National News: June 2014

Football Player Makes History

Michael Sam

Michael Sam became the first openly gay player in the NFL when the St. Louis Rams drafted him

People took to Twitter to decry the display of affection, which was aired on ESPN. Don Jones of the Miami Dolphins was fined and suspended for his anti-gay tweet and Washington lobbyist Jack Burkman has vowed to prepare legislation that would ban gays from playing in the NFL.last month.  The SEC Defensive Player of the Year and All-American was chosen in in the seventh round and made waves when he gave his boyfriend a celebratory kiss.

Sam is also receiving support from players around the league and President Obama publicly congratulated him for “taking an important step forward today in our Nation’s journey.”

Trans-Rights Bill Becomes Law in Maryland

trans-bathroomTransgender individuals in Maryland will be protected against discrimination in matters of housing, employment, credit and use of public accommodations under legislation signed by Gov. Martin O’Malley(D). The Baltimore Sun reported the transgender rights measure could face a challenge at the polls in November.

Conservative opponents have launched a petition, hoping to collect enough signatures to put it up for a referendum vote. It has been dubbed it the “Bathroom Bill” because it protects a person’s right to use restrooms for the gender with which they identify.

CDC Takes New Approach to Fight Against HIV/AIDS

truvada_0In an effort to combat the growing HIV/AIDS epidemic, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has recommended that groups deemed most at risk of AIDS start taking a daily pill.

According to the CDC, these groups include gay men who have sex without condoms, those who inject illicit drugs and share equipment, and heterosexuals with at-risk partners.  The Truvada Pill has been shown to vastly reduce infection rates, but the CDC warns that it should also be used with a condom or other barrier method.

Some, like the AIDS Healthcare Foundation, oppose the CDC’s recommendation because they fear patients will fail to follow the drug regime as directed and more of them will abandon condoms, causing the spread of other sexually transmitted diseases, Bloomberg reports.

Hagel “Open” to Reviewing Military’s Transgender Policy

Chuck Hagel, President Barack Obama's nominee for Defense Secretary, is pictured during his meeting with U.S. Senator Ben Cardin (D-MD) on Capitol Hill in WashingtonDefense Secretary Chuck Hagel (right) said in an interview with ABC’s “This Week” that he is open to reviewing the Pentagon’s ban on transgender people serving in the military.  He said that every American who is qualified and wants to serve should be able to, but he noted that the issue was “complicated because it has a medical component to it.”  A SF State University panel indicated that more than 15,000 transgender people are currently serving in the military.

Boy Scouts Ban Church Due to Gay Troop Leader

The Boy Scouts of America disbanded a chapter in Seattle because they refused to replace an openly gay Scout troop leader.

Beach United Methodist Church was told that it could no longer host troops under the Boy Scouts name when they stood by Geoff McGrath, 49, a Seattle software engineer and Eagle Scout. According to the Associated Press, the organization told McGrath that it had “no choice” but to revoke his registration after he said he was gay while being interviewed and profiled by NBC News.

Chelsea Manning May Receive Treatment for Gender Transition

In an unprecedented move, the Pentagon is going to attempt to transfer convicted national security leaker Pvt. Chelsea Manning to a civilian prison so she can get treatment for her gender disorder.

Chelsea, formerly named Bradley, was convicted of sending classified documents to anti-secrecy website WikiLeaks and is serving a 35-year sentence.  The soldier has asked for hormone therapy and to be able to live as a woman, which is the first request of its kind.

19 and Counting…

  • Lesbian and gay couples in Arkansas are finally allowed to marry.  Pulaski County Circuit Judge Chris Piazza ruled that the state’s ban on gay marriage was unconstitutional.
  • U.S. Magistrate Judge Candy Wagahoff Dale issued a sweeping opinion that knocked down Idaho state laws and a state constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage.  Two days later, a three-judge panel of the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals granted Idaho Gov. Butch Otter’s request for a temporary stay of Dale’s decision.
  • Alaska has joined the ever-growing number of states that are challenging anti-marriage equality laws.  A lawsuit was filed on behalf of four couples who were married outside of the state and one unmarried couple.
  • A federal judge overturned Oregon’s ban on gay marriage at noon on May 20, and couples began exchanging vows within the hour. U.S. District Judge Michael McShane, declared the prohibition of marriage equality unconstitutional and ordered it lifted immediately.

by Rachel Roth





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