National Gay News

Obama to Outline National AIDS Strategy

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Posted on www.Advocate.com
By Advocate.com Editors

In a first for the United States, President Barack Obama will outline a new national AIDS strategy on Tuesday that is expected to call for redirecting money to groups most at risk, including gay and bisexual men and African-Americans.

According to The New York Times, the strategy, which is the first of its kind and took 15 months to develop, will seek to mitigate the AIDS epidemic by curbing the number of new HIV infections and increasing the numbers of people who receive care and treatment. The administration will make a call to reduce annual new HIV infections, which total about 56,000, by 25% within five years, and reach a greater number of the more than one million Americans living with the virus.

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Target Financed Anti-Gay Candidate

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Posted on www.365gay.com
By Celeste Lavin

Minnesota-based retail chain Target gave $150,000 to support the political action committee of the state's ultra-conservative gubernatorial candidate Tom Emmer.

Target has a history of conservative donations, but Emmer has supported a Christian rock band that has applauded calls for the execution of gay people.

Emmer is the only Minnesota candidate for governor who is against gay marriage; in 2007 he wrote a constitutional amendment barring both gay marriage and civil unions, but the bill did not pass. Emmer also regularly tries to narrow LGBT rights by, for example, trying to replace the word "parents" with the words "mother and father" in a surrogacy bill.

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White House Not Budging on Gay Marriage

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Posted on www.Advocate.com
By Kerry Elevland

In a wide-ranging interview with LGBT journalists and bloggers Thursday, White House domestic policy adviser Melody Barnes said President Barack Obama had chosen to take steps at the agency level to eliminate inequities for same-sex couples and gave no indication he would move toward supporting full marriage equality.

Asked if the president would go beyond incremental fixes to address a lack of marital rights for same-sex couples before 2012, Barnes noted that the president "has consistently called for the repeal of [the Defense of Marriage Act]" and used his "executive authority" to help provide more benefits to same-sex couples through federal agencies.

"That's the course that he has identified, that's the course that he has supported," Barnes said.

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Antibullying Bill Passes N.Y. State Senate

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Posted on www.Advocate.com
By Julie Bolcer

The Dignity for All Students Act, which would protect LGBT students from bullying and harassment in schools, passed the New York state senate Tuesday evening after years of effort. Governor David Paterson is expected to sign the bill into law, which would mark the first time gender identity and expression are included in state law.

Senators approved DASA by a bipartisan vote of 58-3 late Tuesday night after some 90 minutes of speeches. All three no votes came from Republicans.

The assembly passed the bill in May for the ninth time since 2002.

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Obama to Help Homeless Gay Youth

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Posted on www.Advocate.com
By Advocate.com Editors

The Obama administration unveiled a plan Tuesday that is intended to end chronic homelessness by 2015 and homelessness among families, youth, and children by 2020 — and LGBT youth are one of the target populations being included in the initiative.

"On any given night in America more than 640,000 men, women, and children are without housing," said Shaun Donovan, secretary of the Department of Housing and Urban Development. "While some are scarred by war, others are families who have recently lost their home; still, others are youth aging out of foster care or are perhaps unable to stay with families [that are] hostile to their sexual orientation or gender identity."

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IRS to Grant Greater Tax Equity to Gay Couples

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Posted on www.365gay.com
By Shamecca Harris

LGBT advocacy group, Equality California (EQCA) released a statement Wednesday praising the new IRS policy granting greater tax equity to same-sex couples. The new policy calls for federal recognition of California's property rights for committed same-sex couples first introduced under the  Domestic Partners Rights and Responsibilities Act of 2003, which EQCA sponsored.

The legislation mandates that couples in registered domestic partnerships "combine their incomes and report half on their individual tax returns."

Couples will also be given the opportunity to amend past returns - a measure that could grant refunds to thousands of Californians who have paid discriminatory taxes in the past.

"We welcome news of this policy change that will result in significant savings for many same-sex couples, which is especially important at a time when many are struggling in a brutal economy," said Geoff Kors, Equality California's Executive Director.

