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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 Obama has stated his desire to see that law repealed in the past but had not yet publicly endorsed the Respect for Marriage Act, according to DC-based LGBT news outlet MetroWeekly.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.”

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Gay couples sue for marriage rights in New Jersey

Lambda Legal and Garden State Equality have joined together to sue the state of New Jersey on behalf of seven same-sex couples over harm caused by the state’s unequal civil union system. New Jersey’s civil unio...
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DADT stay lifted by federal appeals court

The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals today issued a ruling today which effectively halted the enforcement of the military's “Don't Ask, Don't Tell” policy. The three-judge panel previously blocked an order from Federal Judge Virginia Phillips in 2010 after her ruling in the case Log Cabin Republicans vs. United States found the policy to be unconstitutional.

A stay was issued to allow the policy to remain in place while the repeal made its way through Congress, but the three-judge panel said today that “The circumstances and balance ofhardships have changed, and appellants/cross-appellees can no longer satisfy the demanding standard for issuance of a stay.”

The law, commonly known as DADT, was repealed during the final days of the 111th Congress, though service members must wait for the president, the head of the Department of Defense and the chairman of the joint chiefs to certify repeal before gay and lesbian soldiers can begin to serve openly.

The armed services are currently in the process of training soldiers and other personnel for the change in policy and are expected to have all service members trained by mid-summer.

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New York to be sixth state to let gay couples marry

New York State on Friday night, June 24, became the sixth and most populous state to legalize marriage for same-sex couples. After a tense several days past the scheduled end of the legislative session, in which it was unclear if Republican leaders in the state Senate would even allow a marriage bill to come up for a vote, the Senate voted 33 to 29 in favor of the bill. The vote was taken at approximately 10:30 p.m. EDT.

The Assembly, which passed its version of the bill on June 15, voted again on Friday to approve several amendments agreed to by Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos (R-Nassau), Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver (D-Manhattan), and Governor Andrew Cuomo (D) after they met earlier in the week. The amendments passed the Assembly 82 to 47.

Governor Cuomo, who worked closely with marriage equality advocates and sent an early version of the marriage bill to both houses of the legislature on June 14, is expected to sign the bill. No date was known as of press time. The law will go into effect 30 days after his signature.

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Former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman announces GOP presidential bid, viewed as moderate on gay issues

Former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman supports civil unions for LGBT couples

Jon Huntsman, the former governor of Utah and more recently, the U.S. Ambassador to China, officially announced today his intention to seek the Republican nomination to run against President Barack Obama in the 2012 presidential election.

Set against the backdrop of the Statue of Liberty in New York City, Huntsman read a prepared statement.

“Today, I am a candidate for the office of the President of the United States of America,” Huntsman said.

While the governor of Utah, Huntsman held several moderate positions and even endorsed a bill that would have provided civil unions for same-sex couples in the state, according to The Atlantic. Huntsman has also supported a bill to outlaw housing and employment discrimination for LGBT persons while governor.

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By the numbers: Gay youth health

15.4

Percent of gay and lesbian youth who reported drinking and driving in the last 30 days, compared to 7.8 percent of straight youth.

27.8

Percent of gay and lesbian youth who reported smoking more than 10 cigarettes in a day, compared to 9.1 percent of straight youth.

21.1

Percent of gay students who said they had not gone to school out of safety concerns, compared to 12.7 percent for bisexual students and 4.8 percent of straight students.

35.8

Percent of gay youth who used a condom during their last sexual intercourse, compared to 65.5 percent for heterosexuals and 53.7 percent of bisexuals.

30

Percent of gay youth who said they had considered suicide, compared to 11.7 percent of heterosexual youth.

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Illinois begins allowing civil unions

On June 1, 2011, Illinois became the latest state to enact a civil unions measure allowing some legal rights for gay and lesbian couples. The gained rights include hospital visitation, the ability to make emergency medical decisions, adoption and inheritance rights. Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn signed the civil unions into law in January.

“Today is an important day in the history of our state because today we are showing the world that the people of Illinois believe in equality for all,” Quinn said at the time. “We look forward to individuals and businesses from across the country choosing to move to Illinois where we believe that everyone is entitled to the same rights.”

Illinois is now one of six states that offer civil unions to same-sex couples in place of marriage rights. Gay couples are currently allowed to marry in five states — Massachusetts, Iowa, Vermont, New Hampshire, Connecticut — and the District of Columbia.

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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.