Texas Senate Panel Approves Bill Decriminalizing Gay Sex

On Top Magazine | April 18, 2013

A Texas Senate panel on Wednesday approved a bill which seeks to repeal the state’s law making gay sex a crime.

According to gay weekly the Dallas Voice, the Senate Committee on Criminal Justice advanced the measure sponsored by Democratic Senator Jose Rodriguez with a 5-0 vote.

Similar laws remains on the books in 14 states despite a 2003 Supreme Court ruling which declared Texas’ sodomy law to be unconstitutional in Lawrence v. Texas.

“Today’s action is the first time the repeal legislation has ever been advanced by a Texas legislative committee subsequent to Lawrence v. Texas,” said Equality Texas, the state’s largest gay rights advocate.

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U.S.: Bill To Establish Federal Marijuana Commission Introduced In Congress

Steve Elliott  | Hemp News | April 18, 2013

U.S. Rep. Steve Cohen (D-TN) on Thursday introduced legislation in Congress today that would establish a federal commission to review current marijuana policies and explore ways to resolve the conflict between federal laws prohibiting marijuana and state laws that make marijuana legal for medical or personal adult use.

In a December television interview, President Obama said going after marijuana consumers will not be a priority of the federal government in states where voters have made it legal for adults. He also highlighted the need for a discussion in Congress about how to reconcile state and federal marijuana laws.

“We have clearly reached a point where the American people want marijuana prohibition to end,” said Steve Fox, national political director for the Marijuana Policy Project (MPP). “The states have been taking the lead, but the federal government must catch up.

“It is no longer a question of whether the federal government should allow states to enact their own marijuana policies,” Fox said. “Of course, it should. The question now is how to reconcile state and federal laws. This Commission bill proposes a study and a discussion that is long overdue.”

The bill would establish a National Commission on Federal Marijuana Policy that would “undertake a comprehensive review of the state and efficacy of current policies of the Federal Government toward marijuana in light of the growing number of States in which marijuana is legal for medicinal or personal use…”

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Keystone Pipeline Will Create Only 35 Permanent Jobs, Emit 51 Coal Plants’ Worth Of Carbon

Ryan Koronowski | Think Progress | April 17, 2013

On Wednesday, Secretary of State John Kerry told the House Foreign Affairs Committee that he wasn’t touching the Keystone pipeline decision with a ten-foot pole:

“I am staying as far away from that as I can now so that when the appropriate time comes to me, I am not getting information from any place I shouldn’t be, and I am not getting engaged in the debate at a time that I shouldn’t be,” Kerry told the House Foreign Affairs Committee on Wednesday.

Right now, Kerry has the State Department’s Draft Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement, but if that is all he information he relies on, he won’t get the full picture. While he will see that the project will only bring 35 permanent jobs, which is true, he would also see almost no discussion of the pipeline’s impact on the climate. (Oddly, he will be able to read an extended discussion of climate change’s projected impacts on the construction and maintenance of the proposed pipeline.)

So where is a Secretary of State sincerely concerned about climate change to go to find the climate consequences of approving the Keystone XL pipeline? He could peruse a new report out yesterday from Oil Change International called: “Cooking the Books: How The State Department Analysis Ignores The True Climate Impact of the Keystone XL Pipeline.”

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Paraguay Presidential Candidate’s Antigay Remarks Shock Nation

Trudy Ring | Advocate | April 17 2013

The front-runner in Paraguay’s presidential race is drawing criticism for some outrageous comments about gay people, saying among other things that he would shoot himself in the genitals if his son wanted to marry a man.

“I would shoot myself in the testicles, because I do not agree,” Horacio Cartes said in a radio interview this month, reports The New York Times, which adds that he actually employed “slightly more colorful language.”

Cartes, the candidate of the Colorado Party, also has made statements “comparing gay people to ‘monkeys’ and likening the support of same-sex marriage to believing in ‘the end of the world,’” the Times reports.

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Senators re-introduce bill to remove unfair tax burden on LGBT families

LGBTQ Nation | April 18, 2013

WASHINGTON — U.S. Sens. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) and Susan Collins (R-Maine) on Monday introducing the Tax Parity for Health Plan Beneficiaries Act, a bill that would end the taxation of employer-provided health insurance for domestic partners, as well as the penalty imposed on employers who provide equal benefits to their LGBT employees.

The bill, which was also introduced in the 112th Congress, addresses inequality in the U.S. tax code dealing with same-sex partners and spouses.

