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WATCH LIVE: NEW YORK SENATE TO VOTE ON MARRIAGE EQUALITY TONIGHT

Jun 24th, 2011 06:49 PM By

It has been confirmed by multiple new sources that the New York Senate will vote on the marriage equality bill tonight. No one knows what time the vote will take place yet. You can watch live below:

Watch live streaming video from nysenate at livestream.com

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URGENT: MARRIAGE EQUALITY NOW ONLY 1 VOTE AWAY IN NEW YORK. CALL YOUR STATE SENATOR TODAY!

Jun 14th, 2011 12:53 PM By

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UPDATE (12:20 PM 6/22/11):

We are still waiting on word if the vote on the marriage equality bill in New York will take place today or possibly tomorrow. Keep the calls and emails coming. Find out how you can take action below.

UPDATE (4:23 PM 6/20/11):

From our friends at the Human Rights Campaign: “It is clear that there are a number of issues still to be resolved in Albany which may result in the Legislature staying beyond the June 20th deadline. We are heartened that there continues to be respectful and productive dialogue on the issue of marriage equality and remain hopeful that all New Yorkers will soon be able to marry the person they love.”

UPDATE (10:21 PM 6/15/11):

1. The New York state Assembly just passed the marriage equality bill by a vote of 80-63!

2. The bill now heads to the New York state Senate. The current count of committed YES votes means we are just 1 vote away from marriage equality passing in the Empire State.

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UPDATE (6:30 PM 6/14/11):

1. New York Governor Andrew Cuomo officially proposes the Marriage Equality Act today.

2. Another Republican state senator, Roy McDonald, has announced his support for the marriage equality bill. We are just now 1 vote away from it possibly passing this week!

3. The Human Rights Campaign has released Give a Damn founder Cyndi Lauper’s New Yorker for Marriage Equality PSA today. Check it out below.

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We are down to the wire. This week is our last chance to pass marriage equality in New York before the state legislative session ends!

Yesterday, 4 New York state senators, 3 Democrats and 1 Republican, who had previously voted against marriage equality announced that they will vote YES on pending legislation that will grant gay couples the freedom to marry in the Empire State. This leaves only 2 votes left to ensure that the bill passes.

So, time is of the essence. If you live in New York, please contact your state senator today. If you have family and friends who live in New York, please urge them to contact their state senator as well. Now is the time to get involved!

Our friends at the Human Rights Campaign, Freedom to Marry and FriendFactor have made it very easy. Through each of their websites you can contact your state senator. It only takes a couple of minutes and you will make a big difference in ensuring marriage equality is passed in New York.

Here are some reasons why marriage equality is so important:

Give a Damn founder Cyndi Lauper (HRC’s New Yorkers for Marriage Equality)

Kathy Najimy and Dan Finnerty (Give a Damn Campaign)

Loving vs. Virginia (American Foundation for Equal Rights)

New Yorkers United for Marriage PSA

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CDC STUDY: GAY, LESBIAN AND BISEXUAL TEENS MORE LIKELY TO ENGAGE IN RISKY, UNHEALTHY BEHAVIORS

Jun 07th, 2011 11:04 AM By

According to TIME:

cdc_logo(3)“In the largest study of its kind, government health officials report that gay, lesbian and bisexual teenagers are significantly more likely to engage in risky, unhealthy behaviors — such as smoking, drinking, using drugs, having unprotected sex and contemplating suicide — than their straight peers.

“The new analysis by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is based on data from the Youth Risk Behavior Surveys, which were conducted from 2001 to 2009 and involved high-school students in seven states and six large urban school districts (including New York City, Chicago, Boston, San Francisco, Milwaukee and San Diego). The surveys asked teens about all manner of risky behaviors, including whether they had ever used heroin or tried throwing up to lose weight, their habits regarding unprotected sex, whether they drove after drinking alcohol, whether they wore seatbelts and bike helmets, carried a gun or drank soda every day. The surveys also asked about teens’ sexual orientation.

“What researchers found was that students who identified as being gay, lesbian or bisexual were more likely to report engaging in 70% of all the risk behaviors measured, compared with heterosexual students, particularly behaviors related to violence (like not going to school for fear of personal safety) or to attempted suicide (such as making a suicide plan), tobacco use, alcohol use, other drug use, sexual behaviors and weight management.

“The disparities were dramatic: for example, while 8% to 19% of straight teens reported smoking cigarettes, about 20% to 48% of gay teens reported the same. Bisexual teens reported the highest rates of many risky behaviors, even higher than gay and lesbian students; 33% to 63% of bisexual students reported binge drinking, for instance, compared with up to 16% to 44% of straight students and 17% to 44% of gay students.

