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Atlanta’s total cost for illegal police raid nears $3 million

Atlanta Eagle

Documents released by the city of Atlanta show that the city paid out more than $1.2 million for an independent investigation into the botched raid of the Atlanta Eagle.

The documents show that high-profile law firm Greenberg Traurig charged the city more than $1.2 million for its three-month investigation and 349-page report of what happened at the Eagle the night of Sept. 10, 2009, when the gay bar was raided by the Atlanta Police Department after anonymous allegations about illegal sex and drug use at the bar. No drugs were found and nobody was arrested for illegal sex.

The investigation was mandated as part of a $1.025 million settlement the city reached in December 2010 with 26 patrons of the bar who said their constitutional rights were violated when they were detained for no reason, forced to the ground and had their IDs checked.

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Wedding: Where you can legally wed

Georgia has banned gay marriage twice — by law in 1996 and by an amendment to the state constitution in 2004. That means you’ll have to travel if you want to wed where your marriage is legally recognized.

Since neither Georgia nor the federal government will acknowledge gay marriages from other states, you won’t bring any new legal rights home from your trip. That leads some couples to opt instead to simply tie the knot here.

But for others, it’s an important personal or political statement to say “I do” where gay couples are given full equality under the law. You might choose a destination wedding in one of these jurisdictions where same-sex marriage is legal, or have a small legal ceremony there followed by a larger ceremony or celebration back in Georgia.

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Obama issues new initiatives to advance LGBT rights abroad

President Obama's administration announced it would no longer defend DOMA in court

President Barack Obama today issued a memorandum to the heads of each executive branch directing government agencies to “promote and protect the human rights of LGBT persons.”

“I am deeply concerned by the violence and discrimination targeting LGBT persons around the world — whether it is passing laws that criminalize LGBT status, beating citizens simply for joining peaceful LGBT Pride celebrations, or killing men, women, and children for their perceived sexual orientation,” the memo reads.

The president ordered agencies under the executive branch to combat the criminalization of LGBT status or conduct, protect LGBT refugees and assylum seekers, issue “swift and meaningful” responses to human rights abuses of LGBT persons abroad, and engage international gay rights organizations in the fight against LGBT discrimination.

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At least five gay candidates on Ga. ballot

Decatur City Commissioner Kecia Cunningham

At least five openly gay candidates will appear on Nov. 8 ballots for local government seats in Georgia, although one is unopposed for re-election.

Kecia Cunningham, who in 1999 became Georgia’s first African-American openly gay elected official, is unopposed in her bid for another four-year term on the Decatur City Commission.

Cunningham represents District 2, Post B, on the nonpartisan commission in the gay-popular Atlanta suburb. The official candidate qualifying period for November’s election began Aug. 29 and ended Sept. 2.

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Court order upholds ban on ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ discharges

Alex Nicholson

A federal appellate court issued an order late July 15 prohibiting the U.S. government from discharging additional service members under “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” while allowing recruiters to continue to bar openly gay people from enlisting in the armed forces.

The order from a three-judge panel of the U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals partially reinstates a stay on an injunction barring the enforcement of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.” The injunction was reissued by the appellate court July 6 after it was first issued by a U.S. district court last year.

“[T]he stay entered November 1, 2010, is reinstated temporarily in all respects except one,” the order states. “The district court’s judgment shall continue in effect insofar as it enjoins appellants from investigating, penalizing, or discharging anyone from the military pursuant to the Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell policy.”

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More LGBT businesses, organizations sign on to be ‘safe zones’ to protest Georgia immigration law

Radial Cafe in Atlanta

Radial Cafe, owned by gay businessman Frank Bragg, and the annual alternative queer arts fest Mondo Homo have signed on to be Buy Spots and provide Sanctuary Zones to protest Gov. Nathan Deal's signing of the state's controversial immigration bill.

Lesbian-owned Charis Books & More was the first business to sign on in early May. Deal signed HB 87 into law on May 13.

A complete list of businesses and organizations that have signed on to be Buy Spots and Sanctuary Zones can be found here.

As Buy Spots and Sanctuary Zones, Charis Books & More in Little 5 Points, Radial Cafe and Mondo Homo will offer a safe haven to people who need a place to go and will offer their space for organizers who are working to overturn the law. They will also urge their customers to not shop at stores that are not Buy Spot and Sanctuary Zones.

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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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LGBT activists protest inequality on tax day

Demonstrators protest inequality on tax day

As you undoubtedly know, today is tax day. For some procrastinators, this is one of the most dreaded days of the year.

For married LGBT taxpayers, filing taxes is just another reminder of the inequality same-sex couples face every other day of the year. Because the Defense of Marriage Act requires the federal government to recognize a marriage as "one man and one woman," same-sex couples must file their federal taxes separately, despite the fact that they may be legally married in their home state.

Demonstrators from national LGBT advocacy organization GetEqual, like the ones pictured above in Washington D.C., are taking to the streets to highlight the lack of rights afforded to LGBT couples versus their straight counterparts. According to GetEqual, similar demonstrations are taking place all across the country today.

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Defense Authorization cloture vote fails in Senate, stalling ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ repeal

The Senate Tuesday afternoon rejected a motion to break a Republican-led filibuster against an annual defense spending bill that includes language aimed at ending the military’s "Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell" law banning out gays. The vote was 56 to 43.

The vote was uncertain all the way up to the vote, started at 2:30 eastern time, as Democratic leaders were reportedly trying to negotiate an agreement with one or two senators to reach the 60 votes they needed to proceed. But Republicans stood united in their contention that a procedural restriction placed on consideration of the annual defense spending bill was politically motivated to win the votes of LGBT people and Latinos for the mid-term elections in November.

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By the numbers: Same-sex immigration

24,000 Estimated gay couples in the U.S. that include one foreign partner. The Uniting American Families Act would allow them to sponsor their partners for immigration. 11 million Estimated undocumented immigra...
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Senate confirms Elena Kagan

The U.S. Senate today confirmed the appointment of Solicitor General Elena Kagan to the U.S. Supreme Court, but not without complaints from nearly every Republican opposing her nomination about her actions concerning Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell (DADT) and the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA).

The vote was 63 to 37, with only five Republicans voting for Kagan and one Democrat voting against.

The Senate’s newest Republican member, Scott Brown of Massachusetts, voted against Kagan.