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Longtime political activist ready for his own turn on the ballot

Ken Britt recently announced a bid for the Ga. General Assembly

For Ken Britt, the time is finally right.

“I have the ‘fire in the belly,’” Britt told GA Voice during a recent interview. “If you had asked me 10 years ago, I probably would have said I was content to stay on the sidelines.”

Britt, 63, recently announced his candidacy for the District 56 seat in the Georgia House of Representatives, currently held by Democrat and gay-rights ally Rep. Kathy Ashe. Ashe announced her retirement in mid-April after more than 20 years under the Gold Dome.

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U.S. House leadership appeals decision on federal recognition of gay marriage

DOMA lawsuit

In a ruling legal advocates said “spells doom” for the federal ban on recognizing gay marriage, a district court judge declared the Defense of Marriage Act unconstitutional. But Republican leaders in the U.S. House have already announced their intent to appeal the decision.

The ruling, handed down Feb. 22 by Judge Jeffery White of the District Court for the Northern District of California, finds that DOMA violates the equal protection clause of the United States Constitution.

The case, Golinski v. United States Office of Personnel Management, involves Karen Golinski, who sued the Office of Personnel Management after she was denied access to family health benefits for her wife, Amy Cunninghis. The couple was married in California in 2008, before Proposition 8 ended gay marriage in the state.

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[Video] LGBT workplace protections bill tabled by Ga. House subcommittee

By a 3-2 vote on Tuesday, Georgia House Judiciary subcommittee tabled a bill that would provide workplace protections to all state employees, including gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender workers.

Voting against the bill were Reps. Stephen Allison (R-Blairsville), Billy Maddox (R-Zebulon) and Randy Nix (R-LaGrange). Voting to oppose the tabling of the bill were Reps. Mary Margaret Oliver (D-Decatur) and Pam Stephenson (D-Decatur).

"Tabling it is not as not as bad as beating it. But tabling it means they killed it," said state Rep. Karla Drenner (D-Avondale Estates) immediately following the hearing.  Last year, Drenner drafted House Bill 630, which included protection for gay and transgender state employees. The bill was introduced with 70 sponsors and co-sponsors, including 12 Republicans and one Independent. It would cover Georgia’s 174,000 state employees.

"It could come back, but that is unlikely," Drenner said.

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Why GA Voice will remain online on ‘SOPA Blackout’ day

Lamar Smith

Personally, I object to the proposed anti-piracy legislation known as the Stop Online Piracy Act. Professionally, I manage a content-driven newspaper website that cannot shut down in protest of the legislation.

I'll tell you why after two quick stories.

The first time my work was published under another person's name was when I wrote for a motorsport magazine and provided articles to the official website of the sanctioning body of a particular form of auto racing.

A competitor of ours decided to take the copy, unchanged, and post it directly to their website. With the help of a friend in the legal field, I sent the competitor a cease & desist letter asking them to pull the article from their site. My letter was never answered. Eventually, the article was moved to a “pay only” section of their website and without the financial means to pursue it any further, I had no choice but to let the theft go unchecked.

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Senate committee approves DOMA repeal

Sen. Patrick Lehay

The U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee Thursday (November 10) voted to recommend passage of a bill to repeal the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA).

The bill is the Respect for Marriage Act (S. 598). Thursday’s 10 to 8 vote along partisan lines had been originally scheduled for November 3 but was postponed a week at the request of Republicans on the committee.

Republican Charles Grassley criticized Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy for putting the bill on the committee’s agenda, saying the committee should, instead, be taking up “bills that can pass” and which address the country’s financial problems. Grassley said S. 598 “lacks the votes to pass the Senate” and that, even if it does pass the Senate, “it will not be taken up in the House,” which is controlled by Republicans.

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Sources: Ga. Rep. Bobby Franklin, who compared gays to drug dealers, has died

Ga. Rep. Bobby Franklin (R-43)

Georgia Rep. Bobby Franklin (R-Marietta), a Cobb County lawmaker who once compared gays and lesbians to drug dealers, has died, according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution's Jim Galloway. The cause of death was not immediately known.

Franklin made national headlines earlier this year after making several anti-gay comments in an interview with the Marietta Daily Journal while discussing “Don't Ask, Don't Tell.”

"The Bible says it's a capital offense," Franklin said of homosexuality in the interview. "You want someone with unrepentant criminal behavior? And it's not just that, neither should adulterers, neither should thieves, neither should a lot of things.

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House Reps. to introduce ENDA this week

U.S. Rep. Barney Frank

Several members of the U.S. House of Representatives held a press conference this morning to announce the introduction of the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA), a law that would ban workplace discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity.

ENDA, an important legislative priority for equality advocates, has been introduced each year since 1994. According to LGBT news outlet Metro Weekly, this year's ENDA bill will be identical to the one introduced by Rep. Barney Frank in the previous Congress.

The Human Rights Campaign, which has been pushing for such legislation, said today via its blog that LGBT persons are at greater risk of losing their job in an economy still struggling after a severe recession:

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Human Rights Campaign mobilizing new effort against Defense of Marriage Act

The Human Rights Campaign is calling on supporters to contact their representatives in Congress to repeal the Defense of Marriage Act.

The Respect for Marriage Act, introduced this week by Rep. Jerrold Nadler and sponsored by more than 100 House members, will repeal DOMA, the 1996 law that restricts federal recognition of marriage to one man and one woman.

According to the HRC:

“The Defense of Marriage Act is denying tens of thousands of legally married lesbian and gay couples across the country more than 1,000 federal protections they deserve. These federal protections of marriage include Social Security survivors' benefits, family and medical leave, equal compensation as federal employees, and immigration rights, among others.”

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State Rep. Bobby Franklin refuses to apologize for anti-gay remarks

Atlanta's Queer Justice League

State Rep. Bobby Franklin (R-Marietta) said this week he “can not and will not” apologize for comparing gay people to criminals after LGBT activists hand delivered a letter demanding an apology to his office on March 8.

In February, Franklin told the Marietta Daily Journal he denounced the repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.”

“The Bible says [homosexuality is] a capital offense,” Franklin said in a Feb. 7 article. “You want someone with unrepentant criminal behavior? And it’s not just that, neither should adulterers, neither should thieves, neither should a lot of things. The church is full of sinners, but we’re told in 1st Corinthians it rattled off the homosexual, the adulterer, the thief, the liar, and such were some of you, but you’ve been washed, you’ve been justified and so forth. It’s not what you were. You’re not punishing a thought. But do you want an unrepentant drug dealer in the military? Same thing.”