National

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Gay man discharged under ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ named Presidential Inauguration citizen co-chair

The Presidential Inauguration Committee announced Thursday (January 17) that an openly gay veteran of the Air Force will be among the eight “Citizen Co-Chairs” for President Obama’s second inaugural ceremony.

David Hall, an official with Outserve-SLDN who helped with the successful effort to repeal the Don’t Ask Don’t Tell law banning open gays from the military, was chosen as one of eight Americans to “reflect the core values of this Administration and the theme of the 57th Presidential Inauguration: Our People. Our Future.”

Presidential Inauguration Committee Executive Director David Cusack issued a statement saying each of the eight co-chairs was selected for his or her “extraordinary contributions to their communities.”

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Top national news of 2012: Obama says ‘I do’

Barack Obama

In perhaps the biggest year for the LGBT rights movement in history, one story stands out as the most significant: President Obama’s re-election after he publicly endorsed marriage equality.

Obama won re-election by taking 51 percent of the popular vote compared to the 47 percent won by Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney, paving the way for the pro-LGBT policies of his first term to continue over the next four years. Obama won major swing states, including Ohio, Florida, Colorado and Virginia.

In May, during a TV interview with ABC News’ Robin Roberts, Obama announced his personal support for same-sex marriage, making him the first sitting U.S. president to take that step.

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CDC: Gay, bisexual men continue to have highest HIV infection rates

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While the number of new HIV infections in the U.S. continues to hold steady at about 50,000 a year, infections rates among gay and bisexual men, especially African American men who have sex with men (MSM), continue to rise sharply, according to a new report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

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U.S. Supreme Court to hear Prop. 8, DOMA cases

The Supreme Court has agreed to hear a challenge to the Defense of Marriage Act, which bars federal recognition of same-sex marriage, as well as Proposition 8, the ballot initiative which ended gay marriage in California.

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Openly gay CDC HIV chief reflects on ‘humbling’ journey

The CDC's Kevin Fenton discusses HIV and AIDS progress on teleconference

Dr. Kevin Fenton has much to be proud of during his eight years at the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention, especially the strong relationships he and the federal agency forged with local and community-based organizations.

Fenton steps down from his position as director of the National Center for HIV/AIDS, Viral Hepatitis, STD & TB Prevention after a seven-year tenure on Dec. 21 and returns to his home in the U.K. on Dec. 31.

Dr. Rima Khabbaz, director of the Office of Infectious Diseases, will begin serving as acting director of NCHHSTP on Jan. 2, 2013, while a national search is conducted to select a permanent director.

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Gay, bisexual young people at highest risk for HIV infection

Every month, 1,000 young people in the U.S. become infected with HIV. Drug and alcohol use and unprotected sex are major reasons youth are becoming infected at alarming rates, according to a new CDC Vital Signs report released this month.

In a Nov. 27 conference call with reporters, CDC leaders said more must be done to ensure youth ages 13-24 are tested for HIV as well as educated about the preventable disease.

“This is our future generation and the bottom line is every month 1,000 youth are becoming infected with HIV,” said Dr. Thomas R. Frieden, director of the CDC. “The cost of care is approximately $400,000 over a person’s lifetime.

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No movement yet on marriage before the Supreme Court

Supreme Court of the United States

The United States Supreme Court still has not announced its decision on whether to hear same-sex marriage challenges from any of the six cases before the court.

The court could consider any of five challenges to the Defense of Marriage Act, a 1996 law that forbids the federal government from recognizing same-sex unions. DOMA has been found unconstitutional in eight previous rulings from lower courts.

Also before the court is a challenge to California's Proposition 8, the voter initiative that ended same-sex marriage in the state. It has also been overturned by lower courts, but remains in force during appeals. Prop 8 is being challenged by attorneys Ted Olsen and David Boies, who famously argued one another in 2000's Bush v. Gore case.

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Supreme Court sits on marriage decisions

Supreme Court of the United States

The United States Supreme Court was expected to decide today whether to hear any of several legal challenges involving same-sex marriage, but the court took no action in these cases, the website SCOTUSBlog reports.

The Supreme Court, after taking most of the day to prepare new orders, took no action Friday on the ten same-sex marriage cases now on the docket.

The court could issue a decision on whether to hear the cases as early as Monday, Dec. 3 but multiple media outlets have reported that Dec. 7 is more likely.

Stay tuned for more information.

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HIV/AIDS studies highlight importance of access to care

HIV study results

A recent study conducted on the access to HIV/AIDS services for gay men and men who have sex with men has found a continued global disparity between men in poor countries and those in wealthy countries.

The study, which can be read here, was conducted by Global Forum on MSM & HIV (MSMGF) and interviewed 5,779 men from 165 countries.

Only one-third of men who were surveyed said that condoms were easily available while 36 percent of those surveyed reported easy access to HIV testing and 42 percent reported easy access to HIV treatments.

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Southern Poverty Law Center sues ‘ex-gay therapy’ provider for fraud

Southern Poverty Law Center

The Southern Poverty Law Center today filed a lawsuit against a New Jersey “ex-gay therapy” organization, claiming that Jews Offering New Alternatives for Healing (JONAH), its founder, Arthur Goldberg, and counselor Alan Downing violated New Jersey’s Consumer Fraud Act by providing conversion therapy claiming to cure clients of their sexual orientation.

“JONAH profits off of shameful and dangerous attempts to fix something that isn’t broken,” said Christine P. Sun, deputy legal director for the SPLC, in a prepared statement released today. “Despite the consensus of mainstream professional organizations that conversion therapy doesn’t work, this racket continues to scam vulnerable gay men and lesbians out of thousands of dollars and inflicts significant harm on them.”

The SPLC says conversion therapy propagates the myth that sexual orientation is a choice, a position the SPLC says encourages anti-gay bigotry.