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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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From marriage to the ballot box, LGBT issues likely to be big news in the new year

Tammy Baldwin

Significant events are crowding the national calendar for 2012, and each promises considerable drama and suspense for the LGBT community. Here are the 10 most important to watch:

1. The fight for the White House

The difference for LGBT people between having President Barack Obama in the White House and President George W. Bush has been stark. So the consequences of November’s presidential election will also be profound.

Either Obama stays, and things continue to improve, in law and in society’s attitudes, or a new president is elected from a field of Republicans who seem, at times, to be vying for the mantle of most gay hostile candidate.

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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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U.S. Senate confirms first openly gay federal judge

J. Paul OetkenThe United States Senate, for the first time, confirmed an openly gay man to serve as a federal judge. J. Paul Oetken was nominated by President Obama in January and was confirmed by a vote of 80 to 13 on July 18. A simple majority was needed for confirmation.

Oetken will sit on the bench of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York.

New York Senator Chuck Schumer, who recommended Oetken to President Obama, praised Oetken on the floor of the Senate prior to the confirmation vote.

“Paul is not just an excellent candidate,” Schumer said. “As the first openly gay man to be confirmed as a federal judge and to serve on the federal bench, he will be a symbol of how much we have achieved as a country in just the last few decades.”

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[Video] Sen. Al Franken makes people chuckle during DOMA hearings

U.S. Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.) made a career of making people laugh when he was a writer and actor on "Saturday Night Live." He also made some of us laugh and think with his books, including, "Rush Limbaugh Is a Big Fat Idiot and Other Observations."

In 2008, he won a seat in the U.S. Senate and is now on the Senate Judiciary Committee where members are taking up the Defense of Marriage Act and the new pro-gay bill, the Respect for Marriage Act.

Watch below as Franken crushes Tom Minnery,  the executive director of CitizenLink, a public policy division of that not-so-funny and very anti-gay Focus on the Family, during the hearings on July 20. Minnery cites a federal study that he says straight couples are the best kinds of parents. Well, Franken said he actually read the study.

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Rep. John Lewis testifies for pro-gay Respect for Marriage Act

Ga. Rep. John Lewis supports Respect for Marriage Act

The Senate Judiciary Committee held the first-ever hearing today on the Respect for Marriage Act, a bill that if passed would repeal the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act and allow the federal government to recognize same-sex marriages.

The Respect for Marriage Act was introduced in the Senate by Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) and in the House of Representatives by Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-NY).

Today's hearing included testimony from gay marriage supporters, those negatively affected by the current law and advocates urging the passage of the Respect for Marriage Act.

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[Video] Hawaii governor signs civil union law

Yesterday, Hawaii Gov. Neil Abercrombie signed into law a bill legalizing civil unions for the state's same-sex couples. In doing so, Hawaii became the seventh state to enact civil union legislation for same-sex couples.

Hawaii's state Senate voted to pass the legislation by a 19 to 6 margin, while the House voted 31 to 19.

According to Hawaiian ABC affiliate KITV, the law will go into effect on Jan. 1, 2012, though equality advocates in the state are already celebrating.

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Gay lawmaker predicts contentious year for General Assembly

Karla Drenner

A new governor, new lawmakers, new party affiliations and the third year of $1 billion budget shortfalls may result in one of the most contentious General Assembly sessions Georgia has seen.

“I think if you want to think of the nasty ugliest things that you could possibly imagine, that will be this year’s General Assembly,” said Rep. Karla Drenner (D-Avondale Estates). “I think the fight will be about everything. Now that [Republicans] have such a big majority they can do anything so I think you will see personal fights, budget fights, fights about everything.”

The annual 40-day legislative session begins Jan. 10, the same day Nathan Deal will be inaugurated as Georgia’s new governor.

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President Obama calls ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ repeal ‘historic step’

Over the weekend, President Barack Obama responded to the Senate’s passage of a stand-alone repeal of the military’s “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy, which prohibits gays and lesbians from serving openly in the military.

The Senate passed repeal 65 to 31 on Saturday. The House passed an identical measure last week 250 to 175.

The bill will now make its way to the president to be signed into law.

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Senate passes ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ repeal

The United States Senate voted to repeal the military’s anti-gay “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy today. The move came just hours after the Senate passed a crucial cloture vote which allowed debate to close.

The earlier cloture vote was 63 to 33. A “super majority” of 60 votes was needed to end debate to allow an up or down vote. The final repeal vote needed just a simple majority of senators to pass.

The final repeal total was 65 to 31.

The House of Representatives passed an identical measure earlier in the week 250-175. President Barack Obama has called for the policy to be repealed and is widely expected to sign the bill into law.