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July 13, 2012

News Briefs

Barney Frank becomes first out House member to marry

Newton, Mass.--Barney Frank has made history again, now holding the title of the first member of Congress in a same-sex marriage.

On July 7, Frank married his partner of five years, Jim Ready, in a ceremony on the Charles River in Newton, Mass., officiated by Gov. Deval Patrick. Former presidential candidate Sen. John Kerry was among the guests, as were Reps. Nancy Pelosi of California and Dennis Kucinich of Ohio.

According to the New York Times, the vows the couple wrote included a pledge to love one another “on MSNBC or on Fox,”  “in Congress or in retirement.”

The two met at a fundraiser in 2005, introduced by Ready’s terminally ill partner, Robert Palmer. When Palmer passed away in 2007, Frank flew to Maine to console him, and over time, their love blossomed.

The relationship had an effect on Frank’s life professionally, as well as personally.

“I should’ve known you were here,” one Republican House member told Ready in a hallway of the Capitol. “Barney was nice to me today.”

Argentina is first to allow ID changes

Buenos Aires, Argentina--President Cristina Fernandez hand-delivered the first new identity cards issued under the country’s gender identity law, which makes Argentina the only nation in the world to allow gender changes on official documents without the intervention of judges or doctors.

In addition to giving out cards to about a half-dozen people who changed their genders legally, she also gave cards to children of lesbian parents whose identity cards were not properly set out before.

Argentina is also one of two countries in the Western Hemisphere with full same-sex marriage, along with Canada.

World Pride succeeds despite problems

London--With 25,000 people from around the world attending, World Pride in the U.K. capital was considered a success, despite financial and organizational turmoil leading up to the event.

Some events were scrapped, and floats were taken out of the parade to make up a financial shortfall leading into the festival over the weekend of July 6. Accusations alternately were leveled at the organizing committee and the government for lack of support. Another factor was a lack of sufficient corporate sponsorships, although Smirnoff vodka and Gaydar tried unsuccessfully to revive some canceled events.

Mayor Boris Johnson canceled his appearance at the event, despite his office helping fund it, and Pride London chair Patrick Williams resigned.

The festival also celebrated the 40th anniversary of London gay pride festivities, as well as the impending 2012 Olympics, which begin this month in London.

Parliament, meanwhile, is considering legislation to introduce full same-sex marriage to replace its civil partnership law. The bill is being pushed by the Conservative government of Prime Minister David Cameron. A similar bill is also in the Scottish parliament. It would be considered a black eye for Cameron if Scotland passes their legislation before the rest of the U.K. does.

Anderson Cooper and Frank Ocean come out

Atlanta--A duo of celebrities came out at beginning of July, in an email published July 2 and a Tumblr post on July 4.

Anderson Cooper, CNN anchor and talk show host, started off the month with an email in response to matter-of-fact question from his friend Andrew Sullivan asking him about celebrities coming out.

Cooper stated that the primary reason he has not publicly commented on his sexual orientation was to separate his personal life from his journalistic efforts in the eyes of the public and those in the news.

“I’ve also been reminded recently that while as a society we are moving toward greater inclusion and equality for all people, the tide of history only advances when people make themselves fully visible,” he wrote. “The fact is, I’m gay, always have been, always will be, and I couldn’t be any more happy, comfortable with myself, and proud.”

Two days later, singer Frank Ocean, part of the hip-hop collective Odd Future, posted an essay on his Tumblr account that was originally intended to be the thank-you page in the liner notes for his new album. In it, he recounts falling in love with another 19-year-old man in 2007.

“I sat there and told my friend how I felt. I wept as the words left my mouth. I grieved for them, knowing I could never take them back for myself. He patted my back. He said kind things. He did his best, but he wouldn’t admit the same. He had to go back inside soon. It was late and his girlfriend was waiting for him upstairs,” he wrote.

“I feel like a free man. If I listen closely . . . I can hear the sky falling too,” he concluded.

His stablemate Tyler the Creator congratulated him via Twitter, and hip hop mogul Russell Simmons on Global Grind wrote, “Your decision to go public about your sexual orientation gives hope and light to so many young people still living in fear. These types of secrets should not matter anymore, but we know they do, and because of that I decided to write this short statement of support for one of the greatest new artists we have.”

France to have full marriage next year

Paris--President François Hollande’s government introduced a timetable for passing full same-sex marriage in France, it announced on June 29.

Hollande’s Socialist Party won a clear majority in the federal elections, sweeping Nicolas Sarkozy and his Union for a Popular Movement from power. The UMP opposed full same-sex marriage and gay adoptions.

Junior Minister for Families Dominique Bertinotti said that marriage will be passed within a year, bringing the country in line with European compatriots in Denmark, Portugal, Sweden, the Netherlands, Spain and Belgium.

Over 60 percent of people in the predominantly Catholic nation support allowing same-sex couples to marry. The situation is similar to Spain, where a left-wing victory in elections in 2004 led to marriage equality the following year. It beat Canada to the punch by just over two weeks.

Ban backers don’t like ‘limiting’ in ballot text

St. Paul, Minn.--Gov. Mark Dayton’s veto of a constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage could not stop it from going to voters, but it did invalidate its name. Now the secretary of state has crafted a new one that is drawing opposition from the amendment’s supporters.

The new title, “Limiting the status of marriage to opposite sex couples,” is drawing criticism from the anti-gay side, who say that it echoes the sentiments of the measure’s opponents. However, the original title, “Recognition of marriage solely between one man and one woman,” does not necessarily say what the amendment would do, since Minnesota law currently only allows marriage between one man and one woman.

Supporters of the amendment say that using the word “limiting” could lead voters to believe it is a new government restriction. They are currently deliberating on whether or not they will sue.

In Minnesota, ballots cast without votes for an amendment are counted as “no” votes for the measure, making it harder to pass.

Club allows dads after they sue

Roanoke, Va.--The Roanoke Athletic Club has changed its family membership policy a week after a same-sex couple filed suit against the club.

Will Trinkle and his partner Juan Granados purchased a family membership, only to have the club revoke it after learning that the couple was of the same sex. Trinkle and Granados are raising a two-year-old son, Oliver.

The couple filed a breach of contract suit against the club on June 27. However, on July 5, the club posted its new policy on its Facebook page, changing the family membership to a household membership.

The club is owned by Carilion Clinic, which has a nondiscrimination policy that includes sexual orientation.

“Since opening our doors over three decades ago, we have always strived to provide the very best in service, programs and staffing. Our goal has been, and always will be to encourage and inspire health and wellness among all members of the communities we serve,” the introduction to the new policy states. “In keeping with this goal, and in recognition of the many contemporary households that can benefit from our facilities through discounted membership fees, we are pleased to announce that we have expanded our Family Membership into a new Household Membership . . .”

It defines a household as “a primary member and up to one additional household member that permanently lives in the household, and any of their dependent children under the age of 22 who also reside in the household on a permanent basis.”

The Roanoke Athletic Club and its sister site, the Botetourt Athletic Club, also said that they are keeping the dues for the new household membership the same as the previous family membership.

Compiled by Brian DeWitt, Anthony Glassman and Patti Harris.















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