.

National and Local News Map

Compiled by Dennis McMillan

Seattle, WA – Study Finds Two in Five Gay Men “Serosort” in an Attempt to Prevent HIV – 3.14 

A Seattle study has found that about 40% of HIV-negative gay men restrict their sexual partners to those they perceive to share their serostatus in an attempt to prevent acquiring the virus, Aidsmap reports. Meanwhile, German researchers found that 10% of HIV-positive gay men consider themselves uninfectious if they have an undetectable viral load, and take this belief into account when making choices about sexual behavior.

The Seattle researchers conducted two separate questionnaires with 1,902 gay men accessing a local HIV/sexually transmitted infection clinic between February and August 2013. The first questionnaire asked about their recent sexual behavior, including use of condoms, HIV status of their partners and which role they played in sex. The second questionnaire asked about what strategies they used to reduce their risk of HIV acquisition.

A total of 964 people completed both questionnaires, including 835 (87%) who were HIV negative and 129 (13%) who were HIV positive. Out of the HIV-negative men, 42% were “strict serosorters,” reporting only having sex, with or without condoms, with other HIV-negative men. A total of 6.5% engaged in “condom serosorting,” reporting only having sex without a condom with other HIV-negative men. And a total of 7.1% were “seropositioning,” saying they only had sex without a condom if they were the top), irrespective of the partner’s HIV status.

As for the HIV-positive men, 32% were strict serosorters, with 25% adopting this as a deliberate strategy. Eleven percent engaged in condom serosorting and 10% in seropositioning.

In another study, German researchers questioned 269 gay men living with HIV about whether they considered themselves able to infect someone if they had an undetectable viral load. Ten percent reported believing themselves uninfectious with a fully suppressed virus and taking such a belief into consideration when making choices with regards to sex. A total of 57.5% of these “viral sorters” reported recent sex without a condom, compared with 36% of the men who were not viral sorters.

Source: aidsmeds.com 

Springfield, MA – Anti-gay Gubernatorial Candidate Thumps Bible on St. Paddy’s Day – 3.16

Springfield-based anti-gay minister Scott Lively announced he proudly marched in Sunday’s Boston St. Patrick’s Day Parade, which many politicians skipped because parade organizers have banned LGBTQ groups.

Lively, a Shelburne Falls native who owns the Holy Grounds coffee shop in Springfield, is running as an independent candidate for governor. He said he marched with his new running mate Shelly Saunders, of Springfield, and a small contingent of supporters.

Many other politicians, including Mayor Martin J. Walsh and Congressman Stephen Lynch, skipped the parade after they could not come to an agreement with organizers to allow gays and lesbians to march in the parade. Guinness, Heineken, and Sam Adams beer also withdrew support.

“The LGBT bullies, including Boston Mayor Marty Walsh, are giving the St. Paddy’s Day Parade organizers a hard time for keeping the parade a family-friendly event, but [organizers] are standing strong for family values and not bowing to intimidation,” Lively blathered. “The media is predictably crying ‘discrimination,’ but thank God the United States Supreme Court has ruled that the parade organizers have the constitutional right to exclude anyone they please.” Whose God?

Lively said he was marching to represent all the voters who believe in “authentic marriage and the Biblical model of family.”

Lively is no stranger to controversy. His crusade against the queer community has taken him around the world – and most recently to federal court. Based on his anti-gay talks in Uganda, where the anti-gay movement pushed a bill to passage that criminalizes homosexuality, Lively is accused of crimes against humanity in a lawsuit filed by human rights groups Sexual Minorities Uganda and New York-based Center for Constitutional Rights.

Lively also recently defended reality show Duck Dynasty star Phil Robertson, who compared homosexuality to bestiality. Quack!

Lively jumped into the 2014 Massachusetts governor’s race this fall as an independent candidate to “unapologetically articulate Biblical values without fear or compromise.”

Ironically, Lively seems quite Deadly to me.

Source: masslive.com

Houston, TX – In Rare Case, Woman with HIV Infects Female Sex Partner, CDC Says – 3.14

The first confirmed case of lesbian transmission of HIV was reported on March 13 by federal health officials, who said the event was exceedingly rare, but nonetheless advised lesbian couples in which one partner is infected to take precautions.

Genetic tests showed that the virus in both women was more than 98% identical, all but proving that one had infected the other, according to the “Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report” issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

In numerous previous studies of women who thought they might have been infected by other women, either no genetic testing was done or the newly infected women reported other activity that could have been the cause – such as recent sex with men, drug injection or transfusions.

The women in the new case, both in their 40s, lived in Houston when the transmission took place in 2012. The infected partner had been on treatment for HIV from early 2009 to late 2010, but had stopped taking the drugs. The newly infected woman reported no other sex partners for six months before infection; she tested negative on an HIV antibody test when she sold blood plasma in March 2012.

