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    Virginia Beach, VA – Pat Robertson Believes Gays with AIDS Wear Rings to Cut, Infect Others – 8.27

    Homophobic Pat Robertson launched into more idiotic discussion about AIDS during a recent episode of The 700 Club, when he indicated that infected individuals in cities like San Francisco purposefully infect others by cutting them with special rings. Whaaat?!

    Robertson responded to a question about the disclosure of AIDS status. A viewer had been driving a nursing home patient to church and came to find out he has AIDS and was angry no one disclosed that.

    Robertson said he “used to think it was transmitted by saliva and other things; now they say it may be sexual contact.” So, he advised the woman not have sex with the man. “There are laws now… I think the homosexual community has put these draconian laws on the books that prohibit people from discussing this particular affliction,” Robertson blathered on. “You know what they do in San Francisco? Some in the gay community there, they want to get people. So if they got the stuff, they’ll have a ring: you shake hands, and the ring’s got a little thing where you cut your finger.” He added, “Really. It’s that kind of vicious stuff, which would be the equivalent of murder.”

    Robertson’s foolishness was filled with fallacies. Fluids must either come in contact with a mucous membrane or damaged tissue or be directly injected into the bloodstream for someone to be infected. In addition, the gay community has not put “draconian” laws on the books. In fact, many states have partner notification laws that make an HIV-positive person legally obligated to tell his or her partner. In some states, the omission of this information could result in a criminal charge.

    Finally, HIV/AIDS is not a “gay” thing! Now where did I put my magic infection-causing ring pricker?


    New York, NY – New Story Center Launched to Show Unfair Patchwork of Discrimination – 8.29

    With continuing momentum for marriage from legislative wins earlier this year and the Supreme Court’s historic freedom to marry decisions in June, Freedom to Marry has launched a new online Story Center to gather and showcase compelling voices from across America, making the case for ending marriage discrimination. The stories highlight the house divided created by the denial of marriage – with those in freedom to marry states now respected for federal and state marriage protections, while those living in discriminating states are denied respect, state protections and even some federal protections.

    “The house divided created by marriage discrimination cannot stand. All couples should have the freedom to marry, and all marriages should be fully respected under the law, throughout our country,” said Evan Wolfson, president of Freedom to Marry. “By telling our stories and reaching out to the reachable, we can continue growing the majority for marriage and create the climate for the next wave of decision-makers – lawmakers, judges, and, in time, justices – to end this untenable and unfair patchwork of denial, and secure the freedom to marry nationwide.”

    The Story Center is one element of Freedom to Marry’s “Roadmap to Victory – Finishing the Job,” which calls for setting the stage for a successful return to the Supreme Court by ensuring that by the end of 2016, a majority of Americans live in a marriage state; polls show public support for the freedom to marry above 60%; and federal marriage discrimination has been eliminated through passage of the Respect for Marriage Act.

    Freedom to Marry also released a video featuring a NYC couple together more than 25 years and married in 2011. They can now get a green card just like any other American spouse.

    Next stop: total equality!


    Cheyenne, WY – Mary Cheney Disses Her Sister on Same-Sex Marriage – 8.31

    Mary Cheney, the younger sister of Liz Cheney, a Wyoming Senate candidate, sharply criticized her sister’s stance on same-sex marriage and urged her own Facebook friends to share the message. Mary, who is gay and married her longtime partner last year, wrote: “For the record, I love my sister, but she is dead wrong on the issue of marriage.” Their father, former Vice President Dick Cheney, supports same-sex marriage, and the younger Cheney echoed some of his language when she added, “Freedom means freedom for everyone.”

    “That means that all families – regardless of how they look or how they are made – all families are entitled to the same rights, privileges and protections as every other,” Mary wrote.

    Earlier, Liz Cheney revealed her position on same-sex marriage, a topic she has kept relatively quiet about since declaring her candidacy in July against incumbent Senator Mike Enzi, Wyoming anti-equality Republican.

    “I am not pro-gay marriage,” Liz said. “I believe the issue of marriage must be decided by the states, and by the people in the states, not by judges and not even by legislators.” Mary wrote, “It’s not something to be decided by a show of hands.”

    Less than a decade after Bush-Cheney won reelection, in part, thanks to conservative enthusiasm over enshrining traditional marriage into law, some in the party believe they are losing voters, particularly younger ones, over an issue on which public opinion has changed rapidly. But other Republicans believe traditional marriage is a pillar of family values, and are reluctant to abandon their social conservative base. Liz Cheney’s stance underlines the degree to which support for same-sex marriage, even in a libertarian-leaning state like Wyoming, still poses a political risk.

    Two out of three Cheneys are politically correct!


    Albuquerque, NM – New Mexico Judge Orders County Clerks to Issue Same-Sex Marriage Licenses – 8.26

    Judge Alan Malott of the Second Judicial District Court of the State of New Mexico ordered the county clerks of Bernalillo and Santa Fe Counties to begin issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples. Ruling in a case brought by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), the ACLU of New Mexico, the National Center for Lesbian Rights (NCLR), and local attorneys on behalf of same-sex couples seeking the freedom to marry in New Mexico, Judge Malott said that denying same-sex couples access to civil marriage violates the New Mexico Constitution. The court issued a judgment against the two county clerks and the State of New Mexico declaring that, to the extent New Mexico law prevents same-sex couples from marrying, “those prohibitions are unconstitutional and unenforceable.”