While the organization commended the new policy, Kors noted that there is still more to be done.

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Iceland Legalizes Gay Marriage

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Posted on www.advocate.com
By Michelle Garcia

The nation of Iceland, which is the only country with an openly gay prime minister, voted unanimously on Friday to legalize same-sex marriage.

The Althingi parliament voted 49-0 to change the wording of its marriage legislation to include same-sex couples.

Gunnar Helgi Kristinsson, a political scientist at the University of Iceland, told Reuters that the country is fairly pragmatic, and that the international press made a bigger deal out of the sexual orientation of lesbian Prime Minister Johanna Sigurdardottir than the domestic news outlets.

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First Don’t Ask Don’t Tell Victory but Gay Battle isn't Over

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Posted on www.365gay.com June 1,2010

First Don't Ask Don't Tell Victory but Gay Battle isn't Over The U.S. House voted 234 to 194 Thursday night to approve a compromise amendment that many believe will –with some conditions—eventually lead to the end of the military's policy of discharging gay service members.

The vote was the second major victory of the day for proponents of repeal. The Senate Armed Services Committee approved a similar amendment just hours earlier by a vote of 16 to 12.

The fight is hardly over – at least two Republican senators have said they would support a filibuster over the underlying defense authorization bill in order to stop repeal of the 17-year-old Don't Ask, Don't Tell law. And, both chambers will have to vote again after a conference committee works out the differences between the two versions of the defense funding bill.

But for now, LGBT activists are celebrating a pair of dramatic and hard won victories against a policy which has led to the discharge of more than 13,000 service members so far.

"The votes in the Senate Committee and on the House floor to repeal 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' constitute one of the most important advances in our fight against prejudice based on sexual orientation," said Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass.), a key Democratic leader involved in that fight. "A very few years from now, it will be clear that the fears expressed by our opponents' arguments were totally without foundation. I particularly want to express my admiration and great appreciation to Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Carl Levin, and Representative Patrick Murphy, for their extraordinary leadership in bringing this about."

Murphy (D-Penn.) was the chief sponsor of the measure to repeal Don't Ask, Don't Tell (DADT) and pressed vigorously for a vote even when the Pentagon pushed vigorously for a delay. And Pelosi promised support for the measure and to let the measure to the floor, even as some reports claimed that conservative Democrats were beginning to bail out for fear of repercussions during the mid-term elections.

The repeal measure that passed the House floor vote and the Senate committee was a compromise worked out during a meeting with White House officials on Monday. The compromise calls for repeal of the DADT federal law to take place only after two things occur:

1) the Secretary of Defense receives the implementation report he has asked for by December 1, and
2)"The President transmits to the congressional defense committees a written certification, signed by the President, the Secretary of Defense, and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, stating" that three additional things have been accomplished.

Those three things are:

1) that the three men have "considered the recommendations contained in the report and the report's proposed plan of action,"
2) the DOD has "prepared the necessary policies and regulations to exercise" repeal, and
3) that the implementation of those policies and regulations is "consistent with the standards of military readiness, military effectiveness, unit cohesion, and recruiting and retention of the Armed Forces."

While most supporters of repeal in the LGBT community praised the compromise and applauded its securing a vote in Congress this year, there were critics, too. They said the measure does not guarantee that the military will stop discharging gays. In fact, many supporters of repeal acknowledged as much during debate Thursday.

"It doesn't repeal Don't Ask, Don't Tell," said Speaker Pelosi during a press conference Thursday. "It defers to when that [DOD] report comes forth and then repeals Don't Ask, Don't Tell."

And Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Admiral Mike Mullen, who earlier this year told the Senate Armed Services Committee that repeal of DADT is "the right thing to do," told a town hall meeting of service members at a Colorado air base Wednesday that the compromise's provision for certification means, "to certify whether we should move ahead with that change, even if the law were to repeal it."

But for now, Congressional repeal of the DADT law is underway. The repeal measure reached the floor of the House at about 8:30 Thursday evening, after nearly 10 hours of off and on debate. The time allotted to debate of the Murphy Amendment was only 10 minutes, so Republicans used their time allotment during consideration of other amendments to express their vehement opposition to the Murphy Amendment.