Ten days later, the woman went to a hospital emergency room with flulike symptoms that sometimes indicate an early HIV infection. She again was negative on an antibody test, and was given antibiotics on the assumption that she had a cold or the flu. Eighteen days later, again at a blood plasma center, she tested positive.

While barrier methods for non-penile sex, such as dental dams, do exist, they are impractical for use with insertive toys and not popular for oral sex. In an editorial, CDC officials advised that all infected people having sex with uninfected people stay on daily antiretroviral drugs, which can reduce virus levels in blood and bodily fluids so much that transmission is highly unlikely.

Source: nytimes.com

Rapid City, SD – South Dakota Couple Prepares to Challenge Same-Sex Marriage Ban – 3.13

The road to challenging South Dakota’s constitutional ban on same-sex marriage started Monday at the Pennington County Courthouse. At the Register of Deeds office, Nancy Robrahn and Jennie Rosenkranz, who have been together for more than 30 years, were denied a marriage license application.

The Rapid City couple expects to challenge South Dakota’s constitutional amendment ban that was approved by voters in 2006.

Once Robrahn and Rosenkranz get married – which they plan to do later this year in another state – they’ll return to South Dakota and file a lawsuit that will challenge the state for not recognizing their marriage certificate and the benefits that come with it.

South Dakota and 33 other states do not recognize same-sex marriage. But that number has declined from just a year ago as judges in several states – including Utah, Oklahoma, Virginia and Texas – have struck down state bans as unconstitutional. A judge in Kentucky overturned part of that state’s ban; Kentucky must now recognize same-sex marriages from other states.

Earlier this month, a lawsuit filed in Wyoming challenged that state’s gay marriage ban and refusal to recognize such marriages from other states.

A Pew Research Center poll released this week stated that over 60% of Republicans under the age of 30 support gay marriage, while 30% of Republicans between 50 and 64 would like to see gays and lesbians have the right to marry. About 77% of Democrats under 30 favor gay marriage; two-thirds of Democrats between 50 and 64 favor it. Nationwide, about 54% of Americans favor gay marriage.

In 2006, South Dakota voters approved banning gay marriage 52% to 48%. Pennington County voters approved it by an even slimmer margin, 51% to 49%.

The South Dakota Legislature earlier this year considered a bill that would have legally protected business owners who refused to serve LGBTQs. The bill died in committee. Before doing so, it prompted about 200 people to rally in downtown Rapid City for equal rights.

May Rapid City rapidly gain equal rights!

Source: rapidcityjournal.com 

Jackson, MS – Religious Freedom (Discrimination) Act is Alive and Well in Mississippi – 3.13

The Mississippi House of Representatives voted to send the “religious discrimination” bill back to a committee for “further study.” This procedural move was a way to keep the bill alive, even though supporters of the bill knew they didn’t have the votes to pass it.

The ACLU of Mississippi, which helped push back the bill, remains concerned that the status of Senate Bill 2681 continues to open the door to discrimination against any group based on religious objections. Although the House did strike section one of the proposed bill, removing all language related to the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, it passed an amendment to establish an unnecessary Religious Freedoms Study Committee, which helps keep alive this potential license to discriminate against LGBTQ people and other minorities.

The debate in the House was a powerful testament to the momentum that has been created against these unnecessary, unconstitutional and un-American “religious discrimination” bills. Again and again, lawmakers referenced the bill vetoed in Arizona and insisted that they didn’t want Mississippi to support the same kind of blanket discrimination that Arizona’s SB 1062 invoked.

“There is much work still ahead, but it’s clear that we’re winning in this struggle,” said Heather Cronk, GetEQUAL co-director. “And GetEQUAL will continue to monitor these bills in other states where they have not yet come up for a final vote – states like Idaho, Kansas, Ohio, Virginia, and others. We must continue to be vigilant and to ensure that these bills don’t pass through legislatures in the dead of night, as opponents of equality realize that they must sneak these bills through, since public support for them is deteriorating.”

She continued, “The bill in Mississippi isn’t dead yet. It will surface again, and supporters of the bill are relying on activists’ silence to get it through the legislature. We must not be silent or complacent, and we must not be complicit in allowing these bills to etch discrimination into state law!”

Source: getequal.org

 

Local News Briefs

 

LGBTQ Contingent Marches in SF St. Patrick’s Day Parade

Thousands of people went green for the 163rd St. Patrick’s Day Parade in San Francisco, including the green stripe in the rainbow flag.

Meanwhile, in New York, the ban on LGBTQ people marching openly in the Saint Patrick’s Day Parade and festivities continued, with a purposely missing Mayor Bill de Blasio protesting this discrimination. Bans like these hurt queer people and fall out of touch with Irish and American values.

United Irish Societies of San Francisco President Diarmuid Philpott said the SF St. Patrick’s Parade was not only a celebration for the holiday, but also was a way to express the significance of family and friendship that help make the unions a close community: “We want to make this event a great day for everyone, and this year was a success. I couldn’t have asked for anything better. The sun is shining and everyone seems to be having a good time.”

