Uruguay: Equal marriage bill passes Senate and is ‘nearly certain’ to become law

 | PinkNews.co.uk | April 2, 2013

The Uruguayan Senate today passed a bill which would allow gay and lesbian couples to marry, and which is expected to be approved and signed into law.

The bill to legalise same-sex marriage passed the Senate 23 votes to 8, and equal rights groups have said that it is “nearly certain” that Uruguay will become the next nation to allow equal marriage.

The legislation as it passed today underwent slight modifications since passing the House in December, and the changes are expected to be passed by the Deputies, as well as President José Mujica, who said he intended to sign it into law.

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Earvin Johnson III, Magic Johnson’s Gay Son, Goes Public With Boyfriend, Parents Very Proud (VIDEO)

Huffington Post | April 2, 2013

Magic Johnson’s gay son is going public with his romance.

Earvin Johnson III, one of Magic’s three children, stepped out hand-in-hand with his unidentified boyfriend on Los Angeles’s Sunset Strip on Monday night, TMZ reports.

Although this is reportedly the first time Earvin, also known as EJ, and his boyfriend have been seen together publicly, there is nothing to suggest that he was not open about his sexuality prior to this.

EJ is a 20-year-old student at New York University and Magic and his wife, Earlitha “Cookie” Kelly, couldn’t be prouder of him. “Cookie and I love EJ and support him in every way,” Magic told TMZ. “We’re very proud of him.”

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Exxon’s Duck-Killing Pipeline Won’t Pay Taxes To Oil Spill Cleanup Fund

Ryan Koronowski | Think Progress | April 2, 2013

A technicality has spared Exxon from having to pay any money into the fund that will be covering most of the clean up costs of its Arkansas pipeline spill.

The cleanup efforts themselves took a sobering turn as crews found injured and dead ducks covered in oil.

The environmental impacts of an oil spill in central Arkansas began to come into focus Monday as officials said a couple of dead ducks and 10 live oily birds were found after an ExxonMobil Corp. pipeline ruptured last week.

“I’m an animal lover, a wildlife lover, as probably most of the people here are,” Faulkner County Judge Allen Dodson told reporters. ”We don’t like to see that. No one does.”

Exxon has confirmed that the pipeline was carrying “low-quality Wabasca Heavy crude oil from Alberta.” This oil comes from the region of Alberta where the controversial tar sands are located. Heavy crude is strip mined or boiled loose from dense underground formations that often contain a large amount of bitumen. This oil is very thick and needs to be diluted with lighter fluids in order to flow through pipelines. Reports have stated that at least 12,000 barrels of oil and water spilled into the town.

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How Did We Learn to Love Gay People So Quickly?

 | Huffington Post | April 2, 2013

I say to my students: “Imagine waking up in a hospital bed, unable to remember how you got there.  Your nose itches, but when you go to scratch it you discover that you have no hands.  You panic, and begin a full body inventory.  You look at your legs, wrapped in white gauze, and you realize that you can’t move them.”

Uncomfortable looks on my students’ faces.

“How do you feel?”

Words like “hopeless,” “helpless,” and “afraid” filter back.

“How could you not, right?  It’s a nightmare.  What are you going to do the rest of your life?  Will you be able to support yourself?  How will you live?”

But then I say, “What if, at the moment when you’re sure you’ll lose your mind if you don’t get some information, the doctor walks in and says:

‘I’ve got some bad news for you.  You’ve been in a terrible accident.  We had to amputate your arms, and at present you’re paralyzed from the waist down.  However, your injuries weren’t sustained in the accident itself.  You got out fine … but your mother was trapped.  You went back to help extricate her from the car.  As you finally got her out, the car exploded, and you caught the brunt of the blast.  But if you hadn’t gone back, she would have been killed.  You saved your mother’s life.’”

Quietly, I say, “Now, how do you feel?”

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Tea Party Patriots Criticize ‘Monsanto Protection Act’

 | Huffington Post | April 2, 2013

The so-called “Monsanto Protection Act,” a controversial provision protecting the biotech giant from litigation, has found an unusual critic in the tea party.

The provision, Section 735, was slipped anonymously into the Senate version of the continuing resolution as part of the Agricultural Appropriations Bill, subsequently passed by the House and signed into law by President Barack Obama late last month.

Since then it’s ignited an advocacy firestorm, with 250,000 people signing a petition opposing the provision and Food Democracy Now network organizing a protest at the White House last week. Critics — including members of the tea party — have expressed dismay, not only at the provision’s contents, but at the secretive way in which the biotech rider was introduced.

