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Supreme Court rules in favor of Rev. Fred Phelps’ anti-gay protests

A Westboro Baptist Church protester in Atlanta

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled this morning that the First Amendment protects anti-gay picketers Westboro Baptist Church from tort liability, according to the American Bar Association.

The decision was eight to one. Only Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr. dissented.

Westboro Baptist Church, based in Topeka, Kansas, is led by Rev. Fred Phelps and his family members. The church frequently protest the funerals of soldiers killed in Afghanistan and Iraq with signs featuring messages like “God Hates Fags” and “Fags Doom Nations.” WBC has also protested Jewish groups, high schools and even the Catholic Church.

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Ga. teacher plans protest to support Texas student’s planned Gay/Straight Alliance

Dave Dixon was fired from his job as a high school drama teacher after a lesson on bullyingA Georgia drama teacher who was fired last year for showing a scene from the gay-themed film “The Reckoning” to his class is planning a protest in support of a Texas high school student who has tried unsuccessfully to establish a gay/straight alliance at her school.

Nikki Peet of Corpus Christi first approached Flour Bluff school officials in November with the idea of establishing a GSA, only to be told by officials, including school principal James Crenshaw, that such a club would not be approved, according to Corpus Christi NBC affiliate KRIS.

The school has since canceled all extra-curricular activities rather than allow the GSA to form. Calls to the school's principal and public information coordinator went unreturned.

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Ga. activists demand more funding as AIDS drug wait list tops 1,000

Several HIV care providers are warning of a looming crisis for some of their poorest patients if more money cannot be found for the AIDS Drug Assistance Program this year.

Georgia’s wait list for the program now includes more than 1,000 people and represents a public health crisis, supporters of ADAP said at a press conference March 1 at the Grady Infection Disease Program office in Atlanta.

ADAP provides access to up to 60 different medications used to treat HIV, AIDS and related infections for 4,300 people in Georgia. Funded through a mix of federal and state money, the program’s $44.8 million budget is approximately $15 million short of what it needs to deal with increasing demand.

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Activists plan to confront state Rep. Bobby Franklin

Members of the Queer Justice League who attended a community forum and meeting at My Sisters Room said they are planning a direct action on March 8. A group plans to deliver a letter to state Rep. Bobby Franklin (R-Marietta) at the Capitol asking for his apology for remarks he has made publicly against gay people, as well as against women's reproductive rights and against other marginalized communities.

Franklin has compared gays and lesbians to unrepentant drug dealers. He also called for a bill that would investigate miscarriages as possible murders or abuse against "fetal citizens, and wants to reclassify those who say they have experienced rape or abuse as "accusers" rather than "victims."

QJL and GetEqual GA are working to collaborate with PFLAG Marietta, whose members are constituents of Franklin, to deliver a letter demanding an apology while the legislature is in session, said Art Izzard of QJL.

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Atlanta LGBT forum touches on racism, collaboration

A group of some 30 activists gathered at My Sisters' Room on Feb. 28 to air their frustrations about what they wish to see happening in Atlanta's gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender community.

Organized by MSR owners and wife-wife team Susan Musselwhite and Patryce Yeiser along with party promoter and singer Barry Brandon, the forum's topics included racism and segregation, transgender people being left out, and the need for LGBT groups to collaborate with other groups at all times — not just when something is needed.

"I've been involved in Atlanta's LGBT community a long time and what I see is we are resource rich and collaboration poor," said Imani Evans, founder and executive director of Women Healing Women, a nonprofit that provides services to survivors of domestic and sexual abuse.

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Mo’Nique to receive ‘Ally for Equality Award’ at Atlanta HRC Dinner

The Mo'Nique show

Academy Award-winning actress Mo’Nique will receive the “Ally for Equality” award that the 2011 Human Rights Campaign Atlanta Gala Dinner.

