Thursday, February 26, 2009

News this week

Big Gay News 02/25/2009

In strikingly similar news to Wisconsin, the Colorado state assembly passed a bill this week that would make it easier for unmarried straight and LGBT couples to make medical decisions for incapacitated partners and leave property to their partners.

Republicans attacked the measure, calling it an attempt to circumvent the state constitution, which bans same-sex marriage.

Under the plan, couples would be able to go to their county clerk’s office and designate each other as legal beneficiaries.

During the committee stage, Rep. Mark Ferrandino (D), the bill’s sponsor, said that he had wished he could have brought in legislation to legalize same-sex marriage, but admitted to the committee this was the best he could currently hope for.

The bill still needs to be approved by the Senate and opponents of LGBT rights are mounting a campaign to defeat the legislation.

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A task force of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America recommended last week that church leaders make changes to allow gay and lesbians in committed relationships to serve as clergy.

At the same time, the task force also asked members of the church to respect congregations and synods that disagree.

If approved, the measures would change current church policy that allows ordination of gay clergy, but requires them to be celibate. In the report, the task force proposed a four-step process that outlines a possible path for change, starting with recognition of same-sex relationships.

The task force agreed that the church cannot responsibly consider any changes to its policies unless it is able and willing in some way to recognize lifelong, monogamous, same-gender relationships.

The recommendation will be voted on at the churchwide assembly in Minneapolis in august. Reaction to the recommendation was expected to range from elation to disapproval.

The 4.7 million-member Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, which is based in Chicago, is the nation's largest Lutheran denomination. The Lutheran Church- Missouri Synod and the Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod are separate denominations that accept a literal interpretation of the Bible and do not ordain gays.

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Michigan courts can now oversee custody disputes between LGBT parents who adopt in other states.

The state court of appeals ruled last week 2-1 that the U.S. constitution requires state courts to recognize Diane Giancaspro and Lisa Congleton as adoptive parents. They are a lesbian couple who adopted in Illinois. It reversed a trial judge who said Michigan’s 2004 voter-approved gay marriage ban kept her from enforcing the women's parental rights.

The judges say that the only relevant consideration in this matter is the established relationship as adoptive parents with the children, not their relationship with each other.

The couple adopted from China while living in Illinois, and the children began living with them in 2003. But the couple's relationship ended in 2007 after they moved to southwestern Michigan.

The ruling Friday prompted American Family Association of Michigan president Gary Glenn to call for a ballot measure that would ban gay adoptions in the state.

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A program designed and evaluated at the Medical College of Wisconsin to help prevent the spread of HIV in high-risk populations has been one of eight chosen by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) for inclusion in the 2008 Compendium of Evidence-Based HIV Prevention Interventions.

To be included, programs must be scientifically proven to reduce HIV or STD-related risk behaviors, or promote safer behaviors.

The program known as Popular Opinion Leader HIV Intervention was developed by the college’s Center for AIDS Intervention Research (CAIR). The program takes a community-level approach for reducing the levels of high-risk sexual behaviors in populations vulnerable to HIV/AIDS. The intervention identifies those people who are naturally popular, trusted, and well-liked among others in the community population.
These popular opinion leaders (POL) are then trained and guided to give HIV prevention advice to their friends and acquaintances in everyday conversations.
Research has shown that the POL intervention when carried out in communities of gay men, inner-city women, and disadvantaged adolescents reduces levels of HIV risk behavior by approximately one-third of their earlier levels.

Reducing the burden of HIV and aids is a national challenge, and sometimes an uphill battle. The CDC estimates that approximately 56,000 new HIV infections occurred in 2006. The Medical College of Wisconsin is working together with the CDC and other policy makers to help change the course of the HIV epidemic in the United States.

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And finally, the winner is……….Milk, for best actor and best original screenplay. Touching speeches from Sean Penn who accepted the Oscar for his portrayal of slain gay rights activist, Harvey Milk and screenwriter Dustin Lance Black. Congratulations to everyone involved in the film.

And that’s all for the news this Wednesday February 25, 2009.

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