AIDS: Signs of progress, but worries about cuts

More than 9,000 people with HIV were on a waiting list for federal assistance in buying their medications in August 2011. On Monday, President Obama announced that, as of this week, that number is down to zero.

"At one time, the need was so great that over 9,000 people were on the waitlist,” said the president, at a White House ceremony Monday marking World AIDS Day. “We vowed to get those numbers down. And I’m proud to announce that, as of last week, we have cleared that waitlist. We are down to zero. And we’re going to keep working to keep it down.”

Carl Schmid, an official at the AIDS Institute who has devoted considerable voice to shining a light on that waiting list, agreed the Obama administration deserves some credit. Schmid said the administration’s re-direction of $35 million in funding to the AIDS Drug Assistance Program (ADAP) two years ago “really helped” clear the waiting lists.

Hawaii approves same-sex marriage bill

Hawaii, the state where it all began and eventually led to the anti-gay Defense of Marriage Act, will soon become the 16th state in the nation to legalize same-sex marriage.

On Friday, the Hawaii House of Representatives voted 30-19 to approve the bill after 12 hours of debate. This vote followed the Senate's approval on Oct. 30. Hawaii Gov. Neil Abercrombie, a strong supporter of marriage equality, is expected to to sign the bill and make it law next week and gay couples will be able to marry as soon as Dec. 2.

‘Agender’ Berkeley student recovering after being set on fire

An 18-year-old Berkley student was set on fire Monday while riding a bus in Oakland and suffered second- and third-degree burns and is now in stable condition at a burn center in San Francisco.

Fleischman, who was wearing a skirt, had fallen asleep on the bus when a 16-year-old Oakland High School student allegedly set the skirt on fire. The 16-year-old was arrested and charged with assault with a deadly weapon and could face other charges.

Illinois votes to approve marriage equality

UPDATE from the Washington Blade: Illinois Senate immediately passes marriage equality bill, sending SB-10 to be signed by Governor Pat Quinn. The law will go into effect June 1, 2014.
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Breaking: Senate votes to approve ENDA

Today the U.S. Senate voted to approve the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, a law that prohibits discrimination against LGBT employees in the workforce.

Sixty-one members of the Senate in a bipartisan effort voted to approve the bill that has languished in Congress for some 20 years. The 61-30 vote means ENDA clears the cloture requirement needed for a floor debate and final vote on the bill expected to come later this week.

House Speaker John Boehner, however, has said he is opposed to the legislation meaning it will not likely pass.

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Federal ENDA to pass in Senate but Boehner expected to halt LGBT bill in House

With the U.S. Senate expected to pass the Employment Non-Discrimination Act this week, the bill that would protect LGBT people from being fired from their jobs simply because they are gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender, hit a significant hurdle Monday — House Speaker John Boehner.

"The Speaker believes this legislation will increase frivolous litigation and cost American jobs, especially small business jobs," Boehner spokesman Michael Steel said in a statement, according to a story in Huffington Post.

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ENDA vote to come before Thanksgiving

A vote on the Employment Non-Discrimination Act could come before Thanksgiving, according to sources in Washington, D.C.

The Washington Blade reports that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) will announce today that he will bring ENDA to the floor for a vote possibly as soon as next week.

ENDA, a federal bill that would prohibit employers discriminating against employees based on their sexual orientation and gender identity, has languished in Congress for years.

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Gov. Christie drops appeal of New Jersey marriage ruling

Gov. Chris Christie announced this morning he is dropping the appeal of a lower court's ruling that paved the way for marriage equality to begin last night in New Jersey.

"At long last, the freedom to marry is now permanently law of the land in New Jersey," said Freedom to Marry founder and president Evan Wolfson in a prepared statement.

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Feminist Charis Books & More slammed with anti-gay graffiti

One of the oldest feminist bookstores in the nation was hit with anti-gay graffiti the night it held a standing room only literary event as part of its "Stride into Pride" for Atlanta Pride activities.

Lesbian-owned Charis Books & More, which turns 39 in November and is one of the last remaining feminist bookstores in North America, had anti-gay and anti-women graffiti spray painted on the side of its building Thursday night after a successful literary event, "Stride Into Pride: Atlanta Literary All Star Showcase."