“Why? Reported The Advocate:

“Much of what’s ailing these students can be attributed to a lack of ’safe and supportive environments,’ according to the CDC report, which mentioned a survey that found gay and lesbian students feel unsafe while at school.

“The CDC calls for state and local governments to do more — in the form of policies or programs such as gay-straight alliances — to combat what’s happening to gay youth. It also calls for better information. The center’s analysis was based on a common tool for judging the risk of students — called the Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance System — but in 2009, only 10 states and seven large school districts even asked whether the students were gay or bisexual.”

Read the full Time article >>

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CIVIL UNIONS TAKE EFFECT IN ILLINOIS

Jun 01st, 2011 03:15 PM By

According to The Chicago Sun-Times:

illinois-seal“Illinois’ new law allowing civil unions took effect Wednesday, and gay and lesbian couples began lining up hours before county clerk’s offices opened so they could be among the first to get a civil union license.

“More than 75 couples were in line by the time the doors opened early at 7:30 a.m. at the Cook County Building in downtown Chicago, where the vital records office will stay open until 7 p.m. to accommodate couples. Officials said they expect to issue about 2,000 licenses the first day.

“At the head of the line were Lakeesha Harris and Janean Watkins, who got there at midnight. The Chicago couple, together for 10 years, have six children and a home but say they always felt relegated to second-class status, until now.

“’We’ve been ostracized and relegated to the bottom rung of society,’ said Harris, 36. ‘I feel like this is some sort of justice for us, for our family. I’m so grateful. I’m thankful.’

“Civil unions give couples many of the rights that accompany traditional marriage, including the power to decide medical treatment for an ailing partner, the right to inherit a partner’s property and the ability to receive spousal employment benefits.

“The first civil union ceremonies under the Illinois Religious Freedom Protection and Civil Union Act can’t take place until Thursday, when dozens of couples are expected to participate in a mass ceremony at Chicago’s Millennium Park.

“The law that took effect Wednesday allows civil unions, not marriages, among same-sex couples, though it also recognizes same-sex marriages performed in other states.

“Illinois now is among six states that allow same-sex couples benefits similar to those granted married couples.”

Read the full The Chicago Sun-Times article >>

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NEW STUDY SAYS MORE COUNTRIES ACCEPTING OF HOMOSEXUALITY

Jun 01st, 2011 03:05 PM By

According to AFP:

“The vast majority of countries around the world have become more accepting of homosexuality, with the exception of Russia and other former socialist countries, a new study has found.

“The report, compiled by the National Opinion Research Center at the University of Chicago, examined general trends in over 30 countries regarding their attitudes towards homosexuality, and is based on five surveys conducted in different countries between 1988 and 2008.

“Approval of homosexuality increased in 27 countries and decreased in only four: Cyprus, the Czech Republic, Latvia and Russia, the study noted.

“The growth in approval ratings was stronger than the decline.

“The study rated the top five most tolerant countries regarding homosexuality as the Netherlands, Denmark, Norway, Switzerland, and Belgium, according to the survey.

“The bottom half of the list consisted of seven ex-socialist states, East Asian nations, Latin American countries and Cyprus, South Africa, and Turkey.

“In Russia, 59 percent of the population felt that homosexual behavior was wrong in 1991 compared with 64 percent in 2008, the study showed.”

Read the full AFP article >>

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WASHINGTON POST PROFILES THE WANDA ALSTON HOUSE

May 24th, 2011 11:02 AM By

The following is an excerpt from an article by The Washington Post:

“In Room 8, the carpet is stained and the walls are bare, except for strips of tape that once held someone else’s photos. But to the 21-year-old getting dressed this morning, the room offers a measure of freedom she has never had: a place where, without judgment, she can slip on a flower-print blouse and shave her face. A place where no one knows Guy Jones, only Sarah Feliciano.

“’How does this look?’ Sarah asks, sweeping a cobalt blue powder over her eyes. Foundation the color of ’soft copper’ covers the rest of her face, hiding any hints of a shadow that monthly laser therapy and a daily shave might have missed.

“In the three-story brick house in Northeast Washington, there are eight bedrooms, each filled with a young person who identifies as lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender. And like Sarah — a transgender woman who until February was sleeping at Reagan National Airport, washing her hair with shampoo fished from the trash — each ended up homeless or close to it.

