“God and the Gay Christian” by Matthew Vines: A Review


Erin Nanasi | Forward Progressives | April 16, 2014

As one of fifty online writers chosen to review “God and the Gay Christian” by Matthew Vines prior to publication, I admit, I had some preconceptions. I thought I would be reading a book by a “progressive Christian,” that would agree with my own beliefs. Matthew Vines has not written that book. “God and the Gay Christian” is a conversation-changer. Matthew Vines accepted his own sexuality while a student at Harvard. But as a young man raised by evangelical parents, in an evangelical church, he had no idea how to be a gay Christian. It made no sense to him that the God who had loved him, and who

Matthew loved, would suddenly consider his life an abomination, evil, less than. And then there were Matthew’s parents. They loved him, they tried to accept his homosexuality, but they were burdened by the same information that Matthew was: the Bible considers homosexuality a sin.

What if it didn’t? What if the Bible, a book Matthew and his family believed and trusted, hadn’t said anything about same-sex love, or same-sex relationships? Was it possible that everything Matthew and his family had been taught was misread and misinterpreted? Matthew began a journey to discover the truth about “God and the Gay Christian,” both for himself, and for his father. Early in the book, Matthew writes that this was a path along which his father would travel as well. Reading that passage changed my views, it removed my preconceptions, and it made reading “God and the Gay Christian” more moving and more profound.

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Out Magazine Releases 8th Annual Power 50 List


James Nichols | Huffington Post | April 16, 2014

Out Magazine has released its annual “Power 50,” which documents the 50 most powerful members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender individuals in America.

Much of the list is to be expected, but there are a few welcome surprises, such as recently out football player Michael Sam coming in near the top of the chart this year. Also making the list? Favorites such as Ellen DeGeneres, RuPaul and Marc Jacobs.

Check out the top ten below and head here to see the full Power List.

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The Secret Anti-Abortion Law That’s Sweeping America


Erika L. Sánchez | The Guardian | AlterNet | April 15, 2014

Last November, a new law went into effect in Texas: abortion clinics would now be required to have an agreement with a local hospital so that patients needing treatment could be transferred.

Now that sounds reasonable, doesn’t it?

Perhaps, until you consider the fact that it caused  one-third of health centers to stop providing abortions. Women in the Rio Grande Valley now have to travel hundreds of miles (if they’re lucky enough to have the transportation and resources) to get access to a safe, legal abortion.

The Texas legislature has become an extreme example of new restrictions on abortion continuing to sweep statehouses in 2014, and the particulars buried by all those Wendy Davis profiles showcase a slick new tactic of the pro-life movement: a requirement for admitting privileges. At first glance, that kind of rule appears designed to protect women’s health – to have an abortion provider make an arrangement with a local hospital in case of an emergency seems harmless, even helpful.

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In child custody disputes, LGBT parents face bias in the courts, review finds


Science Daily | April 16, 2014

Court decisions that favor a heterosexual parent over a gay or lesbian parent in a custody dispute often do not consider important social science research on parenting by gay and lesbian individuals, according to a new review from Drexel University.

Previous research shows that gay and lesbian individuals are as effective in parenting as heterosexuals, and that children raised by gay or lesbian parents are as well-adjusted as their peers raised by heterosexual parents. This research could greatly impact how legislatures and courts make decisions regarding custody for gay and lesbian parents. However, in many states, sexual orientation is still a deciding factor in custody decisions.

For a gay or lesbian individual, coming out as gay at the end of a heterosexual partnership can mean that he or she could be denied custody of the children from that partnership or face restrictions on visitation. For same-sex couples with children, the end of their relationship can mean difficulties in establishing parental rights for both parents when one partner is not recognized as a legal parent by the state and by the court, and therefore is not granted custody or visitation.

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Ethiopia Cancels Anti-Gay Rally and Drops Proposed Bill


Cathy Kristofferson | Oblogdeeoblogda | April 16, 2014

rainbowethiopiaThe AP is reporting plans to hold a mass anti-gay rally in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, have been cancelled. The two religious groups planning the rally announced last week it would be held on April 26th. The government-affiliated Addis Ababa Youth Forum and a religious group associated with the Ethiopian Orthodox Church reported an alarming increased rate of ‘homosexual acts’ had caused the need for the rally.

Chairman of the Ethiopian Orthodox Church group the Weyiniye Abune Tekelehaimanot Association, Dereje Negash, had previously told reporters at a press conference:

“Children are being raped by gay people in this country. …  All in all, gay acts are against health, the law, religion and our culture, so we should break the silence and create awareness about it.”

Today, Negash said the cancellation is the result of people inside the church asking the government to prevent the rally.

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Gov. Rick Perry may face criminal charges for threatening lesbian DA Rosemary Lehmberg


| Lone Star Q | April 16, 2014

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A grand jury convened Monday to look at whether anti-gay Texas Gov. Rick Perry broke the law when he threatened to veto funding for lesbian Travis County DA Rosemary Lehmberg’s office if she didn’t resign following a drunken driving arrest.

The Houston Chronicle reports:

The grand jury probe, rare for a sitting governor, centers on Perry’s declaration last year that he would veto money for the Public Integrity Unit, which prosecutes wrongdoing by public officials, unless Lehmberg resigned after a drunken-driving arrest.