    “Today was yet another powerful reminder that the march to justice is unstoppable and gaining momentum,” said NCLR Executive Director Kate Kendell. “We are joyful for our client couples and for every same-sex couple in New Mexico. The freedom to marry is about love, commitment, family and security. These are universal values, and they are center stage today.”

    “This is a great day to be a resident of New Mexico,” said ACLU-NM Executive Director Peter Simonson. “Our state is now on the brink of joining the growing list of states who live and honor the values of family, liberty and love. Every family in this state is made richer by this step toward justice for all.” The plaintiff couples were represented by ACLU, ACLU-NM, NCLR, and the Sutin Law Firm and Albuquerque attorneys.

    In related news, Republican Senator Bill Sharer of Farmington, New Mexico, has called gay men “whores” and stated that marriage equality bills allow “any two things” to get married.

    Hey Billy-boy, quit calling us “things!”


    Washington, D.C. – Big IRS News for LGBTQ Taxpayers and LGBTQ Seniors – 8.30

    The IRS will now fully recognize marriage equality for all married LGBTQ taxpayers – even married couples living in states without marriage equality. This decision has an enormous financial impact on queer married couples. It means that many married LGBTQ couples will see a larger tax return at the end of the year and a bigger paycheck at the end of the month. For one example, spouses’ health insurance benefits through their employers will no longer be counted as income for federal tax purposes.

    And that’s not all! The Department of Health and Human Services announced that married LGBTQ elders enrolled in the Medicare Advantage program will now be able to access important benefits for their spouses in skilled nursing facilities, even if they live in states that do not recognize their marriages. Previously, many LGBTQ seniors had to choose between being in a nursing home away from their spouse and paying more money to be with their loved one – but not anymore.

    These are huge wins we’re seeing thanks to the Supreme Court ruling that struck down a key component of DOMA. The Task Force along with other LGBTQ organizations recently met with Obama administration officials and urged them to move as quickly as possible to implement the Supreme Court’s ruling – and we’re now seeing those benefits quickly come to fruition.

    In fact, HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius even said, “Today’s announcement is the first of many steps that we will be taking over the coming months.”

    Naturally, National Organization for Marriage President Brian Brown denounced the policy change, claiming it is yet another government attempt to force same-sex marriage “on an unwilling public,” and adding, “The Treasury Department is grossly overstepping its authority. Only Congress has the authority to change the law.”

    Ho hum.


    Local News Briefs

    Ninth Circuit Upholds Law Banning “Ex-Gay Therapy” for California Minors

    The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals issued a ruling on Aug. 29 upholding SB 1172 – the California law prohibiting state-licensed mental health providers from using dangerous efforts to change sexual orientation – sometimes referred to as “ex-gay therapy” – with minors. The law was co-sponsored by Lambda Legal, EQCA, NCLR, Mental Health America of Northern California and Gaylesta.

    “With this ruling, LGBTQ youth across California are protected from the trauma of so-called ‘ex-gay therapy’ and the devastation these discredited methods cause youth and their families,” said Lambda Legal Deputy Legal Director Hayley Gorenberg.

    Efforts to change a young person’s sexual orientation pose critical health risks, including depression, shame, decreased self-esteem, social withdrawal, substance abuse, self-harm and suicide. For minors, who are often subjected to these practices at the insistence of parents who don’t know or don’t believe that the efforts are harmful, the risks of long-term mental and physical health consequences are particularly severe. In addition, when these efforts ‘fail,’ many LGBTQ children are kicked out of their homes.

    “I have met men and women who were subjected to these dangerous practices,” said NCLR Executive Director Kate Kendell. “I have seen the scars they bear – and they are the lucky ones. In some cases, young people who were told that they were sick and needed to change did not feel their lives were worth living.”

    “It is now open season on conversion therapy across America,” said Truth Wins Out Executive Director Wayne Besen. “This monumental victory in California means that we can turn our attention to stopping child abuse disguised as therapy wherever this practice rears its ugly head. We are fully committed to protecting LGBT youth from an archaic form of therapy that confuses stigma with legitimate science.”

    Story by Dennis McMillan

    Bill to Protect LGBTQ Youth in Foster System Goes to Governor

    Assemblymember Tom Ammiano’s AB 868, on LGBTQ cultural competency in the judicial system, has gone to Governor Jerry Brown for his signature.

    The bill was introduced to aid the disproportionate number of LGBTQ youth who find themselves in the foster care system. It requires that training programs already in existence incorporate information on the effects of gender identity and sexual orientation on juvenile law and family court proceedings. In addition, training would include cultural competency and sensitivity related to providing adequate care for LGBTQ youth in the child welfare system.

    Existing law requires the Judicial Council to perform various duties designed to assist the judiciary, including establishing judicial training programs for judges, referees, commissioners, mediators, and others who perform duties in family law matters. Existing law requires this training to include instruction in all aspects of family law, including the effects of gender on family law proceedings.

    Additionally, existing law requires the Judicial Council to establish a planning and advisory group to recommend on the development of program guidelines and funding procedures for court-appointed special advocates (CASAs) and to establish a request-for-proposal process to establish, maintain or expand local CASA programs.

    Recent studies suggest that 18 percent, and perhaps more, of the foster youth population are LGBTQ youth. High percentages of these youth have reported running away from foster home placement because of harassment or attacks.

    The bill would require the training necessary for court employees who work with such youth to understand the experiences of LGBTQ youth in the judicial system. AB 868 follows a law signed in 2012 to provide similar training to foster youth caregivers and service providers.

    AB 868 was sent to the Governor on August 29. He has until September 10 to sign the bill.

    Story by Dennis McMillan