should maintain its current laws on marriage while the states experiment with their own marriage laws.
DOMA, the Justice Department argues, "is supported by an interest in maintaining the status quo and uniformity on the federal level, and preserving room for the development of policy in the states."
The appeal explicitly addresses Mr. Obama's opposition to the law.
"Indeed, the President supports repeal of DOMA and has taken the position that Congress should extend federal benefits to individuals in same-sex marriages," the Justice Department says. "But a consensus behind that approach has not yet developed, and Congress could properly take notice of the divergent views regarding same-sex marriage across the states."
Talking Points Memo reports that the Justice Department worked with its Civil Rights Division's liaison to the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender community to make sure its DOMA briefings did not advance arguments that the LGBT community would find particularly offensive.
Still, the gay rights community is expressing disappointment.
"There are some improvements in tone in the brief, but the bottom line is the government continues to oppose full equality for its gay citizens," Equality Matters chief Richard Socarides told Politico. "And that is unacceptable."
Americablog writer John Aravosis, who focuses gay rights issues, points out that Mr. Obama supported gay marriage in the 1990s. With that in mind, he writes, "This ongoing defense of bigotry and discrimination is unacceptable. It comes across as playing politics with people's civil rights. And it's wrong."
The gay rights community fought a similar battle with the Obama administration over the military's "don't ask, don't tell" policy, which the administration also defended in court. The Justice Department also argued in that case that it had an obligation to defend laws even when the president opposed them. Mr. Obama pushed for letting Congress deal with the matter over the courts.
The Justice Department's brief acknowledges that views on gay marriage are "evolving."
"When DOMA was enacted, the institution of marriage had long been understood as a formal relationship between a man and a woman, and state and federal law had been built on that understanding. But our society is evolving," the brief says. "Over the years, the prevailing concept of marriage has been challenged as unfair to a significant element of the population. Recently there has been a growing recognition that the prevailing regime is harmful to gay and lesbian members of our society."
President Obama recently said his own personal views on the issue were still evolving, though he currently thinks that same-sex couples should be eligible for civil unions, not marriage.

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The News Keeps Getting Better For Marriage Equality!

By David Mixner -


Same-sex marriage 7
After last year's elections, there was real concern that the new Republican, veto-proof New Hampshire legislature might attempt to turn back marriage equality. Yesterday you could hear a collective sigh of relief from those who love justice when the Granite States's Republican House leader D.J. Bettencourt announced that marriage equality is 'off the table' for this session. We must monitor this situation carefully and keep ready and alert but indeed this sounds like remarkably good news.
In addition, both Rhode Island and Maryland are expected to soon join the ranks of those states that allow marriage equality. If we are successful in those states, then we will have a total of seven states and the District of Columbia allowing same sex marriage. The more states we add the more difficult it will be for those who are against full equality for the LGBT community to stop us. Clearly there is an historical inevitability emerging with these victories and that will soon not be lost on the courts, the press and the American people.
If Rhode Island and Maryland join the litany of states for marriage equality then about 27 million American will live in states with that right. That means almost 10% of the American public is covered by marriage equality laws. If we are able to get such laws in California and New York in the near future, then that number grows to an astounding 28% of the American people. It is just a matter of time.

Support Freedom to Marry in the efforts to obtain full marriage equality.

for more from David visit Live from Hell's Kitchen.

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Freedom to Marry announces expansion plans