Lehmberg, who was caught on video after her arrest behaving belligerently toward police, did not resign, and Perry made good on his threat, saying, “I cannot in good conscience support continued state funding for an office with statewide jurisdiction at a time when the person charged with ultimate responsibility of that unit has lost the public’s confidence.”

Texans for Public Justice filed a complaint against Perry accusing him of coercion of a public servant, abuse of official capacity, official oppression and potentially bribery. Texas taxpayers will foot the bill for Perry’s defense attorney, to the tune of $450 an hour.

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Brunei’s new law permits stoning gay people to death


Rhuaridh Marr | Metro Weekly | April 16, 2014

“Under international law, stoning people to death constitutes torture or other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment and is thus clearly prohibited.”

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Rupert Colville, spokesperson for the Office of the UN High Comissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR). He continued, “Application of the death penalty for such a broad range of offenses contravenes international law.” The statement was made in response to Brunei’s new penal code, which permits the punishment of death by stoning for a range of offences, including same-sex sexual relationships, adultery, rape, extramarital affairs and publicly declaring oneself to be non-Muslim. Brunei, which has a majority Muslim population and is phasing in Sharia law, previously had a 10-year prison sentence as the maximum punishment for sex between persons of the same gender.

Image Credit: Sam Garza / Wikimedia

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Lambda Legal Sues Doctor and Clinic for Denying Medical Care to Transgender Woman


Oblogdeeoblogda | April 16, 2014

(Urbana, IL, April 16, 2014) – Yesterday, in the United States District Court for the Central District of Illinois, Urbana Division, Lambda Legal filed a lawsuit on behalf of Naya Taylor, a transgender woman denied medical care after she requested hormone replacement therapy. The lawsuit alleges a violation of the ACA’s non-discrimination provisions prohibiting discrimination on the basis of sex, (which includes gender identity), and requires that clinics receiving federal funds treat transgender patients in the same manner as they would any patient under their care.

“The provisions of the Affordable Care Act are clear: doctors receiving federal funds cannot discriminate in providing patient care just because a person is transgender,” said Kenneth Upton, Senior Counsel for Lambda Legal. “Patients such as Naya Taylor place their health and well-being in a doctor’s hands. Ms. Taylor asked for her doctor to provide services similar to those provided to other clinic patients who are not transgender and the doctor and clinic refused, posing a significant risk to Ms. Taylor’s health. The ACA’s non-discrimination provisions were intended to ensure appropriate medical care for transgender people, a community that already faces a disproportionate amount of discrimination, violence and suicide rates.”

Naya Taylor is a transgender woman living in Mattoon, Illinois. Dr. Aja Lystila had been Ms. Taylor’s primary care physician, but when Ms. Taylor requested to start hormone replacement therapy (HRT) as part of her medically necessary, transition-related healthcare to treat her gender dysphoria, Dr. Lystila refused. Dr. Lystila first claimed she was not experienced in providing hormones to transgender people even though hormone therapy is regularly provided to non-transgender patients in a variety of settings every day. Later the clinic told Ms. Taylor that it “does not have to treat people like you.” HRT is one of the vital life-saving treatments used to treat gender dysphoria, a recognized, serious medical condition..

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The US Government: Paying to Undermine Internet Security, Not to Fix It


Julia Angwin | ProPublica  | Truthout | April 16, 2014

 (Image <a href="http://www.shutterstock.com/pic-165303932/stock-photo-internet-security-online-business-concept-pointing-security-services.html?src=1JMPV6X5xKr-DVq7lMActw-1-2" target="_blank"> via Shutterstock</a>) (Image via Shutterstock)

The Heartbleed computer security bug is many things: a catastrophic tech failure, an open invitation to criminal hackers and yet another reason to upgrade our passwords on dozens of websites. But more than anything else, Heartbleed reveals our neglect of Internet security.

The United States spends more than $50 billion a year on spying and intelligence, while the folks who build important defense software — in this case a program called OpenSSL that ensures that your connection to a website is encrypted — are four core programmers, only one of whom calls it a full-time job.

In a typical year, the foundation that supports OpenSSL receives just $2,000 in donations. The programmers have to rely on consulting gigs to pay for their work. “There should be at least a half dozen full time OpenSSL team members, not just one, able to concentrate on the care and feeding of OpenSSL without having to hustle commercial work,” says Steve Marquess, who raises money for the project.

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Study: HIV incidence 4x higher in people with mental health diagnoses


 | America Blog | April 16, 2014

A recent study took a look at the incidence of HIV in people who had mental health diagnoses, and found that they were four times more likely to be HIV positive than the general population.

There were people who were being treated either as inpatients on a psychiatric unit, who were outpatients at a psychiatric hospital, or were receiving mental health services in community mental health centers. The research was done at sites in Philadelphia, PA and Baltimore, MD. Over 1,000 patients were included in the study and were tested for HIV. All HIV screening tests were later confirmed with a Western blot analysis.

The incidence of HIV infections in the general populations of Philadelphia and Baltimore are both about 1.3%. Testing on the patients in this study showed that, overall, 4.9% of patients currently being treated for psychiatric illnesses were HIV positive. Patients in the inpatient psychiatric units averaged 5.9% positive. In the group of patients who were outpatients at the psychiatric hospitals, the rate of HIV infection was 5.1%. In the community mental health centers is was around 4%. Also, more than 12 patients who didn’t think that they were HIV positive when they agreed to participate in the trial, were found to be HIV positive after testing.

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