National

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Natalie Portman backs same-sex marriage

Actress Natalie PortmanOscar-winning actress Natalie Portman and her fiancé, Benjamin Millepied, have signed their names to Freedom to Marry’s “I Do” campaign, according to the national marriage equality organization.

“Natalie Portman and her fiancé, Benjamin Millepied, are in love, and believe all loving couples should be able to share in the freedom to marry without discrimination,” said Evan Wolfson, president of Freedom to Marry, on the organization’s website.

“That is why they are joining the more than 100,000 people on Freedom to Marry’s Say ‘I Do’ Open Letter calling on President Obama to do the right thing and become part of America’s majority for marriage,” Wolfson said.

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Herman Cain: Sure, I’d hire a gay person to work in the White House (but not a Muslim)

herman cain

GOP presidential candidate and Georgia resident Herman Cain says he would have no problem hiring an openly gay staffer to work for him if elected president. And he said so with the leader of the Iowa anti-gay marriage movement at his side.

The story was reported by Jennifer Jacobs at the Des Moines Register as part of the newspaper's "2012 Iowa Caucuses" special online section.

Cain was in Iowa on June 6 at a speech hosted by the Family Leader, headed up by Bob Vander Plaats. Vander Plaats and the Family Leader were part of a campaign to oust three Iowa Supreme Court judges after they voted to legalize gay marriage in the state in 2009. Joining Family Leader was the anti-gay National Organization for Marriage.

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30 years after HIV decimated the gay community and inspired us to action, infections on the rise again

30 years of HIV and AIDS

The mysterious disease that would eventually become a global pandemic is approaching a milestone that it denied to thousands of gay men in the 1980s and ‘90s: On June 5, AIDS turns 30.

First identified as an unusual outbreak of pneumocystis carinii pneumonia by the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention, AIDS startled doctors with the way it targeted “previously healthy” young men and ravaged their immune systems with unprecedented speed.

“Patient 4: A 29-year-old man developed P. carinii pneumonia in February 1981,” read the June 5, 1981, Morbidity & Mortality Weekly Report, the CDC’s first official recognition of what would become known as AIDS. “He did not improve after being given intravenous [antibiotics] and corticosteroids and died in March.”

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10 tips to prevent HIV infection

SAFETY FIRST

If it’s oral, anal or vaginal it should be wrapped up before any penetration.

IDENTIFICATION

Know who you are and where your values lie. Confidence plays a great role not only in getting that sexy new catch, but also in standing firm in your decisions to protect yourself and your partners.

NEGOTIATION

Discuss HIV and safer sex with your partners before sex. This can help steer what kind of sex you have.

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10 steps beyond an HIV-positive diagnosis

1. GET GROUNDED

Find support through friends, family, therapists, medical professionals or any combination of these. Without support, taking any additional steps can seem even more difficult and trying. Support groups can help bring a sense of camaraderie and fellowship to a seemingly lonely experience.

2. GUIDE YOUR TONGUE

Not everyone will be supportive. Initially, share this information with those whom you can trust to be uplifting and those whom will help you along your way to treatment and safety.

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By the numbers: Tyler Clementi

18

Age of Tyler Clementi when he committed suicide last fall by jumping off the George Washington Bridge after learning that fellow Rutgers University students filmed him having sex with a man and webcast it.

3

Years of a pre-trial intervention program that Molly Wei, 19, accepted when she pleaded not guilty May 6 for her role in the webcast. If she completes the program, charges against her will be dropped.

300

Hours of community service Molly Wei must also complete, in a deal accepted by Clementi’s parents. She must also testify against Clementi’s roommate, Dharun Ravi, who faces 15 counts of invasion of privacy and bias intimidation.

10

The length of the hearing, in minutes.

5

Maximum years in prison under New Jersey law for a count of secretly collecting images of nudity or sexual contact, then distributing them.

 

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Bill Clinton supports New York same-sex marriage movement

Former President Bill Clinton

Former President Bill Clinton favors New York allowing gay couples to marry, according to a press release issued by the Human Rights Campaign earlier today.

The HRC says that Clinton made the statement last week.

"Our nation's permanent mission is to form a 'more perfect union' - deepening the meaning of freedom, broadening the reach of opportunity, strengthening the bonds of community. That mission has inspired and empowered us to extend rights to people previously denied them. Every time we have done that, it has strengthened our nation. Now we should do it again, in New York, with marriage equality. For more than a century, our Statue of Liberty has welcomed all kinds of people from all over the world yearning to be free. In the 21st century, I believe New York's welcome must include marriage equality," Clinton's statement says.

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By the numbers: Your tax dollars at work

$520

Hourly rate the U.S. House planned to pay law firm King & Spalding to defend the Defense of Marriage Act, the federal ban on gay marriage.

$500,000

The initial cap on congressional payments to King & Spalding, which could be negotiated higher.

$193.3 million

What the military spent from 2004 to 2009 to replace gay troops discharged under ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.’ The policy is now being repealed.

$125,000

Estimated cost of one congressional hearing. Since resuming control of the U.S. House, Republicans have held three on gay issues: Two on repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, and one on DOMA.

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Breaking: King & Spalding attorney Paul Clement leaves firm to keep defending DOMA

Paul Clement, the attorney hired by the U.S. House to defend the Defense of Marriage Act, has resigned his position at King & Spalding after the law firm decided not to defend the case, according to Politico.com, a website covering politics and other news.

Politico writer Josh Gerstein shares part of Clement's resignation letter:

"I resign out of the firmly held belief that a representation should not be abandoned because the client's legal position is extremely unpopular in certain quarters. Defending unpopular clients is what lawyers do ... I recognized from the outset that this statute implicate very sensitive issues that prompt strong views on both sides. But having undertaken the representation, I believe there is no honorable court for me but to complete it," writes Clement.

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Breaking: King & Spalding announces it will not defend DOMA

Les Zuke, director of communications for King & Spalding, issued a statement this morning that the firm founded in Atlanta would no longer defend DOMA.

“Today the firm filed a motion to withdraw from its engagement to represent the Bipartisan Legal Advisory Group of the House of Representatives on the constitutional issues regarding Section III of the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act. Last week we worked diligently through the process required for withdrawal," Robert D. Hays Jr., the firm's chairperson, said in a statement.

“In reviewing this assignment further, I determined that the process used for vetting this engagement was inadequate. Ultimately I am responsible for any mistakes that occurred and apologize for the challenges this may have created," Hays added.

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Lee Farkas found guilty of ‘one of largest bank frauds in history’

Lee Farkas, former manager at a company that owned Blake's on the ParkLee Farkas, once a manager of the company that owned Atlanta gay bar Blake's on the Park, was found guilty Tuesday of being the "mastermind" in a $2.9 billion fraud trial that officials said was "one of the largest bank frauds in history."

The Justice Department's criminal division chief, Lanny Breuer, said Farkas, 58, was "one of the masterminds in one of the largest bank frauds in history" and that his misconduct "poured fuel on the fire of the financial crisis," according to a report by the Associated Press.

In June, Farkas, who is gay, was indicted on one count of conspiracy, six counts of bank fraud, six counts of wire fraud and three counts of securities fraud. Farkas was found guilty of 14 of these counts.