Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Tonight's news roundup

The District of Columbia became the sixth jurisdiction in the U.S. to legalize same-sex marriage on March 3, but that could change if an attempt to rescind the law is successful. The law went into effect after being passed by D.C.'s city council and signed in December by Mayor Adrian Fenty. The Democratic-controlled Congress chose not to overturn the law during its 30-day period of review. Opponents of the law hope to take advantage of a section in the D.C. Charter that allows citizens to gather signatures to place the issue on the ballot -- something opponents have been trying for months to do, only to be thwarted by the D.C. Board of Elections and by various courts, which upheld the board's stance that such an initiative would "authorize discrimination" against homosexuals.
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Speaking of marriage, Nepal plans to offer same-sex couples the possibility of getting married at a Mount Everest base camp and of honeymooning on a Himalayan trek or adventure tour. Nepal also wants to cash in on a chunk of the multibillion-dollar gay tourist market.

John Tanzella of the International Gay and Lesbian Travel Association says that a growing segment of the gay tourism market craves adventure travel and exotic locations, especially to places seen as hospitable to gay travelers.
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Constance McMillen, a Mississippi high school student, made waves this past week when she said she wanted to bring her girlfriend to her high school prom. Instead of allowing McMillen to bring a same-sex date to the dance, school board members decided to cancel the event entirely. This past week, the American Civil Liberties Union and Mississippi Safe Schools Coalition teamed up to demand McMillen be allowed to attend. Kristy Bennett, Legal Director of the ACLU of Mississippi, says “Constance has a constitutional right to take the person she’s dating to the prom, just like any other student at any other public school.”
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General David Petraeus, the Army general who is managing the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, says “the time has come” for the military to rethink its current “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy toward gays in the military. Petraeus told a Senate panel Tuesday that he wants to see the results of an internal study ordered by Defense Secretary Robert Gates before any changes are made. Petraeus said he wants to know if allowing gays to serve openly might hurt recruiting and retention, or the military’s ability to fight.
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Claims that three-time US Olympic champion skater Johnny Weir was not included in the “Stars on Ice” cast because of his perceived sexual orientation are untrue, a representative for the figure skating tour said. The Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation started an online petition last week, saying Weir was being excluded from the tour because he was not “family friendly.” Weir has repeatedly avoided questions about his sexual orientation, saying people shouldn’t be defined by labels. “While Stars on Ice wishes it could accommodate many more talented skaters as part of our cast, the fact is we cannot sign every skater,” the Stars statement said.
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Prosecutors who have charged three cousins with a hate crime said they’re considering charging the suspects in 11 similar incidents. The cousins were charged with shooting a San Francisco man with a BB gun on February 26 because they thought he was gay.

The victim called police and said he’d been shot by a passing car. Police pulled the suspects over near the scene of the crime and found a “rifle-style” BB gun and a video camera inside the car. The video recording recovered by police shows the suspects shooting at other victims. The three men have been charged with assault with a deadly weapon with a hate crime enhancement, discharge of a firearm with gross negligence, and attempted mayhem for the initial shooting. No serious injuries have been reported from the 11 additional shootings.
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This past Thursday, Judith Vazquez and Lol Kin Castaneda became the first same-sex couple to marry in Mexico under a new law that allows same-sex couples to wed and to adopt children. Several couples wed at the Municipal Palace in Mexico City, which legalized same-sex marriage in December.

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