“It is not the purview of Tea Party Patriots to comment on the merits of GMOs -– that is a discussion and debate for experts and activists within that field,” wrote Dustin Siggins, who blogs for Tea Party Patriots, on the group’s website. “From the perspective of citizens who want open, transparent government that serves the people, however, the so-called ‘Monsanto Protection Act,’ Section 735 of the Continuing Resolution, is one heck of a special interest loophole for friends of Congress.”

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Transgender Ariz. man denied divorce vows to keep fighting state

 | LGBTQNation | April 2, 2013

PHOENIX — A transgender Arizona man whose divorce request was rejected after his marriage was declared invalid plans to keep trying to get his 9-year union dissolved, saying Tuesday that he wants the three children to whom he gave birth to know their parents’ marriage was legitimate.

Thomas Beatie, wearing a dress shirt and tie, said a judge’s decision last week to reject his divorce request was a swipe against his identity and could cause problems for him down the road if he decides to remarry.

He also said the ruling underscores his belief that Arizona is unaccepting of transgender people, pointing out a proposal in the Legislature that seeks to shield businesses from liability if they ban people from restrooms that don’t match their birth sex.

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Florida Medical Marijuana Bill Stalled While Bongs Ban Advances (VIDEO)

Huffington Post | April 2, 2013

Eighteen states and D.C. have passed medical marijuana legislation but in Florida, the “Cathy Jordan Medical Cannabis Act” can’t even get a hearing in the state Senate or House.

The bill has stalled in Tallahassee despite the fact that seven out of 10 Floridians support legalizing medical marijuana. Meanwhile a bill banning bongs was unanimously approved by a Senate committee.

“Shame on us as a Legislature for not taking the opportunity to hear this bill this year,” House bill sponsor Rep. Katie Edwards (D-Plantation) said at a press conference on Monday.

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Pakistani housewife becomes first woman to run for parliament from conservative tribal region

Associated Press | Washington Post | April 1, 2013

KHAR, Pakistan — A 40-year-old Pakistani housewife has made history by becoming the first woman to run for parliament from the country’s deeply conservative tribal region bordering Afghanistan.

Badam Zari is pushing back against patriarchal traditions and braving potential attack by Islamist militants in the hope of forcing the government to focus more on helping Pakistani women.

“I want to reach the assembly to become a voice for women, especially those living in the tribal areas,” Zari told The Associated Press in an interview on Monday. “This was a difficult decision, but now I am determined and hopeful society will support me.”

Many of Pakistan’s 180 million citizens hold fairly conservative views on the role of women in society. But those views are even more pronounced in the country’s semiautonomous tribal region, a poor, isolated area in the northwest dominated by Pashtun tribesmen who follow a very conservative brand of Islam.

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As Obama Ponders Fate of Keystone XL, Major ExxonMobil Oil Spill in Arkansas Is Major Warning for Risks We Face

Amy Goodman | Democracy Now! | April 1, 2013

AMY GOODMAN: ExxonMobil continues cleanup efforts after a ruptured pipeline sprayed thousands of barrels of crude oil across a central Arkansas subdivision, forcing nearly two dozen homes to evacuate. The 20-inch so-called “Pegasus” tar sands pipeline burst late Friday near Mayflower, Arkansas, creating what the Environmental Protection Agency, or EPA, is categorizing as a “major spill.”

Officials say the pipeline gushed oil for 45 minutes before being stanched. More than 12,000 barrels of oil and water have been recovered. According to Exxon, the pipeline will be excavated as part of its investigation to determine the cause of the leak. ExxonMobil says about 50 claims have been filed so far by people affected by the oil spill. Local news station KTHV 11 spoke to two Mayflower residents impacted by the spill.

MAYFLOWER RESIDENT 1: You know, we’re all having to pay mortgages, and we can’t even live in our houses or—you know, basically, if it doesn’t fit in our car, we don’t have it right now. So, we’re really concerned about that, and we’re just concerned about our property values. And what is ExxonMobil going to do for us?

MAYFLOWER RESIDENT 2: I had no idea that there was a pipeline out here, I mean, literally right at the corner of the subdivision. Supposed to be a 20-inch pipeline, run from Illinois to Texas. I don’t know.

AMY GOODMAN: ExxonMobil confirmed the pipeline was carrying western Canadian Wabasca Heavy crude at the time of the leak. According to  Inside Climate News, this type of crude oil is especially difficult to clean up when it spills into water. Efforts are currently underway to prevent the oil from contaminating the nearby drinking source, Lake Conway.

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