Bay Times columnist Heidi Beeler of the San Francisco Lesbian/Gay Freedom Band said, “The St. Patrick’s Day Parade has welcomed us since 1979. From day one, they were welcoming. It’s been a matter of timing. It’s been a couple of years…There was a period when we marched regularly. It goes through cycles.”

She added, “The Parade has always been welcoming, but the crowd (attending the Parade) hasn’t always been. One year some kids through eggs at us.”

This year’s SF St. Patrick’s Day Parade also included a first-time contingent from the San Francisco Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender Pride Celebration Committee.

“Identifying as LGBT crosses all races, cultures and beliefs, so what is the harm of inclusion?” said SF Pride Board President Gary Virginia. “There are Irish LGBT people the world over, and non-Irish lovers of the holiday and parade, even in New York City and Boston where gays are still excluded.”

The St. Patrick’s Day Parade celebrates and showcases the Irish community, culture and tradition in all its forms. In recent years, the SF St. Patrick’s Day Parade has grown to attract an estimated 100,000 people. Featured groups from throughout the Bay Area’s Irish community included schools, youth organizations, labor unions, equestrian and canine clubs, cultural groups, as well as the San Francisco Police and Fire Departments. In addition, many local political leaders proudly joined in the parade and marched up Market Street along with the Grand Marshals and the San Francisco Rose of Tralee.

Story by Dennis McMillan (a fine Irish lad)

Further Proof We’re Not in Kansas Any More: Rainbow Crosswalks!

Earlier this month, residents of the Castro district voted on four different designs for new decorative crosswalks at 18th and Castro Streets, with the results confirming that rainbows will further enhance the streets. The winning design was announced at the Castro Streetscape Improvement Project groundbreaking ceremony at Jane Warner Plaza. The other three options were a rainbow bandana paisley, a Castro theatre foyer tile-inspired print, and a Muni wire design.

The Castro/Upper Market Community Benefit District had earlier agreed to fund four decorative crosswalks on Castro Street as part of the Castro Street Improvement Project. Four distinct designs had been developed and approved by the City. The Benefit District sought the community’s input on selecting the design and on selecting exactly where the four crosswalks should be: either two on Castro Street at the intersections of 18th and 19th Streets or all four at the intersection of Castro and 18th Streets. Participants completed a short survey to find out their preferences.

Other Castro streetscape improvements include widening sidewalks, new pavement, lighting, and street-side trees. Sidewalk improvements and crosswalk coloring are expected to be completed by October of this year. It has been promised that no matter where the construction is in progress, it will be cleaned up and ready for the annual San Francisco LGBT Pride Parade and Celebration in June and the yearly Castro Street Fair in October.

Included in improvements are two blocks of cramped sidewalk along Castro Street to be swapping widths with the ampler roadway they run alongside. The $4 million project, funded through the 2011 road repaving and street safety bond that Supervisor Scott Wiener championed, is designed to mitigate crowding and create more space for resiJackson, MS – Religious Freedom (Discrimination) Act is Alive and Well in Mississippi – 3.13

The Mississippi House of Representatives voted to send the “religious discrimination” bill back to a committee for “further study.” This procedural move was a way to keep the bill alive, even though supporters of the bill knew they didn’t have the votes to pass it.

The ACLU of Mississippi, which helped push back the bill, remains concerned that the status of Senate Bill 2681 continues to open the door to discrimination against any group based on religious objections. Although the House did strike section one of the proposed bill, removing all language related to the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, it passed an amendment to establish an unnecessary Religious Freedoms Study Committee, which helps keep alive this potential license to discriminate against LGBTQ people and other minorities.

The debate in the House was a powerful testament to the momentum that has been created against these unnecessary, unconstitutional and un-American “religious discrimination” bills. Again and again, lawmakers referenced the bill vetoed in Arizona and insisted that they didn’t want Mississippi to support the same kind of blanket discrimination that Arizona’s SB 1062 invoked.

“There is much work still ahead, but it’s clear that we’re winning in this struggle,” said Heather Cronk, GetEQUAL co-director. “And GetEQUAL will continue to monitor these bills in other states where they have not yet come up for a final vote – states like Idaho, Kansas, Ohio, Virginia, and others. We must continue to be vigilant and to ensure that these bills don’t pass through legislatures in the dead of night, as opponents of equality realize that they must sneak these bills through, since public support for them is deteriorating.”

She continued, “The bill in Mississippi isn’t dead yet. It will surface again, and supporters of the bill are relying on activists’ silence to get it through the legislature. We must not be silent or complacent, and we must not be complicit in allowing these bills to etch discrimination into state law!”

Source: getequal.org s, tourists and merchants.

DPW’s contractor began work last week on the highly anticipated Castro Streetscape Improvement Project. Crews are scheduled to begin “potholing” work, excavating small holes along the project limits to determine as best as possible the exact location of underground utilities along Castro Street.

Story by Dennis McMillan