By Julie Bolcer -

"The first high-profile fundraiser of the year for marriage equality provided the occasion Thursday for Freedom to Marry to step forward as the campaign to win marriage nationwide, with plans that include an expanded public education effort and a new presence in Washington, D.C.
"Warmed by recent progress on an otherwise bitterly cold New York City evening, an overflow crowd packed into the downtown Manhattan home of newly engaged couple, Freedom to Marry political director Sean Eldridge and Facebook cofounder and Jumo founder Chris Hughes. Attendees contributed $250 and up to mingle with other guests brought together by honorary hosts including U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, Newark mayor Cory Booker, New York City council speaker Christine Quinn, Margaret Hoover, and Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner. Cohosts included former Republican National Committee chairman Ken Mehlman, David Mixner, Kate Clinton, and Urvashi Vaid, and many others.
"Founded in 2003 by civil rights attorney Evan Wolfson, Freedom to Marry is experiencing a growth period spurred by rapid legal, political, and social developments. This year, three states – Maryland, New York, and Rhode Island – appear on the cusp of passing marriage equality, and the right needs to be preserved in Iowa and New Hampshire, all while the federal case against Proposition 8 proceeds in California. And last year, for the first time, polls showed that a majority of Americans support marriage equality. Meanwhile, opposition groups like the antigay National Organization for Marriage continue to position for battle.
"In brief remarks at the event, Mayor Booker, a bachelor at age 41, joked about pressure from his mother to get married, and stated his pledge not to officiate marriages until all couples can legally marry in New Jersey. An effort to pass marriage equality in the state failed last year. Meanwhile, New York attorney general Eric Schneiderman and speaker Quinn expressed confidence that marriage equality would pass in the current session of the New York state legislature following a 2009 loss.
“'Think of what New York not having marriage equality allows other states to do,' said Quinn. 'They can say, ‘If New York doesn’t have it, why do we have to have it? Those crazy liberals in New York.’
"Wolfson, the executive director of Freedom to Marry, concluded the remarks session with a broad outline of his group’s plans based on its three-pronged Roadmap to Victory. The approach calls for winning marriage in more states, growing the majority support for marriage, and ending federal marriage discrimination in conjunction with partner organizations throughout the country in 2011 and beyond.
"Based on 85 data sets from campaigns including work in Maine and California, Wolfson said, his group would soon unveil a new public education campaign, Why Marriage Matters, that aims to increase the majority percentage of Americans who support marriage equality from 52% to as high as 58% over the next three years. He said the campaign would ideally be bolstered by an initial $1.5 million national ad buy, followed by $3 to $10 million in ad buys.
“'We believe we have cracked the code on the language, the messages, the messengers, and the time it will take to engage people and move them along and we want to put that campaign forward,' he said.
"Wolfson also announced that Freedom to Marry would launch a presence in Washington, D.C., this year to lay groundwork with federal lawmakers, President Barack Obama, and the Supreme Court.
"'There is going to be a focused, clear, sustained, spearheaded campaign to elevate that conversation about why marriage matters in Washington,' he said. 'Creating the climate, increasing the numbers in Congress, helping the president on his journey to marriage support – a journey he's on his way on and we’re going to get him there. And creating the climate that will enable the Supreme Court of the United States, including Justice Kennedy, to understand that history will vindicate them if they do the right thing should any of the federal litigation that’s now bubbling up around the country make it to the Supreme Court, and the clock is ticking on those cases.'"

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Evan Wolfson Comments on the Department of Justice’s Defense of So-Called ‘DOMA’


Below is a statement from Evan Wolfson, Executive Director of Freedom to Marry, on the Department of Justice’s filing in defense of the so-called “Defense of Marriage Act” (DOMA):
 
“Freedom to Marry regrets that the Department of Justice continues to defend a law that President Obama has repeatedly said is discriminatory – a law that the Republican Congressman who sponsored it back in 1996, Bob Barr, and the Democratic President who signed it, Bill Clinton, now agree should be repudiated.”
 
“So-called ‘DOMA’ harms married same-sex couples by withholding from them alone the more than one thousand federal responsibilities and protections of marriage accorded all other married couples – including Social Security survivor benefits, tax fairness, access to health coverage, and recognition of family ties for immigration purposes.  Equally destructively, DOMA carves married Americans into two classes, discriminating against one of them.   In America, we don’t have second-class citizens and we shouldn't have second-class marriages either.”
 
“Also disappointing is that the Justice Department is urging the court to give this discriminatory law a presumption of constitutionality.  At a minimum, laws that carve out Americans because of race, sex, religion, or sexual orientation should be presumed unconstitutional, and should get heightened scrutiny by the courts.  The Justice Department should be asking the courts to examine DOMA with skeptical eyes, not rubberstamp discrimination.”
 
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Cuomo in step with Dems on social issues

NewsPhoto
Gov Cuomo delivering his 
State of the State address.
Governor Andrew Cuomo's declaration in his State of the State speech that he supports passage of a gay marriage bill this year in New York drew the second biggest round of applause in the entire speech.
"We believe in justice for all, then let's pass marriage equality this year once and for all," said Cuomo, to cheers.
Ross Levi, with the gay rights group Empire State Pride Agenda, says he thinks "it's very significant" that Cuomo featured the issue in his speech. He says Cuomo also reauthorized an executive order that prohibits discrimination against transgendered people in state employent, and appointed an African American, openly gay man, Alphonso David, as Deputy Secretary for Civil Rights.
The measure to legalize same sex marriage has been approved in the State Assembly, but it failed in the State Senate when it was put on the floor in December of 2009.  Democratic leaders, who controlled the Senate then, favored the bill but could not muster enough yes votes. Now, Republicans are back in charge.
Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos has said while he's personally against gay marriage, he'll seek to bring the bill to the floor later in the session.  In an interview, Skelos said he'll first discuss the matter with the other 31 GOP Senate members.
"Certainly I would be supportive of it coming out for a vote," said Skelos. "But that's going to be a conference decision."
Levi, with Pride Agenda, says his group will lobby Senators, by bringing ordinary New Yorkers to the Capitol in the coming weeks to tell their stories.
"Loving, committed couples talking about how they're harmed by not having access to marriage," said Levi, who said the group would also include "business leaders, talking about how New York stands to gain $135 million dollars" in increased business, by passing marriage equality.

follow link for complete NPR article and audio analysis.

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