The common themes among opponents who spoke –all but two of whom were Republicans – were that Democrats were trying to rush the issue, renege on an agreement to let the Pentagon study how best to implement repeal, and ignore the views of service members. Some, like Rep. Mike Pence (R-Ind.), said the amendment was "advancing a liberal political agenda." Many said that Congress shouldn't vote until the Pentagon had worked out procedures around such matters as sleeping quarters and the extension of benefits to same-sex spouses.

Rep. Frank went to the floor early in the day to say that, if he had introduced an amendment to exempt gays from a military draft, these same opponents would be criticizing him for seeking "special rights" for gays. And longtime civil rights activist Rep. John Lewis (D-Ga.) made an impassioned comparison between DADT and the early segregation of troops by race.

"The military helped end segregation based on race," said Lewis, "and can help end Don't Ask Don't Tell." The federal law excluding gays from the military, he said, "is an affront to human dignity."

"Discrimination is wrong and we must end it," said Lewis.

In praising the work to pass the repeal amendment, Aubrey Sarvis, executive director of the Servicemembers Legal Defense Network, also emphasized that "it doesn't end the discharges."

"The repeal amendment allowed for Congress to act while respecting the ongoing work by the Pentagon on how to implement open service for lesbian and gay service members," said Sarvis. "Nothing would happen until the Pentagon Working Group completes its report and the Secretary of Defense, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and the President certifies repeal."

But Servicemembers United Executive Director Alexander Nicholson said the two victories Thursday demonstrated "real momentum in the battle to finally rid the United States Code of the outdated" DADT law.

"All of us who have served under 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' and who have been impacted by this law," said Nicholson, who was himself discharged under the law, "will remember this day as the beginning of the end for 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell.'"

Oddly, more than an hour after the DADT repeal amendment had passed the House and the chamber appeared to be almost empty, Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-Texas) continued to debate the issue. Gohmert, who is prone to bombastic rants, said "we've accepted the loss of morality" by allowing gays in the military and, speaking in almost a whisper, he said the House has "betrayed" servicemembers and "it breaks my heart."

"I'm so sorry that this body broke its word for political gain," he said. The White House issued a statement from President Obama about an hour after passage, too.

"I have long advocated that we repeal 'Don't Ask Don't Tell'," said Obama, who brought it up in his State of the Union speech in January but did not mention it in his message to Congress this week about the DOD authorization bill.

"This legislation," he said, "will help make our Armed Forces even stronger and more inclusive by allowing gay and lesbian soldiers to serve honestly and with integrity."

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Kentucky's Gay Hope

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Posted on Advocate.com
May 22, 2010
By Michelle Garcia

He's 24, he'd had a brush with death, and he hasn't even finished college, but Matthew Vanderpool might be Kentucky's best chance at ousting one of the state's most antigay legislators.

At just 24 years old and with a meager $150 in campaign finances, earlier this week, Matthew Vanderpool pulled off the unthinkable, beating an Air Force veteran and a lawyer to win the Democratic primary for the 45th district of Kentucky's house of representatives. Now, as the openly gay candidate gears up to face one of the state's most notoriously antigay politicians, Vanderpool talks to The Advocate about what made him run, what he expects from campaign season, and why he's sick of hearing politicians talk.

The Advocate: Why did you decide to run against incumbent Rep. Stan Lee?

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Moscow mayor bans Pride parade once again

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Posted on 365Gay.com May 22, 2010
By Shamecca Harris

Organizers submitted a parade request to the mayor's office last week, outlining a proposed route through the Russian capital. The openly homophobic mayor, who previously described gay Pride parades as "satanic happenings," has ruled out this year's march, set to take place May 29.

In the past, organizers have ignored the mayor's ban and planned marches became protests. Historically, their efforts have been quickly and violently dispersed by Russian police.

Once again, it appears that no lawful march will take place.

Even so, chief organizer Nikolai Alekseev said he is not going down without a fight.

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