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U.S. Rep. John Lewis joins concern over Russia’s anti-gay laws, Olympics

john lewis

Outspoken LGBT rights ally John Lewis is the only member of Congress from Georgia to sign a letter calling on Secretary of State John Kerry to ensure the safety of LGBT Americans attending the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia.

"We are writing to you regarding the troubling implications of a recently-enacted Russian law criminalizing actions or statements deemed to be in support of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) community," states the letter, led by U.S. Rep. Jerry Nadler (D-N.Y.) and signed by 83 members of Congress including Lewis (D-Ga.).

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Last call for Stoli at several Atlanta gay bars

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 Several Atlanta gay bars are dumping Stolichnaya as a way to protest the inhumane treatment of LGBT people in Russia, where this brand of vodka originated.

On June 15, Robby Kelley, co-owner of the Atlanta Eagle, announced his bar would stop serving the popular vodka and any other Russian booze.

"I know Stoli is not made in Russia but profits made from it goes there. The Atlanta Eagle will no longer carry these vodkas. When we are out, we are out. I'm a small bar but [feel] like [it's] my job [not] to support vodka or [products] from a country that just removed the rights of the lgbt community for the next 100 years," he said.

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Mixed signals from gay rights groups on Russian Olympics boycott

To boycott, or not to boycott, that is the question.

All Out, a global gay rights group launched in 2010, and Athlete Ally, a U.S.-based organization that promotes LGBT inclusion in sports, released a joint statement today, calling on a political solution rather than a boycott of the upcoming Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia, over the country's anti-gay agenda.

A flurry of online petitions calling for a complete boycott of the games, its corporate sponsors and even NBC have cropped up recently. Some gay bars have even started their own boycott of Russian vodka.

But All Out Executive Director Andre Banks said today that a boycott of the games to protest Russia's anti-gay laws was not the most prudent way to send a message to Russian politicians.

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Russia draws fire over anti-gay laws ahead of Winter Olympics

Vladimir Putin

Gay rights activists across the globe have called on the international community to boycott the upcoming 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia, over the country's continued crackdown on gay rights activists and LGBTQ tourists.

Already, online petition creators have amassed thousands of digital signatures calling for a complete boycott of the upcoming games.

One such petition, currently on Change.org, has amassed some 20,000 signatures.

RUSA LGBT, an LGBTQ advocacy organization made up of Russian speakers, is leading the call for a boycott of the games. Its message is pretty simple: Do not support Sochi.