According to the HRC:

The Ally for Equality Award recognizes the outstanding efforts of those who dedicate time, energy and a whole-hearted commitment to better the lives of LGBT people. This award is given to allies outside the LGBT community who stand up on behalf of equality for all Americans. Recipients have shown a commitment to making America a place where LGBT people can be open, honest and safe at home, at work, in the community and in the media. The awards presented at the Human Rights Campaign gala dinners are the highest honor the organization bestows in the area of achieving equality for LGBT people.

Mo’Nique, a former Queen of Comedy, shot to national prominence last year after her portrayal of the abusive mother in "Precious: Based on the novel Push by Sapphire."

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Atlanta’s gay chamber teams up with Stonewall Bar Assn. for night of networking

Attendees at the AGLCC's Fourth Friday networking event

The Atlanta Gay & Lesbian Chamber of Commerce teamed up with the Stonewall Bar Association for the chamber's popular monthly Fourth Friday Networking on Feb. 25 at the recently expanded Phillip Rush Center.

Radial Cafe, right next door to the Rush Center, provided the food while the Stonewall Bar Association provided the alcohol.

During the networking and social event, people toured the renovated Rush Center which is now home to Georgia Equality, the Atlanta Lesbian Health Initiative, Atlanta Pride, MEGA Family Project, AGLCC, In the Life Atlanta and SAGE, an organization for LGBT seniors. Nearly 30 organizations use the space for meetings or trainings as well.

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Atlanta NOH8 photos now posted

It's been almost six weeks since the NOH8 campaign made its Atlanta stop. Now the local photos are posted on the N0H8 website.

Adam Bouska and his partner, Jeff Parshley, founded the NOH8 Campaign after voters in California approved Proposition 8, a state constitutional amendment banning gay marriage, on Nov. 4, 2008. In the photos, celebrities and everyday people don NOH8 tattoos and duct tape over their mouths to protest the silencing effect of homophobia.

The NOH8 campaign has gone on to promote other LGBT equality causes as well. But it’s the photos that people love. The campaign has grown to more than 8,000 “faces” in the past two years. A crowd estimated at over 800 turned out Jan. 16 for the Atlanta shoot, held at the W Midtown hotel on the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday weekend.

The NOH8 campaign put out an announcement on the release of the photos:

"First of all, a huge thanks to all of you for coming out and supporting the cause during our very first open shoot in Atlanta, in addition to your patience in getting the photos back to you guys - we couldn't believe how many there were to go through! While Chicago still has the highest number for people who came out to the shoot, Atlanta broke the record for largest number of photos taken! We added hundreds of new faces to the campaign and our fight for equality - and that is truly something for you all to be proud of."

Rev. Josh Noblitt of St. Mark United Methodist, an organizer of the event, told the crowd of hundreds that it was time for LGBT people and allies to “take their place in the civil rights movement.”

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Update: Obama won’t defend law banning federal recognition of gay marriage

The Obama administration made a blockbuster announcement Wednesday, saying it has concluded that one part of the Defense of Marriage Act will not be able to pass constitutional muster in the 2nd Circuit and that DOJ would not defend that part of the law in two pending cases in that circuit.

It was a dramatic, unexpected, and significant move by the Obama administration and one that could trigger maneuvers by DOMA supporters to appoint an intervenor to defend the law. But beyond the eventual legal consequences of the announcement, the political impact was characterized by most LGBT leaders as historic and monumental.

“This is a monumental turning point in the history of the quest for equality for lesbian, gay and bisexual people,” said Jon Davidson, legal director for Lambda Legal Defense and Education Fund.

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Breaking: Obama to stop defending DOMA

President Barack Obama signed into law the Don't Ask, Don't Tell Repeal Act of 2010 this week

The Human Rights Campaign is reporting that the Obama administration will stop its defense of Section 3 the "Defense of Marriage Act," the federal law that denies rights to legally married same-sex couples as well as allowing states to not recognize gay marriage.

“This is a monumental decision for the thousands of same-sex couples and their families who want nothing more than the same rights and dignity afforded to other married couples,” said HRC President Joe Solmonese in a press release.  “As the President has stated previously, DOMA unfairly discriminates against Americans and we applaud him for fulfilling his oath to defend critical constitutional principles.”

The Washington Post is also reporting the news.