“As the District takes significant strides to advance the rights of LGBT residents — for example, recently legalizing same-sex marriage — the youths who pass through the Wanda Alston House tell of the vulnerability the community still faces. The house, named after an LGBT leader and mayoral adviser who was killed in 2005, is one of a handful of transitional houses in the nation that cater to people who experts say are more likely to become homeless and who, once in that category, pose challenges most shelter systems are unequipped to address. Should a transgender female be placed in a shelter with men or women? Where should a transgender male who still has the anatomy of a woman shower? What about a young gay man?”

Continue reading the full The Washington Post article >>

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CAROLINE KENNEDY BECOMES 100,000TH SIGNER OF LETTER TO THE PRESIDENT TO SUPPORT THE FREEDOM TO MARRY

May 16th, 2011 04:37 PM By

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From our friends at Freedom to Marry:

Caroline Kennedy became the 100,000th signer on Freedom to Marry’s Open Letter urging President Obama to support the freedom to marry for gay and lesbian couples.

“Falling in love, getting married, and building a family is part of the American dream,” said Caroline Kennedy. “I believe that all Americans, including committed gay and lesbian couples, should have the opportunity to pursue that dream.”

Freedom to Marry’s “Say I Do” campaign was launched on March 14th with an Open Letter to the President signed by prominent Americans, including civil rights leaders, Hollywood stars, musicians, and business leaders. Since then, 100,000 Americans have joined the campaign and signed on to the letter calling on the President to join “the majority of Americans who support the freedom to marry.”

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BALTIMORE RAVENS LINEBACKER SPEAKS UP FOR EQUALITY ON ESPN

May 16th, 2011 04:16 PM By

Baltimore Ravens Linebacker Brendon Ayanbadejo talks about his public support for marriage equality as a straight athlete on ESPN:

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UGANDA “KILL THE GAYS” BILL PUT ON HOLD FOR NOW

May 16th, 2011 03:49 PM By

According to The Washington Post:

muganda“Uganda’s parliament adjourned Friday without acting on a criticized anti-gay bill that would mandate the death sentence in some cases, drawing praise from an advocacy group that said parliament’s failure to act was a ‘victory for all Ugandans.’

“Speaker of Parliament Edward Ssekandi Kiwanuk said there is no time to take up the bill this session, which ends Wednesday, leaving the bill’s future uncertain. Kiwanuk adjourned the parliament Friday and set no date for the body to return.

“The bill has drawn criticism from U.S. leaders and human rights groups. The U.S. State Department spokesman on Wednesday called the bill ‘odious’ and said no changes to the bill’s wording would justify its passage.”

Read the full The Washington Post article >>

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CYNDI LAUPER APPLAUDS SENATOR KERRY’S INTRODUCTION OF LEGISLATION THAT WILL HELP HOMELESS GAY, LESBIAN, BISEXUAL AND TRANSGENDER YOUTH

May 12th, 2011 01:20 PM By

john_kerry_mass_senatorSenator John Kerry (D-Mass.) today introduced legislation to reduce youth homelessness. The Reconnecting Youth to Prevent Homelessness Act would improve training, educational opportunities, and permanency planning for older foster youth. It also strengthens programs to reduce poverty and keep families together.

“As a father, it’s a punch in the gut to imagine children living on the streets, but this year alone, one in fifty American kids will be homeless,” Senator Kerry said. “There are common sense reforms we can implement to help make things better.”

The legislation includes an important provision that provides support for programs that improve family relationships and reduce homelessness among youth who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender.

“I applaud Senator Kerry for introducing such a crucial piece of legislation and for ensuring that the needs of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender youth are included in the bill,” said Cyndi Lauper, True Colors Fund and Give a Damn Campaign founder. “As a mother, I am deeply saddened and angered by the epidemic of young people who are being thrown out of there homes by their parents or runaway out of fear and despair simply because of their sexual orientation or gender identity and expression. As parents we need to be there for our children when they are struggling to come to terms with who they are, if passed this bill will provide much needed support for families to do just that.”

Section 106 of the bill calls for the Secretary of Heath and Human Services to create a “demonstration project for improving family relationships and reducing homelessness for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender youth.” A growing body of research from the Family Acceptance Project, or FAP, suggests that this family-centered approach is one of the best ways to support gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender homeless youth.

It is currently estimated that 20% to 40% of all homeless youth identify as gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender, yet make up 3% to 5% of the general youth population. Helping to foster accepting environments at home is a vital piece of the puzzle in helping to bring an end to gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender youth experiencing homelessness.

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