National

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By the numbers: Gay couples in the 2010 Census

901,997

Same-sex couples who self-identified on the 2010 U.S. Census.

99

Percent of U.S. counties reporting at least one same-sex couple, including 100 percent of Ga. counties.

60

Percent of same-sex couples who are two women.

5

Atlanta’s rank among large cities for the concentration of gay couples per 1,000 households.

17

Georgia’s rank out of 50 states and D.C. for the concentration of gay couples per 1,000 households.

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CDC campaign ‘Testing Makes Us Stronger’ targets black gay, bisexual men

HIV posterWith new numbers from the Atlanta-based Centers for Disease Control & Prevention showing a 48 percent increase in new HIV infections for young black gay and bisexual men between 2006-2009, activists and CDC officials are trying to find ways to halt the pandemic particularly within this community.

Today it was announced at the 2011 HIV Prevention Conference that the CDC is set to launch a "Testing Makes Us Stronger" campaign with black MSMs (men who have sex with men).

Featured in posters and in social media campaigns including Facebook and Twitter, the project will urge black gay and bisexual men to get tested and know their status. The campaign will also be advertised in black gay publications as well as mainstream black publications.

The conference is being held in Atlanta through Wednesday, Aug. 17.

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New HIV infections up 48 percent in black gay, bi young men

Young, black gay and bisexual men experienced a 48 percent increase in new HIV infections from 2006 through 2009, according to new data released today by the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention.

The Atlanta-based CDC determined figures that show that in 2006, there were 4,400 HIV infections among black gay and bisexual men ages 13-29. The numbers jumped to 6,500 infections in 2009 within the same age group. This subpopulation represents the only subpopulation in the U.S. to experience a statistically significant increase during these three years.

“We are deeply concerned by the alarming rise in new HIV infections in young, black gay and bisexual men and the continued impact of HIV among young gay and bisexual men of all races,” said Jonathan Mermin, director of CDC’s Division of HIV/AIDS Prevention, in a statement.

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Prop 8 battle resumes Sept. 6

Georgians gather to support Prop 8 ruling

The legal battle over California's Proposition 8 will resume in September as the state's high court will take up the issue over whether supporters of a ballot initiative have the authority to fight court rulings if the state's governor and attorney general refuse to do so, according to the Associated Press.

The court will hear arguments on Sept. 6.

U.S. District Chief Judge Vaughn R. Walker ruled in August 2010 that the state's ban on same-sex marriage was unconstitutional. Then-Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and Attorney General Jerry Brown refused to challenge Walker's ruling.

Jerry Brown is now the governor of California.

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‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ repeal finally certified; 60 days until law is officially gone

"Don't Ask, Don't Tell," the policy that ended the military careers of more than 14,000 lesbians and gay men, moved a step closer to the rubbish bins of history Friday as President Obama, Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta and Admiral Michael Mullen, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, formally certified its repeal.

Congress voted to repeal "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" and Obama signed the bill into law in December 2010. But the legislation required Obama,  the secretary of defense and the chairman of the joint chiefs of staff to certify to the House and Senate Armed Services Committees that the military was ready to implement the repeal.

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Court order upholds ban on ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ discharges

Alex Nicholson

A federal appellate court issued an order late July 15 prohibiting the U.S. government from discharging additional service members under “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” while allowing recruiters to continue to bar openly gay people from enlisting in the armed forces.

The order from a three-judge panel of the U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals partially reinstates a stay on an injunction barring the enforcement of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.” The injunction was reissued by the appellate court July 6 after it was first issued by a U.S. district court last year.

“[T]he stay entered November 1, 2010, is reinstated temporarily in all respects except one,” the order states. “The district court’s judgment shall continue in effect insofar as it enjoins appellants from investigating, penalizing, or discharging anyone from the military pursuant to the Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell policy.”

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U.S. Senate confirms first openly gay federal judge

J. Paul OetkenThe United States Senate, for the first time, confirmed an openly gay man to serve as a federal judge. J. Paul Oetken was nominated by President Obama in January and was confirmed by a vote of 80 to 13 on July 18. A simple majority was needed for confirmation.

Oetken will sit on the bench of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York.

New York Senator Chuck Schumer, who recommended Oetken to President Obama, praised Oetken on the floor of the Senate prior to the confirmation vote.

“Paul is not just an excellent candidate,” Schumer said. “As the first openly gay man to be confirmed as a federal judge and to serve on the federal bench, he will be a symbol of how much we have achieved as a country in just the last few decades.”

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Rep. John Lewis testifies for pro-gay Respect for Marriage Act

Ga. Rep. John Lewis supports Respect for Marriage Act

The Senate Judiciary Committee held the first-ever hearing today on the Respect for Marriage Act, a bill that if passed would repeal the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act and allow the federal government to recognize same-sex marriages.

The Respect for Marriage Act was introduced in the Senate by Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) and in the House of Representatives by Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-NY).

Today's hearing included testimony from gay marriage supporters, those negatively affected by the current law and advocates urging the passage of the Respect for Marriage Act.

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White House: President Obama supports bill to repeal DOMA

President Barack Obama supports DOMA repeal efforts

White House spokesperson Jay Carney told reporters during a White House briefing on July 19 that President Obama supports the Respect for Marriage Act, a bill that would repeal the Defense of Marriage Act.

The 1996 law defines marriage as a legal union between one man and one woman. Carney said that the president was “proud” to support the repeal effort. Obama has stated his desire to see that law repealed in the past but had not yet publicly endorsed the Respect for Marriage Act, according to DC-based LGBT news outlet MetroWeekly.

The bill, introduced in the Senate by Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), would repeal DOMA and allow the federal government to provide benefits to couples in same-sex marriages. The first hearing on the Respect for Marriage Act will take place tomorrow.

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New York becomes sixth state with marriage equality

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo signs into law same-sex marriage

Kirsten Ott Palladino and Maria Palladino were among the thousands around the country who watched live online June 24 as the New York Senate voted 33-29 to legalize same-sex marriage. The Atlanta couple got engaged in New York City, both have parents from New York, and they have visited every year.

Their next trip may have an extra item in the itinerary.

“Maria and I do plan on making our union legal in New York, likely this year,” Kirsten Palladino said. “The celebration will be very small in comparison to our Georgia wedding, but that may have more to do with the fact that we just welcomed twin boys into our lives this year than anything else.”

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DOJ: Defense of Marriage Act unconstitutional

In a federal court brief filed July 1, the Department of Justice cited the Atlanta Police Department’s raid on the Atlanta Eagle, a gay bar, as evidence of ongoing discrimination based on sexual orientation.

The Department of Justice filed the brief in the legal case involving federal employee Karen Golinski. The brief argues that the federal court should not dismiss her claim that the Defense of Marriage Act is unconstitutional. Golinski is suing the government for equal access to health benefits for her wife.

The brief, filed on behalf of the Office of Personnel Management and other defendants in the case, begins by saying “Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act, 1 U.S.C. Section 7 (‘DOMA’), unconstitutionally discriminates.”