Currently, employees are taxed on the fair market value of employer-provided health coverage for same-sex domestic partners or spouses.  The same employer-provided health coverage for opposite-sex spouses is excluded from the employee’s gross income and no taxes are paid.

While a growing number of companies “gross up,” or pay LGBT employees with dependent partners more to offset the tax burden, most do not.

Employees who elect to cover domestic partner or same-sex spouse pay more income and payroll tax and employers who offer benefits to domestic partners face the administrative burden of calculating taxes separately, and also pay additional payroll taxes.

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U.S. House of Representatives Shamefully Passes CISPA; Internet Freedom Advocates Prepare for a Battle in the Senate

Dave Maass  and Mark M.  Jaycox | EFF.org | April 18, 2013

Today, Internet freedom advocates everywhere turned their eyes to the U.S. House of Representatives as that legislative body considered the Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act.

For the second year in a row,  the House voted to approve CISPA, a bill that would allow companies to bypass all existing privacy law to spy on communications and pass sensitive user data to the government.  EFF condemns the vote in the House and vows to continue the fight in the Senate.

“CISPA is a poorly drafted bill that would provide a gaping exception to bedrock privacy law,” EFF Senior Staff Attorney Kurt Opsahl said. “While we all agree that our nation needs to address pressing Internet security issues, this bill sacrifices online privacy while failing to take common-sense steps to improve security.”

The legislation passed 288-127, despite a veto threat from Pres. Barack Obama, who expressed serious concerns about the danger CISPA poses to civil liberties.

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UK: Gay twins to host rural pride event

Janey Street Thornton | Gay Star News | April 18, 2013

Gay twins to host rural pride event.

Two gay identical twin brothers are to host a pride event in their home town this September.

Jon and Mat Price grew up in Totnes, Devon, south-west England, and have since founded the Proud2Be Project.

The project aims to provide positive messages for gay people – especially those growing up or living in rural areas.

In a personal message on the project’s website, the two state: ‘As gay children growing up in a small rural village we both know how isolating it can be to be LGBT identified and have little access to those of the same community.

‘We felt it was time to bring Pride into rural areas where LGBT people are at most risk of feeling isolated and invisible.’

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Malaysian political parties neglect LGBT votes in manifestos

Anna Leach | Gay Star News | April 18, 2013

A political protest for free and fair elections in Kuala Lumpur in January 2013

Neither of the main political coalitions in Malaysia has mentioned LGBT rights in their manifesto, neglecting a key group who could make all the difference to winning or losing the election, activists say.

‘I think they see us as a minority and a negligible minority,’ said LGBT rights activist Angela Kuga Thas, speaking on a Kini TV show examining the issue.

‘At the last election those who won won on a very small majority of 3 to 10%, and we make up, generally in terms of global statistics, a population of 3 to 10%… I think they’ve made a really serious mistake.’

Campaign fever is currently hitting Malaysia as the country anticipates a general election on 5 May.

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Church of Scotland may let gay ministers have sex

Joe Morgan | Gay Star News | April 18, 2013

Lorna Hood, the Moderator of the Church of Scotland's General Assembly, will consider allowing gay ministers to have sex.

Photo by BBC.

The Church of Scotland is going to debate allowing gay ministers to have sex.

A theological commission has produced a report on the issue of whether the church should ordain ministers who are in same-sex relationships.

Put forward by seven members of the commission, a spokesman told the BBC the report included a broad spectrum of the Scottish Church views.

‘On the one hand the report offers the Church a way of allowing the ordination of ministers in same-sex relationships who have entered into a civil partnership, while protecting both individuals and congregations who in conscience do not agree with the theological principles which underpin that choice,’ they said.

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Video: UN Secretary General says ‘LGBT rights is one of the great, neglected human rights challenges of our time’

 | PinkNews.co.uk | April 18, 2013

The United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, has given an impassioned speech, voicing his support for LGBT rights, and condemning governments around the world which refuse to tackle discrimination against LGBT people.

In the video, posted by the United Nations, Ban Ki-moon, who recently attended the International Conference on Human Rights, Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity in Oslo, encourages all to be more vocal about tackling violence, and discrimination based on sexuality or gender identity.

Acknowledging possible opposition to LGBT rights, he goes on to say that culture, tradition and religion can “never justify the denial of basic rights.” He ends by pledging his continued support, and addressing the LGBT community, he says: “I’m with you.”

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